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Pictures taken on 06/06/15

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James looks like he was kidnapped
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Topaz is really excited
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Hey it's that place I want to go to!
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I still have never been to the Astronaut Hall of Fame.. and that didn't change this year! Someday..
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This stupid bridge wants to make me wait just a little bit longer
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The VAB!!
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I like this Commercial Crew banner
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Great shot of the ISS, though I don't think it actually flies all crooked like that
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Topaz is dual wielding both his personal camera and my camera
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NASA: where even the drainage ditches are over-engineered. Those are water baffles!
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I am so ready for this day.
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I made Topaz sit in all the capsules
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I really hope this guy has some sort of cooling system in there
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That fake Orion capsule is still sitting around
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It was funny watching Topaz slowly grasp the scale of the mockup shuttle stack. Without depth perception he had to walk right up to it.
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"This SRB is gigantic!"
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Looking up at the bottom of the external tank
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Well hello there
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It's been too long since I visited my old friend Atlantis
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Topaz was suitably impressed
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I can never have enough photos of me standing in front of spacecraft
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She's beautiful!
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I also can never have enough photos of spacecraft in general
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A closer shot of the RCS system
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The wide angle lens I borrowed this year really came in handy
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She's got a big nose but she wears it well
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This is where the front nose gear comes out
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Atlantis is displayed in the on-orbit configuration. Payload bay doors open, RMS extended, the works
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This guy worked on the shuttle for decades! It's always great to pick the brains of the experts NASA has on hand
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The Space Shuttle Main Engine is one of the most efficient engines ever created
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Baby got back?
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Topaz finds the life of a shuttle commander so dull
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I really can't get enough of how gorgeous this vehicle is
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Topaz too
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Who wants a thermal protection system rub?
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Topaz had fun spinning this tire from the last ever shuttle flight. It was the nose gear for STS-135
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Astronaut Jerry Ross! He's flown on seven shuttle missions and performed nine spacewalks!
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And now we're best friends
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Also Topaz
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Suz! What are you doing here??
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The bus to the launch pads
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Paul was a pretty great tour guide
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All temporary badged birds
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The security checkpoint leading to the Kennedy Space Center proper, not just the visitor complex
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Neat satellite dish
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Space Launch Complex 40! This is where SpaceX launches Falcon 9s from
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SLC-41 with a vehicle assembly building next to it
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The VAB for SLC-37. You can see a Delta IV being assembled inside!
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The big VAB looms in the background
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Various support buildings in between our road and SLC-40
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The KSC VAB, with the mobile launcher for SLS in the background
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From this angle we can see into the new SpaceX hangar at LC-39A
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Luckily, the rain kept away from us even if it did threaten us all day
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I think Topaz is having a good time
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Back to the bus? So soon?
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Posing in front of SLC-40
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This is a bad picture of this bird but Topaz liked it so I guess here it is
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We also drove around the Industrial Area a bit
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Looks pretty industrial
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Some neat valves and stuff outside the cryo test lab
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If I remember correctly, this is the building where the Orion test vehicle was housed
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It's so awesome seeing the VAB peeking up over the trees
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Paul was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. A perfect tour guide!
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We're going towards the VAB!
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The Orbiter Processing Facilities, where the shuttles used to live! Now they're being used by other aerospace companies and organizations
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The SLS MLP. Tired of acronyms yet?
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This is a cool sign
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We're on the Saturn Causeway!
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The old shuttle mobile launch platform and crawler, backed off from LC-39A at the request of SpaceX who didn't want it
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The always impressive treads of the crawler
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MLP 2?
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Pieces of LC-39B, I believe
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It turns out the road to Pad B was washed out a few days earlier so we got to go to Pad A and see what SpaceX has been up to!
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It's the new SpaceX hangar! Nearly complete but still not adorned with the SpaceX logo
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The FSS and RSS of LC-39A, left in place by SpaceX
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Lots of activity. By the time I got home from Florida that horizontal beam was already dismantled
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Let's take a peek inside the new hangar!
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Hey SpaceX, the logo on your security truck has the wrong aspect ratio!
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The fixed service structure, left in place by SpaceX. It will later be modified to support their launches
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They're even repainting the water tower
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The rotating service structure will also be left in place until they need to get rid of it. It's expensive to remove giant metal structures!
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Another angle of this amazing historical structure
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Nooo, we're going further away!
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Topaz snaps a few photos. Appropriate since we are at the A/B camera site!
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The VAB as seen from the A/B camera site
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We couldn't visit LC-39B but we could still see it from the camera site
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It's hot and humid, but it's pretty
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Looking back towards the bus and the VAB
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Posing with LC-39A again. A year later and a few pounds lighter
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Topaz thinks launchpads are neat
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This is every mission that launched from LC39-A!
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I don't have as many pictures of me on this trip.. but rest assured my smile was just as big the whole time
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Whoa! They painted an American flag on the side of the SpaceX hangar! That wasn't there a few days ago!
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Hello, SpaceX construction man
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Please enjoy this out of focus photo of whatever that is inside the SpaceX hangar
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Another view of the crawler and MLP
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Now onwards.. to the VAB!
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This is a mockup of the launch escape system for the Orion capsule
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Topaz was impressed with the size of the VAB
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I've been here before but it's always so great to be back
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This is the actual gantry and white room from launchpad 39-A! Hundreds of astronauts walked across this before launching
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The gantry has seen better days
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What used to connect here?
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The white room!
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This is an alarmingly enormous bug
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This is the part of the white room that would go up against the shuttle hatch
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I guess they just leave this mockup lying around
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I couldn't not pose with the white room
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Topaz too!
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This is where the magic happens
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I believe it's one big SRB that vents through four exhaust nozzles
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A lot of really cool things have happened in that building on and on this gantry
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This is that funny little armored vehicle the astronauts would use if they had to escape a dangerous situation on the pad. Mostly I think they just had fun driving it around in training
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Big doors on the VAB
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Looking down the gantry at the white room doors
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Ssshhh, it's a secret!
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One of the OPFs, orbiter processing facilities. I believe this one is now being used for commercial space flight companies.
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NASA gave a bunch of blank shuttle models to artists to paint and you could find several around KSC
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The other mobile launch platform, this time without the crawler. It makes it easier to see them as distinct structures.
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Ah yes, back at the Saturn V
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We came in through the back door but I had Topaz look at the ground until we got to the back so he could have the same "holy crap" experience as everyone else
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Raw power
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It's really difficult to capture the scale properly in a photo
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Looking into the old astrovan
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Topaz checking out the Saturn V
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Got to keep those engines in place..
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So much work went into the cooling channels built into the engine bell
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I challenged Topaz to lift a tread of the crawler.. without slipping a disc
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The back of the second stage. J-2 engines!
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An authentic lunar module! It's a tragedy it's here and not on the moon but it's pretty cool to see
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The back of the third stage only has one engine
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Looking back at the top of the tanks for the second stage
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Lunar rover!
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One of Gene Cernan's space suits! I believe this was for training
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The Apollo 14 command module Kitty Hawk. This is the actual vehicle!
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Jim Lovell's actual flight suit from Apollo 13
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Alan Shepard's space suit. I believe this is actually the one he wore on the moon.
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It's so incredible seeing the actual artifacts in person
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A page of mission rules that flew to the moon on Apollo 17
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A checklist from Apollo 10
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I'm not sure what this notebook is from
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Topaz was super excited to touch a piece of the moon
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I was super excited to get out of this weird corner
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Back to the main visitor complex!
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This simulator stunk
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Well hello again!
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Looking up at the foreward section of Atlantis from the ground
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The critical RCC panels on the leading edge of the wing
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I love zooming in to this shot.. you can see how the parts of the wing fit together so they could move
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Atlantis' left wingtip
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Hey, there's the bridge I watched both my launches from!
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