Kennedy Space Center celebrates Apollo 40th Anniversary

| July 17, 2009

It was 40 years ago when Apollo 11 landed on the moon July 20, 1969. I remember that day clearly as a child.  Who knew 40 years later I would be at a celebration at Kennedy Space Center photographing the astronauts!

As a child my late father and I followed every detail of the space program.  I knew the names of all the astronauts and followed all their flights. I can remember when we would have a TV in our school rooms to view the launch.  We held our breath and prayed when there were problems on Apollo 13. So when I received my Kennedy Space Center newsletter announcing this celebration I knew I had to be there.

We always made visiting the Kennedy Space Center a priority on our visits to Walt Disney World. We planned a day at the Space Center since it is only about 1 hour away from Disney World. It is filled with many great exhibits that adults and children will enjoy.

Yesterday Kennedy Space Center opened a new exhibit, the Apollo Treasures Gallery.  This exhibit has rarely seen items such as Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s space suit, a very heavy prototype space suit, along with several other space suits. There is also a collection of shoes, helmets, gloves, a tool kit used in space, instruction manuals.

Finally it was time for the official ceremony celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo program.  There was a number of Apollo astronauts appearing.  The ceremony took place under the very large Saturn 5 rocket.  In the audience were employees and families of the companies that helped build the shuttle and worked for NASA forty years ago.

I found it very interesting hearing the astronauts talking about their experiences.  When they were asked how going to the moon changed their spiritual views all of them said it hadn’t changed them at all.  I found that surprising.  Another astronaut talked about being separated from their family when they returned from their flight.  He talked about visiting his family through the screened front window while the kids were standing in his rose bed.  I could have sat there for hours. All too soon it was over and the astronauts were whisked away.

This is a day I won’t soon forget. I was there with my daughter creating memories with a new generation of space geeks, a friend and his father (That’s Dave on the floor asking a question.)  Dave’s father had worked on developing the engines for the Saturn 5 rocket.  It was interesting hearing his stories.

I recommend visiting the Kennedy Space Center if you are on a vacation in the central Florida area.  Be sure to check out this new exhibit.  I know I will be back to visit!


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