868 in Action
NASA: Spring Break Trip
(Wednesday~Sunday, April 3~7, 2013)
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On the third full day of our trip we finally made it to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. At the advice of the person who helped us arrange our visit, we went on Saturday when the crowd was expected to be lighter (since school field trips are generally scheduled on weekdays). We arrived about a half-hour early but they manager on duty went ahead and let us in so that we could browse around the inside displays while we waited for our formal tour to begin. The tour guide assigned to us was an Eagle Scout and we spent most of the day with him. He was very knowledgeable and gave us a great tour.
Our tour started with him explaining the three distinct phases of the United States' manned space program that enabled us to put men on the moon in less than a decade. He was really surprised as how much our scouts already knew (as a result of the work we had done for the Space Exploration Merit Badge). And more than a few of the scouts were surprised that Scoutmaster Meek and Assistant Scoutmaster Hagerman had actually known what they had talked about on Thursday.
We got to see and several of the boys got to sit in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules. We saw a full-sized Saturn V rocket and the duplicate lunar lander that remained earthbound during the moon missions. We also got to see some space food in tubes, the water gun that the astronauts used to re-hydrate their food, their human waste disposal system, and the isolation trailer where the moon mission astronauts when through a period of containment following their missions.
Outside we saw full-sized replicas or never used models of several famous rockets, including the Space Shuttle mounted on the back of its launch vehicle. We participated in a workshop about rocket propulsion where we got to see some rocket fuel ignite and burn from a chemical reaction.
|Everyone was awed by the shear size of the rockets as we approached the main building.||As we walked through the courtyard to the front doors, we walked under the exhaust nozzles of a Saturn rocket. Note their size.|
|Scouts enjoyed looking inside a Mercury capsule.||At this display, the chamber simulated the sound and vibrations of being at the base of launch pad 30A during an Apollo launch.|
|This was an actual working lunar lander and moon buggy built to remain on Earth for testing should problems have developed on board the equipment in space.||This is our group gathering together to get a Welcome from one of the managers and meet our assigned tour guide.|
|This is Micah sitting in a Mercury capsule.||Here we have Toby, Noah, and Andrew in an Apollo capsule.|
|Standing beneath the exhaust nozzles of a Saturn rocket, our guide explained the amount of thrust that was generated and how the nozzles could be angled to steer the rocket.||Here he's talking to the group about the Gemini program and the key skills that had to be learned and tested in order for us to put men on the moon and return them safely back to Earth.|
|This was the Airstream trailer where the Apollo astronauts lived in containment for three weeks after their moon missions.||Outside the building where we ate lunch was a full-sized model of the Space Shuttle mounted to its external fuel tank.|
|During our propulsion workshop, a technician explained that rocket thrusters worked by mixing chemicals that would react with each other.||He then combined a small quantity of two such chemicals that reacted and ignited for the scouts to observe.|