Monday, 2 June 2014

Day 28: Kennedy Space Centre

 

We are revisiting Kennedy Space Centre.

In April 2010 Dick and I were privileged to be hosted by Jim and Bernie Kennedy here at Kennedy Space centre for the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on flight STS-131.

Being present for that launch was a highlight of our lives.

There is nothing comparable to the profound experience of witnessing the culmination of the work of many people to make such a magnificent vehicle powered to take people safely 240miles into space and then to bring them home.

That launch event coincided with the transit of the International Space Station across the face of the moon at T-20 before blast off of the shuttle. The crowd made the pledge of allegiance and sang the national anthem. We were deeply moved by the whole event.

Jim and Bernie are hosting us again and have generously arranged for us to visit Kennedy Space Centre where there is a new display - the Atlantis shuttle. Lunch with astronaut Charlie Walker is also planned.
Come and visit this wonderful place with us.
 
 

Here is our friend, Jim. He recalled that as a child John Glenn used to attend the Presbyterian church and that this had inspired Jim's interest in space. Jim is a former Director of Kennedy Space Centre.

This quote from our friend John Chapman who was the NASA External Tank Project Manager who we first met at Michoud, New Orleans where he showed us through the External Tank facility.

 

The close of the space shuttle film reveals the Space Shuttle Atlantis on display.

Up close - and as if she is in flight.

Atlantis first flew in 1985 and has flown 33 missions to the International Space Station. Her last flight was in July 2011.

Within moments we were introduced to Terry White. Terry is a docent. A docent extraordinaire. Before the close of the shuttle programme Terry was the Space Shuttle Orbiter manager.

Terry showed us tile samples and explained the complex materials and application of the heat shield tiles.

For the international space station home handy people....

 

Astronauts now travel to and from the international space station via Rissian Soyuz spacecraft.

Lovely Lily Grace was at our table for lunch with her family. When Terry shook her hand he left an Atlantis medal in her hand. Terry's kind act generated this moment of surprise and delight .

 

Charlie Walker, a scientist and the first non governmental astronaut spoke at lunch about food in space.- snacks for Mercury astronauts for their short journeys; food for the longer Apollo journeys and for shuttle journeys and longer stays on board the International Space Station. Freeze dried food, dehydrated drinks; catalytic production of water on early flights; managing prepartion and eating in a weightless environment - velcro and magnets are used to hold packages and utensils in place.

Astronauts can taste and pre-select their menus which might include steak, creamed spinach, shortbread, candies and Charlie's favourite shrimp cocktail.

 

Jim Kennedy is a wonderful communicator and is great with young folk.

Ethan and Aidan from Wales had questions for Jim. For example, they wanted to know about what the physical condition of astronauts was like after months in space.

 

After viewing the space Station IMAX film we took a bus tour around the NASA campus.

Conservation of wildlife is part of the NASA story. We saw bald eagle nests; there are bobcats, panthers, snakes, wild hogs many birds and...

....alligators.

Our visit to the Saturn V building began with a film of the Apollo project and the moon landing.
The Saturn V rocket is 111m tall. Taller than the Statue of Liberty. Click on the link for more detail.
I asked Jim where he was in July 1969 during the Moon landing. He had just finished his first year at university and was working as a Co-op student here at NASA Kennedy Space Centre.
 

 

Here we are with Appollo 8 command module which carried the first humans to orbit the moon on Christmas Eve, 1968.

Astronauts Bill Anderson, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman read from Genesis 1:1--10. 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.2. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...


I loved the gesture of Bernie and Carol who wore their pearls today.
Here we are touching a piece of moon rock.
Our group has been blessed with a memorable day.
Thank you Jim and Bernie. You are stars.
It was wonderful to be in your esteemed company as we visited the Kennedy Space Centre and to able to meet Terry and Charlie and to learn so much more.

Dinner at the Dixie Crossroads with Terry and Patty White and Carol and Rich Bollas and our hosts completed this marvellous day.

 

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