Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Sunday, April 6, 2014

US Space and Rocket Center RV Park/Huntsville Alabama

Thursday March 3, Traveling a little farther into Alabama today. We had wanted to go to Nashville from here but no spots available at the COE park. It was pushing our miles per day limit any way. Jeff did some looking and found this place. It's not far off the road plus it gives us something to explore for a reasonable price. We'll even get a senior discount for the space center. We took off early for us 8am. Our route seemed fairly simple and traffic was light. We had to drive through Birmingham, that was the busiest spot. We arrived around noon to the Space & Rocker Center RV Park. Jeff had called ahead, yesterday and he said he would hold us a spot. Our site #8, it's a bit rough, a pull thru. We have 30 amp, water, sewer and free internet. You can actually walk to the Space Center from here. We walked a path that ended at the back gate of the Space Center. You can see the rockets and the space shuttle exhibit. What was really pretty was all the violets covering the ground. That path is also used for the kids to come over here to launch rockets. There is a open field in front of the campground... Well it's a launch site. What's funny is, all the rockets that are hanging from the trees. When they launch them they come down where ever, they don't retrieve them. We went over and watched some launches. We use to build and launch rockets with our memories. We ran to the store and made us some chicken stir fry for supper. Tonight we are suppose to get some weather , tomorrow the Space Center.

Launching model rockets

Friday April 4, Well they were right about the rain. The good news is the storms didn't roll through here. We had decided to stay another night but when Jeff went up to pay they said someone had made a reservation. So before heading to the Space Center we looked for a spot in Kentucky. We found one called about it and checked out the route. Now the rain had mostly stopped so we headed out. We took the truck to fill her up, also went and got some diesel exhaust fluid. Now we can go to the Space Center. It was cloudy and cool. We had been here once before but that was about 25 years ago. We paid for our entrance and with the senior discount(55) it was $22.00 each and that included an IMAX movie. We went to the movie first. It was about the Hubble telescope, very interesting. Then we went to explore...Jeff and I don't explore the same way. I'm kinda a visual looker, Jeff likes to read about everything. There was a lot to look at. Our favorite part was the Saturn V Hall. We were in there most of the time, I decided to go to the gift shop and meet up with Jeff there. He came back but told me he wasn't close to done. We got a bite to eat, which was really good and headed back over to the Saturn V Hall. They had volunteers there that either worked for NASA, IBM, Or Marshall Space Flight Center or other branches  that worked on putting man on the moon. Now that was interesting, talking to them and boy did they like to talk, we could hardly get out of there. We stayed there most of the day, then back home to check on the dogs and have supper. Jeff will add to this post what he learned. Tomorrow hitting the road again.

                                        Americas Space Program and Huntsville Alabama
As World War II ended in Europe, the United States government set about recruiting those German scientists who had worked on rocketry weapons for their now defeated homeland.

In 1949 the Army designated the Huntsville, Alabama, site of two World War II-era arsenals as the new home for the missile and rocket research effort. Redstone Arsenal was formally opened the next year, with the German scientific team headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun moving to its new quarters

The U.S. soon was involved in a "space race" with the Soviet Union when that rival launched the first satellite, Sputnick, in October of 1957. America countered in January of 1958 with Explorer I, propelled into space orbit by the "Redstone" rocket developed by the Huntsville arsenal group. That same year, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) was chartered to oversee the nation's non-military rocketry programs. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center was opened by NASA in Huntsville in 1960, with Dr. von Braun's group now working on civilian rather than military space projects.

In May of 1961, just weeks after America's first "astronaut" made his first short space flight, President John F. Kennedy announced the nation's commitment to land a man on the moon before the decade was out. Dr. von Braun's scientific team set to the task of designing, developing, and testing a succession of ever-more powerful and reliable launch vehicles. The program triumphed when the "Saturn V" rocket developed at the Center launched the Apollo 11 crew to a lunar landing in July 1969.

As the host of NASA's largest installation in the United States, Huntsville itself was profoundly affected both economically and socially. The U.S. space program and private ancillary businesses brought thousands of new higher-pay jobs and better-educated residents to the area. In addition, the city and state took advantage of the space program's popularity to create a booming tourist attraction in conjunction with the federal facilities. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center was opened in 1970 to offer exhibits and educational programs that attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
The Saturn V rocket was 363 feet tall
 Fully fueled for liftoff, the Saturn V weighed 6.2 million LBS

Actual Apollo 16 capsule used to go to the Moon

Apollo Display Inside 

Quarantine Trailer

Meeting a NASA Engineer
 As Dawn had mentioned earlier we, I  spent a lot of my time in the Saturn V building. I was told by one of the retired engineers that worked on the Moon rockets that the 70,000 square-foot, $22,000,00 facility was donated by a citizen by the name of Davidson, so the building that houses the rockets and artifacts is called the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. It was opened in January of 2008.

I loved looking at all the equipment and artifacts that was on display here. It was also really cool to talk to some of the men who worked on the actual projects. You could tell by talking to them just how excited they were to be working to send men to the moon. Both guys I talked to said they loved there work and looked forward to getting up and going in every day.

It brought back lots of memory's for me as I have always marveled at the great machines that took man on his greatest adventure from the Earth to the Moon.