At some point on the previous day, we changed our itinerary. The original plan would have had us at the Space Center and Cypress Gardens on the same day with barely any time to continue enjoying the beach. So, we spread those two attractions over two days for a more relaxed pace.
This was the day that we intended to move up the coast to see Marineland and St. Augustine. Instead, we changed hotels because the Holiday Inn didn’t have room for us for another night, but the Ramada Inn next door did. Then, it was off to the Kennedy Space Center.
Apollo 17, the final mission where humans walked on the moon, launched six months previous to our visit. As I wrote on the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 17 launch, it never occurred to my young self that we wouldn’t keep going to the moon. So, even though the Apollo program was over, our visit to the Kennedy Space Center on June 11, 1973, still felt very much in the present time of lunar landings. We weren’t seeing historical artifacts. What we were seeing in person were things that we’d seen on TV for every Apollo launch in the past five years.
From Mother’s diary:
Saw the “tractor” which moves the rocket from VAB to launch pad. It’s huge! Hard to believe it moves. It does–at 2 miles per hour empty or 1/2 mile per hour when loaded.
We took a two-hour bus tour of Kennedy Space Center. Mother was most impressed by the VAB:
The VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) will hold 4 rockets at once — upright. 3rd largest building in the world. Doors open from ground to roof to allow rockets to be rolled out.
The Kennedy Space Center continues to be an active site for space research and rocket launches. Artemis 1 launched from Launch Complex 39B last year on November 16. The Orion spacecraft successfully orbited the moon and returned to earth. Artemis 2 is expected to carry a crew through a lunar orbit in 2024 and Artemis 3 is planned to be a lunar landing. The Artemis 3 mission promises to place the first woman and the first non-white person on the moon.
I’m sure that we made the right choice to skip St. Augustine on that trip, but it’s been on my bucket list ever since. I tried to squeeze it into a trip to Florida on another occasion as an adult and I was unsuccessful then, too. I want to try again to see if the third time is the charm!