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McNair Magnet School at Kennedy Space Center

to participate in filming for the "COUNTDOWN" and MGS launch.

October 15th, seven middle schoolers from McNair Magnet School went to the Launch Pad of the Pathfinder mission to Mars. They witnessed the erecting of the first stage of the Delta rocket. It was a beautiful sunny day and the film crew, directed by Rick Derman, did a great job making the kids be wonderfully relaxed for the speaking parts they recorded during the erecting process.

We were escorted by two Air Force officers into the pad area. By "into the pad area," I mean we were within 100 feet of the crew putting the first stage up and hundreds of feet inside the security fence. The two Air Force officers had never been inside this restricted area and were just as excited as we were. The rocket, laying horizontal on a trailer, is rolled in between two large steel towers. Then a fitting is placed on the topmost portion of the rocket stage. This fitting has two steel cables attached to it. Each cable goes to one of the towers. Then the towers move along a train-type track toward the rocket on the trailer. A wench on each tower draws the cable in, and the combination of the towers moving parallel toward the rocket and drawing in of the cable causes the rocket to be pulled erect. Once erect, the rocket now stands exactly in the center between the two towers. The complete erecting of stage one for the Pathfinder mission to Mars took less than 30 minutes!

Then the students moved around the parellel towers to another vantage point. From here they could see this parallel tower structure with the rocket attached move to the actual launch pad and tower approximately 100 feet away. The whole structure moves along the train-type tracks to the martite-covered steel launch pad (and access tower). Martite is a silicon-based substance painted onto the launch pad (about 3/4 inch thick). Martite absorbs the heat of the rocket blast on take-off and keeps the steel from going through the enormous stress of expanding and contracting during launch.

This was the principal filming opportunity for this group of kids.

We then left this site to go to the Cape Canaveral Air Station Air Force Space History Museum. We saw the Mercury Redstone and the Mercury Atlas rockets that put the Mercury astronauts in space. They stood in the place that the launches actually took place.

We saw the firing rooms for the Mercury launches. These original firing rooms have windows facing the rocket that are less than 200 feet from the rocket. Today the firing rooms are typically at least 1 1/4 miles away.

The kids did some play acting in the firing rooms and the day's filming was over.

We all had a great time and we look forward to seeing the fruits of our labor on November 19th.


October 16th, seven kids from the McNair Magnet School went to the Kennedy Space Center to participate in some filming for the "COUNTDOWN" show on November 19th.

The day's filming began in a meadow directly across from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB was off limits to us this day because the solid rocket boosters were being mated to the Space Shuttle. We did some environmentally sensitive filming for awhile. We saw a bottle-nose dolphin and a 12-foot alligator in the tidal basin. The Kennedy Space Center has more species of birds per square mile than any other location in the world. This place is a birdwatcher's paradise. The kids had enormous fun doing various "extrapolations" and comparisons between the life on Earth and the possibilities of life on Mars. Rick Derman, a film director from New York City, is fantastic with the kids!

From the beautiful meadow near the canals, lakes, and basins of KSC we moved out to Space Shuttle Launch Pad 39B. The kids did some filming down in the flame trench of the pad. Huge pipes funnel water down underneath the Shuttle. This is a must-see scene in the upcoming show!

From there the kids went to the "crawler," the giant transport vehicle that takes the Space Shuttle out to the launch pad.

Another great day of filming!


November 7 Hello from the "COUNTDOWN" kids of McNair Magnet School in Cocoa, FL. We saw the MGS take off today from the VIP viewing area. Wo!!!!! As the kids said.

Six middle school kids were filmed for the PTK Nov. 19 show while witnessing the launch of the MGS. We saw the rocket lift off the ground, clear the tower, and then lean over toward the east (radically) and then power off away from us across the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful!

Mike Deane
PTK Advocate
State of Florida


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