Sunday, February 8, 2009

STS-119 Discovery Panorama

I took a trip to the Kennedy Space Center today with some family and friends. It's been years since i'd been to "The Cape" (as it's known to Floridians) and it's still really fun! I was like a kid at the fair the entire time. I didn't know which way to look or what to take a picture of next. Since I live in Orlando, I decided to purchase a year pass. I'm definitely going again soon, in fact i'm going to try to take a trip next weekend (or in the next couple of weeks) to make some more panoramas. I took several photos off the LC-39 Observation Gantry in an attempt to create some panoramas from them. For those of you not familiar with this observation deck, I took a nice shot for you.

I don't remember seeing this when I was a kid but it was completely amazing to me. I'd like to say Thank You to NASA all the taxpayers and for making this available. This platform provides an excellent view of a large portion of the cape. In addition, on each deck, they have observation guides that give you details as to what you're looking at out in the distance. If you look near the center of the picture, you see something that looks like an engine. Don't doubt yourself, that's exactly what it is! It's a main engine from the shuttle. Read the brief about it below.

What's really neat about the way they set it up is that you can get a view of every angle of it; top, sides and bottom, all up close. Here's a quick shot of what it looks like from the side.

I took a circle of pictures all the way around, looking down from the top and around the sides. On the ground, I laid my camera on the floor and put the ten second timer on to capture the whole thing. Ok ok, I got sidetracked, so back to the panoramas. Of course, without software like Photoshop, it's rather difficult to touch up the pictures in Windows. So, I went ahead and did what I could to clean them up in Paint .NET since i'm on a Vista box at the moment (I know, I know... GAG ME). Off to the east, I caught a glimpse of Discovery out on launchpad 39A and thought this would be an excellent snippet to share with the world. For those of you that did now know, the Discovery vehicle is preparing to launch at the end of this month. To learn more about the crew and mission, read more here.

If you look out to the south east, you can see the LC-41 Atlas V launchpad, which is still active.

If you're interested in viewing some of the high-res photos, you can obtain them here: Atlas V Launchpad Panorama Discovery STS-119 Panorama.

I have a set of photos that cover the view of the Observation Gantry full circle. Unfortunately, I was unable to completely 'panoramorize' (?) them. I have TONS of other photos of just about everything you could possibly see. Before leaving the park, we were fortunate enough to sit in on a presentation given by an astronaut namely Roger Crouch. Before this presentation, i'd never heard of him before. He gave us details on his background and how he came to be an astronaut. He also provided a rather gory look into some of the things they do while preparing astronauts for the launch, such as:
  • tagging your body parts (for identification purposes if necessary)
  • giving you an Oxygen tank (in case you go unconscious for whatever reason)
  • placing shark repellent in your suite (to keep those away if you become dismembered)
Sign me up! I'd be too busy jumping with excitement to be worried about anything. That being said, this guy was full of interesting information and experiences. He spoke for about an hour (approximately, I failed to note the time). One fact that he focused on was his color-blindedness and how it affected him throughout his life. For starters, he wanted to be a pilot and the services had to turn him away because of this. He spent years writing letters to NASA in an effort to become an astronaut and was turned down over and over. Finally after years of trying, he was recruited as a Payload Specialist (which he seemed to portray as his "work-around" to becoming an astronaut). Around halfway throughout his speech, I saw a few groups of people just walk out. One was a group of three people and the other a group of four. I was burning with anger. I have no concept of why people would just get up and walk out like that. I mean, how many astronauts have you been able to ask questions to and take pictures with? There were maybe 20 people in the room total, such a great opportunity! So, enough rant... The one idea that he stressed throughout his presentation was that you should Never Give Up. It took him years to become an astronaut and if he wasn't persistent it probably wouldn't have happened. All in all, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to sit down and listen to what he had to say. I'm proud to say I know who Roger Crouch is and he is definitely an inspiration to me. After all was said and done, my wife and I took a picture with him :-)

All and all, today was an excellent day. I'm definitely going back soon. Two thumbs up NASA!

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