The Family and I went to do something I have not done for over 25 years or so. We went to visit the Kennedy Space Center.
My son, Graham, is 10 years old and very interested in Science- albeit the type that blows things up. I soon found that while Kennedy is a bit touristy in regards to shameless merchandise, it was educational for the whole family. I consider myself a fairly informed person when it comes to history, but I learned a great deal as well.
While all the technical data and facts were stimulating, the most striking thing was the slant that the Center has on the whole space race, in retrospect. The gist of the commentary was that we as Americans only entered the space race in order to keep up with the Soviets- who launched Sputnik. We did not do very well at first if you look closely at our projects of that time. Our only motivation at that time was fear of a Nuclear Soviet Union and what their dominion of space would mean for us.
It is still very moving to hear the words of President Kennedy as he challenged our United States not only to succeed in the short term but to actually safely put a man on the moon and return him to Earth. This is history to us, but was shockingly bold in a time when math was done by slide rulers and circuits had large vaccuum tubes and big transistors. Despite all the odds we achieved this goal not once but six times! All of this reaffirmed in me that there is nothing that our Great Country with the Support of the Almighty cannot do. I pray that our present leaders can challenge the American people in such an all encompassing and constructive manner.
For those of us who remember the two fatal space shuttle incidents, it was also eye opening to see the records of the over 100 successful missions these revolutionary craft have flown. We actually got to see the Endeavor on pad 39A ready to go on another mission. Godspeed to Americas Great Heroes of space and the many Americans who work to support them every day.
Space Shuttle Launch Schedule - Kennedy Space Center