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A couple of weeks before ApolloCon, I got an email asking if I wanted to have lunch with one of the guests, NASA astronaut Stanley Love. To which I naturally said, “YES PLEASE!” I also got to eat and chat with author Amy Sisson and her husband, NASA scientist Paul Abell. All three are great fun, and Love has me half-convinced to take a vacation to Antarctica one of these days.

At some point during the meal, it came up that the Johnson Space Center was only about a half-hour from the convention. I’m pretty sure I made the world’s best puppy-dog eyes upon hearing this fact…

…which led to Sunday afternoon after the convention, when Paul and Amy were kind enough to pick me up and drive me out to see NASA stuff!

I said it was like being ten years old again, but that’s not quite true. It was more like being seven. I was in first grade, almost seven years old, when the Space Shuttle Columbia completed its first mission in space. I remember all of us sitting in class, watching the launch on television. We were mesmerized. We drew pictures of the shuttle, and later that year I put together a model of Columbia.

Driving up to the space center and seeing the replica shuttle outside brought all of that awe and wonder rushing back. Getting Paul’s insight and stories over the next 3-4 hours was an amazing bonus. I’m already wondering when I can get back to Houston to see the stuff I missed this time.

And of course, there were pictures. Many pictures. The full album is on Flickr, including larger versions of the following pics. These are just some of my favorites.

Standing beneath the NASA sign

I’m at NASA!!!

Longhorn cattle

Yes, NASA has longhorn cattle on site. Because Texas!



Shuttlecraft Galileo

The restored shuttlecraft Galileo from the original Star Trek. I want it!!!

Saturn V rocket

Saturn V rocket

Space shuttle

Space shuttle

Space shuttle

Another shuttle pic

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2015 11:47 pm (UTC)
I went to Kennedy Space Center because my dad has a condo in Canaveral*. There's something really amazing to see the giant rockets and realize that ones like them have been to space. (Also, KSC has models of Mercury and Gemini capsule for people to climb in. It was mostly children doing so, and they looked about the right size for them. I don't know how you fit a man in a spacesuit** in one, besides 'carefully'))

NASA also has a wildlife reserve there. Because it's not like living near a place that launches rockets is what humans want, so you might as well let the gators and the ospreys and the eagles use the land. Supposedly they do cart off alligators that get big enough to be a nuisance.

* Seriously during the Mars Phoenix launch, he was down there for the summer. He lives right down by the beach, and heard a gathering of people that he assumed were college kids until the rocket went up and he realized that's why they had staked out the beach: to watch the rocket.

** Actually, I recall that an early crewed spaceflight advocate had women training as well for Mercury, because he reasoned they were some of the smallest and lightest adults. My stepmother (who is pretty short) looked about the right size to be snug in the Mercury capsule.
Jun. 26th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)

Seriously, it looks amazing. Dude. Soooo jealous. You got to hug the Enterprise.
Jun. 26th, 2015 01:10 am (UTC)
*joins in the jealousness*
Jun. 26th, 2015 11:36 am (UTC)
It was pretty sweet :-)
Jun. 26th, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC)
Good thing you left the fire spider at home...
Jun. 26th, 2015 12:32 am (UTC)
There are many things I hated about growing up in Central Florida, but damn, one thing that did not suck was being able to just walk outside and watch any launch with my own two eyeballs. Also amazing was the times we got tickets to watch it from the Cape itself, as close as any spectator was permitted, courtesy of cousin Kathy, for her launches. A truly amazing sight. The memory never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

Never been to Johnson, though. Only Kennedy. One of these days.
Jun. 26th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
I'm really hoping to get down to watch a launch one of these days...
Jun. 26th, 2015 12:12 pm (UTC)
Do! If I still had contacts at the Cape, I'd say let me know if you're going to be in the area and I'd see if I could put you in touch with someone who could get tickets, but I've been out of Florida for twelve years now, and no longer no anyone.

But truly, there's a whole stretch along A1A there where you're only a little farther away, and all you do is pull off the side of the road and get out of your car, and you can see it across the water. The locals in Titusville can show you.

It's just a shame there aren't any manned flights going up from there anymore. One day again, I hope.

And, of course, launch or not, the Kennedy Space Center is well worth a visit. Stop and see the Space Mirror while you're there. One of the loveliest memorials I know. Although apparently, the thing I thought most spectacular about it -- the slow mechanism that moved the mirror to track the sun, so that it always reflected off the names, and never off the surface of the mirror, is defunct. I didn't know that until I went to find the link.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 26th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
Very cool!!!
Jun. 26th, 2015 02:21 am (UTC)
I am so envious! Nice pics!
Jun. 26th, 2015 04:53 am (UTC)
My office is on ground that would have been part of a NASA facility (the Electronics Research Center).

The ERC is the only NASA facility to have been closed during Apollo. Having it in Massachusetts (next door to MIT) turned out to be rather unpopular with the Nixon administration FOR SOME REASON and it was closed only a few years after it was founded, with the one portion that had been built turned over to the Department of Transportation. Since the rest of the land had already been acquired and cleared, once it was returned to the city it was developed into Cambridge Center (now Kendall Center).
Jun. 26th, 2015 06:52 am (UTC)
When the first space shuttle, after its voyage, was being towed around the country for display at various military bases, at ours they set the base gates wide open, no security checks,for the occasion.

The past was a different country.
Jun. 26th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
My father was a rocket scientist and lived in Huntsville, AL. The first year he moved there, the Space and Rocket Center was built. (I was seven.) Every summer when we went to visit, and every time I visited him as an adult, we'd go to the Space and Rocket Center. It has rockets! It has space capsules from early missions! It had space monkeys Able and Baker! (They're gone now.) I love visiting there.

My father worked on the Redstone Arsenal, where the shuttle Enterprise was taken to have tests done on its tiles. He took me out to see it. I still do an internal squee! when I think about it.

I'm glad you had a great time at NASA. We're right across the freeway from NASA Ames, and a couple of miles away from SETI. I love living in Sunnyvale. You're welcome to visit.
Jun. 26th, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)

Thanks for posting the pic of the Saturn V. My favourite space item, so to speak.

My maternal grandfather actually got to meet and work with von Braun (whose name I have likely misspelled) back when he was first in the States.

Jun. 27th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC)
There are more Saturn V pics in the Flickr album. That thing was awe-inspiring...
Jun. 27th, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
WAit they have a Star Trek shuttle??
Jun. 27th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC)
They do! It's the actual shuttle used in some of the episodes. They've got photos of the prop before and after restoration. It was most nifty :-)
Jun. 27th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
I can see that 7-year old boy in those photos.
Jun. 28th, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC)
Hello there is it you in the photo? You look lovely :-)
Jul. 10th, 2015 05:32 pm (UTC)
Quite awesome! I haven't been to Houston, but I have been to the Johnson Space Center in Arkansas(?) and my uncle helped with the wiring of the Goldstone tracking center in California, so we got an insider's tour of that.

While on our boat trip from Prague to Berlin last week, I met a retired computer security officer from NASA Houston. The first mission that he worked for NASA on as a direct employee was Apollo 13. It was fun talking about punch cards and tape and ForTran and Cobol.
Jul. 10th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
Ан -225 Мрия и Буран

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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