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Ingrid Gregor | DESY | Germany

View Blog | Read Bio

Capricorn One

Last Saturday I went with two friends to Kennedy Space Center at the East Coast of Florida. We left Orlando in the morning and drove the roughly 80km to the West coast.

At the entrance of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

At the entrance of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and a lot of sun. Late morning we arrived at the Space Center and we could directly enter as there were no line ups.
At 11:00 we went to the auditorium where an astronaut gave a talk on being an astronaut. It was very interesting as he was Alfred Worden, one of the Astronauts of Apollo 15* mission. His two colleagues actually touched the moon while we was circulating around the moon to study the lunar surface and environment in great detail using a panoramic camera, gamma ray spectrometer, mapping camera, laser altimeter, mass spectrometer, and lunar sub-satellite that was launched at the end of the mission.
While he was talking on Saturday very detailed about many aspects of such a journey to the moon (eating, sleeping and whatever in outer space), I was always trying to realize that there is a person standing in front of me who was once behind the moon and back. Even so I know that this is reality, it is still amazing what mankind can do. Especially keeping in mind that all technologies where at a rather different stage than nowadays.
After the “meeting with an astronaut” we took a tour bus to different stations on the huge areal of Kennedy Space center. The areal is actually 55km long and 10 km. We were told more than once that about 5000 alligators would be living in the area. But we did not see one. One stop was a look out point to the shuttle launch spot. We could not go much closer as the Atlantis was actually parked there as it is supposed to be launched mid November. Really cool to see a shuttle in reality (even so it was hard to see)!
The space shuttle Atlantis being prepared for a launch on November 16th.

The space shuttle Atlantis being prepared for a launch on November 16th.


Later on we went back to the main center and did a shuttle start simulation. That means we were in a simulator seat (many people together in a bus-like shuttle) and we were told many time before it started that it would be the most realistic shuttle simulation and that we would be doing the same movements under almost real condition as a person sitting in a space shuttle during a launch. I actually started to worry that I would get sick as I expected it to be rather rough. After some time the countdown of the last 10 seconds started and we were launched. The first two minutes were really shaky and loud, but then we were in outer space … It was real fun, but I think they softened it a bit to avoid that people get sick. A shuttle start cannot be that smooth!
All in all it was very interesting and fascinating to go there and if you ever get to go to Florida, don’t miss the Kennedy Space Center.
Me in front of a space shuttle ....

Me in front of a space shuttle ....

*Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the Apollo program, the fourth mission to land on the Moon and the eighth successful manned mission. It was the first of what were termed “J missions”, long duration stays on the Moon with a greater focus on science than had been possible on previous missions. The mission began on July 26, 1971, and concluded on August 7. NASA called it the most successful manned flight ever achieved.

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