We Don’t Know Where We’re Going Unless We Know Where We’ve Been

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Thomas Sjoberg
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

The Boy Scouts of America Troop 373B, out of Melbourne, visited Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Dec. 11–13, 2020, for a unique look at several sites in space history.

Accompanied by Mr. James Draper, Air Force Space and Missile Museum director, the troop camped at the primary facility for the museum Launch Complex 26, for the weekend. They also toured the Cape’s historic space sites, participated in a beach cleanup, and even viewed a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch.

These locations showcased the unique history of the Cape; from visiting Hangar C, a museum revealing the full breadth of Cold War history through over 25 rocket and missile restorations, to the 19th century Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, which is the only fully operational lighthouse owned by the U.S. Space Force.

Draper said these locations were chosen because they allowed for COVID-19 mitigation measures to be enforced and supported educational outreach, which is the Air Force Space & Missile Museum’s primary mission.

“Launch Complex 26 was probably the most significant location they toured and they actually camped on site,” said Draper. “America entered the Space Race at this very location with the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958, America’s first satellite placed into orbit! I could tell that it made a lasting impact on the adult leaders and Scouts.”

Ken Vilardebo, Troop 373B Scoutmaster, said the Scouts were inspired by the impactful sites they visited.

“This was by far the best campout of all of 2020,” said Vilardebo. “The Scouts were blown away by Hangar C, the space museums, the lighthouse and the camp out on Launch Complex 26. Not too many things get a young Scout more interested than rockets and spaceflight. They were engaged the entire time.”

On their last day at the Cape, the Scouts decided to give back by participating in a beach cleanup.

“They split into two groups and cleaned the beach to the north and south,” said Draper. “They filled over a dozen large trash bags with garbage that had washed up along the shore.”

As they packed up camp, the Scouts got the rare opportunity to watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Launch Complex 26.

“The Scouts said it was incredible to see the whole rocket so clearly and hear the roar of the mighty Merlin engines,” said Draper. “Moreover, they watched a modern launch from the site where America entered the Space Race 62 years prior. It was a wonderful juxtaposition of past and present. Not too many enjoy such a rare opportunity.”

Draper said that this experimental tour showed the Scouts the innovation, dedication and leadership that propelled us to space and it will inspire them to excel.

“My goal was to connect these Boy Scouts with a history that is relevant to their everyday lives,” said Draper. “We truly don’t know where we are going unless we know where we’ve been.”