Tuesday, February 3, 2015

State of NASA #NASASocial

On February 2nd, 2015, NASA addressed its State of NASA to the world. I was lucky enough to be a part of all the fun over at the Kennedy Space Center on this "stellar" day. My day started with my 2.5 hour drive up to Cape Canaveral from my home here in Fort Lauderdale. The drive was fun and seemed shorter than expected, probably due to my excitement. I couldn't help but sing along to every song that came on the radio that morning. 

I arrived to the KSC facility early and hung around, shaking with excitement because I got to drive around on the government side with my awesome NASA badge! I was invited to attend as a member of the NASA Social, which is a group of people who are aspiring future NASA employees, interns, students in the fields of science, as well as members of the media who keep a close watch on NASA. NASA truly wants the tax payers to know that their money is being spent wisely, and it is imperative to educate ourselves on the topics that are important to the survival of our planet, exploration of deep space, and protection of our home. 

This State of NASA address was going to be delivered by the Administrator of NASA, Charlie Bolden. He was going to touch on the future plans that NASA has and the budget roll out. 

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In this photo, I am sitting with a few friends I made while waiting around for the press release before we were to start our day. I love meeting people who share the passion that I have for space exploration, astrophysics, and an overall curiosity about out amazing universe. We were totally GEEKING out! 

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It was nice to have a row reserved just for us. Don't tell anyone... but I took my "reserved" seat sign home with me! It's proudly hanging from a few magnets on my refrigerator. 

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The above image with snapped with my iPhone as I stood right outside of the large opening of the Operations and Checkout building.  Behind me you can see the Dragon X spacecraft (white), and the ORION spacecraft (black). It was shocking to see Orion so close! I've only seen it in pictures up until this point and it was quite humbling to be able to witness this amazing tangible evidence of all the research, engineering, and designing that has been on the drawing boards on this facility for years, up close and in REAL LIFE! Not only was it amazing to see it in person, but to know that it had completed an almost flawless exploration flight test (EFT). Here it was, right in front of me. I am still in shock and utterly speechless about that experience. You can clearly see the burn out on the Orion vehicle, but the American flag still proudly stands in almost perfect painted condition upon the other side of the vessel. Of course my head is blocking it in this photo. 

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Charles Bolden entered the building with a roar of applause and quickly hopped upon the podium and began to speak to us, adding in a few jokes here and there. I loved his speech as he address everyone as a member of NASA, and mentioned how we should all be proud of the accomplishments that were made, and the amazing future plans of this organization.  

You can read more about the State of NASA on the official NASA website at www.NASA.gov.

Excerpt from the site:

"In the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden delivers a “state of the agency” address on Feb. 2, 2015 at NASA's televised fiscal year 2016 budget rollout event with Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana looking on, at right. Representatives from the Kennedy workforce, news media and social media were in attendance. NASA's Orion, SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 spacecraft, all destined to play a role in NASA’s overall exploration objectives, were on display." - www.NASA.gov

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Here I am with a couple of NASA engineers who helped build ORION. 

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Selfie time! 

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Posing in front of the Dragon X spacecraft. The future manned spacecraft developed by Space X. 

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After the State of NASA was addressed, we were taken on a tour of the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). I was always curious to see just how big this thing is inside, because you hear some crazy stories! The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was originally built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and was later modified to support Space Shuttle operations.  

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Being a shrimp in this massive building!

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This is truly spectacular. Just when you think you've seen it all in this huge building, you look up and see these flag markers which allow you to truly get the feel for how tall the things that were being put together in this building were. If you look at the very bottom of the image above you will see a spotlight, and beside that spotlight you will see a flag marker with what looks to be a letter S - that is the marker for the height of the Shuttle. Above that is the SLS (not the new SLS rocket which will be taller than the Saturn V), and above that is the Saturn V rocket. 

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This opening is the doorway through which all assembled vehicles leave this facility. Once a rocket is all set up and ready for launch, its taken out from this door, in all of its glory! 

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Here in the background you can see the 450 ft. tall mobile launcher which will take the assembled SLS rocket to its launch pad. 

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After a long day on site, we exchanged out goodbyes and already began to look forward to the next time that we would be at NASA again. For me, it will be this upcoming Sunday, February 8th. I will attending the launch of the Space X Falcon 9, which will be delivering the Deep Space Climate Observatory to orbit. 

With a few hours remaining before sundown, I decided that I wanted to go to hang out at the Vistor's Complex and see the amazing Atlantis Space Shuttle, as it hangs beautifully in its exhibit. 

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Rocket Garden as you enter the Visitor's Complex at Kennedy Space Center. 

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Space Shuttle Atlantis

Atlantis embarked on its 33rd and final mission, also the final mission of a space shuttle, STS-135, on 8 July 2011. STS-134 by Endeavour was expected to be the final flight before STS-135 was authorized in October 2010. STS-135 took advantage of the processing for the STS-335 Launch On Need mission that would have been necessary if STS-134's crew became stranded in orbit.[5] Atlantis landed for the final time at the Kennedy Space Center on 21 July 2011.

By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi (203,000,000 km) or more than 525 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. (Source - Wikipedia)

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Inside the Atlantis exhibit you will also see a full scale replica of the amazing Hubble telescope - our eye to the universe. 

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Hanging above is a full scale space suit. 

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Meatball Lovin!

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That concludes my amazing day spent at the Kennedy Space Center. It was an honor and a privilege to be included in such an important day in NASA's history. I am excited to look towards the future of space exploration and to be apart of it all one day!