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

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Sunrise Sand Castle

Sights along Cocoa Beach

Even on vacation I rise early to better enjoy the day. This year’s escape from the Ithaca winter, at Cocoa Beach, up at 5 am with a beach chair and oranges in hand I walked in darkness from our beach side resort to the tide high point. My time occupied by sky watching I peeled, and ate, oranges while locating stars through the wind blown clouds. When the barely perceptible dawn light began I packed it up to find Pam, who asked to be awake for sunrise.

This day, we ate breakfast from ready to eat food purchased from the Publix market close by on Atlantic Avenue, and caught up with the news craziness. We had a day at the Kennedy Space Center planned after the sunrise walk.

Here is our view while walking north along the tide line. In the far far distance are the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly building and a space launch gantry.  Follow the shoreline to find the pier.

We walked nowhere near the pier, barely visible, not to mention Sam Shepard park. The pier and park are a day’s walk. We had a few hours free before our “Lunch with an Astronaut” event at Kennedy Space Center.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

The highlight of this sunrise walk was this large sandcastle on the beach in front of a condominium,  the  Hilton is to the left.  Lori Wilson Park is out of sight to the left.  A great feature of the park, for us since the International Palms were we stayed is next to it to the north, was the park life guards.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

So, we approached this sandcastle from the north.  It survived the high tide to a new day, obviously it required time and resources to build.  The day before was a big beach day.  Wednesday was a brilliant, summer-like day for the first of March.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

A little closer, the footsteps inside the first moat are interesting.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

Pam next to the castle provides scale

Pam and the Sand Castle– CLICK ME!!!!

Here is the central pyramid.  I enjoy the dawn light on the grasses.  That is a sea gull feather on the apex.

Central Pyramid– CLICK ME!!!!

Decorative sea shell band facing the ocean.

Decorative band of sea shells– CLICK ME!!!!

The destiny of all our human conceits.  Impermanence is part of the beauty of sand castles.

Decorative band of sea shells– CLICK ME!!!!

Click for the first post in this series.