By Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
8:52 AM EDT, September 6, 2012
Notes I made during an "up-close" tour of Launch Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center:
•En route to the pad, where all Apollo launches were made and many space shuttle missions began, we passed the Observation Gantry, the multilevel outpost that previously was as close as the public could get to the pad.
•We stopped relatively close to the launch pad, but it's not like we were up where the shuttle used to be. It was crazy to think that. We were probably 200 yards from that. But that would be dangerously close at the time of blastoff, of course. "We would not stand here," said the guide. "We would not survive."
•That's there even something called "the fire trench" is a good enough sign for me. Better than the warning sign that says "Do not dig, cut/weld, use spark/heat producing devices without a permit."
•When we rode around the back side of the area, we could see the corroded fence (thanks, fire trench) and emergency escape lines — like very dramatic zip lines.
•There is office space built in beneath the launch pad for researchers, engineers and others, an official told me. I believe it, but doesn't it feel like an urban myth?
•The launch-pad tour, along with the VAB experience and Launch Control Center tours, are scheduled to run only through the end of the year. There will be talks with NASA, and they could be extended. The prospect of future space business there could wipe out the special tours.
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