John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Florida pictures: Kennedy Space Center

Upon arriving in Orlando, we checked in at our hotel and sat down to discuss our plans for the rest of the day. We quickly determined that we all wanted to spend at least a couple of hours doing as little as possible. And, mission accomplished. boliver took a nap; rustydog went swimming; I took a shower and briefly explored the hotel before finding a table poolside and reading. Good times, good times.

Once we'd finished relaxing, we left to visit the one place I most wanted to see during my visit to Orlando: Celebration. Celebration is a New Urbanist community, which is to say that it was designed and built to resemble traditional American small towns, with an emphasis on walkable neighborhoods, a central retail district, a variety of dwellings types. I whole-heartedly believe in the principles of New Urbanism, and since Celebration is arguably the best-known New Urbanist community in the United States, I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to visit it.

I thought Celebration was very interesting, and I think the bolivers and rusty liked it too, but I'm not sure I can say the same for rusty's cousin, who goes to school in Orlando and who met us in Celebration for dinner. I'm not convinced he really understood why we wanted to go there; he grew up in the kind of small town the developers of Celebration sought to emulate. It must have seemed rather unremarkable to him.

We didn't get to spend quite as much time in Celebration as I would have liked, but more important things beckoned: namely, the season and series finales of Smallville and Angel. Geek pride!

The next morning, we drove to Cape Canaveral to visit the Kennedy Space Center. The thing that really stands out in my mind about the KSC is how big everything is. Even the small rockets are enormous. On the other hand, the space capsules themselves are unimaginably small. It's hard to believe that three adult men shared one of the Apollo capsules for eight days.

As big as the rockets are, they can't begin to compare to the Vehicle Assembly Building. It's hard to conceive just how big that place is. How big is it? It's so big that the doors are taller than any building in Washington DC. It's so big that If not for a specially-design ventilation system, it would form its own weather inside the building. The launch gantries aren't exactly small either.

The VAB had to be big to accommodate the Saturn V rockets, which were used to launch most of the Apollo missions. There was no way I could have captured the entire rocket in one picture; just getting the boosters required me to sit on the floor and shoot upwards at it. By comparison, the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters used to launch the space shuttle are practically wee.


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