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!  

Florida: Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Cape Canaveral Fresnel Lens

Cape Canaveral Fresnel Lens Close-Up

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse has stood at its present location in Florida since 1894.  An outside stairway leads up to the original third level entrance.  After automation in 1993, its Fresnel lens was moved to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Museum in Daytona Beach. The lens weighs 1 ton, is 12 feet tall, and produced a light that could be seen up to 22 miles away.

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse sits on restricted Government property, so tours were only available previously from 2011-2013 through Patrick Air Force Base – 45th Space Wing Tour Program.  Tours were suspended in June 2013 due to Government budget cuts.  As of January 8, 2016, tours resumed from Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral.  For information, go to: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/12/30/cape-canaveral-lighthouse-begins-new-tours/77838060/  (phone Sunward Tours at 321-453-3994).  Bus tours are also available periodically through Kennedy Space Center (https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/). For current updates about the lighthouse, go to:  http://canaverallight.org/  

An outstanding book on the local history of Patrick Air Force Base (covering its beginning in World War II, including a description of enemy submarines offshore) is “Banana River” by Barbara Marriott at:  https://www.amazon.com/Banana-River-Stories-Diaries-World/dp/1624320066/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509151348&sr=8-1&keywords=banana+river

A cute 1950’s spoof on the “launch” of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLaMyg3rC0c

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