Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blast (Off) From the Past

Can't believe what I found in a box of books, under years of dust. I'm sure I haven't seen this souvenir since I was a teen. It's still in good shape, too!

Kennedy Space Center

This the John F. Kennedy Space Center booklet from 1976. Note the old "Worm" logo, and the cost in the lower right corner... 50 cents! The cover shows the Vehicle Assembly Building, tour buses, tourists, and the Saturn V rocket when it was still on display outdoors. What a treasure of history!

My father bought this for me when I was 7 years old, upon my first trip to KSC Visitor Center (which was much smaller, then). This was one of our Florida stops on a much larger cross-country trip to celebrate America's Bicentennial.

KSC Tour Book

Kennedy Center's Director at the time was Lee R. Scherer (served 1975-1979). The year he took over the position, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Projectsaw the first hand-shake in space between the super-powers of America and Russia.

The booklet features photographs of all the major heavy launch vehicles that blasted off from Cape Canaveral, as well as summaries the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

The one thing that stands out in my mind from visiting Kennedy was the Lunar Rover on display. Really? We went to the Moon... and took a car? I thought that was so very cool... but I thought they should have taken something more hip, like my Dad's '69 Camaro! ;)

Early Space Shuttle Drawing

My favorite part of the book now is the artist's rendering of the "future Space Shuttle".  In 1976, it had been planned, budgeted, designed, and the first orbital vehicle prototype had just been built!  It would be 7 months before Space Shuttle Enterprise performed her first test flight.

It's stunning to think that I have seen four launches of these beautiful shuttles now, and seen three in museums after retirement. At the time this book was purchased, I had never laid eyes on one.  The first STS mission was still 5 years in the future, and none of us could imagine the 30 years of Shuttles to come!

Kennedy Space Center Book

Another favorite page is the map of Cape Canaveral, listing all the launch pads, and which missions (up to that date, of course) launched from each spot.

According to the tallies in the book, by 1976, there had been 31 manned flights, with 43 participating astronauts -- adding up to 22,500+ cumulative man-hours in space (or on the Moon).  In contrast, as of today, there have now been 211 manned missions, with 310 participating astronauts... and number 312 will head to the ISS in September!

Click on any of the pictures above to see full-size originals of the entire (non-copyrighted) booklet!