The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) August 3, 2004. Training for 28 MESSENGER Educator Fellows on Education Modules delivered through the Journey through the Universe program was conducted during launch week so the Fellows could attend the launch. Dr. Jeff Goldstein trained the Fellows on the Voyage Education Modules. Dr. Jeff is to the right in the picture. As part of one lesson the Fellows are here at Cocoa Beach laying out a Voyage Scale Model Solar System. The Kennedy Space Center is a few miles away to the left of the picture. From the beach, one could easily see KSC’s large Vehicle Assembly Building looming in the distance.
On the Voyage scale, the Sun is the size of a large grapefruit, the Earth is about the size of a pinhead 50 feet from the model Sun, and Pluto is far smaller than a pinhead nearly 2,000 feet from the Sun. When the Fellows got to the model Saturn, 470 feet from the grapefruit-sized Sun, Dr. Jeff reminded everyone that the Cassini spacecraft had just gone into orbit around Saturn earlier that month. It took nearly 7 years to get there, traveling over a billion miles. Everyone looked back to the model Earth in the distance to get a sense of this remarkable feat. And there, also in the distance, was the Kennedy Space Center where Cassini was launched 4:43 a.m. EDT, October 15, 1997.