Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rocket Garden and Kennedy Space Center

I tried to restrain myself, but really, I couldn't.  This is going to be a long blog, mainly because we took so many photos.  This is only a portion of them, becuase, let's face it. You really just want to see the ones with people in them.

Monday of Spring Break, we got up early (actually school time, but early for vacation!) and drove up to Cape Canaveral.  I've always wanted to go there.  Always.  You know this is my thing.  Astronauts, space, shuttles, the whole nine yards.  And Little B love it too, so it was an exciting morning.  We finally made it up there, and parked in the Gus Grissom section of the parking lot (as opposed to the Armstrong or Aldrin section! ha ha ha!).  Now let me warn you.  It's not an affordable family day out.  Oh no, we paid for part of the next launch with the admission price, but knew this was probably the only time we would be there. Ok, let's face it.  We'll probably be here again in 6 or 7 years, so Henry will remember it!

Anyway, right off the bat, there was a photo op!

Stepping through the gates, and after checking out the early spaceflight exhibit, we got to the stuff Brant really wanted to see. The Rocket Garden.  You really don't realize how absolutely huge these rockets are until you are there.  And it really made an impression on Brant how tiny the capsule where the astronauts were, as compared to the rest of the rocket.  

This was the last day he wore that hat.  It drove him nuts.  And all the pictures have only half his face.  But he didn't get sunburned!
Commanding the moon rover on the moon's surface

An early capsule

The suit Armstong walked on the moon with.  Interesting connection here, these were actually made in Delaware. One of Mom Mom's friends was a model for them, as his body type was the same as most of the astronaut corps. 

Brant and I tried out a capsule replica, and realized how hard it would have been to be in that position for takeoff.  Brant saw how hard it would be to work over your head.

My big boys

Taking a walk across the gantry replica. It would have been just like this when the astronauts entered their capsule.  But 30 stories up.  I would have never made it across. 

Another capsule replica

We checked out the Angry Birds Space exhibit, and had some fun shooting birds with slingshots, and going through a maze.  It's was getting to be time for an early lunch, as we had tickets for one of the up-close tours, available for just a limited time.

Outside the restaurant was a huge granite constellation ball.   The kids were all trying to move it, and of course, cool off on a hot day. 

We had decided to take the tour to the vehicle assembly building.  In case you don't know what that is, it's the one you always see with the giant flag on it.  It was a bus tour, and we had several stops along the way. 

The first stop was at a set of bleachers across the Banana River.  The VAB is behind Brant, and we are about 5 miles away from it. 

Zoomed in.  We made sure that we purchased our telephoto lens before this trip!

One of the new launch pads, with a rocket being constructed on it. 
The sun was just too bright, but still a cute pic of my boys. 
 We drove back to the assembly building.  Unloading, I was amazed at how massive it really is.  Huge. Enormous.  The flag on the front of the building is 22 stories high.  Remember that when you look at a picture of it. It'll give you a sense of the scale.

The crawler that takes the shuttle/rockets to the launch pads. 

Just behind Brant is a circle on the floor.  This is where the work is done on all of the vehicles.  If you were to look straight up, you would see huge cranes and gantries criss crossing the area.  An interesting fact:  when working on
a shuttle, it had to be hoisted all the way to the ceiling, and manuvered, catty-cornered, through a space, then lowered onto the crawler.  Why?  The building was made to work on rockets, not the shuttle!

A new launch pad

Under one of the original launch pads of the Apollo mission.  Underneath is the trailer that rises to the level of the door of the shuttle.  This allows the astronauts, who are dehydrated and have the fluid in their legs from weightlessness, an easy exit.  They may fall, otherwise. 

The side view of the VAB.  The doors on the left take 45 minutes to fully open.  It's just that big. 

One of the main launch pads, the one the final shuttle was launched from. 

We stopped at a beautiful overlook, where the cameras were placed to record the launches. 

The first camera was mounted on the metal triangle on the ground.  It was powered by a gasoline powered generator.  The shock waves from the launch caused bubbles in the gas, so it didn't work.  Another camera was pushed over the dune.  Finally they built the sandbag bunker for it. 

The official countdown clock

There it is, the 22 story flag.  

We ended our tour at the Saturn rocket exhibit.  Through a series of interactive videos, you got to experience the launches, and triumphs of the early program.  We almost didn't do it, as we're not big on the video presentations.  And we would have missed out on three of the coolest presentations!

Looking up at the Saturn V rocket.  See H's legs on the left.  Pop Pop got him to sleep and he had a great nap in his arms. 

Jim Lovell was a big part of the Apollo program, and you may know him best from Apollo 13.  Big Brant and his parents were fortunate in that he was the speaker for Brant's graduation from Elon.   So it was cool to see his flight suit as well.

The ill fated flight

Still snoozing!
 Catching the bus back to the main space center, we hit the gift shop, and happened to run into the astronaut who was there for the day.  He gladly took a photo with Brant, and Brant was a bit in awe to meet a real one.

After a quick stop at the space themed playground (we had to bypass the 4D Astronaut experience ride because of lines/K and B get motion sick!) it was time to head home.  A long, but happy day, spent learning and experiencing the lives of real American heroes.  

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