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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Fabulous Space Coast

 Yesterday I had the extremely fun time of chaperoning a huge group of students to Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral. I had been there in 2008, and was not prepared for how upgraded and different the experience this time around would be. We arrived at 8am and stayed until 6:40pm (dragging the students and younger chaperones away!). The first thing that happened is we met a space man and an astronaut!
I've always wanted to be an astronaut

Al Worden Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15
Astronaut Worden is from Michigan so he appreciated the blustery 58 degree weather. He spoke of his responsibilities flying around the moon (while his co-astronauts walked on it) and taking pictures and finding the perfect future landing site. His eyes got real dreamy as he reflected on seeing both the moon and the earth together for the first time when he was outside the space craft retrieving the video tapes. It's that vision of planet earth that has really changed the human race's perception of who we are and where we call home. Worden is one of the few to see it for his own eyes, unfiltered (except for the gold plated helmet glass screen).
We visited the launch pads and I was so impressed by the size of the Vehicle Assembly Building, (the largest single story building in the world), and the Crawler, that I forgot to take a picture. It was mind boggling.

The water tanks are near the launch pads are there to throw water and muffle the impacting sound of the explosion. Beforehand the sound and pressure of a rocket being launched was breaking windows in Titusville, almost 10 miles away!

At the Apollo/SaturnV center, where command control sits 3 miles away from the launch pad, we were able to be in a re-inactment of a launch. It was spectacular (the windows shook).
The music through out the park really manipulated our emotions and students spoke of both goosebumps and tears.
At the Journey to Mars Pavilion we learned about all that has been going on to get the facts of life about the planet and learn something of it's evolution. There are already 4 American rovers on the planet. (We have left three vehicles on the moon). It was fascinating to learn about the development of each vehicle.
The Opportunity landed on Mars over a dozen years ago

Then the students had a contest to work with a budget and design their own Rover vehicle.

The winning design had to carry four coins (astronauts) and travel the furthest distance. The kids, working in teams of 4, had a great time and each design was innovative. Afterwards in the Atlantis Space Center we experienced a film of how the space shuttle idea was born and the multiple failed experiments the engineers and scientists had to endure. The collaboration and the artwork in drafting ideas was significantly demonstrated. Our guide then shared the daily life habits of astronauts with the kids- everything from how they went to the bathroom to slept, to the food choices in their menus and the maintenance of the interior space in the multi-national station today.

Oh! I almost forgot- I had a burger from out of this world at the Orbit Cafe!

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