Many, many years ago, my friend was able to go inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. I was very jealous. If you’ve never seen this building in person, I’ll try to describe its gigantic proportions.
When you’re driving the 10-mile stretch to KSC, you start to see the VAB; it’s actually the first thing you see. Its head pops up over the horizon, it’s that big. I’ve been on bus tours before that drove by the VAB, but I’ve never been beside it, much less inside. But my dream finally came true, and I finally lost that green envy I’d been toting around for at least two decades now! During the #NASASocial for #SpaceX4, we socialites were given an inside look at the VAB, or as I like to call it, the “VLB,” meaning Very Large Building. XL! When we went inside, I felt my jaw drop to the ground: the VAB’s awesomeness is just indescribable.
Look at the cars in front of this VLB, I wonder how many of these you could fit in that building? Quite a lot. The stripes on the United States flag are large enough for buses to drive across them. The NASA meatball (the logo) took over 600 gallons of paint.
More Interesting Facts
- The VAB processed 13 Saturn V rockets for the Apollo space missions and then all of the Space Shuttle missions.
- The VAB high bay doors are the largest in the world (456 feet tall) and take approximately 45 minutes to fully open or close.
- The American flag took about 6,000 gallons of paint and is 209 feet high by 110 feet wide. The flag’s blue field is the size of an NBA regulation-size basketball court!
- The flag’s stars are six (6) feet across; each stripe is 9 feet wide.
- The logo on the VAB takes up 12,300 square feet.
- The VAB covers eight acres!
So now for the really good stuff: the photographs!
NOTE: These photos do not show the absolute top of the building, you only see the top of this particular bay. Because workers were on the other side with that huge machine (which looks small in the photo, go figure!), we were not able to venture to that area. But I doubt you could see the real top even over there. Maybe one day I’ll get to see that side.
It truly was an honor to be inside the VAB and I hope to return one day in another #NASASocial. Who knows, maybe the #Orion launch in December. Toes crossed (can’t type with crossed fingers)!
P.S. Notice the last photograph; this was once a shuttle bay.
The word I want to spread is: NASA is not dead. It’s nowhere near dead. Just because the Shuttle program ended, NASA did not die, contrary to some’s beliefs! Since SpaceX joined the space party, there are regular rocket launches. And lots of excitement at Kennedy Space Center.
That place (the “undead” NASA) is alive and hopping with futuristic ideas, ingenious experiments, scientific data, with tricked-out test tubes, 3-D printers, and all kinds of experiments. And all led by uber, UBER intelligent engineers, scientists, physicists, rocket scientists, communications experts, program directors, thinkers, doers, the “imagineers.” That’s my type of people: living outside the box. And in their case, space!
How exciting is this place? I’ll tell you: my experience there as a NASASocial (aka “socialite”) ranks in the top three. And I live quite an exciting life – I have been all over the world – seen all kinds of wonderful things. I’m just saying that out of everything in my life, this was in the top three. What excited me? The people. Their ideas. The possibilities! Imagine printing a tool, a 3-D real tool, on demand, in space. How AWESOME is that?!?
I was one of 35 selected participants for the NASASocial held at Kennedy Space Center for the SpaceX4 Dragon launch February 18-20. Many of my hubby’s friends said to him, “Why isn’t that you?” My dear hubby is quite the space fanatic, I’m only a space junkie. He’s actually built a telescope. Out of wood. And a fully-functioning remote-controlled R2D2. … but back to the story … he explained that I wasn’t just picked at random like a lottery. I had to prove that I am active in social media, that I know how to write, and I’ll be able to reach an audience. This blog was probably the top reason I was picked: it shows that I can write and that I’m a photographer, too! Anyway, even though we all were selected for our communications talents, we were all extremely lucky and blessed to participate in such a mind-blowing, knee-slapping, jaw-dropping, most awesome-ever experience!
After we all gathered in the Press Annex, a portable building right next to CBS and Reuters, we were quickly rushed to the NASA TV broadcasting room, where we attended a series of informational panel sessions – all with the head honchos of NASA and all of the program directors, top scientists, and engineers for the various experiments that were being launched on the Dragon. 3-D printers, mice, fruit flies, plating experiments, RapidScat, oh my! I? Was absolutely enthralled. This is the type of work I initially wanted to do (reporting)! We NASA “socialites” were treated just like the media, some of us asked questions, there was a lot of camera clicking and tweeting going on in that room.
So instead of telling you about everything at once (and thus making this a novel), I’ll spread out the information and photos. And I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. (You can always read the captions, too.) 😀