Welcome Home, Atlanis

I ventured down to Brevard County, FLA a few weekends ago to visit a legend. It’s not a person but rather a man-made masterpiece. Housed in a 90,000 square foot building, Space Shuttle Atlantis found its forever home at the Kennedy Space Center in June of 2013.

On July 8th, 2011, Atlantis lifted off one final time bringing 30 years of the shuttle program to a close. I was lucky enough to be on site that day with space guru’s from all over the world. It was a pivotal moment in my life, it was the day I realized what I was most passionate for…space and photography.

Going to the exhibit was a big deal to me. I felt like a kid on Christmas! My family came with me and we were ready to see the legend up close and personal. We entered the exhibit by walking under a full-scale mock-up of the external tank and solid rocket boosters. I stood small under them gazing up at the forces that powered Atlantis to the stars. The sight will put you in awe but the best is yet to be experienced! The Atlantis exhibit is dedicated to the many men and women who were involved in the shuttle program. My family and friend’s family members contributed to the program and were a part of its 30 year journey. An incredible feature as you walk through the exhibit halls is seeing the quotes from these men and women. My heart rate increases as I walk through, knowing that the quotes on the wall lead to up to the orbiter. It was  so incredible walking through the exhibit that I won’t give any of the details away-you have to go see it for yourself to get the full effect! The moment the orbiter appears in my sight, I throw my hand over my mouth and start to tear up. She’s brilliant. Magnificent. She is grand. I walk in facing Atlantis’ nose and I am completely speechless.  Atlantis is tilted at an angle as if to be flying in space. Her payload doors are open, Canada arm extended. She is exactly how she should be, on display in her element. The lighting in the room changes and creates a mood so powerful that I couldn’t help but just stare at her. You could spend an entire day there. The exhibit has so much to see and do. After almost an hour on the top floor, I had to force myself down to the bottom floor where Atlantis’ underbelly is completely exposed.  The tiles that cover the bottom of the orbiter are in the same condition they were in when she returned home from her final journey.

Another note-worthy part of the exhibit is a touching tribute to the men and women whose lives were taken in the Challenger and Columbia accidents. A dimly lit memorial gives you a chance to remember that these men and women risked their lives for exploration. I took a few moments of silence with the memorial.

The exhibit is overall an incredible sight to see. Now I may be biased but even my not-so-space loving brother was in awe. I highly recommend all of my followers check it out! It’s a great way to honor an incredible space program! For more information on Atlantis and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex visit http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/ .

Atlantis

Nose to Nose.

Logo

Wing

Atlantis2

Up close to Atlantis

Dad

My father saw man land on the moon. This picture really shows his love of space exploration.

Atlantis Panoramic1

Atlantis.

Footprints on the Moon

On this day in 1969 two men ventured out of a small lunar module to step foot on a surface unexplored-the moon. The American public sat and waited by their television sets eager for the moment when the “Eagle” landed on the cratered surface. In the 60s, man took great risk to explore worlds that had never been explored before. The Apollo program proved to mankind that we can exceed the far reaches of our planet and go where “no man has gone before.”

It’s been forty-four years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. I wasn’t around for the lunar landing but my father was 10 years old. He sat in his living room with his parents and his three siblings as Neil descended down the ladder to the moon’s surface. A nation held their breaths as he tested the ground beneath him. With one swift jump, Neil landed with both feet on the moon. He spoke the words as famous as the events themselves: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

My dad’s memory of the lunar landing remains vivid in his mind after so many years. The events inspired him to one day get a job with a contractor out at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. His hopes and dreams were to one day see us go back to the moon, mars and beyond.  Growing up on the space coast of Florida inspired me to grow passionate for American space flight. I learned at an early age just how important it was to explore and adventure beyond our limits. What has Apollo 11 taught me? It has taught me that with perseverance and great courage anything is possible. Man was made to explore, adventure and discover the endless possibilities in life. I hope and dream that we are able to go back to the moon and planets beyond in my life time.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” President John F. Kennedy

moon

My Father, The Hero.

I’ve always looked up to my father as a role model. He has always worked hard in all that he does whether it be at his job or at home with his family. Recently, my father was recognized for all that he does at his job with the Kennedy Space Center.

My father was nominated for the Silver Snoopy Award given by the astronauts to the NASA work force at each space center for all of the hard work they do. Only 1% of the work force is given the award and it is almost unheard of for contractor employees to receive the award. My father is an exception! The Silver Snoopy Pin (which recipients are awarded) is a very special award. Each one was flown on a mission to space. My father’s happened to be from STS 133. Each pin is given from an astronaut from that flight to the recipient.

 

Here is my father with astronaut Mike Barratt. The ceremony was wonderful! Our family went with my dad’s parents. We got to meet and mingle with astronauts and NASA big wigs. It was a great experience. Not to mention my father was super happy! Congrats dad!