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Photo Update: Kennedy Space Center at dawn, plus video from the inaugural Saturn 5K

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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 Rocket Garden showcases the earliest U.S. rockets.


Sales of the popular Challenger license plate in Florida helped fund the construction of the astronaut memorial.


The names in the memorial are always lit from behind.


One of the newer attractions at the visitor center is a simulation of a shuttle mission. For accuracy, it was designed with input from shuttle astronauts.


This is a close copy of an actual shuttle.


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.


The finish, complete with someone in a space suit.


Here’s video of what the Saturn 5K was like:

Kennedy Space Center inaugural Saturn 5K race - Running the Visitor Complex at dawn

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1 comment

Kerri November 18, 2010 - 2:35 pm

Awesome Pictures! Bummer I missed out on the 5K, I work out there and I didn’t hear anything about it. It sounds like it was awesome. Where did you hear about the race?

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