Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Today I saw the Discovery! She’s currently in the Vehicle Assembly Building, being made ready for her future home in the Smithsonian, and the “KSC close up – now & tomorrow” tour takes you inside the VAB – and there she was, about 3m away from us! Definitely the best moment of my visit to the KSC, although there were a lot of good and interesting moments – but its hard to beat a space shuttle still housed in the building where they were actually put on their launching pads.
Launch Pad 39A - all of the Apollo missions except #10 and 81 shuttle missions launched from here.
Seeing the different launching pads was interesting, too, as was touching a moon rock (yay moon rock!) and seeing all sorts of different Apollo memorabilia and gadgetry. Also another really good IMAX movie about the assembly of the ISS. And, you know, just various and manifold space program things.
Sunday, March 11th, 2012
What do you mean, no oversize parking?
Hello from Huntsville, Alabama! I made it to the US yesterday save and more or less sound (of the 10 hour flight, 7+ featured ‘fasten seatbelt’ signs and some pretty rough spots of turbulence, bleargh), and headed out this morning Alabama bound. Spent the day making my way to Scottsboro via country lanes, and from there to Huntsville. In Scottsboro I went to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where you can basically buy everything that comes out of airline luggage left unclaimed after 90 days. In the guidebook the idea sounded kind of interesting, but in reality it turned out both more boring (they need to wipe all photos from memory cards and cameras before selling them etc) and more sad (an abandoned “Happy birthday mom!” present etc) than it was made to sound in the writeup. So I mostly felt sorry for the people who were missing their luggage – the place somehow was bad karma central. Didn’t buy anything, nor stay very long.
Onwards to Huntsville it was, where I went straight to the Space & Rocket Center and basically stayed there until they threw everyone out. Saturn V rockets are really tall (yes, something one knows in the abstract, but walking along one makes it a lot more concrete – its like flying to space on top of a skyscraper)! Their non-permanent exhibit right now is on Wernher von Braun and his life and times (“I’m learning Chinese now!”), and the two movies on at the IMAX theatre are Hubble (awesome! watch it!) and Space Junk (bad! avoid!). I didn’t get to read all the details about the development of the Saturn V (see ‘until they threw everyone out’) and spent too much money in the gift shop bying all the special collection issues of newspaper articles dealing with the Apollo program, space exploration etc. It felt a bit like cheating, given how painstakingly I went through newspapers on microfilm last year in the British Newspaper Library for my Apollo 13 – Earth Day and Space Day paper, and I have no idea what is actually inside those collections, since they were all shrink wrapped and I’ve not opened one yet (they will travel better in their shrink wrapped condition). We’ll see. I might also have bought Space Shuttle earrings, so it wasn’t all money spent on future work, though.
And, you lot, Space Camp is here in Huntsville! Who knew? (Lots of people, probably, but not I.) I hadn’t thought of the Space Camp movie in ages (before seeing the sign for the actual camp today), but I loved it when I was in my early teens. (“Max und Jinx! Freun-de für im-mer!”)
I’ve also made a photo album that I will be posting my trip photos into, you can find it right here (some of the photos that show up in there might also turn up as individual photo posts at a later date, though).