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Day 176 – 2nd June 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on June 2, 2009

Tuesday – Cocoa Beach, Florida

Well, I got lucky and saw the shuttle Atlantis being piggy backed today, wow!

Well, my early start was a non event, slight tummy trouble, but eventually I left around 9am. I left the place as I found it, including all the motorcycle parts in the living room, my type of place 🙂 And of course a garage full of Moto Guzzis 🙂

I headed off south and to the Kennedy Space Centre, but I took the coast road which seemed to be one great big strip mall with bits of nothing in between, strip maybe the operable word here as well. 🙂

This chap had no room for much else in the back!

Over one of the bridges to the island and you can see the Vertical Assembly Building, VAB on the left.

I get there and find a shady spot for my bike and locked everything up, PacSafe is a good product 🙂 Probably the only thing I should have done was leave my bike pants and boots behind and put on shorts and thongs, but hindsight is a pain.

The cost was a bit high at just over $40, but it was worth it because it covers a lot of things in the cost.

A bit of security for sharps then have a look around at where I should go first. There were a lot of things happening, all at different times, so I needed to plan a bit.

So, I found out the next shuttle launch was the 13th June, way after I am gone from the area, so that was a shame, but there was a chance of seeing the shuttle Atlantis arrive by piggy back this evening, if the weather was right.

There was a talk happening right now from an Astronaut Bill Springer, so I went and listened to his talk, it was quite interesting, he was on two shuttle missions as captain.

After that a walk around the rocket park, some great old exhibits here.

A look in the control room of the manned space mission, I cannot believe how tiny this room is, it looks bigger on TV.

This thing here was what was used to hold the rocket down until it had enough thrust. The reason for the earlier crashes was not enough thrust at lift off, so this fixed that problem.

The engines used were very powerful, and hungry for fuel as well, they would not pass the emissions test today I reckon.

I was going to have some lunch, but when I went into the cafe the line was very long, so instead I watched an impressive Imax movie, in 3D on the moon landings, it was very well done, but the photos turned out crap, I think I needed two cameras or something 🙂 We all had to wear 3d glasses.

After this I left and found a thunderstorm in progress, reminded me of Cairns in the wet, but I managed to get a small very expensive lunch, I should have planned on this and bought a sanger in town, never mind.

They had a shuttle there, set up for inspection, so I checked it out, it is quite big for the cargo, but not much room for crew.

This is the training jet the shuttle pilots use to keep in spec, most other pilots of that age would have been put out to grass behind a desk by now.

The Solid Rocket Boosters on the external tank.

I had time to go for a simulated shuttle launch before the next bus tour, well I hoped so anyway. Normally you wait in line for a long time, but I had no wait at all, only about 5 minutes or so. While you stand in line there are info boards to read and a small video session from shuttle crew who have all had input into this machine/device/simulator.

After being strapped in I took a photo and planned on taking a movie of the experience, but the speaker came on and ‘the gentleman in row 6, please put the camera away in a secure pocket’, oooops busted by the girls in the control room 😉 I tried anyway. 🙂

I have to say, it was mind blowing, I cannot imagine how they did this and would be interested to find out, but the visit was worth this one experience 🙂 Every bit of my flesh was jiggling and jumping around, I cannot think how the pilots would be able to work in that if they had to do something. I would love a helmet camera for this.

Anyway, now I had time to get on one of the last buses for the tours of the space field. There was a bit of a line up, but I managed to get on and we headed first up past the VAB. We did not go inside, they had two solid rocket boosters in there at present and waiting on the Atlantis to come in from California where they would build another system up. The present one was on the launch pad. Those doors are massive and of course built for the Saturn V, so not all the doors slide up when the shuttle comes out.

The first stop was the viewing platform, here we could see the tip of the external tank, painted orange, of the shuttle on the launch pad. The rest of the shuttle is surrounded by the Rotating Service Structure, which moves out of the way prior to launch. It sits here for about 30 days prior to launch and gets thoroughly tested.

Inside the building was a small theatre where a video is shown then some museum exhibits and other displays. The first display is a model of the structure that is used to remove the piggy backed shuttle when it comes in that way, the second is a model of the shuttle on a pad.

Then there is the actual barge that is used to ship the external fuel tank up from New Orleans way, it is inside the large silver hangar on the deck, then they use the yellow trolleys to take it to the VAB.

Another bus took us to the Saturn V rocket centre, here we watched a video of the Saturn project then through some doors was the actual control centre used for the manned missions.

That was real good to see, but wait, there is more. What they have done is program all the systems that are there, to automatically go through the sequences that actually happened for the moon landing. It was really amazing to see everything happen prior to and after launch with all the sound effects and the vision up on the big screens.

Now, here is a video of the last few seconds of countdown and the launch of Apollo 11 on the way to the moon. It is a huge file, 29Mb, so don’t do it on dial up 🙂 You have been warned 🙂

Then out through the next door and woweee, there is an actual Saturn V rocket, split apart into its various stages and it is huge!!!!! It is too hard to describe the size of this thing and it went up!

All of those above were there to enable this littler jobber to get to the moon, and back of course.

After that mind blowing experience, it was off to the International Space Station Centre. This is where every bit of stuff for the space station is sent to from various countries around the world, including all the food and resources and experiments. We first looked down into the clean room, this is where the units to be sent up are packed away. The cylinder module on the right is ready to go and it will be installed into the cargo bay of Atlantis when it is ready.

There was a life sized mock up of the station where you could wander through for a decko.

If you want to know where the space station is at any time, go to this web page and put in your address, it wil tell you when you can see it from where you are and at what time etc.

Everything that goes into the station has to fit in, so they have designed standard racks and everything that goes up must fit into these particular units of space, power etc.

The dunny, apparently you need to form a seal, then air is used to create a gravity effect in nil gravity 🙂 Hopefully the air pressure differential is controlled very well, it could be painful otherwise! Mind you I am a bit concerned by the handle where your freckle would be?

The shower

After this the bus took us back to the visitor centre where I found out that the shuttle Atlantis was definitely arriving tonight aback of a 747 at about 6.30pm but not the way it normally does over this place. To view it I would have to go find a viewing spot south of here at Cocoa Beach. So, off back to the trusty steed I go and then south to Cape Canaveral and it was now 5.20pm.

This is where I found out that all the available beach front is taken up with houses motels etc. I pulled into a motel and asked the price, which I declined, but he was nice about it and let me stay on the private area and watch the arrival. That is Gary the manager.

We had to wait a while and had a chat, in the end I decided I would stay there as I needed a rest and did not feel like travelling another 50 mile or so south to the next available services. He gave me a discount, so that was a good outcome, a saving of $20. We are on an Island here a few miles off the mainland with limited access. Anyway, as noted yesterday, the shuttle did arrive and it was spectacular, it was dwarfed by the 747, but in itself it is quite large.

After that I settled in to the room and sorted a few things for tomorrow as I intended to go to Key West. Lesley had told me it was a crappy car infested road, but I would still like to go there. I would try and see how bad it was and head back if I was too overwhelmed. It has been a great day, as I had actually seen the live broadcast of the moon landing when I was in Hong Kong when I was 7, it really brought it back home to me how long ago this was achieved and with the computing power of a digital watch 🙂

Day – 93 miles and 150 km
Trip – 15,527 miles and 24,988 km


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5 Responses to “Day 176 – 2nd June 09”

  1. Excellent report Richard! We went to Key West and Cape Canaveral last January. I found the Space Center fascinating. I hope traffic didn’t stop you from going to Key West, you have less now than we did in January as it was high season when we went. Keep on truckin my friend.

    • travellingstrom said

      Hi Charlie Nope, I ended up at Key West, traffic was bad and it was hot, but I made it. Cheers TS

  2. DES said

    Stop whinging about the price of everything you cheap effing charlie !!! get a grip, It aint that expensive…. just blow the dough and live the frigging high life !!!!! I am cringing every time I hear about you bitching about the price of a bloody hamburger or bit of chook ….

    • travellingstrom said

      If I don’t budget Des, I cannot do the other bits I want to do later on this year, I do not have unlimited rsources. I would prefer to spend most of my budget on social activities and enjoying life, not basic food and accomodation. That is the way am I am, get used to it. Cheers Richard

    • Hey!

      I’m planning a house renovation and wanted to share some ideas with you, take a look please

      Yours sincerely, Richard Winter

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