Huntsville, Alabama – May 2019 – Marshall Space Flight Center

The George C Marshall Space Flight Center is NASA’s largest complex, where rocketry and propulsion are researched and developed.

Tours are available with proper ID as it is located on Redstone Arsenal. The tour departs from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum via a NASA bus.



The administration building is where Werner Von Braun and others made space travel possible.



Most manufacturing companies have displays of their products at their corporate headquarters and NASA is no different, only theirs are far more interesting than others.

A display of 3 of the engines greet visitors to the building.





While most people think ‘Houston’ when it comes to NASA Mission Control in reality there are three – Houston, Kennedy Space Center in Florida for ‘Launch Control’, and Huntsville for ‘Payload Control’.

Within this building are the staff that manages the day to day workings on the International Space Station.



The lobby of the building have models of the ISS and an astronaut at work.



A commonly used expression throughout NASA are ‘racks’. Each rack of equipment has specific roles, and teams of engineers are responsible for their rack.



The Payload Operations Center was amazingly small given the critical nature of their work. Just a handful of people are monitoring and managing the effort.



The structures that support the testing of rockets during development are known as ‘stands’. This is likely the most famous stand in the history of rocket development – The Redstone Interim Test Stand.

It was built in 1953 for just $25,000 out of materials scavenged from around the arsenal. They had to do it this way because the government wouldn’t give them any more money than that.



A total of 362 static rocket tests were completed here. Their budget was so low they took railroad tank cars that had been used to transport chemicals – cleaned them and buried them 300′ away from the test stand for their bunker to monitor the tests from.



Nearby you could see some of the much larger, much more expensive newer test stands.



One of the biggest challenges in long duration space flight is water. Because humans need water to survive, they had to come up with a way to conserve water in many ways one would not expect.



They have developed systems to recycle urine and washing water onboard that result in potable water.



The system is held in these three racks. The rotating distillation unit separate liquid from gases, then is sent to another unit for solid removals before the liquid go through a number of filtration’s that remove micro organisms.

They continue to research and develop even more efficient units, and the men’s room has a special urinal that they collect samples from for further testing – so I contributed to science.



As we rode around the complex we passed a number of interesting structures including this small, but very long wind tunnel.



Our final stop was the rocket park where they have examples of the various rockets used in space travel over the years.



While the museum portion was interesting, the additional tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center was by far the best part of the day.






Columbus – November 2018 – Science Center Revisit

In checking the events calendars for something to do I noticed COSI had a model train exhibit, so we headed down for a Sunday morning.

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We headed straight to the upper floor exhibit area where the model trains were set up. Disappointingly we found they are the same ones we see set up elsewhere (such as the fair, etc).

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While nice, we were hoping for more.

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One unique one though was this group who have built their entire train display from Legos. The tracks, the trains, the cars, are all built out of Legos!

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Outside along the hallways are a number of art pieces made out of scrap material. Among other things this one has piano keys, roofing metal, paint brushes, a garden hose and other ‘stuff’.

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All sorts of pieces/parts including license plates.

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A giant frame skeleton hovers over all.

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This display shows the miles and miles of veins and arteries in the body.

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I wish I could remember what this was, but I can’t. No worries – he looks cool.

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One exhibit that they have had since the 1960s is the exhibit ‘Process’. This shows an American street at two different times, one in 1898 then the same street in 1962 (which is when the center was opened at it’s original location).

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It was amusing to see teenagers all running for the various corded telephones, as most under 15 have never used one.

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We happened to be next to one of the presentation areas when they were starting an exhibit on chemistry where the presenter entertained us with liquid nitrogen and others like potassium and their reactions to hot and cold.

On this display she had someone give her a $20 bill, dipped it in hydrogen and set it on fire. In the end the person got his $20 back unscathed, except for being wet where she ‘rinsed’ it.

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She also demonstrated how different gases make different colored flames when exploding (yes they were very loud booms)

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Honda is a big sponsor, with a display on automotive components such as how pistons drive engines, how shocks work, etc.

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The American Museum of Natural History has a very large display that is being presented for a year or so. There were a number of fossils on display.

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There were many on exhibit.

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The display was very large, and very well done.

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Some were models to show the full size of the dinosaur.

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But the actual fossils were best.

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