Astronomy blog

RECAP: Historic SpaceX launch, tour of the Kennedy Space Center

5/08/2016, 3:32:38 PM

This is an astronomy blog done by AccuWeather’s Brian Lada.

Recently I traveled down to Cape Canaveral, Florida to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and to watch a rocket launch by SpaceX, a private company contracted to carry out flights for NASA.

I spent two days touring the Kennedy Space Center with NASA Social, meeting people that work at the center and getting to tour the facility to see what all goes on ‘behind the scenes.’

This was truly a unique experience that was capped off by a historic launch for SpaceX which entailed a successful landing of the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket on a ship 186 miles (300 kilometers) downrange from where it lifted off.

Here are some of the highlights of my visit:


One of the first things that I saw during my visit at the Kennedy Space Center was the Orion spacecraft. This is the future of human space flight and will be used on NASA’s next rocket, the Space Launch System, and will hopefully help transport astronauts to Mars and beyond.

The first maned space flight of Orion is not scheduled until 2021, but once it is fully operational, it will be able to take humans deeper into space than we have ever gone before!

It may be tough to see Orion behind the people and the frame around the spacecraft, but it looks similar to the capsule used to return astronauts to Earth during the Apollo missions but just larger and with significant upgrades.

They are currently working on the spacecraft to prepare it for tests to make sure that it is able to handle the extreme conditions that it will encounter while in space.



When people think of the Kennedy Space center, they typically think of two things: rockets launching into space and the giant building located at the center.

The Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, is the gigantic building at the center where NASA assembles their rockets before (slowly) transporting them to the launch pad.

At 3,664,883 cubic meters, this is one of the largest buildings in the world, and it needs to be for the sheer size of the rockets that are assembled in here!

It is hard to comprehend the size of this 526-foot-tall building, but remember, this is the same building where they pieced together the Saturn 5 rockets used in the Apollo program before rolling them out to the launch pad.

If the building is not properly ventilated, it can actually produce it’s own weather! Clouds have developed in the building on humid days that have actually caused it to rain inside.




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