State of NASA 2016 at Kennedy Space Center

On Tuesday February 9th, NASA invited 25 social media users to the Kennedy Space Center, as part of the NASA Social program, to watch the State of NASA presentation by Administrator Charlie Bolden and take part in an in-depth tour of the Complex with NASA Directors. I was lucky enough to be on this amazing tour and  it will not be soon forgotten.

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The day began at the press accreditation office where we loaded on to our transportation for the day.

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The first official stop was the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF).

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Here Director of the Kennedy Space Center, Robert (Bob) Cabana, welcomed us to the complex

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Director Cabana is the embodied passion of the Space program. A former astronaut himself, He has an upbeat passion to him; that entices you to become passionate about Space programs and exploration.

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He even took a selfie with the 25 of us, stating this was a new tradition he has started. The SSPF was a fitting place to meet Director Cabana, as he was the first American to enter the International Space Station. He proudly shares the story of entering the first module of the station simultaneously with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev.

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After meeting with Director Cabana, we ventured away from the office side of the SSPF into the actual bays of the facility.

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Here we were greeted by some of the engineering staff that supports the facilities operation. They explained the purpose of the facility and how that purpose has evolved since the completion of the station.

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Nearly every piece of the station has passed through this building at one point before heading into orbit to mate with the station. However, today the facility acts in a support role for the orbiting station. The facility processes, packs and prepares shipments of new supplies to the station to make sure that the station remains equipt with necessary supplies.

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The facility is also responsible for the processing of experiments that are about to go into orbit and ones that have returned from orbit.

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After leaving the SSPF, we boarded the bus to travel to United Launch Alliance (ULA).

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ULA is the company behind the Delta IV and Atlas V rocket systems. ULA is also a partner in the one of the next crew transportation systems to the ISS, The CST-100 “Starliner” by Boeing.

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As you can imagine photography was very limited inside of the building, however, we were able to get a group photo in-front of one of the rockets.

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After blasting off from ULA, our tour took us to where some of these mechanical works of art actually leave this planet, Pad 39B.

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Pad 39B is undergoing major renovations to is base, as it receives a new flame deflector and fire bricks.

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As we arrived back from the pad it was time for the State of NASA presentation.

After watching the presentation the group was greeted by some of the directors of the NASA Commercial Crew team.

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The team explained how NASA is using outside contractors, such as SpaceX, ULA and others, to make achieving its goals of a Mars mission in the 2030’s possible. They also touched on the SLS family of rockets.

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This family of rockets will be the vehicle to achieve Mars. The SLS is scheduled to begin assembly in the coming months for a 2018 unmanned test flight which leads up to a 2021 manned flight.

The next to last stop was OPF-3, the home to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner manufacturing facility.

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This stop was completely off-limits for photography, except for a group photo

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Inside of the building, Boeing will manufacture the orbiter that will mate to ULA’s rockets to ferry crews to the ISS. Boeing plans to begin testing on this capsule in the next year with a tentative first flight to the ISS in July 2017.

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The last stop of the day was a big one.

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The Vehicle Assembly Building is still one of the largest buildings in the world and possibly the most quintessential NASA Icon most think of when talking about Kennedy Space Center.

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Everything about this building is big

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The crawler-transporter that was once used to transport the space shuttles to launch lives here as well, and is being refurbished for future usage in the SLS program.

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My day at Kennedy Space Center has left me with lots of new friends and even more great memories. I can not wait to attend another NASA Social event in the future.

If you want to hear more about my day at KSC or have questions leave a comment below or reach out via one of the social channels below.

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