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Friday, December 5, 2008

Saturday the 29th at NASA

Saturday we were trying to figure out what to do, so I started looking and realized after almost five years in Houston, J and I have never been to NASA - Johsnson Space Center. That's what we decided to do and I'm glad we did. I'm pretty sure we all were.

Inside the main building (the museum part) we were able to see different models, old space suits, and numerous interactive displays. The overall history and items on display is amazing. We even were able to "play" with flight simulators trying to land a shuttle and dock one with the ISS (International Space Station). Neither was easy.

We really enjoyed the full scale mock up of the shuttle. Actually it was the front "cabin" compartment and an area below it that we could walk through.

Shuttle cockpit and controls.

Controls on the ceiling.

Models of the shuttle and the International Space Station.

Model of an astronaut's suit.

A little bit later, we took a tour by tram to visit the old Mission Control Center. It was chilly outside, but thankfully we were able to go inside for a while.

Old Mission Control.
They used this location until about 1997.

Time for some updates, don't you think?

Here is the new Mission Control Center.
It was just beyond the back wall of the old Mission Control Center.

Our tour also took us to see the spectacular Saturn V at Rocket Park. We all agreed this was probably one of our favorite parts of the tour. Mission Control was very interesting and neat to see, but the sheer size of the Saturn V was amazing! The pictures we took can't really do it justice, but you still might be able to get a feel of it's size.

J and Dad at the back of the Saturn V.
Imagine being strapped inside of this, and have it launch!

Mom and I at the back of the Saturn V.
We really make it look big!

Here is a diagram I found that shows the Saturn V's size compared to the current shuttles, and even to the new Ares-I and Ares-V rockets (with the Orion crew capsule) to be in use by 2020.

Saturn V back end from the side.
Those are some massive engines!

Attempt at getting a picture of the whole Saturn V rocket.

There were about 4 sections that made up the whole rocket/shuttle.

The sections work similarly like NASA's current shuttles do. The fuel chambers/tanks deplete themselves of fuel and then drop off, firing to the next one(s) and then they too fall off once empty. From there the remaining shuttle moves about space without the bulky booster rockets.

One of the middle sections.

Here is the front. You can see the capsule/pod part that took a
beating when reentering the Earth's atmosphere after its flight in space.

Here is another view of the Saturn V from the front.

One of the final things we went to at NASA was the Blast Off Theater. It had video playing along with sensory speakers where we were able to feel the vibrations and force from a shuttle taking off. From there we entered another room and listened to a very knowledgeable woman talk about the current mission that was going on and how they were going to try and land shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. Because of cloud cover and weather conditions, the shuttle landed in California instead of Florida.

The crew of shuttle Endeavour.

Photo of shuttle Endeavour taking off, along with the team's mission patch.

We even saw some video footage from Friday, so it was pretty neat getting to see things just a day later. I only wish we had more time to see all of the exhibits. I guess this means J and I will need to go back again.

Live feed showing where the Endeavour was orbiting the Earth.

After the presentation was complete, Endeavour had relocated over the northwest part of Africa. That wasn't really difficult, since the shuttle travels about 17,580 miles per hour, or five miles per second.

The shuttle orbits the Earth every 90 minutes.

Shuttle Endeavour with the CanadaArm extended, with a view of Earth.

Feed of the International Space Station (ISS), taken from shuttle Endeavour.

That evening we took Dad and Mom out to Cafe Red Onion for some "Latin fusion" food. Good as always, and we've only been there about 4 times in the past 4 or 5 years. Mom really enjoyed the fried plantains with her Chicken Tikal. Dad's Hawaiian style Chicken had coconut in the rice, with a spicy coconut sauce. I had Chicken Belize, which also came with fried plantains, sour cream, and black beans. J had the Red Snapper, covered in a coleslaw type of cabbage with crisp tortilla strips on top. Yum!

4 thoughtful comments:

Marcia said...

Yummm, I love Red Onion.

If it makes you feel any better about just now going to NASA, I've lived in Houston for 30 years and have only been there once. I think it was a field trip in 3rd grade.

glee said...

Thanks for the tour! I went to the old space museum in 1974 or so--or was it a museum then? It is an incredible place! Glad you and your parents had a great time!

Suzio said...

Looks like you had a fun trip to NASA, I also love the rock pictures!

Ann(ie) said...

WOW! How very cool. Matt would be so in love with that place!!!

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