Touch down

Kent Life - - Motoring Life - WORDS: Re­becca Unde PHO­TOS:

The Space Coast is not only an ideal des­ti­na­tion for a fam­ily hol­i­day, it’s also the gate­way to the

in­cred­i­ble Kennedy Space Cen­tre com­plex

Florida’s Space Coast, which in­cludes Cape Canaveral, Co­coa Beach, Mel­bourne, In­di­alan­tic, Palm Bay, Viera and Ti­tusville, of­fers 72 miles of glo­ri­ous beaches, the world’s largest 24-hour surf shop and ro­bust waves that en­sure this is Amer­ica’s East Coast surf­ing cap­i­tal.

It’s also the gate­way to the Kennedy Space Cen­tre Com­plex. Built in 1967 and home to

NASA’s 30-year Space Shut­tle Pro­gramme, which is piv­otal to the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope and the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, the Kennedy Space Cen­tre at­tracts more than 1.5m vis­i­tors a year. Its nar­rated bus tours trans­port pas­sen­gers to NASA’s re­stricted ar­eas, pass­ing by work­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing the Ve­hi­cle As­sem­bly Build­ing and Launch Com­plex 39.

Ar­riv­ing at Mis­sion Zone:

Race to the Moon, lo­cated at the Apollo/Saturn V Cen­tre, I was mes­merised by the ex­hibits, in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful Saturn V Rocket, which has trans­ported ev­ery as­tro­naut who has stepped onto the moon’s sur­face.

I then headed for the Fir­ing Room The­atre to re­live the launch of the first crewed NASA mis­sion, which or­bited the moon in 1968. The the­atre au­di­ence faces the ac­tual con­soles used dur­ing the Apollo launches and lead­ing up to the countdown the ex­cite­ment is pal­pa­ble. The viewer ex­pe­ri­ences the in­cred­i­ble noise as the rocket lifts off from the launch pad and as it blasted into space I won­dered how those brave as­tro­nauts could stand the fear of the-then un­known.

Hop­ping back on the bus to Mis­sion Zone: Shut­tle: A Ship, Like No Other, I viewed the in­cred­i­ble Space Shut­tle At­lantis, which trans­ferred as­tro­nauts from

Earth to space and back for 30 years and cov­ered a dis­tance of 126 mil­lion miles. Scorched and bat­tered, it is an amaz­ing sight, a ve­hi­cle that launches like a rocket and then lands like a glider.

The Shut­tle Launch Ex­pe­ri­ence was up next and I strapped my­self to a seat to be sub­jected to the force of a sim­u­lated take off. The mod­ule ro­tates to a ver­ti­cal po­si­tion and each ‘pas­sen­ger’ ex­pe­ri­ences the force of ac­cel­er­a­tion and vi­bra­tion as the shut­tle launches and soars into or­bit. It was sim­ply un­for­get­table.

An­other lo­cal at­trac­tion of note, which is only a 10-minute car ride away from the Kennedy Space Cen­tre, is the Amer­i­can Po­lice Hall of Fame and Mu­seum on Hori­zon Drive in Ti­tusville.

Founded in 1960, this build­ing is the na­tion’s first na­tional lawen­force­ment mu­seum ded­i­cated to of­fi­cers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Ex­hibits in­clude an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of po­lice cars, in­clud­ing one that fea­tured in the film Blade Run­ner, a replica of a prison cell and a guil­lo­tine, which dis­plays a sign warn­ing the viewer not to touch the blade or put their neck un­der it!

There is also a rope, which was once used for hang­ing and a wide range of de­com­mis­sioned fire arms and tools used by law en­force­ment of­fi­cers. Ad­di­tional ex­hibits in­clude a col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs and arte­facts re­lated to no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals such as Bon­nie Parker and Clyde Bar­row, Al Capone, Legs Di­a­mond and Baby Face Nel­son.

Feel­ing rather un­set­tled, I headed for the on-site shoot­ing cen­tre, a re­gional train­ing

Space Coast Of­fice of Tourism

Re­lax­ing on the Space Coast

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