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Big Rockets, Bigger Building

It is one of the enduring symbols of the U.S. Space Program, clearly visible from miles away as you approach the Kennedy Space Center. It’s the Vehicle Assembly Building, commonly known as the VAB, of of the largest buildings in the world. In the decades since it was built, it housed the enormous Saturn V, the Space Shuttles and soon, the Space Launch System.

The VAB was necessary because of the size of the Saturn V and the complex work necessary to put the elements of an Apollo mission together. Designed by Morrison-Knudsen, construction began in August of 1963. More than four thousand pilings were driven into the Florida bedrock, and 30,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured to create the foundation.

The massive facility was completed in 1965. It stands 526 feet tall and covers eight acres. The doors on each side are the largest in the world, at 456 feet high, and taken 45 minutes to completely open or close. They lead to the four high bays, where the Saturn V could be erected.

Apollo 14 rolls out of the VAB, headed for Pad 39A, on November 9, 1970.

Humidity can be a serious problem, so the building has a massive air conditioning system. Because the inside of the building is so large, rain clouds can actually form just below the ceiling on human days. And those big, flat walls had to be reinforced against wind, especially the powerful winds generated by hurricanes. The building was designed to withstand winds of up to 120 miles an hour.

The first stage of Apollo 8 inside the VAB on February 1st, 1968.

“I’d never seen a building that big before,” my father tells me. “The Lunar Module team had an office on the 14th or 15th floor. Windows in the office looked out over the interior, including the ground far below. I tried to keep my distance from the windows; they made me real nervous.”

Mating the Apollo 8 Command and Service module to the top of the Saturn V stack. October 1, 1968.

To accomplish the task of building the Saturn V, the building had 71 cranes and hoists, including two 250-ton bridge cranes. The VAB is 3.5 miles from Launch Pad 39A and 4.2 miles from Launch Pad 39B.  The trip aboard one of the two crawler-transports would take up to five hours.

After Skylab, the VAB was renovated to handle operations on the Space Shuttle. These days, it’s providing a home for the new Space Launch System.

For more on the effort to achieve John F. Kennedy’s challenge of putting a man on the moon, please check out my father’s memoirs. Missile Man: One Man’s Memories of Life on the Front Lines of the Space Race is now for sale on Amazon.com. The Kindle Edition is available now, and a Print-On-Demand version is coming soon.

Space History to Be Made in 2019

2019 is shaping up to be a monumental year for space exploration, especially by commercial interests hoping to fill the gap left after the United States stopped flying manned missions in 2001.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on launches involving spacecraft designed to carry humans aboard.   Keep in mind these launch dates are likely to be delayed.

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Learning to Save Lives

I just got home a short time ago from my orientation as a volunteer for Best Friends Atlanta, an organization that serves as a shelter and an adoption center for dogs and cats in Metro Atlanta.  The organization has centers here, as well as in New York City, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.  Their goal is to “save them all” and create a world in which there are no more homeless pets.

The first time I learned about Best Friends last fall when they began bringing pets needing homes to the television station I was working for at the time.  Visits like this are a staple of daytime and morning newscasts. What intrigued me at the time was how much everyone working in the newsroom loved seeing the dogs.

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My Brain is Whack or: Living with Major Depression Part I

I believe most of us know about depression, having experienced it in varying degrees as we grow up and grow older.  I have had the clinical symptoms of clinical depression since I was 15 years old. That’s going on forty years now. At first, and for many years, I didn’t understand that the way I felt was so deeply altering and guiding my path through life.  I’m just coming out of what they call a major depressive episode… and I want to share as much as I can in hopes it may be able to help others.

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Homeopathic Money: The Recipe

Why spend real money to buy fake miracle cures when you can create your own. Money, I’m talking about, not cures. You will not find this ANYWHERE else on the Intertube.  The following information was revealed in a vision of Donald Trump dressed as Mayor Snoogans McCheese. In the vision, the man who destroyed his own country, asked Americans to pay for his Homeopathic Wall along the Mexican border with Homeopathic dollars.

President Fatty McFatFat selling Homeopathic Government.

DO NOT share this information with the Government! It’s a secret!

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Visiting the Moon for Christmas

“Please be advised, there is a Santa Claus.”

Astronaut Jim Lovell, Christmas morning, 1968.

This week will mark the 50th anniversary of what I will argue was the most daring mission in the history of human space exploration. It started with three men climbing into a small capsule on December 21st.  They would return to Earth six days and three hours later. It wasn’t an effort to set an endurance record and didn’t even come close. But for the first time, mankind would come close to our nearest companion, the moon. It was an enormous risk, but one NASA was willing to make to beat the Soviet Union to the moon.

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Robocaller Telemarketing Hell

I’m in the middle of searching for work, and for that, I need to be able to use Do Not Call Registrymy phone. But, the overwhelming number of bullshit calls I’ve been getting from vermin telemarketers has grown fantastically in recent weeks. I have no way of knowing what phone numbers prospective and legitimate callers are going to use, which means I have to answer every call.

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