Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Kennedy Space Center and other stuff

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As Johnny mentioned in the last post, we’ve been exploring SPACE the past two weeks. We went to the Kennedy Space Center twice to see the exhibits and the shuttle and learn a bit about the space program.

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There’s a full-scale orbiter to explore at the KSC, so we did….

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A very large area in the orbiter is dedicated to payload, compared to a very small space dedicated to crew habitat. This is also true of the International Space Station, which has several laboratory modules, but only a small amount of crew space.

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The astronaut memorial wall choked me up. Not just because we had to deal with phone calls about the house sale (which didn’t happen, so the house is still on the market.)

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KSC is in the middle of several wildlife conservation areas, so alligators are about as common there as racoons are in the suburbs:

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This monstrosity is supposed to be a big “BMW is eco-friendly!” exhibit (you can see a car poking out from behind it if you want some sense of scale). It’s a nylon tent dome that stays up through air pressure. When we ducked inside to see what it was, it was completely empty. Walking around to the back, we found the air compressors– several enormous diesel compressors that were running full-tilt, to keep erect a tent that nobody was using.

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John and I checked out the Apollo capsules, for fit.

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KSC has a “rocket garden” which is what it sounds like– a garden of old rockets. Kind of nifty. The Saturn V is on its side, probably because it would dent the world if it wasn’t.

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The famous 9000-lb. marble that floats on water. John is here shifting the heavens to spin the other way.

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A cool thing about KSC is that they have “the Astronaut Encounter” in which an astronaut talks about his or her experiences, and then takes Q&A from the audience. We enjoyed the talk by John Fabian, and got a picture afterward. Fabian spoke at 4 PM, so we look a little worn out.

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After our first visit, we took a trip to Ocala for our driving lessons. Two days of learning how to drive the RV safely. But when it came time to go home on Wednesday, I couldn’t handle it on the freeway, at the high freeway speeds (something was way off– seat adjustment, steering wheel, something didn’t fit right and I never really had the control and ease that I wanted). Plus, it rained, which makes things a lot harder! I need more experience on slower roads, I think, so when we head down to Miami, maybe we will stick to small highways and byways.

We went back to KSC on Saturday, for John’s birthday, to do the big backstage tour. This included the shuttle launch pad viewings:

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[Yes, in case you’re wondering, I did get a haircut from one week to the next!]

The shuttle assembly building: This enormous (and I mean ENORMOUS) building is where they put the shuttle pieces– orbiter, ET, and SRBs– together. To give some perspective: if it could drive vertically, our RV could drive up one of the red stripes on the American flag without crossing into the white stripe next to it.

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This is a scale model of the ISS, during assembly.

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The next big space adventure is Thursday, when the shuttle is scheduled to launch. I found the perfect place to watch is the blood bank in Titusville (it’s a 2nd story building with big windows looking out onto the launch pads), but unfortunately I donated blood last week! The donation chairs even look out to the pads!

Also for his birthday, we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant where the wait staff sang Happy Birthday to him, and the waitress and I chatted about American Idol. Yesterday, we headed up to the club house here at the RV park and joined our fellow RVers to watch the Superbowl. It was a very exciting game to watch, and I was really glad the Giants won. It was a great game no matter what. The announcers/commentators are usually kind of dumb-sounding, but I think they really nailed it when they said that, even though nobody remembers who came in second at the Superbowl, nobody will forget the Patriot’s 2007 season.

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