Guest blog: Tour of Kennedy Space Center buildings

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Sunday, May 15, 2011

While waiting in Titusville, Florida, for the launch of space shuttle Endeavour, Astronomy’s volunteer launch representative, Brenda Culbertson, was able to explore all Kennedy Space Center had to offer.

NASA's "crawler" is used to transport the shuttle assembly to the launch pad. Gravel is used for the roadway because it will crush into a powder under the massive weight, but asphalt would stick and stop the crawler. Twenty people are in place when the crawler is in operation. // All photos by Brenda Culbertson
On May 14, NASA offered a tour of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to members of the media. I, of course, took advantage of the opportunity to see more of the KSC area, the buildings, and the visible history that was in place.

Our guide for the tour was Greg Hale, a retired NASA employee who volunteers as a docent at KSC. His vast knowledge was on display as he told us about the various buildings, landmarks, and areas around the launch pads. Hale also gave strict instructions about what is and is not allowed for visitors to do. I much appreciated his humor as well as his historic knowledge during the trip. I would like to sit and visit with him one-on-one sometime before I leave to hear some of the stories that don’t make it to the public very often.

Space shuttle Endeavour stands ready for launch at at PAd 39A.
We stayed on the bus while we toured the facility, but we went as close as we could to Launch Pad 39A with Endeavour standing ready. We also went by Pad 39B, which is currently being demolished. Hale informed us that NASA started a Pad 39C when a fleet of shuttles was in the plans, but it did not get past being a concrete pad on the ground. The dream of a fleet of shuttles did not come to be.

Buildings where things were made, designed, disassembled, loaded, unloaded, and otherwise utilized for the development of a successful space program dotted the area. Structures of all sizes stood alongside the buildings, and Hale explained their uses, past and present.

Even the jungle-like vegetation around the pads held secrets and purposes that Hale barely touched upon. He did mention some of the animal life that thrived in the trees, and it was not just birds living there. Alligators, tortoises, snakes, and panthers were listed along with other creatures.

Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39B is currently being demolished. NASA no longer has use for it with the current programs at KSC.
The tour lasted a bit over an hour as we were transported back in time by Hale’s tales and then brought back to the present as we returned to the media building. Not everyone has the chance to take a trip like we did today.


More STS-134 blogs by Brenda Culbertson
STS-134 nears launch date (again)

Witnessing an Atlas V launch

STS-134 — the last mission of space shuttle Endeavour

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