If you are visiting the Central Florida area and have not made it out to the Kennedy Space Center, you should. This week and weekend offers a rare opportunity to see the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on display at the Visitor Complex. If you can make it to KSC on Wednesday, February 11, you’ll be in for a big treat as a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch.
If you recall, the SpaceX Dragon is the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Prior to SpaceX’s $1.6 billion contrat with NASA, only government spacecraft delivered and retrieved cargo from the ISS. The Dragon was the first of 12 cargo missions contracted. It made history in May of 2012 with its trip into space, successfully completing the mission. It is currently the only spacecraft flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Talk about a glorified trash truck!
ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The SpaceX Dragon display is included with admission to KSC and is free for annual pass holders of this theme park. It offers a great opportunity to get your souvenir photo taken with an actual spacecraft that has recently been in space.
Since the Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for 6:03 p.m. on February 11, this day will allow guests to visit the attraction complex all day and be in for a treat shortly after closing. The Visitor Complex hours are 9 am – 6 pm; and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® hours are from Noon – 5 pm. Extended hours are also a possibility on launch days.
This particular Falcon 9 rocket is a Deep Space Climate Observatory, which is a fancy way for saying that the satellite will help predict the weather! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) space weather alerts and forecasts observe the nation’s solar winds. By placing this observatory in orbit, it will provide up to a 60-minute warning for geomagnetic storms. These are the storms that can effect transportation systems, power grids, telecommunications and GPS. Pretty cool, huh?!
If you enjoy learning more about our nation’s history in space, be sure to plan a day at KSC. Having the Dragon and a Rocket Launch this week, make it an extra special time to visit this Central Florida attraction. The next launch is scheduled for March 12 at 10:44 p.m. It is an Atlas V rocket that will make three-dimensional measurements of magnetospheric boundary regions and examine the process of magnetic reconnection. Sounds like rocket science to me…