Sunday, April 24, 2011

At Kennedy Space Center

The center of our whole wild, ungainly, homeschool road trip field trip is Kennedy Space Center. I've been fascinated with the space shuttle since I was a small child, and it's a dream of mine to watch a space shuttle launch.

We think that we have a lifetime to make our dreams come true, and so it was with a gasp that I suddenly realized, very early this year, that this end to the space shuttle program that I've been reading about? This marks a deadline to my dream!

If I don't watch this space shuttle launch now, in April, or this summer, in June, then I will never in my entire life watch a space shuttle launch--it will forever be something that I simply haven't done.

Well, I didn't give up a PhD in English and a full-time career and keep my wonderful children out of institutions of formal schooling to simply pass up opportunities, to simply let dreams die, unfulfilled. Why, out of the many thousands of reasons that I could give you for being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I'd tell you that among the most important is the ability to choose from a vastly larger bounty of opportunities simply not available to those who spend their days in the daily grind, and to have the time, the mindset, the focus, and, yep, the opportunity to fulfill our dreams. By "our" dreams, I'm in the habit of mostly meaning the children's dreams, of course, but you know what? My dreams are important, too.

Can you say "homeschool field trip?" Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe that you can.

Fortunately, Matt was able to pretty much leave the jury room and hop right into the first part of our field trip with us, and thus he was able to help out with the baby wrangling at our visit to the Kennedy Space Center, where I was afraid that the girls would be bored and whiny and need wrangling so that I could sightsee.

Actually, once they got it into their little heads that, unlike Indiana, it is simply hot here, and nope, there's nothing to do about it, and yep, you do have to wear your hat and your sunglasses even if you don't want to, and while you're over here trying to hand them off to me why don't we rub some more sunblock on you, they both enjoyed themselves quite a bit and didn't need much wrangling, and we all got to happily sightsee:

Loving on the Astronaut

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
Those grey vertical lines on the left side are big garage doors that open up to let rockets and the shuttle through.

It's a BIG building

The Crawler Transporter!
It is SUCH a rare treat to see this out and about! This is the gigantic piece of equipment that the shuttle, solid rocket boosters, and external fuel tank sit on as they're driven, soooooo slowly, out to Launch Pad 39A. You would only ever see the crawler transporter hanging out by the launch gantry if....

Space Shuttle Endeavor is Waiting for Launch
My nerd heart beat with joy at this sight.

I might have even squealed.

All that equipment that conceals the shuttle, the solid rocket boosters, and the external tank will be rolled away as lift-off nears, but it's necessary to have until then to allow access to the exterior of all the equipment. Tragically, a worker actually fell off of this equipment back in March, in a horrible accident, but accidents like that are extremely rare.

Matt was a good sport, but the vehicles for space travel aren't really his thing like they are mine, so he got to take every single...

Nerd Portrait

He likes the Apollo stuff a lot, however--I think there were a lot of comic books that revolved around the Apollo program?

Apollo Spacecraft with Matt and Girls

There was a fabulous shuttle launch simulator which everyone except for short little Sydney could ride, displays of the actually Mercury Mission Control and the Apollo Mission Control, and a full-size walk-in model space shuttle:

Looking up at Mirrored Cargo Bay Doors in Model Shuttle

Heat Tiles on Bottom of Model Shuttle
See how they're all labeled? They actually do look like that on the real shuttle, too. Each one is made for a particular spot on the shuttle, and labelled so that they can all be assembled correctly.

Can you see us standing under the full-size model of the solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank?

Upcoming Event--next week!

Rocket Garden

Plenty Roomy in This Capsule--perhaps they should have just sent children?

Which brings me, finally, to the rocket that Willow has declared is her favorite:

Mercury Redstone
It's the rocket that sent the Mercury missions into space. 

Parenting a little girl who has a favorite rocket--that's another dream come true, now that I think about it.


Miranda Jacobs said...

That is AWESOME!!!! I'm so glad you are enjoying your trip, despite the obnoxious heat. =D

My plan for our first homeschooling trip (and yes, despite Bub being just 15 weeks, I'm planning ahead) is a lesson in glacier movement and a trip to a place in Pennsylvania named "Boulder Field", which is a massive field of boulders caused by periglacial activity during the Ice Age. Hopping from rock to rock is so fun.. and scary because of the snakes. Heh. ;-)

Heather@Cultivated Lives said...

How incredibly cool!!!! Isn't it so cool how family vacations become an excuse for some amazing field trips! Learning is such a grand adventure.

We will be going to Florida in January and I'm hoping we can make a detour to see the Kennedy Space center. Thanks for sharing the pictures! :)

Carol said...

Amazing pictures! I hope there is also a space center near our town. I'm pretty sure my kid's going to love this.