Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spaced Out

Kennedy Space Center is spectacular! We rented a car in Titusville and went for the day. There’s a ton to do there – it’s one of the best attractions we’ve experienced.

Astronaut Winston Smith gave a presentation about going into space. He went on the Space Shuttle and Apollo. Interesting tidbits… each crew of six designs its own patch and selects its own shirt to wear. Winston’s space shuttle crew selected the second ugliest shirt in the Land’s End catalog because the first ugliest was sold out. You can see him here trying to get Vicki in his clutches. By the way, that suit weighs 350 lbs. (On most computers, you should be able to click on the photo for an enlargement. If not, call your handy IS geek.)
The Space Shuttle Launch Experience is a new simulation at the park. They’ve done a good job making it seem authentic. After belting into your seat, the seat tips back to simulate the starting position for astronauts which is on their back with feet in the air. Take-off involves a lot of noise, shaking and bouncing around, and the seat-back simulating g-forces. The ride gets a little smoother when the rocket boosters detach, and then when the big fuel tank jettisons, they are able to simulate the feeling of floating in space. Way cool!

We saw…
*The launch pads for the shuttle. The pic on the right is launch pad 39A where the shuttles take off from. Launch pad 39B is being prepared for the new replacement shuttles, which we were not able to get information on.
*The shuttle processing building where the shuttle is prepared for its next flight in 90 days. The mammoth shuttle assembly building (see on the left) where the rocket boosters and the fuel tank are attached and then the shuttle attached to those – they have cranes which can move horizontally 1/52nd of an inch for positioning. This building is so huge that there are 6 feet between the stars on the American flag painted on the building and the stripes are 8 feet across.

*The crawler which takes the whole assembly to the launch pad - it travels max 1 mile per hour and gets 42 feet per gallon of fuel. That's almost as good as Tide Hiker.
*The processing facility for the international space station where everything that goes to the space station gets tested to make sure it will work once it arrives.
It was all maximum cool and our grandsons Jake and Evan will love this when they are old enough.

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