The Rocket Garden is a self-guided tour, or sometimes a staff member will show up to give a guided tour of the rockets. Access to the Rocket Garden is included with all admission tickets.
In 2010, the second stage of the Titan II missile was restored and topped with a mock-up of the Gemini capsule. The Gemini Program was an intermediate program between the early Mercury and the moon landing Apollo missions. In all, there were 10 manned missions which captured our attention between 1965 and 1966. It was this program that proved that man could live in space for extended periods of time and perform all of the important tasks necessary to go to the moon.
That rocket is now the tallest rocket now standing. Of course, the Saturn 1B, which lies on its side, is the tallest rocket in the garden.
Touring the Rocket Garden
As you tour the Rocket Garden, each exhibit gives a brief description of the equipment as well as how it was used or adapted for space travel. You'll find that many of the rockets used for space flight, were actually part of the United States missile arsenal created during the Cold-War. The prime exception is the development of the Saturn rocket which was created specifically to put big stuff into orbit. Although it had its beginnings as a means of lifting large orbiting spy satellites, it quickly became the workhorse for fulfilling President Kennedy's challenge of putting a man on the moon.
In the foreground is one of the F-1 rocket engines used on the Saturn 5 first stage. There were a total of 5 of these engines on that first stage booster.
Get the Capsule Experience!
Besides the rockets, are the capsule that carried men to the outer reaches of manned space exploration. Visitors to the Rocket Garden can actually sit inside the same capsule that once sat atop the fiery missiles that sent these brave test-pilots aloft. Trying to climb inside the Mercury capsule only reminded me that it was time to start that diet that I had been putting off for the last 20 years.