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TR: SpaceX Dragon Launch & Atlantis Space Shuttle Exhibit


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So today TPR got to do something a little different, but equally as cool as visiting a theme park! Many of us have been on Mission: Space at Epcot, but today, we got to get a closer look at some "space exploration" as we were invited down to watch the launch of the SpaceX Dragon rocket and tour the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit currently under construction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 

Those of you unfamiliar with SpaceX, in short, it's one of a couple of "private commercial" companies that is working with NASA to develop their own space program, and get us back to sending supplies, information, etc to the International Space Station, and doing it from US soil. Once the shuttle program ended, we are relying on either the Russian space program, or these private companies.

 

I'm sure some of you guys might even know a bit more about it than me, so feel free to fill in the gaps!

 

The launch was very cool... I've never experienced anything like that before (other than watching a shuttle take off from a hotel in Orlando about ten years ago, but being only a few miles away this time around, it wasn't the same!)

 

Then we got to take a tour of the new building being constructed for the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. The building is HUGE and the exhibit looks like it's going to be VERY impressive! That opens to the public on June 29th.

 

Here's some pics and a little bit of video.... enjoy!

 

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Today's adventure would start out at this little building, picking up my press credentials. I had to go through a couple of government background checks or something, bring lots of ID, and I'm good to go! =)

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Yay! I'm official!

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My badge and credentials allowed me "Drive on" access to Kennedy Space Center!

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Yeah, you know... just driving up to the Vehicle Assembly Building...just another typical day in Florida! =)

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This is probably the most famous building in all of Florida, and VAB is still the largest single-story building in the world! (and yes, this is where they would assemble space vehicles!)

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Anyone who has watched a shuttle launch or anything to do with rocket launches at the Cape knows this is the famous "countdown clock!"

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Looks like we are T minute 2 hours 20 minutes to launch!

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A view of the VAB from the press center... my car is parked down there somewhere!

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Inside the main press room at Kennedy Space Center.

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Here's a model of the Falcon 9 rocket we will see launch today!

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Inside the annex, the NASAsocial bloggers had guest speakers, Q&A sessions, etc, it was all VERY informative!

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We heard from many different divisions of NASA.

According to NASA "The space program is not done. We are alive and well with the best days ahead of us."

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Nice overview of the Cape Canaveral Launch Site.

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The Falcon 9 and Dragon ready for launch!

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NASAsocial bloggers and the press are lined up with lots of expensive equipment to capture the launch!

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon has lift off!

VIDEO!!! Check out the launch in action!

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We are only just a few miles away, with a clear shot across the bay...you can certainly *feel* the force of this rocket blasting off into the sky!

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And there it goes! Good luck on your mission Dragon!

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Back at the press center, we are now +25 minutes after launch.

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"Just hanging out with my new friend, the Countdown Clock!"

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Here are some of the "Space Community" bloggers I met. Funny how similar the conversations were from what I'm used to, except talking space instead of roller coasters!

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Inside the press room there were videos playing giving us a bit more info about this mission and the SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon rocket.

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Awwww....this sort of makes me miss Mission to Mars! (ok, maybe it doesn't! lol)

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See 'ya later, VAB! Maybe we'll be back again to see you soon!

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The next part of our tour was heading over to the Visitor Complex to check out the progress of the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

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Driving up to the Visitor Complex, you can get a glimpse of the new building being constructed! It's impressive!

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Yup, we are inside the Visitor Complex now!

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Cool! Love construction tours!

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Here is the new building that's been constructed for the Space Shuttle. It's just to the left, adjacent to the Space Shuttle simulator ride.

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This is one of the entrances that lead guests into the building. I believe we are actually standing in the gift shop area now.

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And there is Space Shuttle Atlantis! She will be unwrapped and the exhibit is "go for launch" on June 29th!

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Just hanging out with the space shuttle...

VIDEO! Check out the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit under construction!

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In this area here will be a replica of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Here is another look at that area from below. You can get a feel of how huge this building is!

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Another look at the Space Shuttle. The payload doors will be open when the exhibit is unveiled to the public!

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We are currently on the upper level viewing area. There will be some interactive displays around which will give you more information about the shuttle and the program.

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You can see down to the lower level. The entire area is very "open" so when everything is done, you'll be able to get a REALLY good look at all angles of the shuttle and many of photo opportunities!

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The tail section is all under wraps!

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The shuttle is angled at a 43.21 degree tilt. (Get it... 4... 3... 2... 1...)

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Some other areas of the building will include theater screens and interactive exhibits.

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It's hard to tell from these pictures, but the building is really tall!

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Another look at the area that will house the Hubble Space Telescope replica.

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I'm actually standing in the area the Hubble Space Telescope replica will go. You can see the shuttle's wing dipping down. You'll be able to get VERY close to it!

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At the front of the building, the rocket boosters will be on display!

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The building just looks really "cool!"

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Pretty sure this will end up being the most popular exhibit in the complex's history!

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Lots of work to be done between now and June 29th!

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Very much looking forward to this exhibit!

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Kennedy Space Center seems really proud to have been able to keep one of their space shuttles for the visitor complex.

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June 29th, 2013 to be exact!

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HUGE Thank yous to NASA, the NASASocial group, and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for having us out today! Looking forward to seeing the new exhibit later this year!

 

THANKS FOR READING! I'm curious - how many fans of the space program and NASA do we have?

 

POST YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!

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Good thing it's still connected to the trailer so when this park fails, they can just roll it on down to Wild Adventures! =)

Edited by robbalvey
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This event was fun to follow along with today via Facebook updates. Some of my closest friends work at SpaceX so to see more coverage of what they are doing is a blast and makes me excited things are going well for them. Thanks for posting the whole coverage Robb.

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What a great experience! I have always been fascinated with the idea of going into space. I was so disappointed when I missed the Endeavour being flown around Southern California a couple of months ago, before they moved it into it's new exhibit here. I'm super jealous that you got to see a launch!

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That was REALLY cool. NASA is certainly on the list for our next visit to FL.

 

As a CA Native I remember watching the shuttles land at Edwards in the 80's and actually getting to hear rockets being tested at Rocketdyne when we lived in "The Valley". I had more of an affection for the Space Program because my Mom worked for Rocketdyne.

 

After the shuttles stopped landing in CA and most of Rocketdyne closed down CA kind of forgot about NASA until they did the shuttle flyover last year, which was pretty awesome.

 

I've already seen one shuttle in DC, one shuttle in LA and I guess I need to see the one in FL to complete the trilogy.

 

Thanks so much for sharing Robb!!

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Looks like a great exhibit. I remember seeing the prototype shuttle, Enterprise, parked on the tarmac at Dulles while they were building the new Air and Space Museum. I was amazed at how big it really was (they could park a couple of WWII bombers under each wing).

 

I think there's a good reason to visit the Kennedy Space Center again--thanks for the report.

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My inner geek is super excited. While I don't know lots of technical details about the space program and shuttles, etc. I've always had some super appreciation for them.

 

What an awesome experience for you Robb! Whenever I get to Florida next I think the visitor center is a must go to.

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Cool update, Robb!

 

I was just at Kennedy Space Center 3 weeks ago for the first time, despite all my visits to Florida. As a sci-fi and space geek, I wanted to check it out. I have to say that this new Atlantis exhibit will REALLY add to the whole package.

 

On a side note, one night in Orlando years ago, just as we were leaving IOA, a bunch of people were looking into the sky. It turned out that one of the space shuttles was taking off. So, I did get to unintentionally see a shuttle takeoff! And at an amusement park, too!

Edited by robbalvey
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Great Update Robb. I've always had some interest in space exploration and this update brought out the Astronomy Dork inside of me. I'm definitely hoping to check out the Kennedy Space Center on my next visit to Florida.

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Very cool.

 

I got to see one, cannot remember which one, at the

1984 World's Fair in New Orleans. Part of the USA exhibit.

 

Amazing to look at up close. And it looks like they've done

an amazing job, of making sure you can see it at all angles

and levels, something we didn't get, back then.

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As a kid I witnessed an Ariane 4 launch at the French Courou ESA complex while on a cruise with my parents. The noise - and I had protective headgear on - and the shockwave were amazing.

 

If in Florida I always try to catch a visit to KSC - even on a higher priority than visiting a theme park.

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Really nice update! I guess space exploration is something that everyone is curious about (at leas a bit). It is, indeed, a must see in Florida.

It must be really cool to watch a rocket launch too, glad you managed to do it.

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Here's an update from NASA:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/spacex-launch-today-falcon-rocket-iss_n_2788751.html?icid=maing-grid7|aim|dl4|sec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D277644

 

SpaceX Rocket Suffers Major Setback After Thrusters Fail To Engage

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A commercial craft carrying a ton of supplies for the International Space Station ran into thruster trouble shortly after liftoff Friday. Flight controllers managed to gain control, but were forced to delay its arrival at the orbiting lab.

 

The earliest the Dragon capsule could show up is Sunday, a full day late, said top officials for NASA and the private company SpaceX.

 

"We're definitely not going to rush it," said SpaceX's billionaire founder Elon Musk. "We want to make sure first and foremost that things are safe before proceeding."

 

The Dragon, owned and operated by SpaceX, holds considerable science experiments for the space station as well as food and spare parts.

 

Musk said six hours into the flight that all four sets of thrusters finally were working. "All systems green," he reported via Twitter. The problem may have been caused by a stuck valve or a line blockage. The thrusters are small rockets used for maneuvering the capsule.

 

An hour later, the Dragon was raised with the thrusters to a safe altitude. "Dragon back on track," he said in a tweet.

 

It was the first serious trouble to strike a Dragon in orbit. None of the four previous unmanned flights had any thruster issues, Musk told reporters by phone from company headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

 

He said it appeared to be a glitch versus a major concern.

 

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to make a dozen deliveries to restock the space station. This is the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the station; the first Dragon flight, in 2010, was a solo test.

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I gotta be honest, I've been a full day late just getting around the country due to mechanical problems on airplanes, so for this thing to blast off into the sky and make it the freaking SPACE STATION a day late, is it really THAT big of a deal?

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Thank you for this great report Robb!

 

Seeing this report brought back great memories of seeing the launch of last flight of Atlantis...what an incredible experience to witness in person!

 

I don't really have a "bucket list", but if I did, seeing a Shuttle launch would have certainly been at the top of it and to finally get the chance to have that experience is something that I am still amazed by well over a year later.

 

So, with this being said, I think a visit to Florida later this summer is in order!

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Thanks for the Atlantis update! I toured KSC after my Royal Caribbean cruise on Monarch of the Seas last year. At that time the new building was just a frame. Its shaping up nicely. I had a close encounter with a few astronauts that day, almost. As our group came out of the shuttle launch Sim our tour guide told us the wed just missed Neil Armstrong and Buzz aldrin. Along with a few others they were there for a reunion. Our tour with RCI included a drive out to the shuttle launch pad and then to the Saturn V building. The Monarch of the seas or its replacement the Enchantment of the seas would be great for a TPR cruise sometime.

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The Monarch of the seas or its replacement the Enchantment of the seas would be great for a TPR cruise sometime.

Funny you mention that... we just did the Monarch in December! But that's a discussion for another thread....

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That's pretty awesome! I remember visiting the Kennedy Space Center as a kid when we did a trip to Disney World back in 1991. I was so upset that we had to leave Disney World to go and see some stupid space thingys. I do recall being very interested in a lot of the stuff once I was there and for a time I wanted to go to space camp and become an astronaut so I can be weightless. Now since I can get a feeling of weightlessness on coasters and drop towers I vetoed out of the space program.

 

I think whenever we make it out to Disney World with the fam, we might make a trek down to the Space Center to check things out.

 

Jimmy "Great update!" Bo

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I gotta be honest, I've been a full day late just getting around the country due to mechanical problems on airplanes, so for this thing to blast off into the sky and make it the freaking SPACE STATION a day late, is it really THAT big of a deal?

 

I agree. I imagine it's pretty rare to have a space launch that goes completely as planned.

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