Welcome to NASA
Location: cape canaveral, florida
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This is entry number 19 of my urban exploration blog. Click here to go read the last ones!
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How I Got to NASA
NASA, wow! I can't believe I got to step foot on the launch pad that sent the Apollos to the moon. As someone who frequents abandoned places, this is a bit different for me, but I've been obsessed with space since I first learned about it as a child. The idea that we are hurling through a vacuum at an average speed of 67,000 mph and can't even tell blew my mind.
First off, I'm sure you're wondering how I got here...to NASA. I was tagged under a tweet from NASA saying:
I dropped everything and made a video, telling NASA why I needed to explore their facility, which was to create behind the scenes content about what NASA was working on and share with the world how alive and well our journey into space is. I also planned to give Elon Musk, if there was a chance to meet him, a copy of SPLIT, which is dedicated to him..not sure his security would have even allowed it, but it's worth a shot, ya know. It could be life changing. Imagine Revolutioneyes on the TESLA car playlist.
Here is my application video that I sent to NASA:
Fast forward one month and I'm flying to Florida, thanks to Spirit Airlines for covering my flights, thanks to their #musiconthefly program, which allows me, as a musician, to fly anywhere that Spirit flies to.
The US military has been performing launch operations since the 40's in the area that is known as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. In the late 50's the Department of Defense "transferred 5000 personel to NASA, becoming the Launch Operations Directorate under NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center." - Wikipedia
The NASA social team met up in a parking lot off site and boarded one of the Kennedy Space Center's shuttle busses.
Getting Past Security
No sneaking involved for this one, guys, sorry. We had to go through background checks to get access to the base. Pro tip: do not trespass on government soil. They don't let that fly. Apparently NASA's SWAT team is extremely skilled and a force not to test.
Originally, there were meant to be about fifty participants in the NASA social event, but after the launch was delayed the first time, about half of them had to cancel. As unfortunate as it was for them, it made our trip more intimate. I think twenty-five people, or so, was perfect for our group. It allowed us to get to know each other on a more personal basis, I feel.
We headed into a morning briefing, where we were told what was in the payload of the CRS-17 that SpaceX is attempting to send to the ISS. In this briefing I learned so much that I didn't know about the advancements we've made in science, technology, and engineering. You can watch future briefings and launches on NASA's website.
Apollo 10 was the first to launch from pad 39B on May 18, 1969, to rehearse the first moon landing.
"Three crews of astronauts launched to the Skylab space station in 1973 from Pad B. Three Apollo astronauts who flew the historic mission to link up in space also launched from Pad B." - NASA.org
Standing next to the massive fire trench was surreal. I can't believe how much history has been made on this launch pad. We were walking in the foot steps of humans that are considered heroes and we were ALLOWED to be there! I wish I had more hands to take more pictures, because we only had a few minutes at each of the stops on our journey through the massive, 219 square mile area known as Kennedy Space Center.
Next we checked out the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is the largest building on Earth, by volume. Apparently it would take 2 billion ping pong balls to fill it, which I know is a weird statistic, but it's the one I remember most, because of it's weirdness. This is where the rockets are assembled and the final checks are done before sending them out to the launch pad.
A kind NASA social content creator let me borrow his magnificent telephoto lens to get some of the closer shots of the VAB.
After creating a super cool timelapse of the clouds passing by the VAB we headed to see The Crawler, which is the biggest vehicle on earth. Let me educate you a bit on this work of art. First of all, it looks like a Transformer Robot and if it was an autobot it would probably have a smokers cough, due to the amount of fuel it takes to move this thing. Consuming a gallon of fuel every thirty feet, this beast moves at a whopping 1mph with a rocket resting atop it. It is basically a mechanical turtle. But, The Crawler has one of the most important jobs at NASA, to transport its rockets from the Vehicle Assembly Building out to the launch pads. It can take up to eight hours to get from the VAB to pad 39B and it takes a team of engineers to get it there. There is a 150 foot wide path for the Crawler to move along, created of layers of water, dirt, and carefully selected Tennessee bed rock.
This is The Crawler:
Next we travelled past the SPACEX facility and I may have peed my pants a lil from excitement. I have the massive goal to shoot content for SpaceX in the future. I would love to be able to help tell the story of SpaceX and their journey to the stars. What an honour that would be.
Next we got to go visit the ISS Processing Facility where experiments are being conducted to help further the progress of the missions on the ISS. We checked out the Veggie Lab where scientists are growing and testing different plants in the pursuit of finding the right crops to grow in space to help sustain human life outside of Earth.
We then saw The Gateway, which is Lockheed Martin's experimental machine that will orbit the moon and act as a docking station for those coming and going between Earth and the Moon. It was mind blowing to see a device that is going to be used by astronauts in space, before it's there.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center
The second day I was in Florida I decided to wear the Spidey suit to the Visitor Center for the day. This gallery will show you what I captured during my time there.
I got to see the Saturn V rocket in all its glory, take my photo on the moon in my Spiderman suit, and learned even more about our mission to expand human life beyond Earth's atmosphere.
After photographing the Saturn V rocket and the other items they had on display I ventured over to see the Atlantis shuttle in all its glory.
What a magnificent ship this is.
After two days in Florida it came time for the CRS-17 Rocket launch, but it was unfortunately delayed because of a power outage on the ISS. The ISS has robotic arms that are used to catch incoming ships and payloads to dock them with the ISS and the robotic arms lost power. What a terrifying moment it must have been for the astronauts aboard the ship. I had to get back to LA for a meeting with a camera company so I unfortunately couldn't wait around and hope for a successful launch. They have since successfully launched AND docked the CRS-17 payload to the ISS. YAY SUCCESSFUL MISSIONS!
(TSA did break the lock off of my pelican case and damaged the pelican case, but they were just doing their job, I suppose...Just glad they didn't take my NASA goodies or my Spiderman suit)
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