In honor of Earth Day 2015, here’s a few of my favorite spots here on home planet Earth. #NoPlaceLikeHome
When you’re at any space facility, particularly Kennedy Space Center in Florida, you find a universe full of out-of-this-world scale perspectives. Whether standing on a launch pad, seeing how massive the Liquid Hydrogen Flammable Gas tank looks in comparison to the tiny people on that “Ultra Boom” lift – or perhaps your mouth drops when you realize just how large the United Launch Alliance rocket boosters are, filling an entire building! Look at those workers having to get on fork lifts to even reach them! And, of course, there’s always reason to have fun; in this case, our friend’s miniature astronaut poses. (Of course, it’s a somber background with the fallen astronaut memorial behind the lil’ guy.)
To see other interpretations of Space, check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge here.
When the space shuttle system was retired, some thought that NASA’s mission would die. But die it did not. Although none of the shuttles fly anymore, and Atlantis is now home at Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s mission does indeed continue. Today’s epic launch of the #Orion-EFT1 starts a new chapter into our exploration of space. Who knows, maybe my child or his, will be one of the first to explore Mars in person. So Atlantis might be gone, but she certainly is not forgotten. Here she is launching into our sky, mission STS-132, on May 14, 2010. (I still get goosebumps!)
To see other interpretations of Gone, But Not Forgotten, check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge here.
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.) 😀
Sheila Nielsen-Preiss, Principal Investigator for NASA’s Space Biology Project at Ames, holds her “tricked-out test tube” for the Micro-8 experiment to be held on the International Space Station. Sheila talked about how the experiments will investigate how spaceflight affects potentially infectious organisms during a NASA TV broadcast on September 19th at Kennedy Space Center. (That lucky me got to attend!) The yeast strain, Candida albicans (C. albicans), was launched on SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship on September 21, 2014. Looking on is Ames scientist Sharmila Bhattacharya, who works with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Sharmila is an investigator/scientist for Heart Effect Analysis Research Team conducting FLy Investigations and Experiments in Spaceflight (HEART FLIES). This is the first experiment to use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to study the effects of spaceflight on the structure and function of the heart. To read more about these fascinating experiments, read NASA’s article here.
The fruit flies and yeast strains have since been delivered to the International Space Station, along with a 3-D printer, and mice, among other experiments and supplies weighing 2.5 tons!
During their flight, the mice and flies developed multiple funny personas on Twitter, @astrofruitflies and @astromicerule, which both continue to make hilarious posts. Considering they brought in the Big Bang Theory TV show to the discussion, how could you not love these astro mice and fruit flies?!?
I made all of my posts during my trip to NASA during my #NASASocial event through Twitter. If you want to check out all of the fun, follow me on Twitter @whatisitpic. I had such a mind-blowing experience, I’m still in awe a week later. But I suppose that’s what happens when mind-blowing things are happening all around you!
During my visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as a social media representative (aka “socialite”), I learned so much information that my brain felt like it would burst! (Well, no wonder, I was just coming from my software release, where I spent way too many hours in front of my laptop, so technically, my brain was already mush.) But I had the best time of my life, this was an experience in the top three! I was certainly in my element, around a bunch of space junkies, communication geeks, photographers, designers, and writers, my kind of peeps.
We all got to participate in NASA TV broadcasts, where the engineers, scientists, program managers, directors, etc. talked about the various research experiments that would take place on the International Space Station once SpaceX’s Dragon was attached. Out of all the experiments, the 3-D printing caught my attention the most. (This is what has saved my hubby from setting up his 3-D printer on our dining room table, btw.) The ability to print parts in space on demand is just mind blowing! Even though 3-D printing has been tested on the “Vomit Comet” it needs to be tested in micro-gravity, which is ideal at the ISS, right? NASA partnered with a company, Made In Space, to build this particular 3-D printer. All of the little white pieces you see in the photos were parts printed with this printer. Just imagine, if we had this capability during the Apollo 13 spaceflight, what the astronauts could have made to resolve their issues! In the first photo, Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s 3D Printing in Zero-G Project Manager, gets ready for her talk with media and social media on NASA TV.
It’s not just the size, but the rumbling you can feel spread from your feet to the top of your body, the reverberations and “BOOM!” you hear – and feel – seconds later, those awesome clouds of smoke and fire, that makes a space shuttle launch so grand. We were so fortunate to see the Atlantis Shuttle Launch STS-132 on May 14, 2010 from across the river, and even more lucky to have captured this awesome event in photographs!
To see other interpretations of Grand, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge here.