How do you “borrow” a space shuttle?

If you’re at all interested in ‘space stuff’, you GOTTA spend a day at Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, Florida. Pricey, lots of line-ups – but worth it.

To see s Saturn V rocket (in actual size kids), you take a (free) bus out to the cape (where all of the launches took place), and wait to enter the building. (Not this one, but close.)Nasa

While waiting outside I noticed the famed ‘bleachers’ and spoke with a friendly security guard who came to tell me to get back with the group. (Herding cats.)Bleachers

I said “is that where we’ve seen all the Presidents, Kennedys, famous people, and families of the astronauts sat, watching lift-offs over the years?” “Yes” he said. “Matter of fact, anyone can sit there and watch a lift-off. If you happen to be on a tour during the day of a launch, you can sit there and watch for free!” I don’t know why, but I went to the dark. “So … the Challenger … that’s where the families ….”. “Yes” he said. Then he pointed out the trajectory. “It lifted off from that site over there (roughly 4.5 miles away from bleachers) … went up and arced over this direction, and the accident happened around there” (pointing to a patch of blue sky). Odd feeling actually ‘being there’. Perspective.

When you go into the first building (Saturn V), you first get a presentation in the control room. I won’t spoil it, but it ROCKS! You then move to see the amazing vehicle – and you feel VERY SMALL!

Saturn      Apollo

The presentation center has food, booze, and yes, souvenirs. I THINK you can bring your own food, don’t bring booze, but yes, bring money. (You can sit outside and stare at the launch sites if you want.)

Despite how tired you may be, you HAVE to go see the actual Discovery Space Shuttle. You bus back to the main area, line-up again, and see another presentation before you get to see the actual shuttle. (Both presentations are actually short.) THIS presentation again, ROCKS – and I won’t tell you why!

Apparently, the shuttle is “on loan” from the Smithsonian Institute for a few years. I thought “how does that work”? Can ANYONE ‘borrow a shuttle’ from them? “Hello Smithsonian? We’re having a kid’s party this Saturday … and umm.” And what if NASA accidently broke it? “Hello Smithsonian?” “Yeah, Kennedy Space Center here … uh … ya know, … the darndest thing happened when we we parkin’ this big ol’ bird, .. turns out the wings were larger than the garage doors .. and um .. well, ha ha ha … (ahem) you have insurance on this thing?”