Kennedy Space Center. It was a cold day today—our first cold day in Florida. I wore my fleece all day.
The entrance. It felt more like a theme park than NASA. In fact, once inside, there were arcades, restaurants, and other assorted theme park-like things.
Angry Birds? Really? This was actually an arcade. What will NASA think of next?
The rocket garden. These things are huge, and quite impressive. The one on the far right is interesting because they took 6 of those, strapped them together, and that’s how they got the Apollo rockets into space.
Bob in a module the size of a VW beetle. Barely room for two.
Here you can see it a little better. Six of the rocket labbled UE were strapped together to form the Apollo rocket, which is the one lying on its side (because it is so much bigger than thee rockets).
I tried to get the whole thing in one shot, but it’s huge. It’s easily twice as long as the UE rocket, see the six of them in the left end?
We took a tram tour of the entire property (at least what they’d let the public see). Some of those pictures are next.
The view from the stands where the public is allowed to witness launches. The pads are where the clusters of towers are. I think those towers are actually lightning rods to protect the rockets when they’re in place. The buildings are where the rockets are built, etc. Parts of those buildings are now being leased to private industry.
This was built in the 1960s and it is still the biggest single story building in the world. Its tall enough to assemble the Space Shuttle and rolle it out through enormous doors and slowly move it to the launch pads which are about 3 miles away.
Close up view of the launch pad that was just leased by Space X for commercial purposes.
Here’s the road the rockets have to travel to get to the launch pad. It travels on a giant platform that is supported by two huge tracks, kind of like a tank’s. One track is on one side of the grassy middle, the other on the other side. You can see the launch pad in the distance. It was about 3 miles, and it took about 5 hours to move that far. Oh, and the platform only got 32 feet to the gallon.
Here’s the building where rockets and the Space Shuttles were built. To give you an idea of how big it is, the stars on the flag are 6 feet across and each stripe is 9 feet wife. The entire flag is the size of a basketball court.
Here’s another view. Remember, it is only one story. The entire inside of this building is hollow.
Here’s the control tower for the runway where the Space Shuttle landed. The runway is nearly 3 miles long and its as wide as a football field is long. NASCAR sometimes uses it to test new cars because it is so level, wide, and long.
At the end of the tour, they shuffled us into a large dark room and explained the history of the Atlantis Space Shuttle. Then the whole back wall opened and there it was! The actual Atlantis Space Shuttle, suspended in mid air, exactly like it was when it returned from its last mission. It was really, really spectacular. Very well done! Here’s more about Atlantis.
Here we are! As I said before, it was a cold day and really windy. It was a good day to be mostly inside.
This was mind-bogglingly huge. It’s the external fuel tank and solid fuel rockets that the Space Shuttle was attached to duirng lift-off. The white solid fuel rockets fell away pretty quicly and were recovered for cleaning and re-use. However, the orange fuel tank was detached after the Space Shuttle cleared the atmosphere so it burned up on re-entry. It was the only part of the SS not designed to be re-used.
Here’s an idea of how big this thing is. It’s something like 34 stories.
Here’s what the fuel tank and rockets looked like with the Space Shuttle attached.
The end of an Apollow rocket. The size is enormous.
That’s Bob in the blue jacked with the red stripe on the sleeve. The size of the engines compared to the people gives you an idea of how big the engines are.
And here’s Atlantis. I don’t know why, but this was an incredibly awesome exhibit. It was moving to be so close to it and to see how beat up it is after all those space flights.
They displayed Atalantis with its cargo bay door open and its arm extended, just like it would have been in space.
Another view so you can see the extended arm.
The underside of Atlantis. The darkest squares are missing ceramic tiles.
A reproduction of the cockpit. It was a favorite with the kids. Bob wanted to try, but the kids were so much faster! : )
This is what the interior looked like. The astronauts floated through them, but we had to crawl. Killed my knees, but totally worth it!
Here’s a look at the entry point. It was pretty small!
The best part was the glass tunnel we had to crawl through that was a couple stories up. Here’s Bob enjoying the heck out of it!
Sorry it’s blurry, but this gives you an idea of how small the tubes are.
A view of the glass tunnel from below. It was a kick! Don’t wear a skirt 🙂
All of our Space Shuttles.
There were tons of simulators that were supposedly similar to those the astronauts used for training.
More views of Atlantis. It really was an incredible sight.
This was the view from down below. Just above the United States is the open cargo door. The pictures of the inside of the cargo hold are above.