An Encounter Of The Third Kind At NASA

Article: Humberto Ochoa

Picture: Humberto Ochoa

Surround music starts and we watch a digital projection of an event that happened in the late 1960’s. The footage is projected on a screen that it’s been set all around including roof and walls. Like us, every person in the projection room watch standing with all their attention on the material that is being played, specially kids which sometimes exclaim with a “Wow…!”  filling the room with enthusiasm. We watch a design of what it seems an airplane, people coming and going building parts, more drawings are shown, more testing, and more people involved.  A few minutes after  music continues in crescendo while a curtain behind that projection screen rises up revealing the awesome Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Started its structural assembly of crew module on March,30th, 1980 and 5 years later on October 1985 is launched on its first fly at NASA, Florida. The Space Shuttle weighed 165,000 pounds empty. Its external tank weighed 78,100 pounds empty and its two solid rocket boosters weighed 185,000 pounds empty each. Each solid rocket booster held 1.1 million pounds of fuel. The external tank held 143,000 gallons of liquid oxygen (1,359,000 pounds) and 383,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen (226,000 pounds).  A total super marvelous engineering artifact!

Space Shuttle Atlantis is currently displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor ComplexNASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the decision at an employee event held on April, 12th, 2011 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight: “First, here at the Kennedy Space Center where every shuttle mission and so many other historic human space flights have originated, we’ll showcase my old friend, Atlantis.” The Visitor Complex displays Atlantis suspended with its payload bay doors opened such that it appears to be back in orbit around the Earth. After more than 30 missions conducted, Space Shuttle Atlantis still looks stunning and leaves you breathless because its majestic design. It is then when you realize about how spectacular and unique the human mind can be which it can take you almost everywhere when purpose and perseverance get together in just one phrase “Failure is not an option!”

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