Nothing ghoulish here about one of the Shuttle accidents.
Our tour guide today on a visit to NASA Kennedy Space Center (courtesy of Software AG) was Norm Thagard. Besides flying 4 Shuttle missions in 1983, 1985,1989 and 1992, he teased us to guess how he could have flown a “half” mission.
He flew on a Soyuz flight to the Mir Space Station in 1995, and flew back on the shuttle Atlantis in 1995. Norm was full of fascinating episodes from his space travels and from his years at NASA and with the Russians.
In addition, we got some nice bonuses – a visit into the massive 52 storey Vehicle Assembly Building, to the outside of launch pad 39A which shows the scars from the acoustic waves and super heated water jets from countless Apollo and Shuttle flights (in photo), and to the simulator where you experience the noise, the vibrations and Gs of a shuttle takeoff.
I live just 3 hours from the Center and have been here countless times. But this trip introduced me to so many new (to me) aspects of the space program, that I promised myself to come back at least once a year. Even with the Shuttle program retired and the next-gen Orion still years away, if you find yourself with a few extra hours on your next visit to Orlando, it is well worth a visit.