We left the State of Pennsylvania and headed to Washington. We didn’t get to the Whitehouse as that tour needs to be booked 6 months in advance. Instead we kept pushing south anyway as our aim was to reach Florida and stay there several days to perhaps a week – the RV park we selected was close to the Disney World array of Theme Parks. Sorry, no Sprintcar stuff in this post, but a bit of interesting stuff I hope you will enjoy.
Daytona International Speedway
On route to this destination we pulled into Daytona Speedway. It wasn’t race day but they run regular track tours and the merchandise shops are full-on and open every day of the week. It is quite awe inspiring to sit back and take in this massive track from the grandstand. The grandstand was empty; a still silence and sense of calmness hung over the venue, but you can easily imagine the noise, action and chaos that descends upon the Daytona Facility come NASCAR race day.
NASCAR is truly is a different world, and you can’t begin to imagine how much money is in this sport. It’s a BIG time business, trust me – and that’s an understatement !
A little further down I – 95 (Interstate Highway 95) we arrived at the Kennedy Space Center. This is where Space Shuttle missions take off from. By coincidence, we only missed the landing of the final Shuttle Mission by a few weeks.
There are heaps of displays and a tour that takes you around the facility. There is so much to see and do here, it would be easy to spend an entire day there. NASA’s mission is “To explore new worlds to improve our own”. There is talk of manned missions again to the Moon and Mars ….. and beyond – there are exciting times a head !
We went on a Shuttle Simulator that takes you through launch and earth orbit. It’s incredibly realistic and the vibrations on lift off are so severe and last until the solid rocket boosters separate – only then do you get a sense of “smooth” travel. To the uninitiated, you would think that the craft is in the process of breaking up.
We also attended the now defunct mission control facility for the Apollo program. It has been left exactly the way it was when that run of missions concluded in the 70’s – quite eerie really. Coffee cups on tables and NASA/IBM jackets hanging on the backs of chairs !
Another fantastic experience.
So with the end of the Space Shuttle Program as we know it now, what does the future hold?
What type of spacecraft WILL replace the space shuttle? NASA is designing and testing models of a possible future spacecraft that will not only replace the space shuttle but also take us back to the moon and to Mars. This spacecraft is called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). To meet the goals of NASA’s Vision for Exploration, the CEV will have different models that are like different models of the same automobile. An expendable rocket will launch the CEV, though many components of the CEV will be reusable.
The crew module will be a capsule similar to the one used in the Apollo program. This module will be able to dock with the International Space Station. Other types of CEVs will serve as operation bases on the moon’s surface. Still other models might travel to asteroids, Mars, or possibly destinations even farther away.
All great stuff and we watch with interest !
Thanks NASA for the visit.