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/

An article about Don Mackey is at:  http://www.harborcityanalog.com/single-post/2016/12/21/Don-Mackey

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.

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