Friday, January 25, 2019

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Spent a fun day with Bill & Julie and Bob & Sue at the Kennedy Space Center. Sue is a travel agent and was able to get us half price tickets! It was a pretty long drive from Sebastian, but traveling up US 1 was pleasant. The day was sunny but a bit nippy with the wind bustling around us. 

Upon arrival we headed into the Nature & Technology Center. The center highlighted early Florida with James Audubon's birds, hospitals and early life as pioneers. 

Tri-Color Heron, April 29, 1832

White Pelican, 1831 or 1832
The above are pictures painted by James Audubon. In 1820 he set off on his epic quest to depict America's wildlife, floating down the Mississippi River with nothing but his gun, artist's materials, and a young assistant. He arrived on the east coast of Florida in 1831 to find water birds and tropical species. Audubon's "Birds of America" is a collection of 435 life-size hand colored prints.

Patent Medicine Labels
Florida boasts the first hospital in North America, founded in St. Augustine in 1597. By the middle of the 19th century, remedies were available for almost every ailment. Often high in alcohol content, these remedies were very popular, if often ineffective, with those who found this ingredient to be very therapeutic.

In the 1840s, the first group of settlers established permanent residence on geographic Cape Canaveral. These hearty souls were from Georgia and the Carolinas, mostly of English and Scott-Irish heritage. By 1860, Brevard County was still sparsely settled with only 300 inhabitants. The first Cape Canaveral settlers occupied just a few households, but were able to remain a self-reliant existence in a hostile environment of brutal heat, plagues of mosquitoes, a challenging sand and scrub environment for growing crops, and perhaps most challenging of all, isolation from other people.

Hand-colored postcard, 19th Century
Florida became a United States territory at a time of great optimism and belief in a better future. Settlers had poured into middle Florida to grow cotton and sugar cane and build a society similar to those they had left in Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia Maryland and other places.

The sweet orange made "Indian River" a household name through the produce stands and grocery stores. Growing citrus became a way of life for many of the region's earliest families. By 1894, Florida was producing more than five million of boxes of fruit per year. Citrus cultivation was a major factor in the establishment and growth of the region's pioneer settlements, and the first packing houses were being built in the early 1900s. By the 1920s, citrus production had grown into an economic mainstay for Florida that continues to this day.

Kennedy Space Center is located on a barrier island called Merritt Island, which is about 34 miles long and varying in width from 5 to 10 miles.

The above picture is an aerial view of Launch Complex 39. Since August of 1963, Kennedy Space Center has been located in the middle of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Because the land was purchased as a buffer zone for NASA, it has been protected from development.

This is a picture of the Launch Complex that I took from the Saturn V Center. This was as close as we could get to the Launch Complex.

The above picture is an aerial view of Missile Row in 1964. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge's strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway provides a resting and feeding place for thousands of wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds.

Each year thousands of acres of upland and marsh are purposely burned to remove undergrowth, add nutrients to the soil and rejuvenate the vegetation. The Florida Scrub Jay is found in Florida scrub habitat, an ecosystem found only in central Florida.

The space shuttle charts the earth's topography showing the earth in 3-D images of the Earth's surface:

Zapala, Argentina

Kamchatka Peninsula, Russa

San Gabriel Mountains, California

NASA uses waterways to transport large hardware such as external tanks for the space shuttle. Here NASA is delivering an external tank. The space shuttle's first super lightweight external tank is moved on a barge toward the turn basin at the Kennedy Space Center. 

Splashdown of Apollo 11 in 1969. The properties of water cushion the space capsule enough that there is no need for a braking rocket to slow the final decent.

There is so much to see at the Kennedy Space Center, one needs more than one day to see all of it. Since we only had one day, we next headed for the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. 

Julie Mars
She wanted it to look like she was holding up the shuttle, but Bill photo shopped her picture.

This is the power behind a groundbreaking space transportation system. The full size orange external tank (ET) and white solid rocket boosters (SRBs) propelled the space shuttle into orbit. Though the SRBs burned for just over two minutes, they provided most of the thrust needed to launch the space shuttle. The ET contained the fuel for launch and emptied completely in 8.5 minutes. 

Why is the ET orange? It is orange because that is the color of its protective foam insulation. The tanks on the first two shuttle missions were painted white for added protection, but the practice was discontinued due to weight concerns.

Orion Space Capsule

Engineers inspect the 16.5 feet Orion heat shield before Exploration Flight Test-1.

Three types of engines were used on the space shuttle. The orbital maneuvering system engines allowed the Space Shuttle to launch as a rocket and fly as a spacecraft. 

The Space Shuttle is really three parts: the external tanks, solid rocket boosters, and the orbiter vehicle. 

The journey to Mars is complex and filled with challenges that NASA and its commercial partners are working to overcome. Before the first astronauts land on the Red Planet, NASA will deploy habitats and supplies on unmanned rockets to await their arrival. Expandable modules require less launch volume and potentially less mass than traditional metallic modules, and thus may offer increased cargo efficiency and reduced costs for Mars exploration missions.

Imagine floating alone in the vastness of space -- untethered and flying free. Six shuttle astronauts did just that in 1984 using a brand new technology: the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). The MMU strapped on to a spacesuit and allowed astronauts to maneuver in space without being tied to the Orbiter. It was powered by 24 nitrogen gas thrusters and steered by joysticks on the arm rests. The MMU was used on only three missions. It worked flawlessly, but NASA determined that extravehicular activities were just as effective without it. 

The Astrovan is a modified 1983 Airstream Excella. Among its special features are the ventilator units used to circulate cool air through the astronauts' bulky orange launch-and-entry suits. The Astrovan carried the astronauts to the launchpad for training and launches for 27 years, starting with the 9th Space Shuttle Mission (STS-9).

NASA's four great observatories are making profound discoveries about the universe.

There were six Space Shuttles that were used:

Enterprise's first flight was February 18, 1977. It was built to test the feasibility of a spaceship landing like a glider. Though she never flew in space, Enterprise made the rest of the Space Shuttle era a reality.  Enterprise was originally going to be named Constitution, but a write-in campaign by Star Trek fans persuaded President Gerald Ford to name her Enterprise, after the fictional starship.

Columbia's first flight was on April 12, 1981. It flew 28 missions. It was lost during reentry on February 1, 2003. Columbia was the first Orbiter to fly in space. She deployed the Chandra x-ray Observatory, launched the first commercial satellite of the Space Shuttle Program, participated in SpaceLab experiments, serviced Hubble, and was host to the first female Space Shuttle Commander, Eileen Collins. Columbia was named after the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe, and the Command Module of Apollo 11. 

Challenger's first flight was on April 4, 1983. It flew 10 missions. It was lost during a launch on January 28, 1986. Challenger hosted a number of FIRSTS: first spacewalk, first crew to include a woman, first African-American to fly in space, first unthethered spacewalk, and the first Orbiter to land at Kennedy Space Center after a mission. Challenger was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger, which sailed the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in the 1870s. The Apollo 17 lunar module was also named Challenger.

Discovery's first flight was on August 30, 1984. It flew 39 missions. Discovery flew the most miles of any Orbiter. At the completion of her final mission, she had traveled 148.2 million miles. Discovery and her crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. Discovery was named after two sailing ships of the same name. One was captained by James Cook on his historic 1768 voyage to the Hawaiian Islands. The other was sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610 as he searched for a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Atlantis' first flight was on October 3, 1985. It flew 33 missions. Atlantis flew missions to Mir and the International Space Station, launched planetary probes, rescued broken satellites, and worked for the Department of Defense. She flew the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program in July 2011. Atlantis was named after a research vessel at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. 

Endeavor's first flight was on May 7, 1992. It flew 25 missions. As the youngest of the fleet, Endeavor has a lot to be proud of. Her numerous accomplishments include delivering the first American module of the International Space Station and performing the rescue of the Hubble Telescope. Endeavor was named through a national student essay contest. Students chose the name to honor the ship used by Captain James Cook on his epic 18th century exploration of the South Pacific.

After leaving the Atlantis Space Shuttle exhibit we had lunch then took the bus to the Appollo/Saturn V Center. That is a great exhibit. They even had a film about the moon landing, which I took pictures of.

The Apollo 8 astronauts were the first humans to be launched by the Saturn V rocket, the first to escape from the Earth's gravitational field and the first to orbit the Moon. The six-day mission confirmed that the Apollo spacecraft's navigation, communications, guidance and propulsion systems were up to the task of carrying humans to and from the Moon.

The Apollo 10 crew conducted the first test of the Lunar Module in lunar orbit. As they descended to within 50,000 feet of the Moon's surface, astronauts Stafford and Cernan surveyed the future Apollo 11 Sea of Tranquility landing site.

Apollo 11 achieved President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safety to Earth. After landing on the Moon with only 30 seconds of fuel left, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin planted the American Flag and collected the first samples of lunar soil.

Snoopy the Astronaut
In 1968, NASA recruited Snoopy of the comic strip "Peanuts" as a mascot to "emphasize mission success and act as a 'watchdog' for fight safety. In May 1969 an estimated one million people watched on television as Apollo 10's Charlie Brown command module and Snoopy lunar module traveled to the Moon from the Kennedy Space Center as a rehearsal mission for the historic moon landing of Apollo 11. Charlie Brown returned safely to Earth after 31 lunar orbits, and is now on display at the Science Museum in London, England. The Snoopy lunar module remains in solar orbit to this day, the only surviving lunar module sent into space.

Snoopy remains an honored part of the space program. The Silver Snoopy Award is presented to individuals in NASA, other governmental agencies and within the industry for outstanding performance and contributions to the space program. The silver pin is presented by an astronaut in a ceremony usually occurring at the person's place of work. Dubbed the "astronaut's personal award," it remains a tremendously special honor.

Apollo A7L Spacesuit
This spacesuit was used for training. It is one of three custom suits made for Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan.

Moon Boots
Overshoes protected the spacesuit's inner boot, and could be left outside the lunar module to avoid bringing moon dust aboard the spacecraft.

Space Helmet
Apollo helmets were formed from high-strength polycarbonate (plastic) and were attached to the spacesuit by a pressure sealing neck ring.

The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) Missions 15, 16 and 17.  Stowed in a compartment on the descent stage of the Lunar Module, the LRV enabled astronauts to venture farther from their landing site. The LRV could reach speeds of up to 12 miles per hour and carry 1,000 pounds (two astronauts and their equipment). This particular unit was a non-operational, full scale mock-up built for display purposes from mostly surplus parts.

Blast Off

Mission Control
The Moon Landing

Apollo 14 Capsule
Space is a dangerous place, complete with micro-meteoroids, radiation and airlessness. And coming home is no easy task. The compact and confined command module with its three man crew would be welcomed and engulfed by searing white-hot flames as it slammed through the atmosphere back down to Earth. "In designing the command module, the one thing we had to be sure of was that we could keep the crew alive--that was a big item," said Max Faget, NASA chief engineer and principal designer of the command module.

The engineers at North American Rockwell (NASA's prime contractor for the command module) were up to the challenge. 14,000 people and a talented collection of 8,000 other companies all worked to ensure that millions of components on the command module were in perfect order.

Named Kitty Hawk, the capsule was crafted with more than 2 million parts; nearly 15 miles of wire; a control panel with 24 instruments, 566 switches, 40 indicators, and 71 lights. It would take a journey of 500,000 miles before it safely delivered the crew back home with a cargo of more than 100 pounds of moon rocks.

Apollo 17; Dec. 1-19, 1972
This basalt sample, estimated to be 3.7 billion years old, was collected by astronaut Harrison Schmitt near the Taurus-Littrow Valley region of the Moon. It weighs 3.9 oz.

Apollo 15; July 26 - Aug. 7, 1971
This igneous rock, estimated to be 3.7 billion years old, was collected by astronaut Jim Irwin in the Palus Putredinus (Marsh of Decay) lunar region. It weighs 4.5 oz.

Flight Plan; Apollo 7; Oct. 11-22, 1968
After the Apollo 1 tragedy, Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walt Cunningham became the prime crew for the next manned mission. Although the lunar module was not ready, the crew included a lunar module pilot (Cunningham). Apollo 7 was America's first three-man space mission.

Lego Moon Rover

The Lego Company built this full-scale model based on images provided by NASA. Overall the model is the proper size and shape, with all instruments, components, and structures represented faithfully and to scale. There are some differences and the module changed over the years. This model weighs 290 pounds. It is made of approximately 90,000 Lego pieces requiring 650 man-hours to construct - a three month process for the Lego master builder team.

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