Adventures in space
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
I grew up in the Space Age. Seeing man walk on the moon was a highlight of my youth. So, I enjoy seeing space-related sites and museums when I travel.
The United States is full of them, and here is a look at a few of the best.
The biggest sites to visit are the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the NASA Space Center in Texas and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center / NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
Ticket prices vary and are not cheap, but the displays are literally out of this world. These locations are where history was made.
Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
While many museums have small sections devoted to space, several are devoted to the topic. My favorites include the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where I saw the Apollo 11 Command Module. The New Mexico Museum of Space History shows the people involved in history along with many exhibits — including Star Trek's tribbles!
I loved the American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame. It is a small museum in Titusville, Florida, that was put together by people who worked at NASA. Our tour guide was someone who had actually worked at the control center.
A subset of these museums are the ones dedicated to locals who became astronauts. Some are the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Ohio for Neil Armstrong, John & Annie Glenn Museum also in Ohio, Gus Grissom Memorial Museum in Indiana, the Stafford Air & Space Museum (Thomas Stafford) in Oklahoma, and the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum in Wisconsin.
New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamagordo, New Mexico.
Some sites mention that astronauts were trained there. These include sites to observe craters similar to ones on the moon, like Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona (where you can see a cutout of an astronaut).
Astronauts learned more about geology at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Astronauts observed the moon at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona where you can now see their signatures.
Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.
Some sites are unexpected. There are moon trees throughout the world that are grown from seeds flown in Apollo 14. I saw my first tree outside a library in Florida.
Moon rocks can be found in many museums, but the Space Window in the Washington National Cathedral contains a piece of the Sea of Tranquility from the Apollo 11 flight. Of course, you have to visit Roswell, New Mexico, to see the International UFO Museum and Research Center at least once.
International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico.
Probably the coolest thing you can do is see a launch. You can buy tickets to see a launch at the Kennedy Space Center, but you don't have to be that close to see it.
Many RV parks in the Titusville area advertise that you can watch launches from their parks. Manatee Hammock Campground is a mere 12 miles from the launch pads. Even a launch 45 miles away at Sebastian Inlet State Park is still thrilling.
Go to kennedyspacecenter.com/launches-and-events to see upcoming launches. On the day of the launch, be prepared for delays or a rescheduled flight.
Rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center seen from Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Do you have a favorite space location?
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