Monday April 28, 2003.
I spent a few hours at the Astronaut's Hall of Fame, learning about
the very brave men who pioneered space travel from Earth. It's an amazing story to read about each mission, its
crew, and the outcome. What a risky and dangerous thing it was to do. And what an incredibly exciting adventure
story to be involved in. There are actual space capsules on display from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.
The Mercury capsules were tiny.
What an incredible thing it was to be strapped into a tiny capsule like that, attached
to a rocket with as much energy as a nuclear bomb under you, and be launched straight up. The acceleration exerts a
force of over 6 G's on the astronaut. I took a four minute ride in a G-force simulator, a centrifuge, while
there. I experienced over 4 G's and it was amazing (and very enjoyable!). I could feel the skin on my cheeks being
pushed back towards my ears - very strange!
For the astronauts, they experience up to 6 or 7 G's for a few minutes at a time, but when
each stage of the rocket cuts off they suddenly feel one G again except for when the last stage cuts off as
they finally reach orbit and then they go from 6 G's to zero G weightlessness in an instant! What a feeling that must
be! They get into orbit, about 150 miles above the Earth, in less than ten minutes. And they burn over half
a million gallons of fuel to do it! Their final velocity when they reach orbit is about 17,000 miles per hour.
The first stage of the rocket has to be so big and powerful just
to lift the weight of its own fuel. The Saturn V rocket for the Apollo moon missions weighed about six million pounds
( 2.7 million kg ) before launch, of which about 90 per cent of that weight is the fuel.
Of special interest to me as a photographer was to see the cameras
they used. There were a few Hasselblads, a Nikon SLR, and a couple of other special made cameras for 70mm film on display.
For my photography students, I photographed the astronaut's "camera checklist" which confirms what I have been teaching about
setting the camera for correct exposure. See the photo of the checklist below. It might come in handy if you get
to take some pictures on the moon.
I left the Astronaut's Hall of Fame deeply impressed and in awe
of the people working in the space program.
Going briefly north on route 1 from Titusville took me to state
road 46 which in turn took me west towards the Gulf of Mexico and the west coast of Florida. State road 46 led
to highway 441 from which I turned onto state road 44 which links up at Crystal River with the main road down the west coast.
I watched the sunset at Bayport, called Janet in Hong Kong for our
daily "handing over of the sun" chat, and then continued down the coast on highway 19 to Clearwater. I arrived
well after dark in Clearwater, so I'll explore the local area tomorrow.
The road trip is basically over now. This is my final destination.
I'll post some photographs of Clearwater tomorrow, and then I'll sign off.