Cape Canaveral, Florida ~ March 10, 2006 ~
Host: Susan Sitko Co-Host: Sylvia Vega
Click above - back to Mercury page
Susan Sitko works at the International Space Station Processing Facility. So we get to see some of the hardware that is ready to be lifted into space by the next Shuttle.
(left and above) These photos are a part of the lobby of the International Space Station Processing Facility. The screen right under the name of the facility is shown above.

(below) The Japanese module (a lab in space) is being readied to join the main space station in orbit.
(above - left to right) Susan Sitko, Sylvia Vega and Gary Liljegren. This was perhaps the cleanest room we had ever been in!

(right) Lee wants to get in his pajamas like the other workers.... what? Those are not pajamas? Hey... I'm just an author. Okay?

(left) This is a new addition to the station that is an observatory, so they can look out in all directions. The numbers you see are the window coverings. It's meant to go on top of the station. But... the top is not always the top if you know what I mean.
(left) Here is the Italian contribution to the International Space Station that will be placed into orbit soon. See us pointing to it?


(but a fun one... hee hee)

Well... bless my sole!

(above and right) Up close! This is us, getting real close to something I've only read about! This is the huge Shuttle Crawler Transporter that takes the shuttle to the launch pad. It is shown unloaded, and free of even the Mobile Launcher Platform. Each link of the treads weighs one ton! NASA has two crawler-transporters. They are the biggest flatbed transporting machines in the world. Each one covers an area the size of a baseball park infield. A crawler stands three stories high and is as wide as an eight lane highway. Originally built in 1960 to transport Saturn V rockets, the rockets that took man to the moon, the two crawlers have been going steady ever since.
(left) The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was originally built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles (Moon rocket) and was later modified to support Space Shuttle operations. The discoloring you see is damage from the hurricane "Frances" in 2004.

It's much, much larger than it appears. One indicator of the building's scale is that each of the stars on the American flag painted on the building is 6 feet across and the stripes are large enough to drive a tour bus on.
It covers 8 acres. It is 525 ft. tall. It encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet of space.

Height: VAB - 525 ft
Statue of Liberty - 305 ft
Volume: VAB - 129,428,000 cu ft)
Pentagon 77,025,000 cu ft
VAB equals 3.75 Empire State Buildings
(above) We drove about anywhere we wanted! The VAB is viewable from just about any place on the center... it's sooo big. Later we went as close as we could to the launch pad of the next Shuttle.
(left) The roadway on the way to a Shuttle launch pad. This is where cars drive, but see the tan colored rock way to the left? That's where the Shuttle Crawler Transporter will drive. (right) The actual pad. The roadway is sloped gently enough to allow the crawler to compensate and keep everything on an even keel (see below).
(left) These NASA photos show how it works. The Crawler contains not only the Shuttle, but the Mobile Launcher Platform for the Shuttle.

(right) On the way to the pad on the super highway built just for this. See the small ribbon of road to the right? That's where I photographed the pad from (above photo).

With the Space Shuttle aboard, the Crawler goes less than 2 kilometers per hour. It takes 8 hrs to get to the pad! The Crawler has a leveling system designed to keep the top of the Space Shuttle vertical during the 5 percent grade leading to the launch pad. Also, a laser docking system provides almost pinpoint accuracy when the Crawler and Mobile Launcher Platform are positioned at the launch pad or in the Vehicle Assembly Building.
(left) Finally, in the life sciences building, a live feed from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena announced that the latest probe to Mars had entered orbit sucessfully. It was great news!

The Reconnaissance Orbiter safely entered orbit around Mars on March 10 after a seven-month, 310 million-mile (499-million-kilometer) journey. We were there at that moment... important to all at Kennedy since it had been launched there.