History ForAmerica: Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida
There are over 2,600 National Historic Landmarks in the United States and it
would be nearly impossible for any one person to travel them all.
So, allow us to bring a piece of history alive, one historic site at a time.
Recently, ForAmerica visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. After five decades, NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center continues to lead America’s adventure into space. Kennedy shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s east coast (primarily in Cape Canaveral, Florida), where nature and technology co-exist. The refuge includes about 140,000 acres on land and water and provides a wide variety of habitats, including coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries and marshes, freshwater impoundments, scrub, pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks that provide habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals.* Just to give you an idea how much land NASA owns off the coast of Florida, Disney World - less than an hour away from Cape Canaveral - opened in 1971 with 25,000 acres of land (they have since added several thousand more acres).
When arriving at the Kennedy Space Center, try to arrive when the center opens. Currently operating under COVID restrictions, the center is open from 10am-4pm daily. If you arrive when opening, the National Anthem is played precisely at 10am. There is nothing more American than walking into a facility with such history. Everyone stops what they are doing to place hand over heart and pay their proper respects.
Immediately upon entering, patrons are greeted with the Heroes and Legends U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. In addition, a garden of rocket and space capsules in the center of the park, provides an instant sense of awe and achievement.
One of the most memorable parts of the Kennedy Space Center is the tribute to those astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice as part of the U.S. space exploration program. Three fatal space tragedies: the Apollo 1 fire on Jan. 27, 1967, the Challenger Shuttle disaster on Jan. 28, 1986 and the Columbia Shuttle accident on Feb. 1, 2003. All the astronauts who lost their lives as a result of the those three space disasters are remembered with a beautifully designed wall with their names in lights. Part of the tribute includes several plaques and decorative pieces. For those old enough to remember the disasters, you quickly recall the names of the astronauts. The younger generation can read the plaques and learn more about the sacrifices made by those we lost.
You can’t miss the entrance to the home of space shuttle Atlantis: a mighty full-scale space shuttle stack of two solid rocket boosters and an orange external tank. Inside, Atlantis is displayed as only astronauts have seen her in space, rotated 43.21 degrees with payload doors open and Canadarm extended, as if just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). One of three space-flown shuttles displayed in the United States, Space Shuttle Atlantis® showcases the orbiter spacecraft and tells the story of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program.*
Visionary leaders like President Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy were committed to America's "Race to Space" achievements. Recently, President Donald J. Trump reenergized America's thirst for space missions when he created the branch of military known as Space Force. With environmental concerns and the potential for enormous comets and meteors closely entering earth's atmosphere, mankind's well being could depend on how quickly we can establish large space stations and colonies on the Moon and Mars.
*From the Kennedy Space Center website