Going to a place like KSC truly is a pilgrimage for the modern technology worshipper. Even when arriving in the bay area you feel the present space vibe. Most people you casually talk to are happy enough to let the conversation drift towards space, rockets, launches and recently sadness that the ultimate spectacle of the shuttle launches are no more.
Everywhere you look in shops, in peoples homes in public buildings even at gas stations you find little reminders, in the form of pictures, posters and space merchandise, that you are truly at the place where it all happens. This is where man took charge of technology on the largest scale and build the most extreme machines ever conceived.
The visitor center is a typical sanitized experience consisting of the usual gift shops, fast food cafeterias and greasy exhibits. A few gems in the form of artifacts from the space program makes it worth going there but when you get to see the buildings and the installations, even at a distance, the real experience begins.
Everyone in the western world, with any interest for technology, have seen pictures of a space rocket. It has become a part of or consciousness. Many of us can even recite roughly how they work, what parts they consists of and what they do. What we fail to experience from pictures film and books are the scale of these projects.
When leaving the fairground of the visitors center and going onto 'The Cape' it becomes clear that these people mean buisness. First stop on the way the 'Apollo Building' houses the massive Saturn V rocket. There is really no way to describe how unrealistically huge this thing is. It is first when confronted with this machine that you can begin to comprehend the magnitude of the operation... I was in awe.
We went on a tour that took us to a place where we could observe Launch Complex 39 where both Apollo and the space shuttle was launched. Being on a hill around 3 kilometers away from the complex we were told that at that distance the sound level would kill you during a launch. Another pointer to how extreme this place was.
From LC-39 there leads a wide crawlerway (30 meter wide gravel track) to the VehicleAssemblyBuilding VAB. This building is normally closed to anyone that does not have a really good reason to be there. Lots of people that have worked at KSC for many many years has never set foot there. We were lucky to get inside.
The Saturn V rocket knocks your socks off just to look at but VAB is designed to have four of these being build inside. This building is the cathedral of space travel.
When approaching the VAB you can't see its size, you simply get blinded by its proportions. It takes a little time to adjust your brain to the scale but from the outside you never really get it. Inside it's a different matter. You get struck to the ground when you look up. In a cathedral special tricks has been used to make the halls seem bigger. The VAB is just pure pragmatic engineering and here you truly feel that this project is bigger than you.