Saturday, June 14, 2008

Family ATX

Astronaut Training Experience was quite an experience. There are different types of ATX: for young people only, adults, team building corporate ATX, and family ATX. One family from New York who said they spend $27,000 for their son to go to elementary school, commented about how affordable the program was. As a teacher, I never thought I could have done something like this with my family. However, yesterday and today where definitely highlights of our entire time down here in Florida.

To the left you see some excited participants at our initial briefing. After a security check we took an 'up close' tour of the Kennedy Space Center. We went into the ISS (International Space Station) Center. The 16 nations working together on ISS are close to 80% complete. In another year or so, when the ISS is finished the ISS Center will be converted over to be used for the Constellation project. I think we were told, more specifically it will be used for Orion.

We then drove close by launch pad 39A and B.We even got to get out and take picture. There had been some damage to some bricks in the flame trench after the launch of STS-124.

Next stop was the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). The large "garage" doors only need to raise about half way up for the Space Shuttle. For the Saturn V in the late 1960s and early 70s is had to open all the way up. Again in the 2010s is will need to open all the way to deliver the fully assembled Ares V to the launch pad using the Crawler. This building is amazingly large. It is in the Guiness Book as being the largest single story building. Our guide was from New York and told us Yankee Stadium and its parking lot could fit on top of the building.

The bus then took us to the Astronaut Hall of Fame where we got a special tour or the artifacts and then went through limited access doors into the ATX facility.
Here is a picture of the family building rockets. My wife had never built a model rocket. Everyone did a great job following instructions and decorating their rocket. When we returned to the hotel we found a package of dehydrated "astronaut" ice cream on our pillow. This should be enjoyed with a glass of water.

The next morning we launched the rocket, had lunch with an astronaut, tried to watch the shuttle land, simulated a mission on the Space Shuttle to the ISS, simulated 1/6 gravity of the moon, and enjoyed Dip 'n Dots at the Astronaut Training Experience graduation. One other surprise we were not expecting was annual passes to the KSC Visitor Center.

ATX was definitely a highlight of the month.

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