It is really quite amazing what humans can accomplish when they put their minds to it. This trip has led us past the birthplace of flight in Kittyhawk where we saw man's first successful attempts at flight in the early 1900's, to Cape Canaveral where just 60 years later man built rockets that took us to the moon. It is astounding to see each firsthand, and to see the evolution that took place over such a short period of time. The boys walked around awestruck, gawking at the huge rockets. Aaron couldn't get enough of Saturn IB and couldn't wait to hop on a bus that would take us over to the even bigger Saturn V, which he sweetly informed me was, "Saturn 5, mom." The bus ride took us past the rocket hangar where the rockets are built, with bay doors that are tall enough for the Statue of Liberty to walk through without having to duck. We saw the giant, tank-like machines that transport the fully-fueled rockets at one mile per hour over perfectly round, Tennessee river rock from the state of Arkansas prized for its ability to rub against each other without sparking. We saw mobile launch towers, control headquarters, and, looming three miles off in the distance, the platform where the Apollo missions were launched from. At the hangar where a Saturn V rocket is kept we saw the control room used during the Apollo missions, including Apollo 13, where we watched a short video of a launch sequence so we could see how mission control managed each stage of ignition before they opened the doors to reveal the real Saturn V. Laying on its side, it was broken into sections so we got a very clear view of the different stages of the launch. In a side room, Jason faced ghosts from his past as he relived childhood trauma of being chased around by an astronaut suit after he had curiously bent its fingers backwards. We saw Jim Lovell's reference manual used during the Apollo 13 mission, Neil Armstrong's astronaut suit, lunar landers.....really cool stuff. A few days later we watched the movie Apollo 13 with the boys while it was fresh in their brains so they could see what had happened during that ill-fated mission. They thought it was really cool to see hangar doors open, the rocket-mover in action, what happens in the control room, and how this group of people worked through an impossible situation to bring these three guys home safe. Needless to say NASA was a huge hit with all of us.
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