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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Houston Space Center

Today I visited one of Houston's best attractions, the Houston Space Center and the Johnson Space Center. The latter is the home of NASA, the United States' space program. I have long had an affinity for the space program, and visited the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. My love for America's endeavors for space were inspired by one of my all time favorite movies, the Right Stuff.

The tour has a tram -- nowhere near as cool as a monorail, but it made for an efficient tour of the Johnson center. Considering the nations' rocket secrets are held here, it was nice to be able to be on the property.

The highlight of the Johnson tour for me was seeing the old mission control center. This is where the Moon missions were guided, and where phrases like "failure is not an option" were said and "Houston, we've had a problem" were heard. The history of the room is fantastic, and something I've had in my mind since I was a little kid.

The room, no longer in use, has the latest 1960s technology in place...

...sadly, I am old enough to say things like "you may not know what this is, it's a rotary phone. Before digital technology came out, we had analog phones and..." Never mind. For you kids, old stuff is here.

You get to tour current technology, like this training facility above. What you see is a duplicate of the International Space Station, a collaboration of 16 different nations. Even Canada, which barely has a military, added an arm to the thing. Go Canada!

The Russians, who (note to the kids) used to be the bad guys before we started hating Muslims, are our friends and have shared their space station technology with us. This portion of the station is the living quarters, where all of the astronauts stay. The then Soviets concentrated on the MIR space station while we were doing shuttle missions, so America -- and the world -- has had to rely on their knowledge when it comes to long-distance space missions.

Astronauts will spend hours and hours in these rooms, practicing for the real thing later on.

This astronaut is practicing using the space station's arm. They have special equipment to similate microgravity, allowing astronauts to prepare for their missions.

Just as they practice for space station missions, astronauts prepare for space shuttle trips. While the program is being phased out, NASA is still working future missions.

Liquid nitrogen tanks are used to simulate the cold of space, and they immerse equipment and astronauts in there to see how they react to them.

It's all there to look into space and try to figure things out.

The Houston Space Center has a mixture of films, interactive exhibits, and displays that are great for children of all ages.

Here I am exploring my inner geek while wearing and old space helmet. I think this is a Mercury-era one. Can you tell why I'm still single here?

They have space suits on display.

Boards tell you stuff like Dr. Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space in 1983, did so 20 years after the Soviets did it. USA! USA!

They have a mock up of a space shuttle.

There you can see what the cockpit looks like. It looks pretty old for space age stuff.

Live demonstrations of how astronauts live and sleep on the International Space Station are given.

This is the "Faith 7" pod, used by Gordon Cooper for the Mercury 9 mission. This was the last solo mission in space, and as Tom Wolfe puts it, he few farer and faster than any human alive, and did so with about as much room as you have in your shower.

This is the Gemini 5 spacecraft, where Cooper and Pete Conrad would set time records in space that were not easily broken. Although it's hard to tell, this capsule is larger than the one above, and represented an advancement in space technology.

All of this led to our trip to the Moon, which enabled us to bring rocks back to Earth. Here, they show how the rocks are examined. It was a great exhibit.

On display were things like the Moon buggie, which does not have -- nor does it need -- a steering wheel. Microgravity is crazy.

The Moon plays a big part in getting to Mars, a stated presidential goal. We are basically going to colonize Mars and mine it for its natural resources. We figure that the last time we colonized a place it worked out great, so the Moon will be next. The Moon will be a launching pad to go to Mars, since it is easier to leave its atmosphere than ours.

Being near the equipment, like this space shuttle engine, really gives you a sense of perspective on how hard it is to get out of our atmosphere.

The space program would be nothing without chimps. There's really nothing more fun than monkeys. If I had a kid, I would buy him one of these.

They had a good T-shirt selection at the gift shop. I didn't opt for this one though, I went with the "I need my space" shirt.

Get it?

I'm a dork.

America's Treasures


Anonymous Anonymous said...

NominalMe, you are absolutely adorable in the space helmet. Is it really too late for you to go to astronaut school instead of seminary??

Saturday, 12 November, 2005  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

How about nuclear physicist?

Monday, 14 November, 2005  
Blogger DDD said...

Prisoner #26615 eh nominal?!?!? Glad to see at least the prison chicks dig you in the space helment. Do you have footsie space man pj's to match!?!?!?

Monday, 14 November, 2005  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

They had adult space suits for $50. I almost bought one for Halloween.

Thursday, 17 November, 2005  

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