On our way out of Orlando we stopped at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. They have a bunch of exhibits and a top-notch bus tour. Here are some interesting factoids that I remember:
1. The shuttle program is being shut down. There are only two more launches, November 2010 and February 2011.
2. The most number of launches they ever did in one year was six.
3. 14,000 people work here! A lot of them are military though.
4. The are dozens of launch pads here and besides the shuttle they are forever launching military rockets and stuff like that.
5. The orbiters (what we think of as the space shuttle, but I guess the latter term includes the external stuff that the cut loose on the way up) were designed to do 100 flights, but are being retired after around 38 each.
6. They usually land at Cape Canaveral but sometimes are forced by weather to land in California. They hate this because it is very expensive to do the bolt the shuttle to a 747 routine, requiring among other things 200 engineers to fly to CA. They routinely extend shuttle missions to avoid this.
7. There is a whole group devoted to sending boats out pickup the discarded solid rocket boosters from the ocean. They get sent to Utah for refurbishment and eventual reuse.