We stayed the first night at the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. It was elegant and the room turned out to be a suite because they ran out of non-smoking rooms. Daniel was quite impressed.
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We take our annual vacation trip to the location ofJanet's Society for Gravitational and Space Biology meeting. Fortunately, these scientists like to see great locations in North America! Coincidently for this trip to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA scheduled the launch of the shuttle STS-113 Endeavour. Unfortunately, the launch was scrubbed due to an oxygen leak in the capsule.
Janet began her conference in Cape Canaveral, soDaniel and I went back to Orlando (just 53 miles) to see Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Janet, Daniel and I went to see Universal Studios.
Day Four, the Kennedy Space Center
After a day by the pool and at the ocean for Daniel & me, Janet's conference was finished and we set out for the neat space stuff. The only way you can tour the Center is by bus.
Saturn V Center
This was the first time we visited the Saturn V Center, where KSC moved their Saturen V rocket indoors with a major and overwhelming display.
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Digiscoped Birds at Merritt Island NWR
The National Wildlife Refuge is on 140,000 acres of Merritt Island. The Kennedy Space Center is located within the Refuge, so with the increased security precautions since 9-11-01, the Refuge was locked down in the days preceeding the launch. We only got to see a few birds and take digiscoped pictures of fewer still.
Manatees at Merritt Island NWR
One of the security guads told us about a place where we could see Manatees in a canal just on the boarder of the Refuge. There were 7 or 8 Manatees there waiting for us.
The Lobster Shanty restaruant in Cape Canaveral has attracted catfish by the thousands by feeding them regularly for many years.
Launch of STS - 113 Endeavour
The launch of Endeavour was scheduled for early Monday morning between midnight and 4 am. Our flight home was late Monday morning from Orlando, so we planned to see the launch and grab a couple of hours sleep before we left for the airport. The launch was scrubbed due to an oxygen leak in the crew cabin. We were on the bus heading out to the NASA causeway about 9:45 pm Sunday night when the flight was scrubbed. They turned the bus around and dumped us unceremoniously back at the visitor center.
We were headed back to the hotel and saw the shuttle about 14 miles in the distance. We took several photos through the spotting scope (examples below), but the wind was stiff so they aren't as clear as I'd hoped.
Wood Stork Mycteria americana
The Rocket Garden (this photo by Janet)
If you look very carefully in the middle of the enlarged photo you can see the crawler just to the right of the white building.
The Vehicle Assembly Building
This is launch site LC-39A, with Endeavour at the ready, taken from the new LC-39 Observation Gantry.
We were able to travel from our hotel to the Universal Studios by water taxi.
This is the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando along the waterway.
This is a cool Coke dispenser.
One of the rides (like the one on the left) totally soaked us, so we had to buy clothes to get dry. The clothes vendor was set up just as you exit the ride, do you think that was planned?
While at the Observation Gantry, we took Janet's 8x binoculars, set them on a platform, hand held the digital camera up to the bins and shot the Endeavour through them. The pics came out well for such a shaky setup!
The crawler used to transport the shuttle out to the launch pad moves at less than one mile per hour. The combined weight is so heavy that it leaves these imprints in the crushed stone.