Kennedy Space Center - 2002
|This is the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center. We were there at the late February/early March 2002. We awaited in a two hour bus line in this garden between 3:00am and 5:00am while the KSC busses ferried us to the Shuttle Launch viewing site. This display shows a bunch of actual rockets that they used in the early days. It took some real guts to sit atop one of these things when they lit the fuse.|
|Here's the LEM - Lunar Excursion Module. The LEM was used for Lunar Excursions, kind of like a sport excursion vehicle. It's skin was as thin as tin foil. Its the same material that Molly used for a blanket during the launch.|
|Once the astronauts realized what the other explorers were using for their excursions, they got wise and brought up an LUV (Lunar Utility Vehicle). Its kind of a crossover vehicle or segment buster as Rockwell International likes to call it. Note the data ready antennas and hammock seats - not unlike its competition from Nissan and Rover. The real one had wire tires because air pressure in regular tires would blow up. I guess they could have brought a tank.|
|The massive Assembly Building. This was built to assemble the Saturn V, the balsiest rocket ever on or off the planet. The doors were 400 or so feet tall. They have special atmospheric control stuff to keep clouds and rain from forming inside. Pretty awesome.|
|Here's the rocket of rockets. Its called
Gonadius Maximus, though some call it the Saturn V. Its
has five massive engines in the back. These are fed by
two municipal water tank sized containers of liquid
oxygen and some other noxious fuel.
This was one of three left that were never used to go to space - program ran out of money. If you look at the plumbing on those engines, you can see why. Astronaut Gene Lovell called this thing the most complicated thing designed by man up to that point and probably for all time. It is unbelieveable. If you grew up in the heady days of the space program like I did, this is an breathtaking, aweinspiring place to come.
|On top of this stack are five more engines, fed by another couple more massive tanks. Above this, another engine with a few more tanks. Above this is a ring about one foot long with a computer about the size of the one on your modem controlling the whole thing. Then comes the LEM all scrunched up below the service module.|
The Service Module is another big ass rocket engine and a few more tanks plus another couple of tanks for making electricity (one of these blew up on Apollo 13). Then comes the command module. Its the size of the Toyota Echo with three cots.
The boys who sat on this thing went around the moon in December 1968. This was a massively balsy ride to take considering this was the biggest, most powerful, most explosive, never tested, highest need for reliabily, most American thing done to date and possibly forever.
The family with Astronaut John Fabian. He flew on the shuttle a couple of times in the middle eighties. He gave an entertaining talk at about 2:30am in the morning before the launch. Afterwards, he asked if he could get his picture taken with the family of the scintilating personality who asked about the size of the astronaut pool (about 150 astronauts it turns out - many are called "Penguins" because they will never fly).
Actually, we waited in a long line to get our picture taken with him. He's a great sport and a funny guy. Thanks Col. Fabian.