Monday and Tuesday we went to the space center here in Titusville. We decided to buy the multiday pass as we knew we would go more than one day. The multiday pass is good for one full year of entry into the center. A one day entry is $50.00 for seniors which we are now. The multiday pass was $82.00 for a whole entry for a year. So for two days it was cheaper. Right off the place was amazing. I am kind of Space Geek. When I was in my early teens I was into everything and anything there was to do with space and travel. I had tons of books, posters, and all the model’s of the Mercury , Gemini, Apollo, and the starship Enterprise from Star Trek and the Jupiter II from Lost in Space. I even had a poster of June Lockhart from Lost in Space in her silver suit, signed. They were all on my dresser top all laid out in their own sections. Those were the days.
Before we went to the center we went to the Merritt Island Refuse Center. It is over 100 thousand acres of a preserve. It is part of the space center but has never been used. The center only uses another 40,000 acres of the island. It’s not really an island but divided by the Banana river, from the mainland, kind of barrier island. The space administration chose it because it was in the wilderness of Florida and by the ocean where they could launch over. Plus it is close to the equator, where it is shorter of a distance to get into orbit. any way they bought it or took it in 1953 and displaced or threw out over 300 people who were living there. At that time there was only one bride and little power to the island. That all changed after the government got it. They had to build roads ,bridges, causeways, railroad tracks and the complex for the launches etc.The center back in the day used to be called The Cape, than Cape Canaveral, then Cape Kennedy and now The Kennedy Space Center.
We spent the whole first day visiting the visitor complex, they have a Rocket garden, I max movies of early and present day launches. A heroes and Legends building with a tribute to the early astronauts. A museum with the Gemini, and Mercury capsules, and all related early stuff.Also a lot of interactive stuff for hands on. But by far the biggest draw is the Space Shuttle building. The Shuttle Atlantis is there, you first go into a room and are taken back to 1969 when the shuttle was envisioned and goes through the history of it being designed. Then you go into a theatre type room and are shown a launch of the shuttle and when the music ends the screen turns transparent and you are face to face with the actual shuttle. People we clapping and hooting it up. It was a neat experience. The Shuttle is amazing and big, it is on display on an angle and you can see the bottom and the open bay doors. All kinds of stuff there, actual engines, and a shuttle experience ride.When you get in there are about 7 rows of seats fitting about 7 people in a row. You buckle in and the doors close. You are to imagine you are now in a pod inside the shuttle bay. It simulates an actual take off. It is hard to explain but actual astronauts say it is very realistic. It was a great day. We did not go to the Apollo V building as it is a bus ride, we saved that for the next day. The pics below show some of the neatest stuff, i will have some descriptions on each.
This is Merritt Island and the Space Complex
This is the Rocket garden, we had a 20 minute tour of it. These are the actual early 1960 rockets. With the Mercury and Gemini capsules on top. Even though they are big, they are nothing compared to the Saurn V and the shuttle. Maybe the tallest here is 100 feet.
The original seven, OH wait who is that lovely women on the right. These were the original seven air force pilots chosen to become the first Astronauts in space. John Glenn is thrid from the left.
An actual Gemini capsule, had a crew of two. About eight feet wide and ten feet high
This is the entrance to the shuttle museum. WOW. Not even the shuttle. the middle tank is the external tank which fueled the shuttles five main engines. It is the orange cylinder. It about thiryt feet wide and over one hundred twenty feet long. It contained two types of liquid fuel ,both stored at over 375 degrees below zero. When they combine they ignite. The shuttle is attached to the prongs sticking out at the bottom and top. The other two tanks are the solid fuel booster rockets. They have solid fuel in them and need a sourse of ignition. They are about firteen feet wide and over one hundred twenty feet high.
When the shuttle is being launched, at 6.6 seconds the 3 main engines on the shuttle are ignited. When that happens the shuttle does what they call a twang, it rocks to one side about 8 feet, then comes back level, this is because the engines are tilted so they will not burn into the soild fuel boosters. At zero seconds the solid fuel boosters are lit, they cannot be turned off once ignited. When you see it on TV you cannot really notice it but by the time the shuttle clears the tower or about two seconds in flight it is going over 100 miles an hour. The shuttle also does what they call a roll ,after lift off it rolls over a bit ,this is because of the engines being tilted a little. So after the roll the engines are lifting the ship on the correct angle to get out of the atmosphere.(Rockets do not go straight up, they would burn up) The solid fuel boosters burn for two and a half minutes then are dropped off the external tank and land in the ocean. They are then picked up and reused for another launch. The external tank for the main engines burns for eight and a half minutes, then is dropped off the shuttle. It then burns up in rentry. With out the boosters rockets the shuttle could never achive orbit. In order for something to stay in orbit, it has to be traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. Once at that speed it can stay there forever, Who knew, all the stuff up there satalites etc, travel that fast.
Bottom of the tanks
The Shuttle Atlantis, about 125 feet long and over 55 feet wide. Holds a crew of seven
Front nose, and cockpit, round holes are thursters to manuvar in space.
Three main engines of the shuttle, plus a handsome guy. The other two smaller engines and thrusters are for slowing down the shuttle for rentry. When the shuttle is in space it is traveling backwards and upside down. This is for two reasons, in case any space debris was to hit the shuttle it would be back here and flying upside down keeps the shuttle cool from the sun as the rays bounce off the heat tiles on the bottom. The two smaller engines have fuel tanks and are fired to turn the shuttle upright and point it forward for landing.
Main engine HUGEAAA
As big as they are they are nothing compaired the the Apollo engines, which i will post on later.
The bottom of the shuttle. It has over 24,000 individual tiles glues on the bottom and sides of the wings. This prevents it from overheating on rentry. It’s hard to see but each one is about 5 inchs by 5 inchs, made of silica, which displaces heat. We were told you could heat a tile to over 3000 degrees and two seconds later hold it in your hand. All in all there are only about 50 tiles replaced on the Atlantis, with 33 missions to space. In front of the black holding arm there are two bays doors, they open for the landing gear and cannot be closed after opening
The Airstream bus for transporting the crew to the shuttle.
The toilet, men use the tube and women the seat. It is all suction driven ,not a spot of waste can be let loose in the cabin
This is your bedroom with bed, you sleep standing up in the bag, as you are weightless, who cares.
There was also a tribute room to the two shuttles we lost. One was the Challenger, afer liftoff, and the Dicovery on rentry. It was a little moving. All together there were six shuttles built. Five flew in space, we lost two and one was for training.
It was amazing to learn all about this stuff again, i was like a little kid, Melissa kept telling me to calm down. The next day would be even better.