Finding My Inner (and Outer) Nerd at the Space Shuttle Atlantis
We used to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle on a grainy standard-definition television, with rabbit ears akimbo. Mission control would count down from T minus 10, building excitement with each descending number. At launch, the shuttle lifted upwards like it was pulled along a string; two minutes later the external tanks detached and fell towards the earth as the shuttle flew on.
The new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center retells the history of the Shuttles, from the prototypes to the Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery and Endeavor. The story is part heroic and part bittersweet; the program overcame setbacks and design flaws to make that first launch and countless others; unfortunately tragedy struck twice with Challenger and Columbia.
The highlight is the Shuttle Atlantis. Suspended midair as if still in flight with cargo bay doors open, Atlantis soars. You can see on its stained tiles the effects of its travels; Atlantis weathered the space storms well.
The Kennedy Space Center combines the organization of an good amusement park and the detail of a history museum. The videos and exhibits have a heavy storytelling bent, perfect for inspiring the next generation of astronauts, scientists and engineers. In addition to Atlantis, KSC houses the Saturn V launch vehicle which sent men to the moon. The Kennedy Space Center is a fine place for families and enthusiasts and engineers and I definitely got my inner (and outer) nerd on there.