Back from my trip, and I have logged over 50 hours already this week, with still at least half a day of work tomorrow. This girl is tired.
I took 466 pictures in three days, and it would have been more except that my camera kept dying (WTF?) I also realize that that number may seem small to some of you, but you should realize that this is coming from someone that, prior to this trip, has taken maybe 100 pics in the past 4 years. Really.
Words really and truly cannot do justice to all the amazing things I saw. So here's some more pics, with brief explanation:
Here's the Vehicle Assambly Building. It's a h-u-g-e high bay where the assembled vehicle - shuttle, plus the External Tank (big orange) and Solid Rocket Boosters (two small skinny white) - is stored until it's ready to roll out to the launch pad.
To give you some perspective as to how fucking huge this thing is, each of the stripes on the American flag is 11 feet wide. That's wide enough to park a school bus. Wait, you still don't get it? Here:
See those wee ant people? Tiny, huh? Yeah, that door is less than 1/4 the height of the building.
My group was also able to sit on console in the Launch Control Center, and listen in on headsets as the next crew up performed a practice Launch Day, including suiting up, getting strapped into the shuttle, and countdown all the way to 4 seconds until launch.
I got up close and personal with an orbiter being assembled. We had to wear super sexy scrubs-type stuff to prevent any foreign objects from damaging the inside.
(I know the pic quality is not great, but there was no flash photography, and the light inside was really strange, plus I'm having to choose shots where no faces are visible). This was taken inside the middeck, which is a level below the cockpit. The dude on the far left is touching the galley, where the crew will rehydrate their food and heat it in a warmer.
And since I know you want to see it:
The toilet. No, I didn't sit on it. Also, there does not appear to be a place for reading material. Alas, the sacrifices that must be made.
Here's a close-up of the external tank.
I like the detail - it looks sort of looks as though it would feel like a foamy football, but this was a HANDS WAY WAY OFF kind of thing, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
This was from the underbelly of the vehicle.
There are so many more amazing pictures. Here's a few that I will not be sharing with my manager:
This was from a train car that transports elements of the vehicle for assembly.
I'm thinking of putting it on a t-shirt and wearing it to bed when I am Just Not Feeling It.
I don't even remember what the hell this is - it was in the facility that builds and services the actual rocket engines. By that time my brain was so full and my body was so tired, I was only able to comprehend sophomoric humor.
I forgot to ask what they meant. To me, they look like aliens. And no, I did not see any extraterrestrials.
By last night, I was beyond spent. Our group split up for dinner, then met up for drinks later. I left early, because if I had to listen to another "hilarious" engineer anecdote, I was going to kill myself. This morning I was told that at midnight, the party moved to another bar down the street, where much more alcohol and karaoke entered the picture. Dammit, I always leave too soon! However, one of the chicks that was out until the wee hours found herself puking into a trashcan in front of lots of Disneybound families at the Orlando International Airport this afternoon. Nice.
I'm exhausted, starving, and still need to unpack all my crap. Until next time, my chickens...