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But getting a glimpse of what it’s like to go to outer space was not only entertaining but absolutely incredible. When you see a launch of one of the rockets carrying a payload or even a shuttle on TV or even in person at a distance, it is impressive. But it’s nothing like getting up close and personal with the first Space Shuttle Atlantis which was in service for 26 years. It is battered and worn, but still a sight to see. I bet it can still make the journey.
When you get up close to the 363 foot Apollo Saturn V that carried first the humans to the moon, it makes you feel so very proud. It’s even more impressive when you see the actual equipment that got that monster out of our atmosphere. They didn’t have the computers we have today. It was done on a wing and a prayer. But they did it. NASA made history and continues to do so.
They had a launch that very morning, so we took the tour out to the launch pads to see the very buildings where the magic actually happens. It looks so serene until one of those rockets begins the countdown.
They told us that the force generated upon liftoff is like that of an atomic bomb going off. On the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building, you could put Yankee Stadium and still have one acre for parking? It is mind staggering.
In one of two I-Max Theatres, you can see and feel what it’s like to be in space. And you can even meet an astronaut and get their personal story of how they achieved their dream of becoming an astronaut. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jon McBride who became an astronaut in 1979. As many astronauts before and after him, these daredevils were pilots.
Jon flew 64 combat missions over Southeast Asia. But Jon told me it was always his dream as a young boy to become an astronaut. His dream really did come true in 1984 when he piloted the STS-41-6 Challenger on an eight-day mission with a crew of seven. Today, Jon is a member of the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter.
Here’s a fact that really astounded me. The mission to the moon took 12 days to complete. The next manned mission planned to Mars will take a round trip of 2 years to complete. But I have no doubt it will happen.
But there is no “I” in team which it takes to make it all happen. Jon lives by a three-pronged code.
1) You can’t do it alone.Not a bad code for all to follow.
2) Always be professional.
3) Always be truthful.
If you ever have the chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center, do it! It will awaken the drive and skill a nation and its people can achieve when they truly have a dream!
From the files of Mary Jane Popp at KAHI Radio in Sacramento, California
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