To say that the Kennedy Space Center is “out of this world” may seem to be just a bad pun but I really don’t know of any other way to describe it. The scale is mind boggling and the sense of history is so pervasive that it is like a gigantic museum except that history is still being written.
!@(launchcontrol.jpg:R240 http://www.eyeno.net/photoblog/albums/userpics/10001/launchcontrol.jpg “launch control”) In this photo we see Launch Complex 39B through the palms at the site of the original launch control center used for the Apollo missions. On May 15, the space shuttle Discovery will roar off LC 39B marking the first flight since the loss of the Columbia on February 1, 2003. Discovery will be delivering a module to the International Space Station (ISS). (click on any image to enlarge)
!@(launchpad39b_2.jpg:L240 http://www.eyeno.net/photoblog/albums/userpics/10001/launchpad39b_2.jpg “LC 39B”) Launch Complexes 39A and 39B went into service in the 60’s to handle the Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo program. In use ever since, the pads now serve the Shuttle program exclusively. The large structure on the left is the 402 foot tall Mobile Service Structure which rotates out of the way just prior to launch. Not a simple process as it weighs 9.4 million pounds. This is as close as we were able to get. Access to sensitive areas has been severly curtailed post 9/11. NASA offers a bus tour called “NASA Up Close” that provides a 3 hour escorted tour allowing the closest observation of the Launch Complex as well as the Vehicle Assembly Building, the ISS Center and the Shuttle landing strip.
!@(launchpad39a_2.jpg:R240 http://www.eyeno.net/photoblog/albums/userpics/10001/launchpad39a_2.jpg “LC 39A”) In this picture we see Launch Complex 39A and off in the distance you can just make out the massive Vehicle Assembly Building where the shuttle is mated with its solid rocket boosters and external tank before moving to the pad on the giant Crawler Transporter. Two CTs were built in 1965 and each one is capable of moving the shuttle from the VAB to the pad a 1 mile per hour. Not fast but not bad when you consider that the shuttle and the mobile launch platform that it sits on weighs in at a hefty 12 million pounds. The distance traveled is 3.5 miles to pad A and 4 miles to pad B. The road it travels on is as wide as an 8 lane highway. (picture available in the gallery)
!@(vab3.jpg:L240 http://www.eyeno.net/photoblog/albums/userpics/10001/vab3.jpg “Vehicle Assembly Building”) The Vehicle Assembly Building is the most impressive structure at KSC. A few numbers to ponder: The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres). It is 160 meters (525 ft) tall, 218 meters (716 ft) long and 158 meters (518 ft) wide. It encloses 3,664,883 cubic meters (129,428,000 cubic feet) of space. The American flag was painted in 1976 using 6000 gallons of paint. Each star is 6 feet from tip to tip and the blue backqround is the size of an NBA basketball court. Visible in the picture is the damage sustained in last year’s hurricanes.
Check out more pictures over in my gallery (link at top of page). If you’re ever in Florida I would highly recommend spending a day at the Kennedy Space Center. Book one of the tours and be prepared to spend as much time as possible. There’s a lot to see and I guarantee you a great time.