I have opened a "new post" at least half a dozen times for this event but I just couldn't get inspired. I think it's because Tuesday, April 10th was the first day that Naomi and I were on our own so the full picture taking responsibility fell to me. For the first few days of our trip there were always other people around with cameras so I could say "oh, they're getting that shot I don't have to bother". Well this day, if *I* didn't take the picture, it wouldn't be taken. I am, by nature, VERY snap happy. That came out this day and I ended up with a BUNCH of pictures just of NASA. I've uploaded a bunch of them here (strangely, I found working from the end to the beginning actually worked the best). I have at least three times more then this that I'll have to make a decision about when it comes to scrapbooking this trip. Anyways. Onto the narration of NASA!
By Monday night the busy pace of our weekend was catching up with both Naomi and I. We agreed to not set alarms for Tuesday morning to see if we could catch up on our sleep a bit. Of course that was the night I received a text message from my dad at 1:45 am telling me that the Vancouver Canucks had just beat the Dallas Stars in fourth overtime. My response? I. Don't. CARE!!! Anyways, I slept until about 11 the next morning. Then we got up and headed over to NASA. It's kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I was surprised at how un-marked the roads were. If you didn't know where you were going you would have totally missed it. I'm not sure if it's because of the direction we came in from or if it really is that unmarked but it was interesting. When we finally got to the proper vacinity we turned on "Space Centre Boulevard" (or some other equally obvious name) We got up to the little booth (as seen to the left) and Naomi asked the guard "How much?"
He responded "Pardon me?"
She said "To park, how much?"
He laughed and said "Oh, you're looking for the visitors center. She c0nfirmed this with a nod and he continued "Just pay me a hundred dollars, take a u-turn here, go back out to the main road and follow it until you come to the two jets. Take a right in there and you'll find the visitors center".
We did find it, paid our admission and I got an audio tour guide. My friend Sue had toured NASA a few months before and she strongly suggested taking the Tram Tour as it actually takes you around the NASA compound instead of just the Visitor Center. Because it was so late in the day (we didn't arrive until almost two) we headed straight for the Tram. We got on in a decent amount of time and then we were off. Right is a picture of Naomi and I on the tram. The picture was taken by a guy who had a four year old daughter that befriended Naomi.
I didn't get a picture of them but at one point we passed a field that NASA is leasing to FFA (Future Farmers of America) they are raising cows there. Our tour guide made sure to point out that "these are not space cows nor are any of them the cow that jumped over the moon" :)
All the buildings at NASA are numbered. I don't remember what #17 was but it must have been special.
The large white tanks are full of liquid nitrogen. Temperature of MINUS 320o!!! It specifies 320oF but that is just COLD in any measurement!!! If I remember correctly the nitrogen is for simulating "zero gravity" for the astronauts.
Our first stop was at SVMF the "Space Vehicle Mockup Facility". This was DEFINITELY the best part of the whole trip for me. SVMF is the part of NASA that you see in all the movies. It's where the astronauts train. It's where the mock Shuttle is. It should be noted that being born in 1981, to me, space exploration IS the shuttle. That's what I think of. Not the walking on the moon stuff that happened during my parents generation. To me that's history. The shuttle is what I always heard about as a kid. In fact my brothers and I actually had a toy shuttle that I used to try to shove my Barbie's into. They were always too big but it was the thought that counted. So, seeing the Shuttle was very cool. The mock up of the International Space Station was pretty neat. Note the banners at the top of the picture at the right. Those are countries who are partners in the ISS. Canada, the European Union, Japan, Russian and others are there.
The second coolest part about the SVMF building was seeing actual astronauts at work. This guy is trying on a space suit!!!
I'm not totally sure what these people are doing but it looked pretty technical.
The big black area at the back of this picture is the "zero gravity" floor. Our guide was sure to point out that they can't simulate TOTAL zero gravity here on earth but this floor helps the astronauts get a feel for what it will somewhat feel like. He explained that it worked basically like a great big air hockey table.
Next, on the left I give you the source of Canadian national pride, the CanadArm" It was a *HUGE* deal when this piece of equipment was taken up to the ISS and put into use. I just liked seeing my beloved maple leaf on stuff ;)
From the SMVF we got back on the tram and toured more of NASA. They pointed out a bunch of different buildings (including, I'm sure, the one where some dude shot his co-worker the following week). Speaking of death, this grove of trees near the entrance to NASA is a memorial grove for all of the astronauts that have been lost. We paused in front of it and listened to George W. Bush's speach after Space Shuttle Columbia exploded.
Our next stop was to see the MASSIVE Saturn V rocket. The size of this thing is just mind boggling. I'm standing near the end of it and Naomi is a the front. I have a bunch of pictures of different parts of it all the way along but I'll spare you :)
Back in the Visitor Center we got to take a bunch of fun shots. Me in a "pod racer". Naomi in a skull (something about your bones and space)
Me on Mars ;)
Naomi...in...something and finally, the good bye sign outside NASA.
I've skipped all the pictures of the exhibits which we raced through. These were the fun pictures. I don't know that I actually *learned* anything by visiting NASA. It was more of an afirmation and reminder of what I did know and a great exposure to the world of space travel. It's a fascinating subject and I can see why people devote their lives to the study of it. So there you go. My trip to NASA. I hope you had a BLAST! :)