Falcon 9 rocket puts satellite into orbit for Luxembourg

Here is a series of photographs of the January 31, 2018 SpaceX launch of a Falcon9 bearing a Govsat1 (aka SES-16) satellite for Luxembourg.  The re-used Falcon 9 was in expendable mode. The photographs, taken from Cocoa Beach, Florida show the rocket rising above the city and port of Cape Canaveral, through cumulous clouds and into space.

There are the unedited “jpeg” files from the series. I need to crop out the dust spots and such.

Click for complete mission details.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Introduction of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Here is the first in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral. All were taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. Google the foundation for details of future tours. Here we enjoy several views of the lighthouse with historical and maritime background.

Daymark

The lighthouse is in the background (to the left of diving osprey) of this photograph from a previous posting, “Dive!!.” The structure exists to warn ships of dangerous, shallow shoals that begin 13.5 miles from the cape. The visible pattern of the tower, called daymark, identifies it as the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. From here it is a little more than 10 miles distant, so its daymark is visible to alert observers from beyond the most distant shoals on a clear day.

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Lighthouse Daymark from 10.1 miles

The daymark for this lighthouse is black and white stripes of a specific width, it is unique and visible long distances depending on the weather. The black lantern room (top of tower) is also a daymark element. At night, the light is identified by the frequency of flashes.

Photograph by Pam Wills from her Samsung Galaxy

Brief History

The historical sign is a good beginning. I love to photograph these details.
There is a story behind this monument, the top plaque duplicates much of the sign text given above. Here is the text from the side plaque: “Composed of bricks from the Original Cape Lighthouse. Built by Eagle Scout Kenneth Wyse, Troop 705 (in the year) 2002.”

Lighthouse Portrait

The angle of the first lighthouse photograph is very appealing, though this one is superior for documentary purposes. The structure is two shells. The exterior shell is cast-iron panels, each numbered for disassembly/reassembly in the event the structure must be moved. Inside is a shell of fired clay bricks with an air space between shells. As is captioned in the preceeding photograph, the monument is constructed of bricks from the first installation. The lighthouse was moved in the 19th century due to changing shoreline.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

French Tourists at Kennedy Space Center

In the Rocket Garden

A group of French tourists…

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…posing for a group photograph….

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…in the Rocket Garden….

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….of Kennedy Space Center, March 2017.

Click link for another Florida street photography blog, “Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Space Shuttle Prototypes, Mock-ups and other Models

a lotta high tech concrete

Here are some thoughts on various physical representations of the iconic Space Shuttle we encountered during our travels.

Vision

Dr. Maxime “Max” Faget joined NASA in 1958, where he headed the group that designed America’s first manned spacecraft, the Mercury capsule. In 1969, Dr. Faget was the director of engineering and development at NASA. On April 1, 1969, Dr. Max Faget tossed this balsa wood toy toward his team of engineers hard at work landing a man on the moon. During this time Dr. Faget’s team also began creating a revolutionary space vehicle for NASA. “We’re going to build America’s next spacecraft. And it’s going to launch like a spacecraft. It’s going to land like a plane.” –text from Kennedy Space Center display, see following.

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Mock-up on fire

The Space Shuttle life size model still in use for fire training at Station #2 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.

Two Inspirations

April 29, 2016 – Almost five years after NASA’s last space shuttle landed in Florida, an orbiter returned to the runway at the Kennedy Space Center. The model orbiter “Inspiration” was rolled out to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility on Wednesday (April 27), where it will be rebuilt into a traveling exhibit. The full-scale mockup was previously on display at the now-former location of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville. LVX System, which acquired the 122-foot-long (37 meter) shuttle replica from NASA, moved the Inspiration from the Hall to a work yard in January. The company, which has an agreement with NASA to study visual light communication for deep space missions, intends to use the space shuttle as a vehicle for both educational outreach and marketing. “Over the past four months, work has been done to bolster the shuttle’s structure and aesthetics in preparation for the move this week, an LVX spokesperson said.” – from the “Collect Space” web site

The “Inspiration” model of my photograph, from our 2018 Shuttle Landing Facility visit, is a second Space Shuttle mock-up built by Kennedy Space Center carpenters from a rocket booster body.

Happy Birthday

Three birthday cakes Pam Wills created with input from grandson Kayvon. He helped to decorate the cakes. Featured is the Cape Canaveral lighthouse with launch sites, Kennedy Space Center launch site 39A with the shuttle and rockets. Foreground, in partial view is a tableau of the 1969 moon landing.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Mercury 7 Pre-Launch Facilities

Hosting Astronaut ZZZZZZZ’s and much more

Here is the sixth in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral mostly taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. “Google” the foundation for details of future tours. Here we explore pre-launch support for the Mercury program, including the first USA Orbital Launch of John Glenn from Launch Complexe 14 (LC 14).

Overview

Leaving LC 1 – 4 (see Post WWII Launch Complexes”), our bus turned onto Central Control Road passing construction on Launch Complex 36 (LC36). In 2015 Blue Origin (Amazon money) leased LC36 where it planned to launch the “New Glenn” vehicle after 2020. I snapped the churned-up sand and construction equipment, not interesting at all IMHO.

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Corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The “New Glenn” was named in homage to John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. We turned right onto to ICBM Road, headed generally north, following a string of launch complexes along the Altantic shore toward Launch Complex 14 (LC14). A dissapointment was not stopping to walk the Mercury 7 Memorial at the corner of ICBM Road and LC14. Our bus stopped briefly enough for the following snap. It is a memorial because John Glenn, the surviving member of Mercury 7, passed away December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.

Mercury 7 Memorial, just off ICBM Road

I will cover at length the Mercury-Atlas vehicle that powered John Glenn into orbit February 20, 1962. The tie-in between ICBM road and this series of launch complexes is the early space missions were on re-purposed Intercontinental Ballistic Missles (thus, ICBM). “Atlas” is the name of the ICBM used for Colonel Glenn’s 1962 flight. Click on the following image to find labled pushpins for the corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads (upper right), the road to LC14 and Mercury 7 Memorial.

You will also find a pushpin for the Skid Strip, bottom just to right of center. The earliest cruise missle tests (see “Cruise Missles” and Post WWII Launch Complexes” ) included navigation to a landing on non-wheeled “skids.” The strip was maintained in support of the manned and later missions when cargo planes delivered the early space capsules, landing, not skidding hopefully, for transfer to a Pre-Launch facility, Hangar S.

Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 14 and Pre-Launch Support: Hangar S and the Skid Strip

Hangar S is seen below as we passed later in the tour. Built 1957 by the military the 61,300 square feet were acquired by NASA in 1959. The early space capsules were tested here in an vacume chamber to ensure the vehicle supported an breathable atmosphere for the occupants.

The first American space voyager was Ham, a chimpanzee. Ham lived in a residential area on the second floor of Hangar S. For a period of time the Mercury 7 shared the spartan second floor quarters. “The Right Stuff” (a 1984 film from a Tom Wolfe book) included scenes from this episode of the program.

Constructed in 1957, Hangar S served for pre-flight processing from Mercury through the final flight of the Space Shuttle. This is where the Mercury 7 astronauts were first quartered on the second floor and later, is where they stayed prior to flight. The Lunar Orbiter was prepared here.

Comfortable Quarters

In short order arrangements were made for more comfortable quarters, just off the ocean in Cocoa Beach. It was a new hotel given over entirely to the Mercury 7. Pam and I stayed there in 2018 while taking this tour, it is the La Quinta across from the International Palms. We recommend it a clean, comfortable, reasonably price and a great story to share afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean is a five minute walk.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I learned from the tour how the hotel was donated to the Mercury 7 by a private individual. They owned the hotel. Here is a very informative sign just off the La Quinta lobby with their names. Each first mission, as named by the astronaut, is listed.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931
View of the hotel built for and first owned by the Marcury 7 astronauts. They lived here in the early days of the USA space program.

Blastoff!!

Next post will feature images of LC14 from 2018.

Launch of Friendship 7, the first American manned orbital space flight. Astronaut John Glenn aboard, the Mercury-Atlas rocket is launched from Pad 14. Public Domain Photograph by NASA.

ClickMe for the next post in this series, “Launch Complex 14 Today.”

ClickMe for the first post in this series, “Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.”

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words John Glenn, Launch Complex 14, Mercury-Atlas, Launch Complex 36. Plus a “google” on “Hangar S History” that found an excellent page hosted on the NASA site. Cover photo of Friendship 7 Launch my be found on Flickr in “NASA on the Commons” photostream.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Shuttle Landing Facility

a lotta high tech concrete

We left our Cocoa Beach hotel in the pre-dawn hours of February 6, 2018, with our tickets in hand for the first launch of Space X’s “Falcon Heavy”, our reward for arriving early was a spot on the third bus.

Tooling Around

On the way to our final destination, the Apollo-Saturn V center, we were privileged to visit the Shuttle Landing Facility. Here are a few snapshots from the bus.

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Preparing for the Worst

A Smooth Landing

Aside from holding the record for world’s longest runway, the surface itself exceptionally engineered, consisting of an extremely high-friction concrete strip designed to maximize the braking ability of the Space Shuttle at its high landing speed, with a paving thickness of 16.0 inches (40.6 cm) at the center. It uses a grooved design to provide drainage and further increase the coefficient of friction. The original groove design was found to actually provide too much friction for the rubber used in the Shuttle’s tires, causing failures during several landings. This issue was resolved by grinding down the pavement, reducing the depth of the grooves significantly

Atlantis plaque on the access pathway along the Shuttle Landing Facility. It reads “STS-135 Atlantis Final Landing 7/21/2011. Nose Gear Whell Stop – RWY 15 – 11,361 Feet. Missions Flown- 33 ; Days in Space – 307 ; Miles Flown – 125 Million

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107” as well as the official web site for Kennedy Space Center Fire Department.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

A Secretive and Failed Zuma SpaceX Mission

Driving to Cocoa Beach from Ithaca, Pam and I missed a horrendous storm because we did a side trip to Louisville, Kentucky, avoiding I95 January 4th and 5th and a rare and treacherous ice storm.

We met people who were stranded overnight near Savannah, Georgia while, on the same days, we drove Kentucky Hill Country for an overnight at Macon, Georgia all in excellent, dry, cold weather.
The storm itself, was a stroke of luck.  The first Space X launch of 2018 was delayed by the weather until the evening of Sunday, January 7th.
I was in place, in the dark, on Cocoa Beach with my Canon DSLR on bulb mode, securely mounted on a travel tripod.  My choice of lens was the 24 mm “wide angle.”

Proximity to the Kennedy Space Center is a reason we return to Cocoa Beach.  A year ago, March 2007, we did the “Launch Director Tour” offered once a month (if at all) and had a fantastic day. I’ll need to blog about it.

For now, here is a shot from the former Space Shuttle launch room.

Launch Control Center

I planned camera placement well for this night launch.  The view held the entire parabola of the trail. Camera placement was based on researching the launch complex, finding it on Google Earth, using the line feature to determine the orientation of the complex from my location on Cocoa Beach.

Live, the start of the launch is like a dawn in the northern sky.  I broke off the exposure to somewhat capture the effect.

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

The human eye, only the Falcon 9 flame is visible, as a single point of bright light ever rising, lighting the beach and clouds in a soft glow.

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

The long exposure blends the flame into a bright parabola, at one point the rocket engines throttle back, eventually the color changed to reddish from bright white.  I held the exposure until the rocket flame, in the image, turned to blue and faded away.

We waited for six (6) or so minutes, the camera mount and orientation unchanged, and then the incredible returning booster briefly lit up to land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. I missed the beginning of the burn.  In retrospect, I should have timed the launch and opened the shuttle 5 minutes or so after “blast off.”

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

Followed by a TWO sonic boom finale. Kabooom….Kabooom.

We read in the news the secret military satellite, named “Zuma”, on top of the Falcon crashed into the Indian Ocean.  SpaceX claimed the launch was a success (??), that the protective fairing jettisoned successfully.  No mention was made of the secret payload. The failure was with the Northup Grumman built “Zuma” satellite?  Hmmmmm.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Bald Eagle Nest

Painful Memories

Our Shuttle Landing Facility side trip brought us twice by one of the five Bald Eagle nests around Kennedy Space Center. The entire Center land is part of the National Wildlife Refuge of Merrit Island. Rockets and wildlife coexist very well, in fact the Shuttle Landing Facility is also known as the Gator Tanning Facility. The reptiles crawl up from the canals surrounding the landing strip on all four sides to bask on the smooth concrete.

First Turn

The nest tree is on the median of a divided highway. Driving into the Landing Facility the nest tree was to the east, brightly lit by the morning sun.

Click Any Image for a larger viewe

Second Turn

On the return trip the nest was backlit. Look closely: the head of an eaglet (?) is just visible above the nest rim.

The parent eagle is silhouetted in the tree branches.

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Columbia STS-107

Painful Memories

We left our Cocoa Beach hotel in the pre-dawn hours of February 6, 2018 with our tickets in hand for the first launch of Space X’s “Falcon Heavy, our reward for arriving early was a spot on the third bus to the Apollo-Saturn V center. At 4 miles from Launch Complex 39a this is the prime location for “VIP” viewing.

The Columbia Disaster

We were privileged to visit the Shuttle Landing Facility on the way, this hangar on the SLF access road was pointed out by the guide. Here was where the remains of Space Shuttle Columbia were collected after the disaster.

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STS-107 was the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program, and the 28th and final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16, 2003 and during its 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds in orbit conducted a multitude of international scientific experiments. It was also the 88th post-Challenger disaster mission. An in-flight break up during reentry into the atmosphere on February 1 killed all seven crew members and disintegrated Columbia. — wikipedia

Immediately after the disaster, NASA convened the Columbia accident Investigation Board to determine the cause of the disintegration. The source of the failure was determined to have been caused by a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the orbiter’s left wing. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and disintegration of the vehicle. The cockpit window frame is now exhibited in a memorial inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis Pavilion at the Kennedy Space Center. — wikipedia

The damage to the thermal protection system on the wing was similar to that Atlantis had sustained in 1988 during STS-27, the second mission after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. However, the damage on STS-27 occurred at a spot that had more robust metal (a thin steel plate near the landing gear), and that mission survived the re-entry. — wikipedia

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Apollo 1 Anniversary

Memories from the catastrophe on Launch Complex 34

Here is the eighth, and last, in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral mostly taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. “Google” the foundation for details of future tours. Here we remember the loss of the Apollo 1 astronauts on Launch Complex 34 (LC-34).

Test Mice

In “Launch Complex 14 Today” we visited the place where John Glenn launched into the first American orbital mission. In ” John Glenn: A Memoir,” Glenn writes: Friendship 7 crossed the African coast twelve minutes after liftoff, a fast transatlantic transatlantic flight. I reached for the equipment pouch fixed just under the hatch. It used a new invention, a system of nylon hooks and loops called Velcro. I opened the pouch and a toy mouse floated into my vision. It was gray felt, with pink ears and a long tail that was tied to keep it from floating out of reach. I laughed; the mouse was Al’s joke, a reference to one of comedian Bill Dana’s characters, who always felt sorry for the experimental mice that had gone into space in rocket nose cones. In the early days, especially, the astronauts talked of this feeling among themselves, of being test subjects in a can and, by extension, like mice, expendable.

A monumental relief on the facade of Kennedy Space Center “Heroes and Legends” is from an iconic Project Mercury 7 photograph. Glenn is third from left, front row.

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Mural on the outside wall of the “Heroes and Legends” immersive experience, Kennedy Space Center near the Rocket Garden.

Gus Grissom, center top in the relief, was the veteran astronaut on the Apollo 1 crew, with Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee. White was the first American to walk in space during Program Gemini . Chaffee entered the space program with Program Apollo. These are images from the “Heroes and Legends” memorial to Apollo 1: the mission patch created by the crew, the three on-site in front of the launch pad. The patch is reproduced on the space capsule.

For this and the other slide shows, click on image for a larger view, use navigation arrows. Click elsewhere on larger view to exit.

Gus Grissom, who almost drown when his Liberty Bell 7 capsule hatch opened prematurely after an Atlantic Ocean splashdown, was a vocal critic of the problem plagued Apollo 1 capsule. The crew sent the following photograph to the project manager, Joseph Shea, with the message, “It isn’t that we don’t trust you, Joe, but this time we’ve decided to go over your head.” On issue was the quantity of flammables in the capsule. The use of velcro fasteners increased since the Glenn’s first orbital flight. There was 34 square feet of velcro throughout the capsule, almost like a carpet. Shea ordered it removed August 1966 and sometime before January 26 it was reinstalled. There were other flammable materials as well and a pressurized 100% oxygen. atmosphere.

The following photograph is low resolution, clicking on it will not yield a larger image.

The Apollo 1 crew expressed their concerns about the capsule in this parody of their crew portrait sent to ASPO manager Joseph Shea on August 19, 1966. From left to right: Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee. April 1, 1966. NASA photograph

On January 27, 1967 the crew was suited up, in the capsule, for a “plugs out” test on Launch Complex 34.

A spark started the fire, it quickly spread and the inward opening hatch cover could not be opened under cabin pressure. It took five minutes to open the hatch, Grissom, White and Chaffee were lost: asphyxiated and burned.

My photographs are from the “Heroes and Legends” exhibits of Apollo 1 and later missions. Above, next to the burned capsule hatch is the seared capsule mission patch. Below, a moving display is the personal effects of the lost astronauts.

Launch Complex 34 Today

By chance our Lighthouse tour was January 27th, the 51st anniversary of the loss of Grissom, White and Chaffee. As we approached the complex parked buses and a gathering of people came into view. All that is left is the massive poured concrete base of the launch tower, topped with rusting pipes.

LC-34, site of the Apollo 1 disaster

The following two images are taken from the above photograph. On the left is the LC-34 information kiosk. The other is people gathered around a display of photographs and a person walking toward our approaching bus.

This turned out to be Dr. Sonny Witt, Director of Operations for the 45th Mission Support Group , Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Dr Witt came onto our bus and explained it was not possible to visit LC-34 today, with no further details, then went on to provide interesting background to Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. We were so lucky, instead of experiencing the abandoned structures, we had the attention of an expert who had published books on the subject.

Here is a UTube video featuring Dr. Witt on a tour of the lighthouse.

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words Apollo 1. Memoir excerpt is from “John Glenn: A Memoir”, (pp. 341, 343). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Click for the first post of this series, “Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.”

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.