Again, we were out bright and early. The waterway was a virtual skating rink:
We had a relatively short day planned, about 6 hours. We moseyed along with a couple of other motor vessels and a whole slew of sailboats. We were all clustered together fairly tightly because we were headed toward Cape Canaveral in hopes to see a lauch scheduled for 1:30 pm. Here were the sailboats that we followed for a while:
It was a beautiful clear day, perfect for viewing a launch....
We passed the infamous Ponce de Leon inlet channel where we ran aground last year. Fortunately, it had been recently dredged so there was an easy 12 feet of water. aaaah.
Here is the Ponce lightlouse:
As the day progressed, however, clouds started to take over our perfect day. As we arrived at our dock just in time to rush in and see the launch, all we could see was a single flash of light between 2 clouds. If you blinked, you would have missed it entirely. No way could any of us have taken a picture. We did, however, hear it! Boy, the rumble was incredible. I'm not sure how far we were but maybe 15 or 20 miles max as the crow flies. It was quite a sensation. What they launched was the "Maven" orbiter to Mars. For more information, check the NASA page.
So, Titusville.....not so much in Titusville.... but, as I mentioned, the Kennedy Space Center (at Cape Canaveral) is only about 30 minutes by car, so that is what we did. The enterprise dealer was very close and very accomodating. We took in a good portion of the general admission exhibits and then took off on a more subject intensive guided bus tour. The tour we chose was the "VAB", aka Vehicle Assembly Building. The tour lasted a good 3 hours so it included considerably more than just the one building. They drove us around some of the vast property and schooled us on various other buildings, launch sites and vehicle based particulars.
Here we saw an exhibit of the actual retired Space Shuttle Atlantis. It was really incredible to see up close. Here they had it kind of sliced open so you could see the payload area where they stored all the things they transported to the International Space Station.
The "VAB", Vehicle Assembly Building, was simply jaw dropping. The building was originally built to be able to build/assemble 4 different rockets at one time. They used to call the building the Vertical Assembly Building when it was just rockets, apollo and saturn for example, but now that they are building more "vehicles" like shuttles they adjusted the name a bit. The building is 525 feet tall and is really indescribable. This a picture I took, but it only represents a small piece of it:
This is a picture of the "VAB" from a distance on the bus. I couldn't get a closer picture because we were very restricted as to where we could walk and no way could I get the entire building in one shot from that close.
What a wonderful day we had.
The next day, we decided to take it easy. We might have liked to have gone back for another tour, but the short story is that I have been suffering with severe sciatica for the last 4 months and, frankly, after walking and standing (the worst!) as much as we did yesterday, I was in screaming pain. I really needed a day of rest. So, we did a few chores and took a rest. We aare supposed to be having fun you know.......