Preparing for the launch of STS-132 Atlantis Shuttle
May 14, 2010

Going to the Banana Creek VIP viewing site and the Saturn V building at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of the STS-132 Atlantis Shuttle.

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Launch Complex 39 Pad A - Kennedy Space Center
Cruise ship and plam tree ocean sunrise
Sunrise from the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront

Friday ­ day 3

Excited about today's STS-132, the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, I couldn't sleep and gave up and started working on photos at 5 in the morning. At 6:30, Linda urged me to run down to the beach to photograph the sunrise.

While take photos of the sun and ocean, I heard faint music and then noticed a man playing a bagpipe along the shore. It wasn't until eating breakfast in the Nebula Awards Weekend hospitality suite that I noticed a set of bagpipes on a counter and learned that the musician was science fiction writer and theoretical physicist, Carl Frederick.

Carl Frederick playing bagpipes
Carl Frederick walking along the shore at sunrise 

We reported to the Hilton Cocoa Beach Hotel parking lot at 9 AM where the groups watching the shuttle launch were assembling. Although some people would watch the launch from the beach next to the hotel, two large buses of Nebula Awards Weekend attendees were traveling to the NASA causeway, a ticket only location that is only about 7 miles from the launch pad.

But SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) had secured a few passes for the Banana Creek VIP site, located near the Saturn V center and other than one small press site, the closest site for shuttle launch viewing. Since I was being honored for Service to SFWA at the Nebula Awards, we were blessed and Linda and I were invited to Banana Creek.

Lee Martindale, Gay Haldeman, Joe Haldeman, Peter Heck
Lee Martindale, Gay Haldeman, Joe Haldeman, Peter Heck 

Linda Lipp, Ted Kosmatka
Linda with Nebula Award nominated author Ted Kosmatka 

Those of us going to the Banana Creek viewing site were loaded into a smaller bus - actually overloaded on the bus - there were more people than seats and a couple of us had to sit on the steps by the doorway. We were accompanied by NASA Materials Chemist, Kathy Brooks Loftin, Ph.D. Traffic was fairly light and we arrived at the Saturn-V museum building before 10:30. 

I had volunteered to push the manual wheelchair that long time friend and science fiction author & editor, Lee Martindale, was using instead of her usual power chair. Actually, Linda jumped in and did most of the pushing, leaving me free to take more photos. It worked out pretty well - Lee was one of the few Nebula Awards Weekend attendees who Linda already new.

We toured the Apollo/Saturn V Center, an enormous 100,000 square foot facility building which houses an entire Saturn V rock, displayed in separate stages, as well as other Apollo era exhibits such as the Apollo 14 command module, an unused Apollo command/service module (CSM-119) and a Lunar Module (LM-9).  In addition to viewing the exhibits and shopping at the gift shop, we had lunch at the Moon Rock Café.

NASA Vehicle Assembly Building - Kennedy Space Center
NASA VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) - 4th largest structure in the world by volume

Launch Complex 39 Pad A - Shuttle Atlantis
The space shuttle is barely visible on the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39's Pad A

Sarturn V rock and model
At 363 feet high, the Saturn V was the largest operational launch vehicle ever produced

Saturn V S-IC First Stage
S-IC (First Stage) main engines

Astronaut Snoopy
Snoopy the Astronaut in front of a display of newspapers from around the world announcing the Lunar landing.
Apollo 10's command module was named "Charlie Brown" and the lunar module was named "Snoopy"

Moon Rock Café - Lee Martindale & Linda are sitting in the right foreground.
That is Kate Yule and science fiction author David D Levine standing and talking to them.

Apollo astronaut van
Apollo astronaut van which carried the space suited astronauts to the Saturn V rockets

touching the moon rock
Me touching a piece of genuine moon rock

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copyright 2010 by Keith Stokes.