Infinity Science Center/Stennis Space Center

Thank goodness we got our wish to visit the one and only thing we wanted to see in Mississippi yesterday. It was worth the wait, and worth the visit. Science buffs would love it there. As happy as we were to be getting to visit, Smitty was more excited to have us leave so he could get on with his morning nap.

We traveled along Mississippi Hwy 607, which happens to be designated the NASA Scenic Byway to Space.

As it turns out the Stennis Space Center has a buffer zone around it that extends for 14 miles in all directions. When NASA chose the site for its rocket test facility, it acquired all the land around in order to avoid disturbing occupants and businesses with the substantial noise and vibrations inherent in such an endeavor.

The first stop in visiting the center was the Infinity Science Center. If you're thinking of visiting here, you must first come to the science center.

Price of admission includes an optional guided "booster tour" to hear about the booster rockets, followed by a bus tour of the Stennis Space Center just down the road.

It's possible to tour the boosters on your own, but having a guide explain everything to us was essential. There's a lot of information about the rockets and boosters not included on the signs, and we enjoyed our guided tour. The rocket in the image below is a 1/10 scale model of the Saturn 5 rocket that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon and back.

Here's some information about it.

The black and white paint functioned to allow scientists to tell if the rocket was rolling, which was essential to staying on course and using the energy of the rotating earth to their advantage. (Don't think I understand this. I don't.)

Outside and in front of the museum, we saw some actual engines from the rockets. This is a small precursor to the engines eventually used on the Saturn 5 rocket.

The next image shows the larger engine. There were a lot of numbers associated with this tour that I couldn't even begin to take in, let alone understand. If you're interested in the science and physics about how this all worked, you'll have to pay a visit yourself.

Here's the business end of the engine. You can get a sense of the scale of it with Mike standing there.

When these were lit up, they were 6,000 degrees F., which would have been hot enough to melt the actual structure. The system of grooves helped to dissipate the heat and prevent the engine from melting upon ignition. There was more to this, but again...don't ask me to explain it.

On the back side of the museum we were able to see the actual massive first stage of a Saturn 5 rocket. This one was built for Apollo 19, and the mission was canceled before it was used. There is only one other in existence, and it is at the Houston Space Center in Texas.

The front side of this had a spider-web type structure that allowed it to be lifted by a crane. Consider the size of the crane that would be required to lift such a piece of equipment.

I took a lot of pictures of this from all angles, but the one below was my favorite. Here, I was standing under the five engines, looking up.

It was time for our bus tour then, and so we traded in our paper ticket for a visitor's badge. Photo ID is required for this, and if one is not a US citizen, then a passport is also required.

We boarded this bus and then headed down the road to Stennis Space Center where the actual rocket testing happens.

We crossed over the Pearl river where a lock and canal system were constructed. I wondered how these massive rockets were transported to the launch sites from here. As it turns out, the river was dredged and a canal system was built, and they travel most of the way via an intracoastal waterway, starting right here.

We entered the space center via a security gate.

This part of the tour consisted of a lot of buildings. We learned that NASA and NOAA are closely associated and, in fact, NOAA does much of its work right here on site.

Here was a series of weather buoys. I tried three times to get an in-focus picture, but we sped by a little too fast for that.

Also, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi have oceanography programs here. The University of Southern Mississippi has a one-year master's program.

From there, we headed out to the three towers where rockets are tested. On one side of the road were to the two A towers. The small structure in the middle between them (just to the rear of the largest structure in the foreground) is where visitors and workers can stay while rockets are being tested. The mound in front is a shelter and it contains a periscope for viewing.

On the other side of the road was a third B Tower. These towers are used for testing different kinds of rockets.

From there, we headed back to the science center, and Mike and I spent a little more time exploring the museum. There, we were interested in learning the many ways we could die out there. There was a boardwalk picnic area, so watch where you step.

Also, I'm reading this to mean that you will taste good to any alligators present, so stay back.

There were more NOAA related exhibits there. This one was interesting to us. Oregon has some risk from tsunamis and so we're glad to know these early warning systems are in existence.

Here's the tsunami buoy.

Inside was an exhibit about hurricanes, and it's even possible to stand inside a hurricane test chamber and experience the power of high wind speeds. We watched a man doing just that and his demonstration was enough for us to decide we weren't interested. Here was an example of the door markings used after a hurricane when assessing damage to structures.

Starting at the top the date is marked, then moving clockwise, the next quadrant tells of any risk inside the structure...in this case...a possible gas leak. The bottom quadrant tells of any bodies found inside...in this case, none. Then the final quadrant on the left identifies the team doing the inspection.

And we'd pretty much seen the place by then. As we were leaving, we came to a fork in the road where we could turn left to head back to the museum, or right to leave the area entirely. The sign gave us a chuckle.

When we got back to the RV, I had just a few stitches left to finish up the third block for Heart and Home. This block is called A, B, C's.

And then I traced out the second dress for the Sundress quilt. The left shoulder there has another one of those confounding cast-on flowers. There are written instructions with this block. Just maybe I'll be able to figure it out. If not, I'll either do something different there, or I'll wait until I get home and have someone show me at a class held locally.

This whole design fits inside my embroidery hoop, and so these stitch up pretty quick.

And that was our day. Today we'll be moving on to the last new state for this trip, Louisiana. By day's end, we'll be in New Orleans. We've visited New Orleans before...around 1998...and so well before the hurricane. So far, the only thing on our agenda is to visit Cafe du Monde for some of their amazing beignets. If you've never had a beignet, add it to your bucket list right now. We want to do some walking around the French Quarter, and I'd like to visit at least one quilt shop. There is plenty to do in New Orleans and lots of good food, and so we won't be bored.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

So glad that you got to fit this in on your journey. My grandsons would love this kind of thing, especially the eldest. Happy trails as the weather is changing itself over into the next season (slowly here).

crazy quilter said...

So happy you finally got to visit this space center. The sign gave me a laugh as well! Keep on having fun and enjoy those beingnets they are the very best!

WoolenSails said...

Good to hear that you got to enjoy going here. I didn't even think about shut downs until we went to a national park area and the building was closed. Looks like a fun tour, albeit the snakes and alligators, lol.


piecefulwendy said...

So glad you were able to get to the space center. I have been to the NASA Center in Florida and recall being amazed at the size of the rockets. And now I can say I know someone who has been to Infinity and Beyond! The beignets sound wonderful (I've never had one, so bucket listing it now.) Enjoy your day!

QuiltGranma said...

The marked door reminded me of Monsters, Inc. movie where when the kids get too old to be frightened of monsters they mark and then chip the door so no monster gets "done in" by being touched by a child! What a wonderful trip you are having!

kc said...

VERY cool! Glad you got in so you could share along this with us! We toured the space center in Huntsville, AL and the public museum up at Cape Canaveral, but both were on our own and consisted only if reading signs. Cool to look at stuff, but sure a dry presentation.

We've seen lots of hurricanes, as a result, lots of those door/wall markings. We could always figure out the date and body count, but never the other 2, so thanks for that. I guess I should have pointed out the 2-sided placard we keep in the garage to make it easier on the searchers. One side is green, says we're OK, the other is red and says SEND HELP. and we keep an entry pass in the car, lets us back into the county after an evacuation. Just normal life for those of us who like to live on the edge. :)

Lee said...

Cool visit to Stennis, would be an interesting tour to go on. Also cool to see the Rocketdyne engines (I worked for Rocketdyne for 15 years!). The legacy of Rocketdyne is fading - they also built the cone-shaped engines on the Space Shuttles - I just recently learned that all the buildings on the 47 acres they had on Canoga ave in Canoga Park, have been demolished to make way for 4,000 apartment units :(. They still have buildings on another street, but I wonder for how long.

quiltzyx said...

Wow, that was a great tour! Very interesting to see the size of those things - thanks to Mike for providing a living yard stick for us!! So glad they turned the gov't back on again in time.

SJSM said...

Between living at a missile silo in the 60’s (yep a really old goat here) and near Vandenburg AFB I have seen a few rockets. We watched the missiles in the 60’s get pulled out of the ground and shipped to another location. Those things were huge! It is a wonder that sticks in my brain to this day. The site was changed into a satellite station. I was quite concerned during the Cuban missile crisis whether the Russians knew the missiles were gone. Yep, duck and cover was the game of the times. I’m glad youand Mike were able to visit and see all that hardware.