Huntsville, AL – US Space & Rocket Center (Day 2)

Posted by on July 13, 2012

A day that was forecast to be rainy turned out to be sunny & warm!  A great day to visit the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.  We arrive about 10:00 am (leaving at 4:30 pm!!) and before even going inside we visited the ‘Miss Baker‘ Memorial (she was one of the first animals in space in 1959) just outside the front doors and also an A-12 Blackbird – a spy plane developed for the CIA that was in service from 1963 – 1968.  I could fly from Washington DC to Los Angles in 64 minutes!!  Wow!

A banana left on Miss Baker’s memorial

The A-12 Blackbird – Michael really thought this one was cool!

There was a large exhibit centered around Wernher von Braun, a German born rocket scientist who along with his brother surrendered to the Americans in 1945.  He brought along with him 117 scientists and is considered to be one of the leading figures in rocket technology.  The exhibit was very interesting!

Magnus & Werner von Braun surrendering to the Americans

The scientists that von Braun brought with him to the US.

There are several different Space Camps that take place in the USSRC (US Space & Rocket Center), all of which seem to begin on Sunday and end on Friday.  We were surrounded most of the day by Space Camp graduates and their parents.

Space Camp simulators

The USSRC is a very hands on place which was fun!  We were like little kids trying out everything we could!

Prepared (or scared??) for take off!

Kind of like the capsule in ‘I Dream of Jeannie’?! Hopefully he’s dreaming of Kelly!

An Apache helicopter simulator

There are a couple of ‘rides’ outside that Michael tried out (I’m get motion sick to easily).  First he went on the G-Force simulator which is similar to a carnival ride, The Round up.  Then he went on the Space Shot.  He enjoyed both…and I enjoyed both from the ground!

Ready to go…

…and he’s off!

Holding on to his ears so his hearing aids to fly out! LOL

It was pretty warm and thankfully they had some conveniently placed ‘misters’ under one of the display rockets…we stopped by often!

ahhhh….

We chatted with ‘Skeet’ Vaughn for quite a while.  He’s a volunteer at the USSRC but worked for NASA for 39 years in several different capacities and also met von Braun several different times.  He had nothing but good things to say about von Braun and even told us a story about him autographing a book for him.  We figure he was about 83 years old.  He retired in 1999 and he said he never had a job…what he did was too fun to be work!  He was a wealth of knowledge and one of the best parts of the whole day!

Otha ‘Skeet’ Vaughn

We even found him listed on the personnel that worked on the Saturn V project!

‘Skeet’ worked in the Davidson Center, which houses a replica of the Saturn V along with other artifacts and replicas.

The actual Apollo 16 Command Module – cool stuff!

Hand casts for fitted gloves – from L to R – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins

MQF – Mobile Quarantine Facility. A MQF is used when astronauts complete their mission and come back to Earth. They are quarantined in the MQF to be sure they haven’t picked up any bacteria etc. This Airstream was used as a MQF for the Apollo 12 mission and in 2007 the USSRC got a call from an area doctor (that was a space nut) that found it at a fish hatchery and thought it might not be your average Airstream!  He was right!! It has since be restored.

The Space Shuttle Pathfinder was used as a test simulator back in the 1970s.

By the time we finished touring we were both pretty tired!  Talk about tired feet!  We got home shortly after 5:00 pm, had dinner about 6:30, Skyped with our 7 month old grandson, watched a few TV shows on the dvr and then headed for bed!

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