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The Day I Met Shuttle Atlantis

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posted on May, 5 2021 @ 03:22 PM
I’ve always wanted to see a space shuttle up close and a few weeks ago it happened. We took a family vacation to Disney World for spring break. After a few days of visiting the parks, we had a day with nothing planned. Kennedy Space Center was only about an hour from our resort so we decided that morning to go for it.

For those of you that have not been, I thought I would post some photos I took. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Enjoy!

Rocket Garden. This contained some of the pioneering rockets from the space program. From the Gemini-Titan II to the Mercury-Atlas.

Saturn 1B. This sucker is huge!

Since we traveled to the Kennedy Space Center on a whim, I didn’t really have time to research what exhibits were on hand. Then I saw the towering shuttle booster rockets and external tank outside a building as sort of a gateway. “They have a shuttle!” I yelled to my kids.

We shuffled into the building after walking under the external tank and boosters. There were lots of artifacts and photographs from the shuttle program including preliminary designs and prototype models. We stopped in a small auditorium to watch a 10 minute video describing how the shuttle came to be. After, we were led into a second smaller auditorium and the lights went dark. Suddenly the walls and ceiling come alive with a 360 degree projection of the first shuttle launch. Really cool!
After the launch was over the room goes dark again. The music rises and a light turns on behind the movie screen in front of us to unveil shuttle Atlantis nose only 20-20’ away. It was a really cool moment!
Atlantis is displayed as only astronauts have seen her in space, rotated 43 degrees with payload doors open and Canadarm extended, as if just undocked from the ISS. One of three space-flown shuttles displayed in the United States
I was in awe.

Weight (with three shuttle main engines): 151,315 pounds
Length: 122.17 feet (37.2 m)
Height: 56.58 feet (17.2 m)
Wingspan: 78.06 feet (23.7 m)
Atlantis was completed in about half the time it took to build Space Shuttle Columbia.
When it rolled out of the Palmdale assembly plant, weighing 151,315 lb , Atlantis was nearly 3.5 short tons lighter than Columbia.
First flight: STS-51J (Oct. 3-7, 1985)
Last flight: STS-135 (July 8-21, 2011)
Number of missions: 33.
Time in space: 306 days, 14 hours, 12 minutes, 43 seconds.
Notable: Famous for the large number of satellites it launched. Its first flight was a secret military mission.

These photos with my kids for scale.

RV that used to ferry the astronauts to the launch pad.

Hubble Telescope replica

Another surprise was the memorial/display for Challenger and Columbia. On display in a glass case is a section of Challenger and the windshield frame of Columbia. I’m an 80’s kid and the Challenger explosion made a huge impression on my childhood growing up. To actually see a piece of that shuttle up close made the hairs on my neck stand up. It really made me emotional.



There are countless other artifacts and exhibits I did not mention here. I would highly recommend visiting the Kennedy Space Center. Truly an amazing place!

edit on 5-5-2021 by jtrenthacker because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 03:52 PM
a reply to: jtrenthacker

Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing!

The Hubble Telescope reminds me of 15 months ago. I actually had Joe Rothenberg on a tour for 9 hours. I taught him how to make wine!

Didn’t know it was him until after I dropped him off. Another person on the tour came up to the front of the bus and said “Do you know who that was that just got off the bus? That was one of the ex directors of NASA, Joe Rothenberg! He still works for NASA as an independent contractor. When the Hubble telescope has issues, he’s the guy they call.”

I instantly replied “No freaking way! Did you ask him about aliens?”

He looked at me with a perplexed look and said “No, it didn’t pop in to my mind.”

Come on Man!!!

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 03:54 PM
a reply to: KKLOCO

Haha, that's awesome!

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 04:05 PM
a reply to: jtrenthacker

Here’s another one for you.

I was working at a resort in AZ back in 2012. A coworker (Brian) and myself were standing there when all the sudden he says “OMG that’s John Glenn”.

I said “who’s John Glenn?”

He looked at me like I was an idiot and said “uhhhh the first American to orbit the earth. One of the most famous pilots on the planet.”

Then Brian said “I’m going to go talk to him.”

I said “I’m coming with you.”

My buddy was ex marine, so he was very enthused.

After going over there and exchanging some pleasantries, I found an opening to talk. I said “ Hey John, what about aliens? Have you seen any?”

John paused for a few seconds, you could tell he was thinking about how to reply. Then he finally said with a glimmer in his eyes and a smirk on his face “I haven’t, but I have a lot of friends who say they have.”

I thought that was a pretty cryptic and calculated response. Basically, yes, but I’m not going to divulge mine.

Anecdotal but true and cool story. First time I’ve shared either on ATS.

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 04:57 PM
a reply to: jtrenthacker

I was there a couple years ago.
It was sweet!

And yeah, the Saturn five was huge.

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 05:20 PM
I visited a few years back, loved it... but alas my camera battery died and didnt capture all the shots you did.
Good stuff.

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 07:17 PM
That looks awesome. I visited there ~15 years ago, I remember being amazed by the size of the rockets. I can't remember too much else, but it was neat. I don't think I spent a whole lot of time there because it was a side stop on a family vacation on the way to somewhere else. If I ever drop by the area again, I'll be sure to consider a visit to the Kennedy.

Seeing the Atlantis like that in person must be jaw dropping, no doubt! The display looks beautiful.

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 08:08 PM
I got to meet a few of the astronauts. We worked on Fifty-one-Lima (the ill fated Challenger), and we worked for Morton Thiokol, indirectly. We made the rocket booster stands to haul the sections by rail to FL. They interviewed every single person involved with every single part associated with the Shuttle, both directly and indirectly. It was brutal. They wanted to know every single thing you touched, how you touched it, what you did, how you handed it off, what your perception of what the next guy did to it, what your timeline was, how it was inspected, who inspected it, what certifications they had, what certifications you had, who your uncle was, what he did, who he worked for...they just drilled everyone, for every single scrap of info possible. It was incredible, and it was exhausting. And it went on for day, after day, after day, after day, and it went on forever (so it seemed).

I always knew they would reconstruct every single shred of Challenger, piece by piece, no matter how long it took. And, they did! They picked up almost every single piece of that vehicle off the sea floor. It's absolutely amazing.

Our role was just making the transport supports, all 3/4" stainless steel. I couldn't ever imagine how we could have been at fault, but EVERYONE was at fault, and honestly, that's how the whole program worked. No one person was at fault, the whole team failed if the mission failed...and 51-L failed, and it failed badly, and people died because of it. So...we ALL failed.

To work in the program, you had to believe that; it was "all-in", or nothing. That's what the program was. No matter how small a part you had, YOU life is altered because of my work there. It will never be the same. I really don't think it will.

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 08:16 PM
a reply to: KKLOCO

I thought that was a pretty cryptic and calculated response. Basically, yes, but I’m not going to divulge mine.

M*Fokkers, and all taxpayers are fed are breadcrumbs!
Lucky you

posted on May, 5 2021 @ 08:36 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Awesome little tidbit Flyingclaydisk! I read the full report (most of it anyways), and my first thought was just how much manpower had gone into the investigation and final report. It really is mind boggling.

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