Kennedy Space Center (II)

The Visitor Complex:

Here you are entering the Kennedy Space Center and the main parts of the exhibitions are located.

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The symbol of the KSC Visitor Complex is leading your way.

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Entrance of the Visitor Complex. In the background you can see the rocket garden.

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The rocket garden showing historic space launcher in their real size.

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The Atlas-Mercury launcher is one of the launchers displayed.

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Curious as I am I did a fit check in the Mercury capsule.

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Mhhh, it was a tight fit, a very tight fit …

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A Titan rocket with a Gemini capsule on top.

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To tall to stand – the Saturn IB launcher. Apollo were launched by this rocket to LEO.

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All bus tours to other KSC locations start at the Visitor Complex.

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A bus to driving around at KSC is included in the admission price. It will stop at the Saturn V center as all bus tours do. Additional tours with stops at the VAB, the launch control center and the Air Force Station can be purchased. For details please have a look at https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/.

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A main attraction was the 1:1 Shuttle orbiter model Explorer.

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You were able to walk around it and experience the sheer size of an orbiter.

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The model was very realistic showing details like thrusters and the tiles covering the surface.

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And it was possible to have a look inside.

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Looking into the payload bay of the Explorer. A full size mock-up of the manipulator arm (right) was installed and a carrier with an upper stage simulator. The carrier is real hardware that was used during the STS-49 mission to repair an Intelsat-VI satellite.

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A look into the middeck of the Explorer with the internal airlock.

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Looking into the flight deck of the Explorer.

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Another look into the middeck with its locker system for storage.

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More details of the Explorer.

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What is an orbiter without ET and SRBs? Nothing – thus next to Explorer you have an prototype ET and 2 SRBs.

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ET-SRB combination from a different angle.

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The other end.

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And another view. This thing is huge – 55m long. As it is in a horizontal orientation is does not impress so much. But things have improved – a similar stack is vertical now at the KSCVC.

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The orbital display was also upgraded. This Explorer is gone (to Houston) but now you can visit the very real Atlantis orbiter – in in-orbit configuration.

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In the garden you can remember the fallen American astronaut hereos.

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Another memorial plate.

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There are several other exhibitions to visit. There is an IMAX theatre showing 3D movie about space exploration. For instance, you can watch a movie about the history of the Hubble space telescope.

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And you can have a look into the future of the American Human Spaceflight program. Here you see the abort rocket of the new Orion space capsule.

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The Orion crew module. It is 5m in diameter. This is the next NASA spaceship with destination beyond Lunar orbit. By the way, its Service Module will be built be ESA. A first launch of this Crew Module is planned later in 2014 – the EFT-1 flight launch by a massive Delta 4 Heavy rocket. I opt to visit this launch. 😉 Do you want to join?

 

The Saturn V Center:

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Entering the Saturn V center

You are welcomed with a very realistic simulation of the first manned Saturn V launch – the launch of Apollo 8. The orignial consoles of the launch control center are used:

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At then you begin at the lower end of one of the remaining real Saturn V launchers.

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These five F1 engines are huge.

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Passing the first stage. It is 10m in diameter.

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Next is the second stage with five J-2 engines.SaturnV_5

Finally, the third stage with one J-2 engine. This stage was pushing the Apollo ship towards the Moon.

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A transparent model of the Saturn V.

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At the upper end of the stack: The Apollo spaceship with the emergency rocket tower on top.

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A real Apollo ship.

Mondlander

A Lunar lander.

ApolloEVAAnzug

The Apollo EVA suit.

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The original transporter that was bringing the Astronauts to the launch pad with the Saturn V waiting.

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A Lunar rover.

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The original crew module of Apollo 14.

 

The Shuttle Launch Experience – a Shuttle launch simulator for everybody:

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… here we go …

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… some introduction from some astronauts …

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… among them the NASA administrator Charlie Bolden …

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… waiting for the entrance …

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… into the Shuttle simulation module …

 

… and then the wild shaky ride begins …

 

 

The launch of STS-135:

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Entering the KSC at launch day

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Arriving at the launch viewing area Banana Creek

... it is me - here and now ...

… it is me – here and now …

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… tick tock tick tock …

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… the area of interest … 😉

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… T-20 min hold …

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… it is getting really crowded …

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… ignition of the SSMEs …

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SRB ignition

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… and lift off

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… and Atlantis is rising …

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… more and more …

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… rolling …

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… up into the clouds …

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History was made … and I was there … 😉

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… some celebrations at the Keys …

Some video impressions from some of our neighbours:

Another video – including the unplanned hold at T-31 sec (I was not nervous, nnnoooohhh):

Wow – what a blast!

And an additional surprise – we are able to see some parts of the recovery operations for the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs):

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Ein Schiff wird kommen – a ship will arrive …

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Some kind of welcome parade

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The ship – the “Liberty Star” …

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… with the left booster of STS-135 in long tow.

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… really long, long tow …

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… joy and sadness in one face …

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… now in short tow … You can spot the recovered nose cap of the booster beneath to the crane …

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… in the port of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station …

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… next to the huge barge for transporting the external tanks (ET)

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… and here they come, the second recovery ship “Freedom star” with the final Shuttle booster ever recovered …

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… passing a draw bridge …

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… loaded? Not true …

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The towing crew is arriving …

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… the forward segment of the booster (with the black strip) is a historical important one. It has flown with STS-1 and STS-135 – the very first and the very final Shuttle missions.

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… and here it goes … from one ship to the other …

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… almost there …

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… and the final curtain …

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… is falling …

 

 

As a bonus we had an invitation by SpaceX, the new innovative space company. A nice piece of hardware was presented to us – the first space capsule of a private company that return successfully to Earth:

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Some information about the first Dragon capsule.

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… the launch control center first …

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… and here it/she is …

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… with a visitor …

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… thrusters …

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… views from all …

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… sides …

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