TOUR AMERICA 2019: FLORIDA SPACE COAST

Home Is Where We Park It:  Joy RV Park

Date:  April 4, 2019

We Made It! Kennedy Space Center

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Today we made it to the Kennedy Space Center.  This has been on my bucket list for oh so long.  Yet, never in a million years did I ever believe I would ever get to go.  Hey, two years ago I thought I would still be working until July of this year.  Oh thank you Vonage for throwing me out the door and thereby setting us free on this remarkable journey that we’ve been on.

The good news first before we actually get into our day.  Barbara was finally able to get her insulin.  Now she can get back to taking her regular shot each day.  Hopefully, in a day or two she will be completely back to her old self and sassing me around!

Ready . . . Set . . . Go!  We’ve off on a day of exploration and new experiences.  We first dropped Marti off at day care.  We didn’t want to leave him in the cage a second day.  At day care he would have a whole room to run around in and other dogs to play with.

Next, we stopped at a so-called bagel shop for what they called bagels.  I asked for an everything bagel and it had everything but what an everything bagel was supposed to have on it.  Really?  They have no idea what a bagel really is.  How disappointing but we should have known better.

Finally we were off to the Kennedy Space Center.  If you’ve been there before you know how absolutely fantastic this place is.  If you’ve never been hopefully what follows will peak your interest in it and motivate you to put it on your must do list.  Also, what follows is just a small taste of this remarkable facility.  We spent some seven hours there and took over 250 pictures.  There is no way I could include it all in a blog.  So let’s get going.

These are the two entrance signs that let you know you are in the right place.

 

Once you have your tickets and go through the security check point you see the missile garden.

5 Space Garden

This is an outdoor display of historic rockets that put Americans and satellites in space. Most of the rockets on display are real, though never flown in space. Remember: in the early days of America’s space program, we did not reuse or retrieve rockets once they launched.

Following the advice of others who have already toured this impressive complex  we arrived early and headed immediately for the bus tour.  This is a mural of The International Space Station on a wall leading to the loading area for the bus tour.

6 Mural on Wall leading to bus

7 entrance to bus tours.JPG

Unfortunately, today the bus tour did not go to either of the launch pads nor several other places of interest.  That’s because the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket due to launch the Arabsat 6A communications satellite on Sunday night is on launch pad 39a.  Here it is as seen from the bus from about three miles away.  They were also supposed to test fire the engines tonight, Thursday.

10a launch pad 39 falcon heavy

Another building we did see during the bus tour was the Vehicle Assembly Building.  The Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB is designed to assemble the large pre-manufactured space vehicle components, such as the massive Saturn V and the Space Shuttle; and stack them vertically onto the Mobile Launch Platform and crawler transporter.   This is the only facility where assembly of a rocket occurred that carried humans beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon.

 

Interesting note, the red and white stripes of the United States flag are each wide enough for a class A RV to drive down.  In the picture to the right you can see a mobile launch platform.  When a rocket is attached to it the crawler would move under it and transport it to one of two launch pads at a blazing speed of – ready for this – 1 mph!

A stop on the bus tour was to the Apollo Saturn V Center.  What an awesome display!  It is a large museum built around its centerpiece exhibit, a restored Saturn V launch vehicle, and features other space related exhibits, including an Apollo capsule. There are two theaters.  One simulates the Apollo 11 moon landing.

11 Apollo Saturn Theater Exhibit

The other theater simulates the environment inside an Apollo firing room during an Apollo launch.  This is part of the actual control room for Apollo 8 saved and reassembled here.

12 Apollo Saturn Theater Exhibit Portion of Original Lunch Control Room

12aa Apollo Eight

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These three were the first to be launched by the Saturn V rocket,  first to escape from the Earth’s gravitational field, the first to orbit the Moon

This is the centerpiece of the museum the Saturn V  rocket that ushered in a new age in space exploration and propelled the Apollo capsules into space.

The Saturn V rocket was 363 feet tall, about the height of a 36-story-tall building, and 60 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Fully fueled for liftoff, the Saturn V weighed 6.2 million pounds. The rocket generated 7.6 million pounds of thrust at launch.  Whenever I feel a need for power going up a hill in my RV I’m going to think of the horsepower of this massive rocket.

12a Apollo Saturn Theater Exhibit Thursters Saturn 5

This is the complete Saturn V, as much of it as I could get.  The Saturn V was an expendable rocket used by NASA between 1967 and 1973. The three-stage liquid-propellant super heavy-lift launch vehicle was developed to support the Apollo program for human exploration of the Moon and was later used to launch Skylab, the first American space station.

The rocket as stated above had three stages. Each stage would burn its engines until it was out of fuel and would then separate from the rocket. The engines on the next stage would fire, and the rocket would continue into space. The first stage had the most powerful engines, since it had the challenging task of lifting the fully fueled rocket off the ground. The first stage lifted the rocket to an altitude of about 42 miles. The second stage carried it from there almost into orbit. The third stage placed the Apollo spacecraft into Earth orbit and pushed it toward the moon. The first two stages fell into the ocean after separation. The third stage either stayed in space or hit the moon.

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About that pen you see in the picture above, it is the Fischer Space Pen.

 

Here’s another interesting item on display.  Everyone should recognize this guy.

 

In this complex the Apollo 14 capsule was also on display.  I can’t imagine being stuffed into this contraption for any length of time.  Had to be awfully unconformable.

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There is so much more on display in this museum but it is just not possible to display all the pictures of everything we saw.  There were space suits, equipment that the astronauts used, a replica of the lunar rover, an actual piece of moon rock – yup you got to touch it and I did – and so much more.  I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to visit this museum if you haven’t already.  You owe it to yourself to go.

The next major display we visited based on the recommendation of others was the

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You gain entrance to the Shuttle museum by waking under this bad boy.

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Here is a scale model of the Shuttle and its external rockets and fuel tank.

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The three Space Shuttle Main Engines, in conjunction with the Solid Rocket Boosters, provide the thrust to lift the Orbiter off the ground for the initial ascent. The main engines continue to operate for 8.5 minutes after launch, the duration of the Shuttle’s powered flight.

After the solid rockets are jettisoned, the main engines provide thrust which accelerates the Shuttle from 3,000 mph to 17,000 mph in just six minutes to reach orbit. They create a combined maximum thrust of more than 1.2 million pounds.

As the Shuttle accelerates, the main engines burn a half-million gallons of liquid propellant provided by the large, orange external fuel tank. The main engines burn liquid hydrogen — the second coldest liquid on Earth at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 252.8 degrees Celsius) — and liquid oxygen.

OK, once inside the museum you enter a wrap around theater that details the whole space shuttle program.  Then when the movie ends the screen in front of you disappears and there you see the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

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The space shuttle did many things. It could carry up to seven astronauts at a time. The space shuttle was like a moving van. It took satellites to space so they could orbit Earth. The shuttle carried large parts into space to build the International Space Station. The space shuttle was also like a science lab. Astronauts did experiments there. Doing experiments in space is different than doing them on Earth.  Each time a space shuttle launched, it was called a mission. The space shuttle launched for 135 missions. Each mission lasted for one or two weeks. The first mission was in 1981. The last mission was in 2011.

On April 12, 2011, NASA announced that Space Shuttle Atlantis would be provided to the visitors center for display after its last flight on and subsequent decommissioning. The exhibit officially opened on June 29, 2013, offering a nearly 360-degree view of the shuttle.  Atlantis is positioned at a 43.21 degrees angle with the payload bay doors open; a view only previously seen in space.

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When the shuttle orbiter returned to Earth, it came down from the sky like an airplane.  Here I am in the cockpit simulator preparing to land my very own shuttle.

16g Atlantis Display cockpit me flying

This is a picture of the underside with the titles installed that protected the shuttle and kept it from burning up on reentry.

16j Atlantis Display bottom and titles

Wheels came out from underneath the orbiter. It rolled to a stop on a runway. Then

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NASA would prepare it to fly on another mission.  This slide represents the downward angle of the shuttle as it prepared to land on the runway.

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Of course I had to try it.  Wheeeeeeeeeee and down we go.  What a blast!

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OK, one last picture.  Barbara and myself with the resident astronaut for picture taking.

Barb and Me with Astronout.JPG

There you have it.  Our day at Kennedy Space Center.  Really, I’ve just scratched the surface it terms of the exhibits that are there, the simulators you can try, and so much more.  If you haven’t been there I’ll say it again you owe it to yourself to visit the complex.  Just be prepared to spend hours, if not several days to see it all.

That was our day on The Road of Retirement.  It was packed full of sight-seeing and exploration from sunup to sundown.  Just our kind of day.  Tomorrow, though, going to have to give my knees a bit of a rest.   Yes, I’m walking just fine but two days of constant walking still does take a toll on them.  They’re much, much better than ever before but I know when to give them a rest.  Thank you Lord for the progress that has been made.

Thanks for coming along with us today.  We hoped you enjoyed our little tour of the Kennedy Space Center.  Like I said, if you haven’t been there then what are you waiting for – go now!

These are the voyages of  Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans.  Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before

See you on down the road

One thought on “TOUR AMERICA 2019: FLORIDA SPACE COAST

  1. What can I say about your blog!! Amazing blog of an awesome place. We agree we could have spent another day touring that facility. I would think those that read your blog would certainly put this place on their bucket list. Thanks for bringing back so many memories. Rest those knees before your next adventure. Hoping the Heavy does launch Sunday but what I read yesterday, it didn’t sound likely. 😟 Enjoy your time in the area.

    Like

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