By Don Gworek
I had the opportunity to see the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at the crack of dawn, and quickly snapped these photos to share with Orlando Attractions Magazine readers.
The above photo shows a full size model of the new Orion capsule and escape motor that have been in development. The escape motor is displayed here horizontally, with four steering nozzles halfway up.
The escape rocket would carry astronauts away in an emergency during a launch. The escape motor is designed to carry the capsule away from the main rocket very quickly, and also be able to adjust itself upward. Once safely away and upright, the escape motor separates and the capsule deploys parachutes for descent to the ground.
This escape motor was successfully tested in May. Check out the official NASA video Here showing the test. (Note: there is no sound in this video.)
The reason I was at the Visitor Center at dawn was to run the inaugural Saturn 5K race. That’s Saturn “5K”, as in Saturn V, the powerful rocket that launched the Apollo program to the moon. The Saturn 5K was great fun. The course zipped all around the visitor complex, fitting 3.1 miles into nearly every available walkway and access road.
For me the best part was running through the security gates to circle the loop where guests board the tour buses. I’ve taken these tours many times, roughly once a year. I’m looking forward to seeing this bus loop the next time and grinning with amusement that I’ve run on that stretch of pavement. It was also interesting to see every single tour bus lined up in the parking lot.
Here’s video of what the Saturn 5K was like: