Kennedy Space Center: Space past and future

When presented with a question, "Where to go on one tank of gas?" there was no other answer than the place in Florida that I have only seen in pictures, read about in books, and even seen on the big screen: Kennedy Space Center.

"It's a very unique destination. This is about real space,” Andrea Farmer, spokeswoman for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center, told FOX 13 News. "You'll take a bus for 15 minutes, go into the KSC, and see for yourself what you have only seen on TV -- The launch pads, VAB, all the areas where the work takes place to make all this possible.  And now we're looking towards the future.  The work is still happening here."

Instead of starting with the future, I decided to look into the past: How we got to this point in space exploration. What better way to do that than by stopping by the Saturn V-Apollo Center.

"It really is mind-blowing to think about what really was impossible at the time, something that never was done before, and the whole world was watching as we did something amazing.” Farmer said. "It's very interesting to note that the space shuttle program was announced during Apollo 16 and that's when President Nixon called them and said, 'Here's what's going on and here is a little bit about it.'"

That brings us to the visitors center, and the prized piece, shuttle Atlantis, in all her glory -- almost close enough that you can touch it.

"For a lot of us here at KSC, and having shuttle Atlantis here, it's very special because she was the last shuttle orbiter to land in the 30-year program.  She looks like she's smiling when you see her!"

Without that program, we wouldn’t have the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station.

Now, NASA is looking forward, further than they have ever looked before as far as an astronaut destination. Eventually, astronauts will hopefully return to the moon, an asteroid, and even Mars with the new Orion spacecraft. 

Right now, NASA is as busy as they’ve ever been with launches and they hope to stay busy with inquiring minds as well.

"Kids that are in the fifth or sixth grade could be the first on Mars, so coming out here is a great way to think about that,” Farmer added. “Trying to inspire those young minds about science and mathematics because we want all the smart kids to come out and join the team here at NASA."