The NASA reception at the Saturn V Center at KSC tonight was cool, with lots of appetizers, a cash bar, and oh yes, a real Saturn V rocket over our heads (a real Lunar Module too). There are lots of interesting people at this STS-118 pre-launch educational conference, with a good opening session this morning, though the afternoon and evening were devoted to a pretty detailed tour of Kennedy Space Center, including the new Shuttle Adventure "experience" (not a ride!) at the visitor complex. It is certainly an exciting way to demonstrate the main features of a shuttle launch (tipping back nearly vertical, lots of shaking, very loud sounds), but not quite as awesome as I expected (maybe I know too much!).
Then we boarded buses for a tour of KSC itself, driving past the VAB, seeing the huge crawler/transporter, driving close to pad 39A (where Endeavour was mostly hidden by the RSS), driving even closer to pad 39B (no shuttle there so the complex structure was quite evident), and finally to the SLF (shuttle landing facility), a very long runway where we watched a NASA Gulfstream take off. This could have been a Shuttle Training Aircraft (our guide wasn't sure). We also saw T-38's and other Gulfstreams on the flightline.
Finally we made our way to the Saturn V Center where there were a lot of things to see, do, eat, and drink, and people to schmooze with. We also saw the bleachers from which we will view the launch on Wednesday if all continues to go well. This VIP viewing area has a clear view of the pad over maybe 4 miles of water. Go Endeavour! More and bigger pix on Flickr, and more to come but I'm too tired now! The conference continues at 8 am tomorrow.