SpaceX Rocket Launch – WOW!!!

Spectacular Sky Show of SpaceX Launch (star sapphire effect!)

SpaceX Booster Return Rocket Trail

On Saturday morning in the predawn hour of 5:21 am SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here on Florida’s east coast.  The sight was spectacular – WOW!!!  The rocket trail was illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon. The glow in the bottom picture is from the booster return landing on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” offshore, which at that point was 350 miles away!  Fifty-eight Starlink satellites and 3 Planet SkySats were sent into orbit.  Read about it at:  https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-8-planet-satellite-launch-rocket-landing-success.html  and https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-8-launch-amazing-twitter-photos.html

Spectacular Dawn Rocket Launch!

Long Exposure of Rocket Trail Illuminated by Sunlight Below Horizon

Close-up of Rocket Plume

Rocket Trail “Space Art” as Seen from our Backyard Pond in Palm Bay, Florida

We watched a stunning rocket launch yesterday at dawn here on the Space Coast of Florida!  An Atlas V rocket blasted off at 6:13 am and successfully placed a communications satellite into orbit.  Sunlight from below the horizon lit up the rocket’s exhaust plume and ice particles formed from it at high altitudes.   The resulting effect was spectacular space art in the sky – WOW!

Snoopy and NASA in Iceland

Snoopy at Iceland’s Moon Training Grounds

Snoopy at the Blue Lagoon

Snoopy Surfing at Diamond Ice Beach

Snoopy Napping on Black Lava Sand Beach at Jokulsarlon

Vintage 1969 Snoopy NASA Safety Poster

Snoopy’s “Greetings from Mars” T-Shirt at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy (by Charles Schulz of “Peanuts”) is famous as being a safety mascot for NASA.  Since Snoopy was “First Beagle on the Moon”, he went to Iceland with us in June to see where the astronauts trained for the Apollo moon missions.  NASA is working in Iceland now testing the latest Mars Rover for the upcoming 2020 mission.  Astronaut Snoopy will be a featured balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade this Fall.

Happy 50th Apollo Moon Landing Anniversary from all of us here on the Space Coast of Florida!

If you want to see what Neil Armstrong’s parents said on the day he was confirmed as an astronaut, you can watch a sweet vintage 5 minute video from “I’ve Got a Secret” at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd7eWKCOk-A&t=16s

Florida: Rocket Launch this Week

Long Exposure of Night Launch in Florida

We watched a beautiful launch from Cape Canaveral here on the Space Coast of Florida at 12:15 am on Wednesday morning (October 17,  2018).  It was a warm starry night as the ULA Atlas V rocket soared across the sky.  The advanced communications satellite successfully reached orbit about 3.5 hours later.

Florida: Spectacular Solar Probe Launch!

Launch of Parker Solar Probe (click to enlarge)

Image of Sun Taken with Solar Filter

We had a beautiful launch of NASA’s new Parker Solar Probe last night.  Only a few hardy souls managed to be up watching at 3:31 am for the second night in a row (first night was scrubbed).  Nevertheless it was spectacular!  The night was very humid with heavy water vapor in the air.  Can’t wait to see what discoveries will be made about the sun!  As a bonus, I saw a Perseid meteor streak by below the arc of the launch.  Wow!  Read about the solar probe at:  https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-ula-launch-parker-solar-probe-on-historic-journey-to-touch-sun

Florida: Epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch!

Author Pam with Bill Nye “The Science Guy”

Apollo / Saturn V Center

Space Shuttle Runway

Commemorative Launch Brochure

3-2-1 Ignition Take-off

Falcon Heavy Launch into Space

Close-up of SpaceX Rocket

Twin Side Boosters Returning to Earth

SpaceX Tweeted Photo of Tesla Roadster in Space

On Tuesday I watched an epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It was incredible!   I had purchased the “Feel the Heat” package to view liftoff from the closest public viewpoint at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at KSC (only 3.9 miles from launch pad 39A across the Banana River).  We could hear and feel the rumble of takeoff when the engines ignited and everyone wildly cheered!

While we waited in the viewing stands, we were entertained by Bill Nye “The Science Guy”.  Earlier we got the chance to walk on the shuttle runway.  The runway is so long (~3 miles) that you can’t see from one end to the other because of the curvature of the Earth.  Locals call it a “gator tanning facility”, because alligators like to warm up in the sun on the concrete. 

This launch was the historic demonstration flight of the world’s most powerful rocket.  It launched from the same pad used by the Apollo moon missions.  Nestled inside the rocket was Elon Musk’s personal red Tesla roadster, including a dummy driver named Starman in a SpaceX astronaut suit.  Usually demonstration flights include demo payloads like a block of cement as weight, but Elon Musk wanted to make it more interesting.  And he certainly did, based on camera images beamed from the roadster!  My favorite one, which simply looks unreal, is a picture of the car after payload release showing Starman driving the bright red cherry roadster through space with Earth in the background.  Until the batteries give out, the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie will play on the car’s stereo.  A display panel in the Tesla says “Don’t Panic” – a reference to the sci-fi classic book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.  Ultimately the Tesla roadster will endlessly loop around the sun for billions of years in an orbit past Mars and the Asteroid Belt.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, just as thrilling was to see the twin side boosters simultaneously descend to Earth and land on target at Cape Canaveral.  Their speed was so great they generated double sonic booms.  The third core stage was set to return to the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean offshore.  Unfortunately the core crashed into the water near the platform.  But that was a minor hiccup in an otherwise flawless and amazing spectacle.  WOW!

The space center seems to be booming lately with private enterprise, and it is exciting to see new projects in the works.  Hopefully these launches capture people’s imaginations about future possibilities!  A great article about the launch is at: https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/02/07/spacex-debuts-worlds-most-powerful-rocket-sends-tesla-toward-the-asteroid-belt/

If you would like to visit Kennedy Space Center (highly recommended), learn more at:  https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge for more detail.

Florida Skies: Sunrise Clouds and Midnight Rocket

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Rocket Launch After Midnight

Rocket Launch After Midnight

We’ve had the most beautiful sights in the sky both day and night this week.  One morning at sunrise we woke up to tall tropical clouds that seemed to glow from within.  One cloud even had a rainbow in it.  After midnight last night we watched a spectacular rocket blastoff.  A Delta 4 rocket successfully launched two satellites into orbit at 12:52 am.  Our 30 second photograph’s unusual effect is the result of light fog and a full moon.  High humidity made the roar of blastoff over 60 miles away quite loud and long.  Since light travels faster than sound, we saw the liftoff before we heard it.  

Florida: Spectacular Dawn Rocket Launch Today!

30 Second Exposure of Atlas Lift-off

30 Second Exposure of Atlas Lift-off

Tadpole-like Expanding Cloud Plume of Mist

Tadpole-like Expanding Cloud Plume of Mist

Leftover Swirly Clouds that Stayed for Quite Some Time Afterwards

Leftover Swirly Clouds that Stayed for Quite Some Time Afterwards

We had an absolutely spectacular Atlas 5 rocket launch this morning of a Navy MUOS communications satellite into orbit.  The 20-story tall rocket lifted off at 6:18 am.  The dawn sky brightened as the rocket took off and rose up.  Then we saw something we had never seen before – the white rocket plume brightened into an enormous tadpole-like cloud of mist as the rocket arced east across the Atlantic.  The phenomenon was caused by the perfect combination of sun angle below the horizon and high humidity.  The white cloud of water vapor (not smoke) was formed when the rocket’s hot exhaust gases hit the air.  It was an amazing sight, and one of the top two launches we have ever seen!

Space Station Flyover

Moonrise in Florida

Moonrise in Florida

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 2

Airplane Trails 2

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV - click for details)

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV – click for details)

We had an extra bright flyover of the International Space Station on Friday evening.  It was a gorgeous warm night with a full moon rising.  As I was taking the pictures, I could hear mama owl singing by the pond.  For better photography next time, I’m looking forward to a nice dark night so that I can take a longer exposure.  If you want to see the Space Station, check flyover times at: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ Remember that the Space Station emits a bright continuous light (the reflection from the solar panels), and airplanes emit flashing lights.

Spectacular Atlas 5 Rocket Launch Tonight!

Timed Exposure of Atlas 5 Rocket Launch on January 23, 2014

Timed Exposure of Atlas 5 Rocket Launch on January 23, 2014

We had a spectacular rocket launch tonight here on the Space Coast of Florida.  NASA launched a 3.8 ton Atlas 5 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral at 9:33 pm Eastern Standard Time.  What an awesome sight!  This picture is a 2 minute timed exposure of the launch as seen from our home in Palm Bay (about 40 miles south of the Space Center).  Notice the reflection of the rocket trail in the pond (click on the picture to see details and star colors).  Updates and coverage of all worldwide rocket launches is available at http://www.spaceflightnow.com/.

Vintage Space Art Christmas Cards at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Card 1 Missile Land Florida.

Card 1 Missile Land Florida.

Card 2 Cape Canaveral

Card 2 Cape Canaveral

Card 3 Kennedy Space Center

Card 3 Kennedy Space Center

Don Mackey Newspaper Biography

Don Mackey Newspaper Biography

Card 4 Atlas Santa Claus

Card 4 Atlas Santa Claus

Card 5 Peace

Card 5 Peace

Card 6 Shuttle Launch

Card 6 Shuttle Launch

These vintage space art Christmas cards are currently on display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  They are part of the personal collection of the museum’s Director, Emily Perry.  I have always enjoyed the whimsical space art of Don Mackey from the 1960s and 1970s.    Look closely for details in his work that will make you smile.

Card #1 Missile Land Florida by Don Mackey features Santa on a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer (including Rudolph).  The reindeer are wearing space helmets and have air canisters on their backs.  There is an alien in Santa’s sack, and two more aliens on the back of the sleigh.  Banners say “Merry Christmas from Missile Land Florida” and “Happy New Year Moon”.  Two astronauts are waving from orbit.

Card #2 Cape Canaveral by Don Mackey shows a Moon station receiving Christmas carols from Earth with the banner “Merry Christmas from Cape Canaveral”.  Outside the glass window, a whimsical alien family sings carols, while the youngest alien makes funny faces.  An astronaut points toward Earth while standing next to mountains on the Moon.

Card #3 Kennedy Space Center by Don Mackey is a simple black and white drawing of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center with a Christmas tree in the center, and a banner that says “Merry Christmas from Kennedy Space Center, Florida”. 

A newspaper article from Florida Today dated 12/11/08 gives a brief biography of artist Don Mackey (click on the picture to read details).

Card #4 Atlas Santa Claus shows an old photograph of an Atlas rocket decorated like Santa Claus for Christmas, with the description:  “An Air Force Museum tradition for the Christmas Season, the Atlas Santa Claus.  Once a weapon for defense of the U.S., the Atlas Missile now serves mankind in an entirely different role, the peaceful exploration of space.”  I am guessing that this picture was taken in the 1970s at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

Card #5 Peace features a drawing of the moon and an American flag with the Earth and star in the distance, with the caption “We came in peace for all mankind”. 

Card #6 Shuttle Launch by artist Bernard P. shows Santa on a sleigh with his reindeer watching a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. 

Cards #1-3 are now in our personal collection; they were purchased on eBay.  More information about the Air Force Space and Missile Museum is at:  http://www.afspacemuseum.org/

A previous post with more Christmas cards by space artist Don Mackey is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/vintage-space-art-christmas-cards/

Florida: New Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit – Living and Working in Space

Simulated Crawl-Through Module for Space Walk

Simulated Crawl-Through Module for Space Walk

Space Walk Tools

Space Walk Tools

Sleeping in Space Sign

Sleeping in Space Sign

Astronaut Sleeping Compartment

Astronaut Sleeping Compartment

Astronaut Space Toilet

Astronaut Space Toilet

Astronaut Space Toilet Instructions

Astronaut Space Toilet Instructions

Astronaut Kitchen

Astronaut Kitchen

At the new Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, a sign says that:

“Astronauts are some of the most skilled, educated, and highest achieving people in the world.  To live in space they have to go back to nursery school.  They have to relearn how to move across a room, how to use a spoon, and how to sit on a toilet.” 

Outside in space, astronauts must learn how to work with tools while wearing a 280-pound space suit.  Inside, astronauts must learn how to live without gravity.

At bedtime, astronauts head to their own personal sleeping compartment and climb into a sleeping bag. The bag must be securely attached to any wall (there is no “up” or “down” in space). Ventilation is extremely important – without it a suffocating cloud of exhaled CO2 air would form around an astronaut’s head!  Astronauts often report seeing bright flashes of light when they are falling sleep. The flashes are bursts of space radiation that the brain “sees” as a flash.

Using the space toilet poses its own challenges for astronauts.  Aim is learned by using cameras during training on Earth.  Don’t forget to strap yourself in!  A sign details the effort required by astronauts to perform this simple task.  This exhibit is very popular –people line up to have their picture taken on the toilet!

Another exhibit shows the astronauts’ kitchen.  Every meal and calorie is planned on Earth months in advance.  Extra calcium is provided to combat bone loss.  Most meals are freeze-dried, and astronauts can’t satisfy a craving by baking cookies or going out for a pizza!  NASA is currently studying the use of 3D printers to create food (http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/feature_3d_food.html).  Sounds like the Star Trek replicator to me!

Living in space poses many unique challenges to astronauts, both physical and mental.  Dr. Monsi Roman said that:  “I think working and living on the space station taught us a lot of things.  How much we can miss looking at green trees, having the smells of the ocean.”  It goes without saying that astronauts miss the touch of a loved one.

Space exploration benefits all of us.  An interactive site showing space technology spinoffs in our daily lives is at:  https://nasa.tumblr.com/post/130833181554/10-out-of-this-world-nasa-spinoff-technologies

Florida: New Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit – Simulators

Docking Station Simulator

Docking Station Simulator

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator:  Lining up the Runway

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator: Lining up the Runway

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator:  Touchdown on the Runway

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator: Touchdown on the Runway

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator:  Score

Space Shuttle Landing Simulator: Score

At the new Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, there is an entire room full of different simulators to try out your skills at flying and working in space. I tried landing the shuttle in Florida. It was much harder to line up the shuttle with the landing strip than I thought. However, no matter how badly you do, the simulator auto-corrects your mistakes and you get a great score!

Space Shuttle Atlantis, Enterprise, and Discovery Exhibits

Entrance to Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit

Entrance to Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit

NASA's Space Shuttle Fleet Sign

NASA’s Space Shuttle Fleet Sign

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Front View

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Front View

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Back View

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Back View

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Underside View

Space Shuttle Atlantis: Underside View

Full Scale Model of Hubble Space Telescope

Full Scale Model of Hubble Space Telescope

Real "Beanie Cap" that Topped Orange External Fuel Tank on Launch Pad

Real “Beanie Cap” that Topped Orange External Fuel Tank on Launch Pad

Fountain at Entrance to Kennedy Space Center

Fountain at Entrance to Kennedy Space Center

The new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center is awesome!  The multimillion dollar exhibit turns KSC into a must-see destination near Orlando, Florida.  At the exhibit’s entrance, visitors pass underneath a towering 186-foot-tall stack of twin rocket boosters and orange fuel tank.  Once inside, visitors experience a breathtaking unveiling of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  The shuttle is displayed tilted on her side with the robotic arm extended as if she is flying in space.  Nearby is a replica of the Hubble Space Telescope (famously repaired by Atlantis in 2009).  Atlantis flew 33 missions and over 126 million miles.  Astronaut Rex Walheim called the shuttle “the most graceful, beautiful vehicle we’ve ever had to fly in space”.   The new 5-story building housing Atlantis is full of interactive displays and exhibits.  KSC is the best destination for space tourism in the country – it inspires both adults and children alike.  More info on KSC is at:  http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/   My previous post about Atlantis’ journey to her present location is at:    https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/florida-close-up-view-of-the-space-shuttle-atlantis/ 

UPDATE:  Since this post was initially written, we’ve seen two other NASA space shuttles on exhibit.  Space Shuttle Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York City.  When this space shuttle prototype debuted in 1976, a grass roots effort led by Star Trek fans led to its name “Enterprise”.  Enterprise never flew in space – it was used for initial gliding tests only.  Space Shuttle Discovery is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Annex at Washington Dulles International Airport.  Discovery flew 39 missions – more than any other spacecraft in history.  Space shuttles Enterprise and Discovery met nose-to-nose during a museum transfer ceremony at Dulles Airport on April 19, 2012.  The ceremony celebrated the preservation and display of these great icons of America’s space program. 

Space Shuttle Enterprise

Space Shuttle Enterprise

Elevated Platform Allows Front-On View of Enterprise

Elevated Platform Allows Front-On View of Enterprise

Star Trek Fans Helped Name Enterprise

Star Trek Fans Helped Name Enterprise

Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery

Close-up of Space Shuttle Discovery Nose Cone

Close-up of Space Shuttle Discovery Tiles

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Nearby

Moon Tree

Moon Tree at Kennedy Space Center

Moon Tree at Kennedy Space Center

Moon Tree Sign

Moon Tree Sign

An official “Moon Tree” is growing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. This sycamore was grown from a seed that was carried to the moon by Apollo 14 in 1971 and planted here in 1976.  More info about the many moon trees growing around the country is at: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html  You can watch an episode about moon trees on California’s Gold at:  http://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2007/01/10/moon-trees-californias-gold-9011/

UPDATE September 11, 2017:  Unfortunately Hurricane Irma destroyed the Moon Tree at Kennedy Space Center.  The only other moon tree growing locally is at Apollo Elementary in Titusville, Florida, which was planted in 2006.

Vintage Space Art Christmas Cards

Card #1 Missileland

Card #1 Missileland

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule

Card #4 Capsule on Moon

Card #4 Capsule on Moon

Card #5 Martians Singing on Moon

These vintage Christmas cards were created by NASA space artist Don Mackey in the 1960s and 1970s. I got the cards on eBay. Click on them and look closely for some really fun details.

Card #1 Missileland features a houseboat called the Indian River Queen.  The flying saucer is powered by Florida swamp gas. The artist himself is on the porch beside the pelican, and he is painting the missile launch. A Christmas tree is inside. Santa is on the roof in his long underwear playing cards with the aliens, and his outfit is hanging on the clothesline. On the lower right are leprechauns and an alligator in a Santa hat!

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon shows Santa with two aliens in a Model T sleigh with a surfboard on back. A sign on the Moon says “Snoopy was Here”! Running away from the reindeer is a little dog in a space helmet. The two aliens are digging up gold. The astronaut on the right has a box of Moon gold, and the astronaut on the left is filming the scene with a TV camera.  Perched on his back is a parrot in a space helmet.

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule shows three aliens wearing Santa hats in a sleigh that says “Wide Load”. The astronauts in the capsule are waving, and one of them is filming the scene with a TV camera. At the back of the capsule is an antennae with an owl perched on it! 

Card #4 Capsule on Moon shows lots of happy green aliens greeting a capsule that has landed on the Moon. The capsule sits on a lunar landscape filled with craters and mountains, with the Earth and a bright shining star in the background. Coming out of the capsule is Santa Claus carrying a bag of toys and a Christmas tree. Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is peaking his head out the capsule door. The greeting on the card says “Merry Christmas from Cape Canaveral”.

Card #5 Martians Singing on Moon shows four aliens singing Christmas carols, one playing a trumpet, three reaching out of a moon crater for their guitar, plus one alien and one astronaut directing the choir.  In the background Santa and his reindeer are flying into the lunar landscape with a banner that reads “Merry Christmas from Cape Kennedy, Fla and Happy New Year” and Earth is in the background.

Another post that contains Christmas card art by Don Mackey is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/vintage-space-art-christmas-cards-at-the-air-force-space-and-missile-museum/

NASA and “I Dream of Jeannie” TV Show

"I Dream of Jeannie" Display Memorabilia

“I Dream of Jeannie” Display Memorabilia

"I Dream of Jeannie" Display Lunchbox

“I Dream of Jeannie” Display Lunchbox

NASA Administration Building that was Model for Major Nelson's Workplace

NASA Administration Building that was Model for Major Nelson’s Workplace

Former Cocoa Beach Street Sign in Honor of Show

Former Cocoa Beach Street Sign in Honor of Show

New Cocoa Beach Sign Dedicated to Show

New Cocoa Beach Sign Dedicated to Show

Cocoa Beach Fire Department T-Shirt: Guardians of the Genie

Cocoa Beach Fire Department T-Shirt: Guardians of the Genie

Cocoa Beach Fire Truck Logo with Jeannie Bottle

Cocoa Beach Fire Truck Logo with Jeannie Bottle

New Jeannie Display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

New Jeannie Display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Barbara Eden "Jeannie" Autographed Picture

Barbara Eden “Jeannie” Autographed Picture

Barbara Eden Touring Air Force Space and Missile Museum in June 1969

Barbara Eden Touring Air Force Space and Missile Museum in June 1969

Comic about Jeannie's Bottle (click to enlarge)

Comic about Jeannie’s Bottle (click to enlarge)

Jeannie Race Sign in Cocoa Beach

Jeannie Race Sign in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Medal 2015

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Medal 2015

As a kid I sat entranced as I watched man take his first steps on the moon in 1969. I watched that fuzzy image on TV all day long and just couldn’t get enough. Then I found a television show that I fell in love with and still enjoy to this day – “I Dream of Jeannie”. The comedy stars Barbara Eden as a genie named Jeannie, and Larry Hagman as an Air Force astronaut named Major Tony Nelson. The series was set in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and centered on activities at the nearby Space Center. 

In honor of this fame, Cocoa Beach recently erected a sign at Lori Wilson Park (it replaced the former I Dream of Jeannie Lane sign).   A compendium of references to Cocoa Beach in “I Dream of Jeannie” is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqh90e1kDWE

Jeannie is so beloved in Cocoa Beach that the firefighters use her for their fire station t-shirts.  A Jeannie bottle is also featured on their fire truck logo. 

A display dedicated to the show is located at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum at the Launch 26 Blockhouse (http://www.afspacemuseum.org/displays/Jeannie/). 

It can be viewed on an early space tour by Kennedy Space Center (https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/behind-the-gates/cape-canaveral-early-space-tour).  In October 2015 the Jeannie display was temporarily on exhibit at the nearby Air Force Missile and Space Museum at Port Canaveral (http://capemuseum.org/).

In May 2013 Barbara Eden put a letter in a time capsule at Cape Canaveral.  It describes her experiences and feelings about NASA and the show.  You can read it by scrolling to page 16 of the 2013 Spring Summer Indian River Journal at this link (click twice): 2013 SpringSummer IRJ

UPDATE:  On October 25, 2015, Barbara Eden returned to Cocoa Beach.  She was given the key to the city, gave out medals in the shape of Jeannie bottles to winners of the first Cocoa Beach Half Marathon, and oversaw the lookalike contest. The half marathon will continue as an annual event every Fall:  http://cocoabeachhalfmarathon.com/

NASA: Rare Launch Pad and Control Center Tours

Crawler Trackway Leading to Launch Pad 39A

Crawler Trackway Leading to Launch Pad 39A

Closeup of Launch Pad 39A

Closeup of Launch Pad 39A

Flame Trench for Launch Pad 39A

Flame Trench for Launch Pad 39A

Water Sound Suppression System for Launch Pad 39A

Water Sound Suppression System for Launch Pad 39A

Launch Control Center Building Beside VAB

Launch Control Center Building Beside VAB

Launch Control Center Firing Room Floor

Launch Control Center Firing Room Floor

Launch Director's Desk Overlooking Floor

Launch Director’s Desk Overlooking Floor

Launch Control Center View.  Crawler Trackway Leads to Launch Pad 39A on Right.

Launch Control Center View. Crawler Trackway Leads to Launch Pad 39A on Right.

Space Mural in Lobby of Launch Control Center

Space Mural in Lobby of Launch Control Center

NASA is currently offering rare access tours in celebration of its 50th anniversary. 

The Launch Pad Tour takes visitors to the highly restricted area of Launch Pad 39A, where shuttles were launched into space and Apollo missions were launched to the moon.  The public has never been invited here before.  So much history!

The Launch Control Center Tour takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, which controlled all space shuttle launches since 2006.  It is where the Launch Director polls engineers for “go/no go” for launch.  The room’s iconic windows were designed by architect Martin Stein to “see mankind’s future”.   Public access has not been granted since the 1970s.

Both of these tours are only offered for a limited time.  More info is at:  http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launch-pad-tour.aspx

and http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launch-control-center-tour.aspx

Florida: Close-Up View of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Rollout of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Side View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Front View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Back View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Close-Up of Weathered Heat Shield Tiles

76-Wheel Space Shuttle Transporter

Next Generation NASA Orion Crew Module

Next Generation SpaceX Dragon Crew Spacecraft (flames come out of those nose-like holes!)

SpaceX Dragon Inside (Astronaut Seating)

Inflatable Astronaut Greeting

Last Friday was NASA’s rollout of the retired space shuttle Atlantis from the Vehicle Assembly Building to its new home at Kennedy Space Center.  The shuttle had been undergoing refurbishment as part of its transition from a working orbiter to a museum centerpiece at KSC.  Its new mission will be to inspire generations for years to come. 

The rollout ceremony was full of excitement and emotion.  As Atlantis was rolled into a special exhibit area at Exploration Park, music from Star Wars, Proud to be an American, and an original shuttle song were played.  The touching shuttle tribute song is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7XVrhltrcU

Visitors enjoyed close-up views of Atlantis, along with displays featuring the next generation of space vehicles.

Atlantis was first delivered to KSC in 1985.  Since then she has flown 33 missions, traveled over 126 million miles, and spent 307 days in space.  Her crowning achievement was the mission that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. 

The new building featuring Atlantis will be ready in summer 2013.  She will be displayed as-is and tipped on her side as if flying in space.  Interactive exhibits are currently being designed by engineers from Disney and Universal Studios.  KSC never fails to impress – it was awesome!

View of SpaceX Rocket Launch from Our Pond

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch on May 22, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch on May 22, 2012

The launch last night of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft was awesome!  Like many people here on the Space Coast, I set my alarm to get up in time for the launch at 3:44 am.  The night was warm, the crickets were chirping, and an owl was hooting in the distance.  When the rockets fired, the sky lit up like a sunrise.  This long exposure image was taken at our backyard pond, which is about 40 miles south of Kennedy Space Center.  Night launches are truly the best!

UPDATE:  On March 30, 2017, SpaceX successfully reused the Falcon rocket booster that had previously been launched and landed 9 minutes afterward on the “Of Course I Still Love You” platform on an offshore drone ship near Cape Canaveral, Florida.  This achievement is a technology breakthrough and milestone in space exploration!  

NASA’s Two Crawlers

Close-Up of NASA Crawler Treads

Mobile Launch Platform on Crawler

Gravel Road to Launch Pad 39B

NASA has two massive crawlers built in 1966 that take spacecraft from the VAB to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. The crawlers have successfully transported all of the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles to Launch Complex 39. NASA recently announced that one of the crawlers is being retrofitted to transport the super-size Space Launch System in 2017.  Each crawler weighs 5.5 million pounds, and travels at 1 mph over a 4 mile gravel road to the launch site.  This crawler was transporting the new Mobile Launcher Platform to Pad 39B.

Space Shuttle Landings

Space Shuttle Landing at KSC

Prior to 2001, people were allowed to view space shuttle landings at Oak Park on Kennedy Space Center property (near the end of the space shuttle runway).  Once while waiting for a landing, I particularly remember an Air Force jet flying low over us to clear the air space.  The jet was so loud that we ducked and hit the ground!  Once we heard a double sonic boom, we knew the shuttle was coming.  It was amazing to see a space shuttle fly right over our heads! 

Space Shuttle Launch Memories

Space Shuttle on Launch Pad

Shuttle Launch Pad Close-Up

Daytime Shuttle Launch Viewed from Backyard

Space Shuttle Blastoff in Evening

Space Shuttle Blastoff in Evening

Space Shuttle Blastoff at Night

Night Launch Timed Exposure

Favorite Launch Trail at Sunset/Moon Rise

Favorite Launch Trail at Sunset/Moon Rise

First Space Shuttle Launch Viewing Pass

Space Shuttle Landing

Space Shuttle Landing

Jettisoned Rocket Booster Being Towed into Port

Jettisoned Rocket Booster Being Towed into Port

Close-up of Rocket Booster

Close-up of Rocket Booster

The space shuttles are retired, but memories of shuttle launches here on the Space Coast of Florida will live on.  NASA’s night launches are the best!  First you listen to the countdown, and then watch for the glow on the horizon.  The glow is so bright, it’s like the sun rising!  Next you see the rocket rising into the air.  After a minute, you see the booster rockets fall off, glowing as they fall down to the ocean.  Finally, you hear the blastoff roar, even at a distance of 60 miles away.  Left in the sky is the contrail from liftoff (it is water vapor, not smoke).  What a spectacular sight!  Although the space shuttles are gone, there are still rocket launches to enjoy.  And a super-size rocket is in the works that will be even bigger than the shuttle!  Current space launch news is at:  http://spaceflightnow.com/  or  Florida Launch Schedule

UPDATE 2016:  Kennedy Space Center has a new memorial exhibit  dedicated to the space shuttle astronauts who lost their lives in the line of duty.  It is a very touching and heartfelt display.  After passing a wall of memorabilia shadow boxes for each astronaut, you turn a corner and see an exhibit that stops you in your tracks.  You could hear a pin drop in there.  Before you in the darkened space are the cockpit windows of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during reentry on February 1, 2003, and the left panel showing the American flag of  Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded on takeoff on January 28, 1986.  These events will never be forgotten.  President Ronald Reagan said, “The future doesn’t below to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave.”  Now we are on the threshold of launching a new generation of astronauts.

Display of Space Shuttle Columbia's Cockpit Windows

Display of Space Shuttle Columbia’s Cockpit Windows

Display of Space Shuttle Challenger's Left Panel Showing the American Flag

Display of Space Shuttle Challenger’s Left Panel Showing the American Flag

President Ronald Reagen's Quote on Bravery

President Ronald Reagen’s Quote on Bravery

NASA’s VAB – Space Shuttle Inside

Space Shuttle Inside NASA's VAB

Currently the retired space shuttles are being prepared at Kennedy Space Center for museums across the country. I felt extra lucky to get this close-up view of Space Shuttle Endeavor inside the VAB on NASA’s Up-Close Tour.

NASA’s VAB – Rare Inside Look

NASA VAB Inside Looking Up

NASA VAB Winches

For a brief time NASA is now permitting visitors to tour the inside of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. This picture shows the view looking up inside the building. Notice the hauling capacity of the two winches –325 and 50 tons!  The winches are used in the assembly of rockets and space shuttles.  Information about the NASA Up-Close Tour is at:  http://kennedyspacecenter.com/ksc-up-close-tour.aspx

NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA

NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume. Four Empire State Buildings could fit inside the VAB, with enough room leftover for Yankee Stadium on top. The interior volume is so great that rain clouds sometimes form at the ceiling!  The VAB was used to prepare moon rockets for launch, and space shuttles for orbit. On the outside of the building are the U.S. flag and NASA logo. For scale, the flag’s stars are 6 feet wide, and the stripes are the width of a bus.

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