Wednesday, February 25, 2015

KSC and St Augustine.

This blog covers 3 days activities. I apologize for it's length.

On Monday the 22nd, Budd and I drove to the Kennedy Space Center for a day of sight seeing. This sight seeing cost us $10 to park and $48 each for a senior discount ticket. The ticket included 2 IMAX movies, a bus ride around the launch complexes, a visit to the Apollo museum, and a tour of the space shuttle Atlantis museum.

A little background here. I had been involved with some aspects of the space program during much of my career at General Motors. I worked on many of the projects on display at the Kennedy Space Center. It was a thrill to see all the hardware that meant so much to many of us during our working years.

We arrived shortly after 9 AM when the visitor center opened. The first building we toured was dedicated to the Early Space Exploration. It gave us a good background on all things related to space.

From there we went to the IMAX theater to see a 3D movie about the Hubble Space Telescope program and the Hubble accomplishments which are many and still ongoing today. This is a really remarkable movie and program.

The next 3D movie was was about the building of the International Space Station narrated by Tom Cruise. Again, it is a really well done movie about the building of and operation of the Space Station.

After lunch we got on a bus that gave us a narrated driving tour of the Kennedy Space Center. Of course, the main building you see anywhere from Cocoa or Cocoa Beach is the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) which towers over everything else.

VAB with control building on the right.

We drove by the VAB, Launch Complex 39A and 39B which were the shuttle launch pads. We drove along side the crawler /launcher roadway and saw a crawler parked on the roadway. Pad 39B has been refurbished for future launches. A new launcher is ready for the new Space Launch System (SLS) which will be the new launch system for the Orion manned capsule which can carry up to 7 people.

Orion capsule.

Tower for new Space Launch Syste,
Crawler with launch platform on top.
Pad 39B just rebuilt.
 Partially melted blast shield panel after 50 years of use.

As we drove back we met the second crawler/launcher coming towards us. It is really huge and what a thrill to see it up close!

Our next stop was the Apollo/Saturn building. What an awesome machine was the Saturn! We again enjoyed several movies showing the complete Apollo program including the moon landing. The highlight was the simulated landing on the moon of a lunar lander. The lander dropped out of the ceiling onto the stage. A movie showed the astronauts walking on the moon. The final event was the upper stage leaving the moon to return to orbit. The whole sequence was awesome!

Saturn V engines.
Complete Saturn V on its side.

Lunar module.

We again got back on a bus to go back to the Visitor Center and entered the Shuttle building where a series of movies led us to the Shuttle Atlantis. This again is a well done display with the shuttle hanging from the ceiling in such a way so you can look into the payload bay.

By now it was time to call it a day. We did not get to see a couple of the buildings as we just ran out of time. It really would take about another day to completely see and read everything.

On Tuesday, the 24th, we drove north on Hwy 95 to St Augustine, the oldest city in the USA. It celebrated it's 450th birthday. We are at the Elks Club for 3 days.

After getting the RV's setup we drove around the nearby area including the St Augustine lighthouse. We also went wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery. They do things differently here in Florida. The grapes are picked by machine by shaking the vines so that the grapes fall off the vines into a hopper. They are then processed at the winery. Some of their grape juice comes from the Napa Valley.

Hand made fiberglass figurehead on house. We stopped to photograph it and the artist who made it came and talked to us. He was a wooden boat builder also.

Ed, Budd and Brenda sampling wine.

Today we drove down the coast on Hwy A1A to Daytona Beach. It was a really nice drive under cloudy skies. 
Lunch near the beach.

We drove around the Daytona Nascar Race Track where the Daytona 500 was held on Sunday. They are expanding the grandstand to hold 101,000 people.

There were hundreds of golf carts in fields near the granstand.

We drove back to St Augustine via Hwy 1. A really nice day but overcast day.