Today concludes my series on our cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas. We began this journey experiencing the fall foliage of Eastern Canada and New England, then repositioned southward to Florida. Beginning next week we rent a car and drive over to Clearwater, Florida, followed by a stay at a very special historic hotel. Until then, enjoy this week’s Fun Photo Friday:
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Now that the clouds have finally broken and the sun is out, let’s go explore the Rocket Garden. We’ll begin with an image of a Mercury Redstone manned suborbital launch vehicle, Mercury Atlas manned orbital vehicle, and a Delta rocket.
During my youth, Project Mercury and Project Gemini held us glued to the television during every launch. Even in school we were herded into the auditorium, seated upon the hard floor, and treated to watching the Mercury launches on a small, grainy, black & white television screen. Here is a mock-up of a Mercury Atlas launch vehicle as it would have looked during NASA’s first manned orbital flights:
After single-occupant Mercury flights came the two-man Gemini capsules launched into orbit atop Titan II missiles. A complimentary launch vehicle was the Atlas-Agena, which gave the Gemini crews a target with which to dock while in orbit:
In my view, the Gemini capsule remains today the prettiest manned space vehicle ever produced for NASA. It just looks like a two-seat roadster:
Here’s another image of Gemini paired with the Titan II launch vehicle:
Following Gemini came the Apollo Program, which mated the three-man Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) with various Saturn rockets. The most famous Saturn was, of course, the super heavy-lift Saturn V which took us to the moon. Less well known, unless you lived through the various missions, was the heavy-lift Saturn 1B picture below:
Not at the Rocket Garden, but rather outside the Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other exhibition hall (featured in Monday’s article), is this Shuttle External Tank mated to two Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters:
Next to the Rocket Garden is the Heroes and Legends pavilion, which includes the Mercury Mission Control Center as it would have appeared during John Glenn’s orbital Mercury Atlas mission (Mercury Atlas 6), which nearly ended in disaster:
I’ll leave you today with these final two images for the Rocket Garden:
Next stop on our tour of Kennedy Space Center is Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other. Here the star of the show is Space Shuttle Atlantis. But that’s not the only attraction. One really fun interactive exhibit is the Shuttle Launch Experience, which simulates for the rider a Shuttle launch:
There are many other exhibits here as well:
But let’s get back to the star of the show, Shuttle Atlantis:
This is about as close as you’re likely to get to a real Space Shuttle, and this particular shuttle flew a total of thirty-three missions.
One of the pilots who flew Atlantis is Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson (mission STS-27) whom I once had the pleasure of flying with on a Shuttle Training aboard one of NASA’s highly modified Grumman Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).
If you’d like to know what it’s like to fly aboard an STA to practice the steep landing approach of a recovering Space Shuttle, I wrote an article on one such ride I took with another shuttle pilot, James M. “Vegas” Kelly. The link to that little adventure, including photos taken during the flight, is here: Flying on a Shuttle Training Mission.
Let’s take on last look at this impressive spacecraft: