Thursday, October 9, 2014

A visit to outer space (Part 3)


On our odyssey through space, we visited the top floor hall and the German room in Part 1.  In Part 2 we visited the pre-space room that held Bell X rockets, and the room where post and Cold War Russian and American artifacts were located.  Also in Part 2 we saw the "Right Stuff" gallery, the start of NASA, Sputnik 1, warheads, the race to the moon, the Blockhouse, and the beginning of the Kennedy era.  We ended with an outside visit to the Titan rocket.

Back inside

we visit the Russian side of the space race, beginning with Vostok.

Although the legend on the wall is too small to read, the Vostok was the first spacecraft built by the Soviet Union. The first human spaceflight in history was in a Vostok, on April 12, 1961.  It was flown by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.  It was the first Vostok, which was followed by five more manned flights from 1961 to 1963.   You will get to see a Vostok space capsule later.

By the late 1960s, Vostok spacecraft were superseded by, and replaced with Soyuz, which are still used as of 2014.  If we were playing a game of trivia, it would be much easier to tell about Russian spacecraft than US, since our program changed spacecraft names as soon as a new design was created!

For example, Mercury was NASA's first human spaceflight program. Its major aim was to see if humans could function in space for a few minutes or hours at a time. Each mission flew only one person at once into space, starting with 15-minute long missions and gradually expanding to a day's time.

The first seven astronauts were chosen in 1959, and they and their families instantly became worldwide celebrities.  The fact that the Russians had beaten the US into space was a blow to both the program and the astronauts who had been chosen for the missions.




I had to laugh at how quickly Sally moved when she found a place to sit!

Totally unaware of the display behind her, this newspaper showed Alan Shepard was the first American in space, although as mentioned in Part 2, he did not reach orbit. There was also a short film that accompanied it.  This was true throughout much of the museum.

Wow what a garish color this is on my monitor.  I hope it's better on yours.

This is where the American space race was compared to the Russian space race.



John Glenn was the third American astronaut in space, after Shepard and Grissom (discussed in Part 2, along with Grissom's near disaster on reentry) and the first to reach orbit.  His path was shown on the map above.  BTW, the seeming fireball was finally determined to be ice crystals coming off the hull.

When I was in grad school, one of my Engineering professors had worked in the NASA space program.  He explained how each astronaut sat with his back to the heat shield, which was needed for reentry (see above), in a seat which was molded to fit his body for maximum support.  He further explained how John Glenn practiced for hours, positioning his body tighter and smaller until he had created just the right position in sand for the NASA crew to create the mold for his seat.  Some of the things I learned from that man, Dr. Randy Chambers who had "been there," and was also part of my doctoral dissertation team, made me truly appreciate the space program.


About the time America ventured into space, Kennedy, although unsure manned spaceflight was feasible, chose to support the program. After the success of Freedom 7, a majority of the American public also supported the project, and within a few weeks Kennedy announced a plan for a manned mission to land on the Moon and return safely to Earth before the end of the 1960s

A replica of Freedom 7, piloted by Shepard aboard Freedom 7 was a success, but he was frustrated at not being first.  He missed by only three weeks, from Gagarin's April 12, 1961 flight to Shepard's May 5, 1961 flight.

For the life of me, I can't believe this is the only picture I kept of Liberty Bell 7, the spacecraft that was lost at sea until 1999 when it was recovered and restored by the Cosmosphere.

Some of the parts that could not be saved from the Liberty Bell 7 are on display.  Items such as bolts and nuts that were too corroded to be repaired are shown.  Others were sold in the gift shop encased in acrylic blocks. 


On the other side of the world, the Russians had developed the Vostok. 

Ironically, I took photos of this Vostok space capsule


from all sides.


It seems I missed the entire Gemini program, because I have checked all my photos, even those I decided not to use.  I somehow jumped from Mercury to the Apollo program, the program that took us (Americans) to the moon and back.  Of course, the Titan launch vehicle I took photos of at the end of Part 2 were part of the Gemini program.

Note in the background how much more sturdy and bulky the space suits were during this period.  That's partly because of space walks.

Apparently I didn't follow the arrows too well, because this is a photo of the Saturn rocket, also shown in Part 2, that was the launch vehicle for the Apollo missions.




This is a Lunar Module or LEM as it was called back then.  It is next to an original Lunar Rover.

Space walks became a common occurrence during this era.

Yes, that's me in the background in front of the astronauts in space suits.  So, you finally get to see me!

This is the genuine original Apollo 13 command module, not a replica.  It held a three man crew.  In the movie Apollo 13, Jim Lovell's actual comment was "Houston, we've had a problem," but the line was changed to "Houston, we have a problem."  The line was changed because the original quote made it seem that the problem had been corrected.

Here you get a view of the interior of the Apollo 13 command module and some of the instruments.

On the left is a small part of the exterior of Apollo 11's white room.

This is the interior of Apollo 11's fully restored white room.

Astronauts enter the white room which was attached to the side of every Apollo

on their way to the spacecraft.

This shows how the retractable white room was attached to the spacecraft.

This is the outside of the white room looking in.

This model shows where the astronauts go after leaving the white room on their way to the spacecraft.  In case they needed to leave the spacecraft before the launch, they would return to the white room and await further instructions.
 The RL-10 was used on various launch vehicles, including the Saturn rockets.  It was the first liquid hydrogen rocket engine and made in America.

I left my two friends behind and ventured into this room by myself.  This hugely huge (redundancy intentional) exhibit was an Apollo–Soyuz Test Project craft, a joint project conducted in July, 1975.  It was the first US and Russian space flight, and the final Apollo mission.  It marked the end of the space race that had started back in 1957.  

These two space crafts that were joined together took up an entire room. 

This is the American side and the connecting docking module.

The green section at the far end of the photo is the Russian side.  Although this is a mock-up, it is life size and brilliantly detailed.  It's hard to believe three American astronauts and two cosmonauts lived in these vehicles for nearly two weeks, and 44 hours of that time was spent docked together.


As I mentioned earlier, the Apollo project was shut down after the joint mission with Russia.   Even the launch pad was replaced.  There were no more manned space flights until

the space shuttle program started in the 1980s.  Can't you just hear my friend Sally telling me it is time to go NOW? 

So that meant the end of my trip to the Cosmosphere, because there was quite a bit more I missed.  I truly hope to go back again soon, although the price of admission for what we three saw would normally cost $12.50 for adults.  Seniors and children pay less.   There were five extra places you could visit, like the Planetarium and Goddard's Lab.  An all day pass that included all of these was $23.00 (USD).  That makes me quite grateful for Smithsonian's Museum Day.

At some point we visited the gift shop, where I bought a magnet.  I'll show it later.  I bought three total that day. 
 I treated both my friends to a Chinese buffet.  I did this because I put this entire day together and coordinated the tickets, etc.
Sally already looked like she was on her last leg.  How she could carry that HEAVY purse on the arm she was to have an operation on, was beyond me.
Thankfully, Kathy has the patience of Job and helped her into the restaurant

while I took a few photos.

I was determined to get a few photos of the huge spread they have at this place, but this photo didn't turn out right and I had NO opportunity to take another one because

it seemed everyone, including the hostess, was wondering why I wasn't keeping up.  It wasn't like the place was overflowing with customers that we would get separated from each other.   I actually laughed when I saw this photo.

Thanks for joining me on this voyage to outer space. Saturday we'll travel to INNER space, or 650 feet underground when we visit Strataca the underground salt mine.  It was also part of Smithsonian Museum Day.

5 thoughtful remarks:

pearshapedcrafting said...

I have learnt so much from your guided tour! Of course I knew bits, but being in the UK it wasn't a major part of the news as it must have been in the US! I do remember watching footage of Yuri Gagarin though - I think I was about 13! How long did you spend in the museum? Thanks for showing this Elizabeth, I have really enjoyed it! Hugs, Chrisx

Sharon Fritchman said...

Hi Elizabeth! I absolutely loved your journey through space! It is quite a coincidence because I just helped my daughter, Anne, make a scrapbook about her journey through space for a 6th grade project!!!! Thanks for sharing all of the wonderful photos!!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

This is really an amazing museum! Thanks for sharing your photos and commentary--I know this had to take a long time to put together!

Can't wait for the salt mine!

voodoo vixen said...

Now that was quite the tour, educational and interesting! I remember 1969 and the moon landing and walking on the moon... we were based in Libya and were on our way home to the UK and had stopped off in Switzerland when it took place.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

what a great exhibition Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing with us!