Cape Canaveral, Florida 12/16 – 12/19

Cape Canaveral, Florida:  Population =  10,569, elevation = 10 feet, average January low temp = 51.0, Average July high temp = 90, average sunny days = 240, annual snowfall = 0”, annual rainfall = 51.7”, air quality index = 72.9, water quality index = 60, comfort index = 30, median age of residents = 49.4

I am using Cape Canaveral as a sort of “average” of where we spent our time.  Cape Canaveral lies between Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center.  We slept and had a couple of meals in Cocoa Beach, but we spent most of our time at the Space Center.  While we were in Savannah, we found out that there was going to be a launch at the Cape so, this being a Bucket List item, we had to see it.

xcocoa
Mid December in Cocoa Beach

There is so much to see at the Space Center, it is hard to organize it into some sort logical order.  Let’s say they want to launch a satellite into orbit.  How do they do that? The first step is to assemble the rocket stages and payload in the Vertical Assembly Building.  This is the largest single story building in the world.  It stands 526 feet high by 716 feet long by 518 feet wide.  Each of the stripes of the flag painted on the side is 9 feet wide. It is so big inside, they actually get clouds in it on humid days.

xassembly

Once the rocket is assembled, it is loaded onto the Crawler-Transporter for the trip to the launch pad.  This monster weights about 6 million pounds, and will carry up to 18 million pounds.  It can carry a rocket at a blistering 1 MPH, perfectly level while climbing a 5% grade, burning 125 gallons per mile for the 5 mile trip.

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The Crawler-Transporter takes a 31 man crew to operate. (thanks to Wikipedia for photo)

After the rocket is secured on the launch pad, the final preparations and checks are made and the fuel tanks are filled.  Pure liquid oxygen and hydrogen combine for the intense power.  Notice the water tower in the photo.  At ignition, the rockets are so loud that the sound waves reflecting back up would destroy the sensitive equipment and kill the astronauts.  To lessen the sound waves, all 400,000 gallons of water in the tower is splashed onto the launch pad in just 30 seconds.

xpad
This is the launch pad that the shuttles used.

Launch Control at Kennedy Space Center is in charge of the rocket for only part of the liftoff.  Once it gains altitude, Mission Control in Houston takes over.

xcontrol
The Launch Control room from the Apollo missions
xlaunch
Launching a satellite into orbit 12/18/16. At about this point the deep rumble hits the viewing stands, 5 miles away.

Here is some of the space hardware on display, up close and personal:

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The business end of a Saturn 5 rocket. That is Marylu standing under it.
xapollo14
The command module from the Apollo 14 mission to the moon.
xrover
The backup Lunar Rover
xsuit
The Extra-Vehicular suit worn by Gene Cernan on the moon still has moon dust on the boots
xatlantis
The shuttle Atlantis hangs from the ceiling of its own building
xhubble
One of the Atlantis missions was to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
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The Gemini 9A capsule was launched to attempt the first orbital rendezvous and docking

If you are ever in the area, stop in and see the Kennedy Space Center.  Even if you are not the all-out space geek that I am, the park is still very impressive.  The shows and displays are dramatic, the hardware is jaw-dropping enormous, the history is awesome.

Next up: Panama City Beach, Florida

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footloosefogeys

We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

2 thoughts on “Cape Canaveral, Florida 12/16 – 12/19”

    1. I think the displays might be bigger and more high tech now. The Atlantis building was the best. You enter a round room and they show a movie on the wall about the shuttles and the space station and how Atlantis picked up and fixed the Hubble. Dramatic finish, music swells, the curtains roll back and THERE IT IS! Hanging there as big as a whale is the actual shuttle. Wow!!

      I hope you are having a great holiday weekend. I am about to celebrate mine by taking a nice nap, well away from the crowds and carols.

      Alan

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      Like

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