When I first heard of the Rocket Garden, I thought it sounded silly. “What, do they plant rocket seeds there and hope they grow into big tall rockets?” I joked. Of course, that was before I saw it for myself. The Rocket Garden is definitely not a joke. On the contrary, the Rocket Garden is an awe-inspiring monument to space exploration.
Centrally located in the middle of the main Visitor’s Center complex, the Rocket Garden is the heart of the Kennedy Space Center. The metallic behemoths we call rockets soar high above the surroundings, almost as if even now they are reaching into the skies and beyond.
When I first stumbled onto the Rocket Garden, I literally forgot how to breathe. That first panoramic view as I approached was spectacular. It is a wide-open space with real rockets and rocket parts laid out like exhibits in a formal botanical garden, at a much larger scale.
Inside the Rocket Garden, I wandered around and looked at the individual rockets. I stood at the base of genuine rockets and marveled at how big and tall they had to be to get the job done. I entered three different reproductions of capsules that held actual astronauts – first the Mercury, then the Apollo, and then the Gemini – and sat where the real astronauts once sat in order to blast into space. I even walked across a gantry (an orange bridge) in simulation of the walk of astronauts entering the capsule. For the first time in my life, I truly began to understand just how complex shooting someone into space really is. Seeing a rocket on television is nothing like seeing the real thing.
When I looked at those rockets, I saw so many things. I saw the history of the individual human beings who went into space, as well as the engineers and support crew that helped them get there. I saw the astounding hardware that made it all possible. I saw a miracle manifested into reality. Most of all, I saw the indomitable human spirit that will challenge and overcome anything, even the greatest forces of nature herself. I saw success and achievement. I saw a bright future for an ambitious humanity who keeps pushing the limits and moving beyond what we once thought impossible. In short, I saw hope.
This is something you cannot understand simply by looking at pictures. You must visit it for yourself in order to experience the true majesty of the Rocket Garden.