West Middle School's visit to Kennedy Space Center
My students and I have returned from another great
trip to Florida to visit Kennedy Space Center, US Space Camp, EPCOT Center
and more. This year's trip was very successful. Many new areas exist at
Kennedy that was a great experience for my students. Some of the newer
areas Space Station assemble viewing area, the observation gantry and
a new entry area that is a large model of the International Space Station
with two astronauts performing a space walk called an EVA or Extra Vehicular
Activity. We arrived on Monday and departed on Friday. In the essays below
you will see that the students had fun and gained new experiences of our
space program all at the same time. Giving student the opportunity to
try out experiential learning is very hard work but with that hard work
comes some very wonderful experiences of very high-level student interaction
and life long learning. As you read below you will enjoy some of the keen
insights of some of the students while enjoying hard core facts related
by other students. These essays are just one of many assignments that
students complete during this ultimate field trip. As is true each year,
I returned home without energy or a voice. By the time both voice and
strength returned I was setting in motion the plans for next years trip.
See you then!!
Space and Technology Studies
West Middle School
Hi! I am Derek and I have been on a trip for five
days with my fellow classmates and closest friends. Right now we are on
a bus getting a speech on space facts we have heard before. But, every
time we hear the same fact is makes I even more interested in the simplest
things. We got off the bus and we were watching a video on the launch
to the moon. During the video, the glass on the building was shaking.
It made me feel like I was actually there. Now we are going into a room
with the eighteenth Saturn V rocket. It is as big as two Empire State
Buildings. It is divided into sections and losses bottom sections as it
goes into space. I think that it rocked because it is basically a big
gas tank with nothing but fuel in it. Then, we moved onto the space information
scavenger hunt. One of the things I learned is that the Saturn V rocket
weighs 6.2 million pounds. A single astronaut's suit cost 400,000 dollars.
A three-man team's wardrobe would cost 1,200,000 dollars in all. To me,
that is a really big ship for just three men. Too bad it is mostly gas
tank with a tiny capsule to lay in. Then we moved onto the tour bus to
see the shuttle's launch pad. Later we watched L5, a 3-D Imax movie about
living out in space near Jupiter. After that we went on the airboat ride
which was fun. But we could go not go on the swamp grass as student from
Colorado had in past years because the river was very low. It hadn't been
down that low in 40 years. If you have any extra rain send it to Florida.
They need rain very badly. Our driver dug mussels from the sandy river
bottom for us. They are nothing like an oyster, except that they live
in a shell. Plus, alligators are afraid of people more than people are
afraid of them. We got to hold a gater and see the bunps on its back that
act kind of like solar panels and give it heat. After that, we went out
to eat and had lots of seafood.
Today we went to Kennedy Space Center. This was a
cool experience and we got maximum access to everything. I liked the stuff
and facts I learned like first three space programs were in order from
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I liked the Saturn V museum and learned about
the different Apollo missions. We also went airboat riding and we saw
alligators and lots of birds. We got to hold a baby alligator. If you
close an alligator's mouth, you can hold it with your bare hands or fingers.
We also saw an Imax movie on space. It's about a space city that is running
out of water and a comet is heading toward Jupiter and it has enough water
to last them 50 years. They have to get into an orbit with the comet to
do this. They launched a large rocket but something went wrong. So a little
girl's dad had to go and fix it. I was scared that her dad would get killed.
Luckily her dad did not get even hurt and they did get the water they
needed. I like all the rockets and other space vehicles at Kennedy. They
were not models. They were all real rockets that never got launched.
My experience at Kennedy Space Center was exciting
for me. I learned many things like the stars on the VAB (Vehicle Assembly
Building) are six feet long from point to point. We also saw many things
while there. One of these things was Apollo 18, which was never launched.
On this Saturn V rocket there are five engines on it. This rocket travels
at 25,000 mph. During the Apollo missions we brought back moon rocks.
The oldest moon rock retrieved from the moon is 4.6 billion years old.
The second person to walk on the moon during the first moon landing was
Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 11 was his mission and Buzz, along with Neil Armstrong,
had problems launching their lunar module. They ended up landing many
miles from their designated safe area. Apollo 11 was launched on July
16, 1969. My personal experience of this trip is better than last time
I went in 1998. There was a lot more displays and activities at Kennedy
that were here last time So, if you have been here before, come again.
It is all new. We learned more about the crawler, transporter like, that
it weighs 6,000,000 lbs. And did you know that when it goes over the rocks
on the path to the launch pad, it could crush those rocks to powder. Since
the shuttle Atlantis was just moved to the pad before we came, we could
see the actual tracks of crushed rock on the crawlerway. And I also found
out more about and saw examples of Newton law of physics, especially that
with every action there is an equal but opposite reaction like when a
rocket launches. Did you know that the orange on the external tank is
not paint, it is insulation? The paint on the external tank would weigh
600 lbs. To fit all the gasses we need to put in the external tank we
have to shrink the molecules. To do this you have to put them in nitrous
oxide. If you like to compare this essay with what I wrote the first time
I went on this trip with Mr. Weiner, you can go to this address
Over the years of our space exploration, we have learned
many things, like; how long we can stay up in space, if we can eat solid
foods in space and increased the number of people that can go up at one
time. We have gone from launching one person at a time in the Mercury
program to launching seven people at a time and leaving them aboard space
stations such as the Russian space station MIR or the International Space
Station. Another thing we have learned is we can't overlook any safety
things. We have to look at all the little things. We can also learn from
our mistakes. There are reasons why people get nicknames like wet back.
That's how we invented disposable diapers. An astronaut had to go to the
bathroom during a launch and he had to go in his suit. That's right! NASA
invented disposable diapers for astronauts. If people can learn from these
mistakes we could learn a lot of things. Those are the things that I learned
at Kennedy Space Center. So next time you make a mistake, figure out what
you did wrong and learn from it.
This morning when we were driving, we saw a bald eagles
nest. This nest weighs over 900 lbs. We also saw loads of alligators.
In fact there are 250,000 alligators in the St. Johns River alone. When
we got to Kennedy Space Center we saw a huge rocket. We learned that it
goes 23,600 miles per hour That's faster than a speeding bullet. Space
shuttle Atlantis is in orbit at this very moment, which is really neat,
that being my group's name. We also saw the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building),
which is where they assemble the rockets. It is so big that you can see
if from seven miles away. The flag at is painted on is big enough that
the bus can drive on one of the stripes. The VAB is also one of the biggest
buildings in the world. And to think, I can brag because I was there.
Anyway, I thought that that experience really was worthwhile. Saturn V
Rocket gives off a 7.5 million pounds of thrust. After all of that, we
went to an Imax about a city in space. That was so neat. I would want
to live there, if there was a really city in space. After the movie, we
went to ride the airboats. We saw a lot of animals, mostly alligators,
cows and birds. When we were at the end of the tour, the guide got out
and got mussels from the river. He cut the mussels out of the shells and
gave the shells to us. When we got back to the dock, we got to hold the
guide's baby alligator. He said, "Capturing a 'gator and wrestling one
isn't hard, letting go is hard." We also learned that when you flip over
an alligator, you shift its brain. An alligator's brain is about the size
of a pea. The alligator is half sleeping and half in a comma when you
put it on its back. That was my day at Kennedy Space Center.
This week we have gone to lots of space places in
Florida, like Kennedy Space Center and Space Camp. On Tuesday, we went
to space camp. Did you know that a swimming pool or geo gravity wall are
the closest things on earth to feeling weightless. We also went in to
a classroom and I learned that at the right temperature you can change
air into a liquid. The teacher had some demonstrations to show how hard
it is to hit a target space while you and the target are moving . My friend
Shilo and I sat on two seat on opposite ends of a long board. We were
spun around and we had to try to throw balls at each other. We also threw
sandbags to show how things go the opposite way when you are moving. At
Kennedy Space Center we explored an Apollo 18 rocket that has never been
launched. Did you know that to get into orbit you have to go 17,500 miles
per hour, which is ten times faster than a speeding bullet, faster than
Superman! We also visited al life sized model of the space shuttle orbiter.
When you look at it up close, I found out that it has more than 10,000
tiles that cover the body of the shuttle.
"Launch in 9, 8, 7, 6, 5..." "Pre-launch sequence complete."
A 400 pound satellite, on top of a rocket, was finally launched from a
pad in Cape Canaveral. The Atlas 3 had been having technical difficulties
during launch sequence. On Tuesday there was an attempted launch while
we were at Cocoa Beach. But unfortunately, it did not go completely successfully.
Even though it was fun to swim in an ocean, it would have been totally
awesome if we saw the launch of Atlas E. The Atlas 3 was an unmanned spacecraft
that carried a military communication satellite. We came so close to seeing
the launch of Atlas 3 because Cocoa Beach is, I hear the best spot to
watch a launch of a rocket from Cape Kennedy. I, personally, am thrilled
that the Atlas 3, a new breed of rockets, after having some difficulty,
launched at 7:10 p.m. on the next day, May 24, 2000. I believe that there
will be hundreds of thousands of unmanned rockets that will launch our
satellites into space while we use the orbiter and the other components
that take it into space for building the International Space Station with
Russia, Great Britain, Japan, China and Canada. The International Space
Station is taking much longer to build than planned mostly because of
trouble with the other country's and their economies not being the best.
It may take a few extra years to build the station, but together we will
eventually get it done.
During my stay in Orlando, Florida, I, along with
my group, Columbia, encountered many things. Some of those things are
facts: Kennedy Space Center has launched 99 Shuttle Missions. The VAB
(Vehicle Assembly Building) is the second largest building in the world
by volume. The shuttle is made of three parts, the Solid Rocket Boosters
(SRBs), the external tank and the orbiter. The astronauts also go along
on the shuttle missions. In 1981, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) launched its first shuttle. Alan Shepard was the first
American in space. The crawler can go one mile per hour loaded with the
shuttle and two miles per hour unloaded. I had a fun time in Florida.
The air is as thick as soup with humidity. It's also hot. I can't wait
to go to Islands of Adventure. As soon as I get home, I will play with
my dog, then sleep.
On my trip to Kennedy Space Center, it was one of
the coolest things I ever did. This was my first time in Florida and there
were a lot of firsts for me, such as the airboat ride, going to EPCOT
(Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), going to Cocoa Beach,
and going to Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. I also found out that
the word laser is an acronym, which is a word formed out of initials.
Laser means Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. At the
Kennedy Space Center, there are real pieces and whole replicas and actual
space pods, rockets, space suits, and other cool stuff to see. One of
the things I found out was that a pace shuttle in orbit goes 17,500 miles
per hour, ten times faster than a speeding bullet! At the Kennedy Space
Center, there stands the original control room console exactly as they
were after the launch of the Mercury space capsule. Ed White was the first
person to space walk, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first and
second to walk on the moon, while little known Michael Collins piloted
Apollo 11 overhead. Now this trip, for which I had a maximum access badge,
was full of cool things. I was able to see a 3-D Imax presentation. It
was so realistic and loud. The oldest moon rock we have on Earth is 4.6
billion years old. That's older than 99.99% of the surface rocks on Earth!
The first orbiter to be launched was the Columbia in 1981, a big step
for the USA. However, in 1957, Russia us to space by launching the first
orbiting satellite, Sputnik. Our first rocket went up in a firestorm of
smoky sparks and flames. Later I saw the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building).
The stars on the flag, painted on the side of the building, are six feet
from tip to tip and each stripe is eight feet wide. Even from seven miles
away it is gigantic in the horizon. Also, the gargantuan "crawler transporter"
was seen. It weighs 6,000,000 pounds. I was able to see various cool things
concerning the moon, Mars, the Saturn V rocket, and Mylar. Mylar covers
metal and instruments keeping them from space dust. Mylar can also be
used a "space blanket". Although thin, it keeps in 90% of your body heat.
In the replica orbiter, you can see where the crew eats, sleeps and the
gigantic cargo bay with a satellite. Also, outside KSC, actual SRBs (Solid
Rocket Boosters), that were launched and a never launched, External Tank
wait to be viewed. There were so many other things as well, but this is
all I could fit here. This was a description of my day at Kennedy Space
Center I hope yours will be fun too.
On my trip to Kennedy Space Center I saw alligators
everywhere. Kennedy Space Center is a wild animal preserve as well as
being America's rocket launch center. I learned that the VAB or Vehicle
assembly building is the second largest building by volume in the world.
To explain how big this building is imagine the American flag that they
pained on the side of the building. The white stars on the flag are six
feet across. The flag's stripes are wide enough for our tour bus to drive
on, if the bus could go up the building. While on my trip I learned many
things, Allan Shepard was the first American to take an eighteen-minute
trip into space aboard a Mercury Redstone rocket. The first man made satellite
was built and launched by the Russian in 1958. The satellite was called
Sputnik. I also learned that space vehicles such as the shuttle orbiter
or Sputnik must travel 17,500 miles per hour to stay in orbit and that
is ten times faster that a bullet travels when it is fired from a gun.
Right now the orbiter called Atlantis is up in space on its STS-101 mission.
This is the 99th time we have sent an orbiter into space since 1981. We
have been launching rockets for 50 years. While Atlantis is in space it
will go to the International Space Station and astronauts will work on
building the station. They will also use the orbiter to lift the station
back up to 250 miles above the earth. The Kennedy Space Center covers
over 140 acres. The operations of the center are divided into two sections,
the mechanics and the engineers. Both groups are important to complete
many jobs like getting the 149 foot tall shuttle to put out 3 million
pounds of thrust or to "roll out" the shuttle from the 529 foot tall VAB
to the launch pad. This building is so tall you could put the Statue of
Liberty on the crawler and put into through the doors of the VAB. That
is a big building and a huge doorway. The doors are over 19 feet tall.
They allow the 6 million pound or 3,000 ton crawler to transport the orbiter,
reusable solid rocket boosters or srbs and the expendable external tank
as all this leaves the VAB fully upright and assemble on it 3 mile, 8
hour journey to the either launch pad 39A or 39B. When we saw the people
doors they looked so very tiny everyone on the bus was amazed. You do
not realize how tall this building is until you area few miles away from
it and it towers above everything. All this big stuff is nothing compared
to the Saturn V rockets that took 18 Americans to the moon during 6 missions.
The Saturn V rocket had five engines that produced 1.5 million pounds
each. Together they produced 7 million pounds of thrust and went 25,000
miles per hour. The Saturn V rockets are the biggest and most powerful
rocket ever built. Worker at the Kennedy Space Center during the Apollo
14 mission said that as the launch began the Saturn V rocket was so massive
it seemed to be "alive". The rocket is made up of four sections. When
the vehicle returns to earth it only comes back with the capsule and the
three astronauts. Sections one and two of a Saturn V rocket are just liquid
fuel gas tanks. When the gas is burned that tank falls off and that make
the rocket lighter so it can go even faster on less gas. The gas tanks
on the Saturn V works just like today's shuttle external tank. They both
are filled with liquid hydrogen and oxygen. They fuel is under so much
pressure that it frozen so it is called cryogenic. When the capsule is
launched it is shiny and silver. After it goes to space and reenters it
is a nasty reddish copper color. The bottom is all black from being lit
on fire from air friction during reentry. Once the Saturn V takes the
crew to the moon, two astronauts go on the surface while one stays in
orbit. On the surface of the moon there is one-sixth the gravity of earth.
That means if we sent a 600 pound woman to the moon, she would only weigh
100 pounds on the moon's surface. Too bad she would still look the same.
When a vehicle is launched from the Kennedy Space Center you must be at
least 3 miles away or you would not survive the blast of force or noise.
NASA is an acronym that stands for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.
My trip to Florida was filled with fun and learning especially at the
Kennedy Space Center.
During my trip to Orlando, Florida I visited many
places including the Kennedy Space Center. One of the favorite experiences
was getting to see what it is like to not be in gravity. I learned many
facts and saw many things. I saw a 3-D IMAX movie called L5. It was made
using all we know about space and making a story about people living in
a space colony near Jupiter. Their were running out of water and had to
go on an adventure to get more water. I learned that the VAB is the second
biggest building in the world. The Mercury Redstone rocket took Allan
Shepard into space as America's first astronaut. Mercury was our first
space program. Gemini was our second program. Then we had the Apollo program.
This program put six rockets on the moon and 12 American astronauts there.
The Space Shuttle is our current program and it flies 10 times faster
that a speeding bullet. On May 20, 2000 just tow days before our trip
the shuttle Atlantis began it 10 journey into space. Without its white
solid rocket boosters and its huge orange external tank, the shuttle is
a big glider that could not go anywhere. I suggest that each of you take
a trip to the Kennedy Space Center on your next adventure. Whether you
like space or not, I guarantee that you will love going there. OH yeah,
remembers to bring some money because there are so many cool space toys
to buy there.
Today I went to the Kennedy Space Center with a group
of classmates and our program director Mr Weiner. I got to see where the
shuttle is attached to the external tanks and shuttle's two solid rocket
boosters. It is all put together in this huge building called the VAB
or Vehicle Assembly Building. If you measure the building's length, height
and width you will get its volume and you will find out that this building
is the second largest by volume in the world. Later in the day we went
to anther building that was mad to hold the all the part that took people
to the moon. The main rocket is the Saturn V. It is the largest vehicle
or even machine ever sent to space or even built. The rocket hung from
the ceiling in pieces and you could see how huge it was. Each piece was
way bigger than any car or truck. The entire experience was awesome. If
I had known what I was in for, there is no way I wan "NO WAY" in the world
I would miss this trip. During this trip you learn teamwork, responsibility
and honesty. If you go on this trip you will make at least one new friend.
I know I did. At school there were some of the kids going on this trip
that I did not like. When we actually were on the trip, I learned whom
they really were and how many good things they had to offer others. I
learned lots about space also. I got to see many space vehicles include
the shuttle crawler, Redstone rockets, Saturn 1B and V rockets, many satellites,
space suits, life support systems including space food and more. Although
this trip involved a lot of work it was also involves fun and lots of
learning. I learned about the history of the U.S. and Russian space program.
I learned about the U.S. programs from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo to
the Shuttle program right up to the International Space Station. I learned
about Sputnik and other Russian space travel like the MIR space station.
I think that some of the stuff you will be doing might seem boring at
first but after a wile all the activities start to fit together and you
definitely will not regret doing any of it in the long run. Whether you
have an interest in space or not I recommend that you go on this trip.
At the end of the trip I guarantee that you will be not on excited about
space but you will want to learn more.
Today our group visited Kennedy Space Center. The
Apollo program ended with Apollo 17 even though Apollo 18, 19 and 20 were
already built. Apollo 18 is at Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach, Florida,
Apollo 19 is at Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas and Apollo 20 is at
the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama. . We got to see
all of the parts that would have made up Apollo 18 that was never launched.
It is all inside a huge building at the Kennedy Space Center. When I first
saw the Saturn V rocket I thought that it was the biggest rocket that
I had ever seen. Later I learned that it WAS the biggest rocket ever built.
I even got to seen an Apollo capsule that was used in the Apollo Soyuz
program that had actually been sent to space and had been through reentry.
It was rusty red on its sides and it was burned up black on the bottom
and looked like a burned up Hershey's kiss. It is amazing that the entire
capsule does not burn up completely, as it is going that fast. As we drove
closer and closer to the VAB or Vehicle Assembly Building I was amazed
at its huge size. Three and a quarter Empire State Buildings would fit
inside this building. The only building that is larger that the VAB by
volume is Boeing's 747 assembly plant in Washington. The five engines
of Apollo 18's Saturn V would have put out 1.5 million pounds of thrust
each for a total of 7.5 million pounds of thrust. These engines are powered
by liquid fuel made of hydrogen and oxygen that is stored in big tanks
that make up most of the Saturn V's main body. When the rocket is launched
the hydrogen and oxygen is converted into H2O. This H2O or water is used
to supply the astronauts with the water they need to survive a trip into
space and safely back home. That is the same way they get water while
traveling in space on the shuttle orbiter. There are three main parts
that make up the space transportation system. This STS includes the two
solid rocket boosters, the external tank and the orbiter. I found out
how astronauts eat in space. In the early days they sucked food out of
tubes. It is good that they now eat more normal food packets because eating
food from a tube would be gross. Since our space program began in 1958
there have been over 3,000 rocket launches. During STS-51L our first teacher
in space tried to go into space but the shuttle had an accident and the
entire crew died. Earlier during Apollo 1 the three-person astronaut crew
was holding a dress rehearsal and a fire started in the capsule and the
astronauts were all burned to death. After both of our two only space
accidents no mission was launched for a year and a half. We learned a
lot from both of these accidents. During our day at Kennedy we saw a 3-D
IMAX movie about the future living in space called L5. If L5 were ever
built I would want to live on it.
During the time I spent in Florida I found out that
Alan Shepard was the first American in space. That first trip only lasted
16 minutes and his flight suit was silver. Many cool buildings are at
Kennedy Space Center. They including buildings like the Orbiter Processing
Facility or the OPF. There is another building that has a big door that
is used to prepare payloads for the shuttle's cargo bay. The biggest building
of all is the VA. It is so big that an American flag is painted on the
outside and the stripes are the size of a freeway lane. The stars are
six feet across. I found out that Superman could not catch shuttle because
it flies ten times faster than a speeding bullet. While in orbit the shuttle
flies at 17,5000 and weighs 20,000 pounds. It can orbit the earth in 90
minutes. Kennedy Space Center is also a wild life preserve. While we were
there we saw a bald eagles nest that weighs over 900 pounds and could
hold 48 children. The bald eagles that live in the nest spend their summers
in North Carolina and live in the nest in the winter. We also saw a large
number of alligators some as long s 16 feet. They are very common this
time of year. There are over 3 million alligators in the state of Florida
and over 250,000 live on the St. John's river, which runs very close to
the Kennedy Space Center. The smallest alligator we saw was 6 inches long.
You can predict the length of an alligator by measuring it s nose length.
Every inch of nose length equals one foot of body length. We also saw
a lot of birds including tons of blue heron and snowy egrets. It was cool
to see so much space stuff and so much nature all in the same place.
As we pull in I see a garden of rockets of all sizes
and shapes towering over all. The closer we get the bigger the rockets
seem. Now we are entering the main part and the first building is actually
a model of the International Space Station. Tow astronauts are on the
top doing an EVA or Extra Vehicular Activity or Space Walk. Remember we
haven't even done anything yet and we have seen all this. We walk into
a large air-conditioned building and huge TV screens, giant displays and
technology of tomorrow, overcomes me. I realize that this building is
much bigger than I first thought. We get in line to go on tour buses to
visit areas around the Kennedy Space Center. I start seeing sign all around
tell me that the shuttle flies 10 times faster that a bullet, there have
been 99 shuttle missions Kennedy Space Center is 140 acres and more. I
can tell that during this tour I going to a lot to look at. The first
shuttle launched at Kennedy Space Center in 1981 with a crew of John Young
as the commander and Robert Crippen as the pilot. It landed t Edwards
Air Force Base in California. I can see the Vehicle Assembly building
in the far distance. It is huge. I find out it is 552 feet tall. >From
far away you can tell how really big it is. WE have been riding around
for over and hour and I have seen a large number of rockets like the Saturn
V that took men to the moon and back. These rockets are so awesome. We
are going to see a 3-D IMAX movie. The screen of the IMAX Theater is 5
and a half stories high. The movie is about people living for a long time
far in space. During the movie a rock out in space runs into the audience.
I really like that part. The space colony is in trouble. They are running
out of water. This is bad. They figure out as solution. Keyko's father
a boy who lives on the space colony must go out and capture a comet. Comets
are made of dust and ice. This will supply the space colony with water.
Is Keyko's father successful? Go on the trip see L5 and find out. I rate
L5 as excellent. I found out that I like 3-D IMAX very much. I had a lot
of fun at Kennedy and I hope to return in the future.
The VAB or Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space
Center is the largest building on only at this NASA center but it is also
the second largest building by volume in the world. It has an American
flag painted on its side that has stars that are sic feet point to point.
The flag is 209 feet by 110 feet. The shuttle travels faster than a speeding
bullet at 17,500. NASA first includes Alan Shepard (first American in
space) going to space for sixteen minutes and the shuttle's first flight
in 1981. The shuttle was built from research of other planes. It started
in 1947 with the X-1 when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Next we
built the X-15 and flew it from 1959-1968 Then the X-2- Dyna-Soar was
planned but never built. They did build the HL-10 lifting body and later
the X-24A that flew from 1969-1971. The shuttle first flew in 1981 and
is still in use. Now we are building the X-38, which they plan to have
flying by 2004. We even saw the hanger where the X-38 will be housed.
The VAB is used to put the shuttle together with its rocket boosters and
external tank then it is put on the crawler transporter to be taken to
the launch pad. The Crawler has a maximum speed of 1 mile per hour when
loaded and 2 mile per hour when empty. The orbiter weights 20,000 pounds.
Another famous space vehicle that we learned about at the Kennedy Space
Center is the launch rocket from the Apollo program called the Saturn
V rocket. First there was the Mercury Redstone Rocket that was used in
1960 and 1961. Then they built the Mercury Atlas rocket and it was used
from 1960-1963. Next they built the Gemini Titan Rocket and used it from
1964-1966. For Apollo they started with the Saturn 1B rocket and used
it in 1967 for early-unmanned Apollo flights. Then they built the giant
Saturn V rockets and used it from 1967-1975. There are still three Saturn
V rockets that were never launched. We got to check one out at the Kennedy
Space Center. The other two are at other NASA centers. Apollo 17 was the
last lunar mission. During all lunar missions NASA brought back 842 pounds
of lunar samples. At Kennedy they have built a special building where
you can see all the parts of Apollo 18 including the last three minutes
of the launch of Apollo 8 and the final landing of Apollo 11. We even
saw the reentry capsule from the Apollo Soyuz mission. Seeing a Saturn
V rocket up close was awesome. It produces 1.5 million pound of thrust
per engine and it has five of them. The second stage of the Saturn V gets
the rocket to travel over 15,000 miles per hour. This rocket will make
the astronauts go faster than 25,000 miles per hour so they can escape
the earth's gravity. Disposable diapers, freeze dried food, Mylar plastic
used in video and audiotapes and rockets are all spin-offs that have been
developed by NASA. We use this stuff in our daily lives. I have learned
a lot on this trip and have had even more fun. Each day I can hardly wait
for our next event.