07.09.2011 - 07.09.2011 35 °C
This was the first thing that I put on after my clothes! My official pass.... Wow.... Today was the day I was going to Kennedy Space Centre (KSC)
When we arrived at KSC, We were directed into a huge room laid out for us all. Power sources so we could tweet during the afternoon.
I sat at a table with some of my fellow housemates. We had to introduce ourselves saying our real name, Twitter handle and an interesting fact. My interesting fact was that I was the first and only female Manager of the Airfield at one of the Worlds busiest airports - London Heathrow! Hearing some people's introductions I did wonder how on earth I was there, Scientists, Mathematicians, Physics experts, Space experts and then me! - I will explain why I think I was there when I do my summary of the trip.
We were all put on coaches and taken off ready for our tour, Places visitors etc never get to see. I had rough expectations what we would see but everything we saw, heard and did totally surpassed everything I had imagined.
The first stop was at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
We were told do not look up when you first walk in, Just keep walking then look.... I felt dizzy when I did look up. It was so damn high and enormous! I have never been in such a building and had the sense of space, Not even Terminal 5 at Heathrow before it was fitted out. You could almost feel the emotions that people had left in their from when they had worked there. We were all so quiet and our heads I believe full of our own thoughts.
Some facts about the VAB taken from Wikipedia:
- The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. It is the fourth largest building in the world by volume. The building is at Launch Complex 39 at KSC.
- The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world, was the tallest building in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.
- The VAB is 526 feet (160.3 m) tall, 716 feet (218.2 m) long and 518 feet (157.9 m) wide. It covers 8 acres (3 ha), and encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet (3,665,000 m3) of space. The building has 10,000 tons of air conditioning equipment, including 125 ventilators on the roof supported by four large air handlers (four cylindrical structures west of the building) to keep moisture under control. Air in the building can be completely replaced every hour. The interior volume of the building is so vast that it has its own weather, including "rain clouds form[ing] below the ceiling on very humid days",which the moisture reduction systems are designed to minimise.
- There are four entries to the bays located inside the building, which are the four largest doors in the world. Each door is 456 feet (139.0 m) high and takes 45 minutes to completely open or close. The north entry that leads to the transfer aisle was widened by 40 feet (12.2 m) to allow entry of the shuttle orbiter. A central slot at the center of the north entry allowed for passage of the orbiter's vertical stabiliser. To lift the components of the Space Transportation System, the VAB housed five overhead bridge cranes, including 2 capable of lifting 325 tons, and 136 other lifting devices.
- The American flag painted on the building was the largest in the world when added in 1976 as part of United States Bicentennial celebrations, along with the star logo of the anniversary, later replaced by the NASA insignia in 1998. It is 209 feet (63.7 m) high, and 110 feet (33.5 m) wide. Each of the stars on the flag is 6 feet (1.83 m) across, the blue field is the size of a regulation basketball court, and each of the stripes is 9 feet (2.74 m) wide, the width of a standard road lane.
I am hoping the above facts can really make you sense how big this building was.
We were told we were in for a surprise and walked round the corner and there was "Endeavour". I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. This shuttle had been into space. It still had "Space dirt" on it. Bumps, nicks and scrapes. This was the real thing! I have to admit that it just tore at my heart that I was seeing something as special as this. I just could not get enough at looking at every part of her. She was just stunning, A work of art, An engineering feat. Please humour me here as I am going to post quite a few pictures and facts of this wonderful piece of history.
- Space Shuttle Endeavour (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-105) is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger. Endeavour first flew in May 1992 on mission STS-49 and its last mission STS-134 was in May 2011. The STS-134 mission was originally planned as the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, but with authorization of the STS-135 mission, Atlantis became the last Space Shuttle to fly.
OV designation OV-105
Country United States
Contract award July 31, 1987
Named after HMS Endeavour (1764)
First flight STS-49 May 7, 1992 – May 16, 1992
Last flight STS-134 May 16, 2011 – June 1, 2011
Number of missions 25
Time spent in space 296 days, 3 hours, 34 minutes, 2 seconds
Number of orbits 4,671
Distance travelled 122,883,151 mi (197,761,262 km)
Satellites deployed 3
Mir dockings 1
ISS dockings 12
These facts just show how exceptional she was..... and I have seen her close up. Still amazed and emotional at the thought of it, Even a week later I can remember exactly how I felt when I saw her!
On the way out of the VAB we were shown on one of the walls where everyone had written their names who had worked on the Space Shuttle Programme - What a fantastic job they all did.
Next stop on the tour was to the clock! I was going to actually touch and stand by "The Clock" that I had watched on TV so many times!