F. Okay, this blog about Kennedy Space Centre is going to be an interesting one, because to get it going Marike got Karin and I to write on this blog together. I’ll write a paragraph, then Karin will write a paragraph. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll just have to see how this goes. . .
K. Soo, Kennedy space centre. First of all I would like to add to the intro. The other person is Franci. You probably got it, with the big F in front of the paragraph. But yeah.
Kennedy Space centre is huge, with two big complexes with all sorts of cool space stuff, but most of the buildings and areas are still in use for rocket building & launching. The first complex was right by the parking lot; it included a ‘rocket garden’ with a bunch of real, but unused rockets all standing upright. These rockets were pretty big, but compared to the Apollo rocket we saw later they were really small.
K. We also visited the I-Max theatre where they showed, I think, two videos about space. Like, life on the Space Station. The reason they are all floating around is because they are constantly falling. On the video footage we saw, it was funny to see the female astronauts’ hair standing up as if they were in a cartoon and having just touched an electric eel. But I must say, it looks really fun to go to space. On the space station, there are always at least three astronauts. The astronauts usually stay in space for about six months. Living on the space station, studying stuff, doing ordinary stuff, but in space! Just imagine it, you’re not on any specific planet. You’re orbiting the earth in this big metal thing, and you’re just living. That’s an awesome thought. Endless space, endless nothingness.
F. Yes, we watched two movies, and they were both in 3D. The first was a documentation about life on the international space station which orbits the earth. Just a little about life there and what it looks like in the cramped space station. They’re literally floating around all the time. They have to specially strap themselves into a specific position in order to do their daily required exercises. There was footage of them celebrating Christmas. In it, the one guy was sitting on the roof, or he was on the floor and everyone else, including the camera person, on the roof. One of just many quirky things is that their salt has to be liquid for them to actually be able to get it onto their food in the first place. It isn’t very neat inside the space station. There are all sorts of pipes and wires everywhere on the roof and narrow walls. One of the astronauts remarked that when they get a shipping of supplies, they have to put everything exactly in its place, otherwise it could just float off and be lost for weeks.
K. Yeah, they lost a monkey wrench wasn’t it? They only found it five weeks later. It just vanished. One of the things I found to be really neat was the lights on earth. They have this little place that is just window all around and they can go sit in there and look at earth passing by. At night, you can see all the lights everywhere. America is really very bright. It’s just like when you watch a universal movie, and their logo comes up, with all the shiny lights on earth. Now that is an exaggeration, but it sort of looks like that. The light just doesn’t penetrate space quite as far though.
F. The second I-max movie was a documentation about all their plans for future space endeavours, especially about how to get people on Mars. They showed us some of the ideas and designs for possible rockets to carry the people to Mars and possible space cars with which to carry people around on the strange planet. And of course, they’re trying out all sorts of ways of keeping Mars dust out of their spacecraft. The current idea is that the space suit actually hooks onto your space buggy from the outside. This enables the astronaut to climb directly from his/her suit into the buggy and visa versa. Also, since they’re expecting the trip to Mars to take about 6 months, they’re working with maths and physics to see if it’s actually possible to create a kind of inflatable living area that the astronauts could use during that traveling time.
K. So from there, they provided a bus to the next place. We drove past The big place where they build the rockets and the platform on which they transport it. The rocket is so heavy that they had to make a whole separate road, with gravel stones. The thing with the rocket would come on this road, and every time they used the road for the rocket, they have to replace all the stones. So yeah, I don’t remember anything else worth mentioning on that specific bus ride, but my Dad and I did briefly see an armadillo on the trip back.
F. The next complex was big, with two huge rooms, the one with an Apollo rocket suspended from the roof (along with a few other cool moon landing things), and the other with Atlantis, the last space shuttle to return from space. The Apollo rockets were the rockets specifically designed to take men to the moon. A few of the first Apollos only went into space, others just orbited the moon. Apollo 11 was the first rocket to actually land on the moon, followed by Apollo 12,14,15, 16 and 17. After that the government ended the program. No, I didn’t accidentally skip the number 13, that rocket didn’t actually make it onto the moon. The people got home safely, but that’s a whole story on its own! Just go and watch the movie Apollo 13 – even if you don’t like space, it’s a cool movie.
K. Apollo 13 is a cool movie, yet I am very glad I wasn’t any of the people involved with the whole thing.
There is a piece of moon rock, which we all touched. It was blacker than I thought it’d be, and of course very smooth because it’s not just us who wants to be able to tell their friends that they actually touched a rock that came from outer space. So… There was a lunar module hanging from the roof, very cool.
–Marike actually made a mini model of one which we put on my birthday cake. However, unlike the real one, mine landed on planet Chocolate Cake, because we didn’t have an actual moon or anything else of the right colour.
Anyway, I don’t remember what the other rocket in the room was there for, but it had huge (holes where the fire comes out, but I can’t remember what it’s called, and neither can Franci so we’re a little stuck), at least big enough for our whole forepeak to get in there with room to spare! That rocket was 36 stories high, if you put it upright, but it was lying flat.
When the Apollo astronauts entered the rocket, they had to be suited up already. They had a special astronaut van that transported the astronauts from wherever they got suited up to the rockets. They had to use the astronaut van because a suited up astronaut does not fit into a normal car. Not even a Hilux.
It’s quite cool and all. Imagine it, standing on the Moon. Ultimate space, out in space. Where there is no limits to space! God really designed the whole universe so amazingly awesome, but we only get to see a little bit of it. It’s funny to think that man hasn’t been every where yet. The only other natural thing that we didn’t have to build ourselves, that we have been on, is the moon. That’s it. Every other planet we know about is out of reach. For now.
F. The, I quote ‘other rocket’, was the Apollo 18, fully ready to leave for the moon, but unable to do so because of the program ending. So, having nothing else to do with this very expensive piece of space equipment, they set it out on display for us to admire. It was, as I said before, suspended from the roof. (Insert from Marike – NOT!) The different stages of the rocket were slightly separated, so that you could see how they fitted into each other and could know exactly which part of the rocket got discarded at each stage of the journey. Off to one side they had a smaller model of the rocket with a cross section showing wat was inside. The computer in this rocket was very big, but the average smartphone of today is much smarter than any of the Apollo computers.
K. Atlantis. You’re probably sitting there wondering exactly if I’m going to get to the point where I tell you what Atlantis is and what it did. The fact is that I’m not and you’re going to have to live in ignorance for the rest of you lives! WhaHahahAhahahaHa.
Actually I’m forced to tell you anyway. And I’ll just tell you about it, before Franci reads this and makes me tell you about it. Not that I have anything against telling it to you. I probably would have told you about it anyway. But hey, doing an evil laugh is fun. Anyway, telling you now, I have to do (speaking Yoda). So I will proceed.
Atlantis is one of the only four space shuttles in the world, on display for the public. It can’t fly on it’s own. It gets launched into space then it glides around, steering itself with rocket boosters or whatever you call those things. It helped build the space station. Atlantis was the last one to come back and she had thirty five successful missions into space. That shuttle had been into space thirty five times! And then back to earth! And then back to space! I find that incredibly awesome. Now she has retired and is lying peacefully on display, having fun being admired by people like my Dad and I. People who wish they could go to space, but know, honestly, that their chances are really, really slim. But looking on the brighter side: we’ll never be able to land on the the sun. So there!
Just hang on as I call Franci to come and write her part. “FRANCI! FRANCI! Dis jou beurt”.
F. The space shuttle was also actually suspended from the ceiling. But before going into the big room containing the shuttle, they show you a short film on this big screen about the ideas behind the whole shuttle program and the struggles in designing it. It was like a little movie. The movie clip ends with a shuttle being launched and then a voice welcoming you to go visit the Atlantis. The entire screen lifts up like a garage door and you walk out into the vast room containing the Atlantis.
Shuttles look a lot like planes, except for the entire middle part of the plane. That part where the passengers would normally sit, can open up. Shuttles are always white on top and black underneath. We could actually see the scorch marks on Atlantis from when she re-entered earth’s atmosphere. The shuttle was suspended in a sideways position, with the two ‘doors’ at the top opened to show its vast storage area. On the top floor you’re level with the shuttle, and on the bottom floor you can walk underneath it. At earth’s gravity the doors are actually too heavy for the hinges to hold them, so there are extra supports surreptitiously positioned to help keep the doors in place. We were all excited about all the cool space stuff, Karin and my Dad were just the most excited : ). All the nooks and crannies in the room were filled with more facts and stuff that you could learn about space, including information on the Hubble Telescope.
K. They had a few space suits on display and one of them still had moon dust on it. I don’t remember where we read or heard this, but somewhere in the centre we saw it. An astronaut said how irritating the moon dust was. ‘It clung to everything,’ He said. That was very interesting. I’m really not good at telling you guys about the actual stuff we do, more random stuff that pop into my brain, so, “FRANCI!”
F. And that pretty much brings our joint-blog to an end. I hope it wasn’t too confusing : P. After getting ourselves some postcards, of which we always get an ample supply everywhere we go, we took the bus back to the main complex and went back to the car. It was a lovely, full day.
K. Franci forgot to mention two things. She forgot to mention that about a week later, we went with our friends the Yoshimas, to get a good vantage point of a rocket launch. It was just supplies going up to the space station. But still cool. It happened at 1 am in the morning. It was amazing to see the first stage re-enter the atmosphere and land again at the Space Centre.
The other thing was in the gift shop where we bought our post cards. We didn’t buy any but we saw it. Astronaut Ice cream. Freeze dried ice cream. I assume they add water to it, then they eat it. But yeah, that was strange. I found it extremely interesting, but I would never eat any of it. It doesn’t sound nice. I mean, what’s left of the ice cream when you take away the ice? Just cream? Yeah I know ice cream isn’t just ice and cream. But you get the idea.
Now I think this blog is finished. I hope you enjoyed it, and made some sense of it. Maybe learnt a few facts. So over and out. –Karin & Franci’s attempted joint blog.