Orlando’s Magic: the Space Kennedy Center

“It’s always a thrilling experience to go into a place that offers you a lot of choice. You know it’s like it reminds you of when you’re a kid and you go to the amusement park and whether it be Disneyworld or Six Flags you know that thrilling moment when you first enter and you know you’ve got all these possibilities for the day and it’s really a… it’s a wonderful feeling.” ~ Sheena Iyengar

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My first time in Orlando was for a business conference. I discovered though, that the city is a dreamland of theme parks, for all ages. It would have been lovely to go to DisneyWorld or Universal with my family. So though we were busy with work, we found time to sneak an afternoon to another adult theme park: The Kennedy Space Center.

I’m not a space enthusiast, but the idea of going to a space center is still quite thrilling. We were in a hurry, so we rode a cab outtown, and the driver agreed to wait for us so he can bring us back to city center. As soon as we arrived at the visitor’s center, we got our tickets, took pictures by the NASA icon and rockets garden, and looked for the next available show: an Astronaut Encounter.

The Center featured Ken Cameron that afternoon— a former Space Shuttle astronaut. He described his missions… from the uniforms, equipment, space protocol, lift-off stages, and their work on the satellites, and even re-integration back to earth. He had very interesting trivia to share too:

  • Each mission has a unique patch that they sew on their uniforms, their flags, and all mission paraphernalia. They hold a “creative workshop” to come up with the design patches.
  • The uniforms have round, metal-like necklines, not just to fit their helmets, but also as a protection against water/sea water, in case of a water landing. The necklines will prevent water from entering their suit.
  • Rockets lift upwards, then slowly veer horizontally to prepare for ascent to space.
  • Before lift-off, the astronauts are all gathered in a room with no windows. The lights are adjusted internally, so the astronauts will have time to adjust their circadian rhythm to morning and night, just like in a plane.
  • Someone in the audience asked: What do you need to do to become an Astronaut? His answer: 1) Study hard (it was a little boy who asked the question) 2) Have a technical background 3) Really love flying and space. Passion will always come into play.

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I felt giddy like a kid listening to him, taking pictures, and absorbing our short but sweet time at the Center. I really wished we had more time to take the bus tour or go to the launch center. Theme parks really bring out the joy and amazement— to kids and to kids at heart. But alas, work beckons and we had to go back to the convention center. But the Space Center was a definitely a unique experience, and I hoped to relive this magic again with my kids, someday, when we go back to Orlando.

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