Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kennedy Space Center

Our first full day in Orlando, it was scheduled to rain.  So we made the decision to rent a car (from the lovely, chesty, Welsh redhead at Enterprise Rent a Car, Jess...think Eve Myles, but much cuter, chestier, an no gap tooth).  The hotel we stayed at was only about a third of a mile from the rent a car location, so I just wandered over in the morning.  It made it very easy to have a car only on days we wanted one.  Anyway...I digress in more ways than one.  We assumed Kennedy Space Center would be more rain amenable and drove to the East shore to check it out.

This is Eryn with a fake astronaut.  He's giving her the thumbs up because she passed inspection at the metal detector.  I'm not sure what they were so worried we'd bring into the area.  Perhaps it's because after that checkpoint it was possible to get on a bus and go to the staging and launch areas.  The guard at the metal detector was very nice and gave Eryn a few photos - not prints, photos - of the last shuttle launch.

Eryn - and family - with a real astronaut.  Robert Springer.  He was incredibly enjoyable to listen to for the 30 minutes he spoke about the two missions he'd been on.  One "public" and one military.  He talked about how they reset the astronauts internal clocks for the military mission as those missions tended to launch at 3:00 a.m.  About how excited he was when he was up there and how much time he spent looking out the window.  Shared some of his own photographs from space.  Showed a picture he took of the oil fields burning during the Gulf War as the military had asked the shuttle crew to provide what pictures they could.  He was a great speaker to boot.  I got a signed photo for Greg, who was on my team before the reorg that happened as I was stepping out the door for two weeks of vacation, not knowing Greg had actually worked on Robert Springer's STS-38 military launch as an engineer.

And yes, yes I did wear my Marvin the Martian shirt to the space center.

One more astronaut.  This one was spying on us.  Creepy.  Maybe it's just a knowing look because he's sure we'll go see the Star Trek Live presentation, which ended up involving two Canadians - one of them Vulcan - doing a play about tribbles, time travel, and the last Star Trek movie.  Most peculiar, although it made Eryn very interested in tribbles.  Until now her old Star Trek experience has been limited to knowing that when someone shouts Pon Farr, you should respond, "dunt dunt dun dun dun dun dunnn dunt dunt da daaaaaa...."

Eryn in a Mercury capsule.  She would have been the right size to be an astronaut.

Eryn in another capsule.  This one had more leg room.

And yet another.  We talked about how creepy it probably was being in space in one of these things, particularly wearing a space suit that took up even more of the available room.

Quick cut scene to Pooteewheet and I getting amorous...and...rockets!!!  Hmm....that just seems perverse with seven rockets.

And isn't the rocket in the scene always blasting off, or blowing up on the launch pad?  Maybe adding a fountain to the scene with only one rocket center stage works more effectively?  Probably not - that's not the movie cutaway to symbolize gettin-it-on, that's the movie cutaway to symbolize I drank too much beer and I have to pee.

One more gratuitous rocket picture.

Eryn and I as astronauts.  I'm having more fun than she is.  She was worn out by this time.  She did frame her face better than I did.

In the faux shuttle with real shuttle wheels.  While walking around we passed an Amish couple.  It seems oxymoronic to see Amish folks getting on a shuttle, even a fake one with real wheels.  I'm reminded of The Chive's meme about presenting something totally crazy and then claiming "your argument is invalid." An Amish couple riding the space shuttle.  Your argument is invalid.

This guy creeped me out.  It seems very 2001 A Space Odyssey.  And don't focus on his crotch zipper too much, because that's really the creepiest part.

Eryn in front of a big, big, big engine.  I think this is the Saturn V they have on display.  Nearby, completely overshadowed, is the astronaut van.  I shit you not.  It's a van, with a few leather seats in it, and a sign that says "astronaut van".

The launching pad.  The tracks in the foreground are where the launch vehicle drives the shuttle (drove, although they had a new mobile launch vehicle there to take the new Mars rover to the launch site - I think Eryn just told me it's called Curiosity).  It was great to get out there and see the staging building, the launch pad, and across the water, the Cape Canaveral unmanned and private-public joint venture launch sites.  I can see why so many people would want to be there for a launch.  It has to be exciting.  We also saw a large alligator in the water from the viewing area.

Finally, the constellation ball that floats on water at the main area.  If you push hard enough, you can make it go in a particular direction.  Eryn thought it was exciting that she could move something so large.

I wasn't sure I'd enjoy the Space Center, but meeting an astronaut and the bus ride out to the viewing areas sealed it for me.  Well worth the drive and giving NASA some cash.

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