KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (October 7, 2015) – Dozens of injured veterans got an up-close look at the history of U.S. space travel with a visit to Kennedy Space Center. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) took the group to the visitor’s center for NASA’s Florida home for rocket launches as part of its Alumni program.
The Alumni program creates support through shared experiences, helping support WWP’s mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. Through sporting events, gatherings, and an online community, the Alumni program boosts camaraderie and brings injured veterans together to help each other heal. It is one of 20 programs and services made available to wounded service members free of charge.
This group of injured service members had the chance to walk through the rocket garden to see actual Saturn, Titan, and Juno rockets used in NASA missions. They also toured the launch pads used for space missions and learned about the massive undertaking each rocket launch is today.
The group also experienced Atlantis, one of three retired shuttles used by NASA.
Army veteran and WWP Alumnus Michael Carasquillo enjoyed learning about the shuttle program.
“One of my favorite parts of the day was the Shuttle Launch Experience, which was a realistic simulator of an actual launch,” Carasquillo said. “It was intense and also really informative.”
Atlantis handled 33 missions to space over 26 years, including the final shuttle operation into space.
Marine Corps veteran and WWP Alumnus Michael Larson enjoyed the history of the facility.
“My favorite part was seeing the Apollo rocket,” Larson said. “It was bigger than I ever thought it would be. I also liked seeing the space suits, especially the one worn on the moon still covered in moon dust by my favorite astronaut, Alan Shepard.”
“We got to tour the facility and have lunch with an actual astronaut, which was incredible,” Carasquillo said. “He gave us all sorts of insight into his life as an astronaut, his journey to becoming an astronaut and he shared some incredible stories and photos with us from his missions.”