Monday, February 09, 2009


I can't access my Flickr pics at the moment, so the fourth and final installment of our NASM tour awaits while I blog a bit and hit reload every few minutes...

So.  Only 4 more days to go!

On Saturday next, I will have moved 5 times since July 2007.  But this time, it feels like I am going home.  No more nomadic ways.  In fact, I am so full of anticipation that I feel dizzy at times.  Whereas my move from London was full of relief and desperation, this move has a completely different anticipation, almost like a ... well I don't know.  A first kiss?

Both my mother and I have been running from unhappiness, searching for a new home and looking for peace that hasn't materialized.  But I told my new landlady that this feels good.  Both my parents feel good about it too.

So we are returning to the starting position:  Mum is fed up of London (ooh surprise) and wants to return to Texas, and I am going where I have wanted to go for nearly a decade.

Apparently, I have already inspired two or three people to make their own changes, formulate new plans, or at least become restless with their own situations.  Amongst fellow bloggers, Glo is one seeking a lifestyle change.  Sure my move back to the US was important, but there is something even more significant about this move to Washington, and it's what other people have said about it that has made me aware of this...

Let life begin.


And onwards to the end of our tour:

Grumman X-29, which never actually went into production and looks like something you'd throw at a dartboard.

A collection of rockets which carried numerous missions into space. Did you know that a rocket is just a rocket, and that the first were merely modified military missiles with the command module/payload bay/capsule where the warhead would have been? Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong because I don't remember when or where I picked this up but it's stuck.

Turning from the rockets, I stepped into the backup Skylab Orbital Workshop.  Two were built:  one went into space and the other was transferred into the museum in 1975 after the Skylab program was cancelled, owing to NASA's refocus on developing the space shuttle.

It was too big to capture in a photograph, so here's a little of the interior:

A collapsible shower.  The entire living area is small, but you'd better not have claustrophobia and then get into this thing.

The Skylab mess and kitchen for the three man crew.  
Please don't laugh at the 70s-era mannequin.

The Skylab personal hygiene pod - tubes for waste, little lockers for items, a waste disposal airlock in the floor.

Skylab 4 command module - note the re-entry burns.  Downstairs you could get right up close to the Mercury "Friendship 7" in which John Glenn orbited the earth.  Though it is encased in a close-fitting acrylic shell, my eyes were mere inches away from the heat shield at the base of the capsule, looking at the charring on the surface!

The F-1 engine, powerplant for the Saturn V rocket that powered the Apollo Project.
This was a clever configuration in that there are only 1.5 nozzles present, but the mirror setup shows the eye all 5.  A modern trompe l'oeil.

Space suit from the Apollo 11 Moon landing.  Too many tourists in the way, I couldn't see more.

Guess whose flight manual this is?

Some of the food from the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981.
Freeze dried bananas, no wonder nobody ate them.

A model of Sputnik I

The entrance lobby of Union Station.

A sweeping staircase that led up to a pleasantly situated oyster bar, like a bird's nest in the vaulted ceiling.


Christopher said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you find your happiness and that your Mother finds the same...I am glad you finally feel at home! xoxo Keep us posted!

Christopher said...

Jesus Christ Livvie, I SO have some catching up to do! Come on by and read the latest in my world...the best part if my website being banned!! LOL!!!

Flighty said...

It all seems rather incredible what has been achieved in aerospace over the past 100 years.
Good luck with the move and from what you say it certainly seems that you're doing for all the right reasons! xx

The Moody Minstrel said...

The fact that the same rockets that deliver satellites into orbit can also plop nuclear warheads into cities from far away is precisely the reason why a lot of people are very worried about Iran's recent satellite launch...and North Korea's claimed attempts to do the same.

(Frankly, I don't think either Iran or North Korea would be stupid enough to launch a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile at someone since they'd have little to gain and everything to lose, but it still worries people.)(Frankly, I think the world has more to worry about from the missiles that India and Pakistan have been using to put satellites into orbit!)

I have often dreamed of walking through that hall. I was a chronic space buff in my childhood, and I guess I still am. It's interesting, though; I still remember when Skylab was launched (and also when they intentionally brought it down into the ocean...dropping a few fragments on Australia), but I never knew they built two of them! Not a replica, but the real thing? The X-29, too? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Those bananas looked minging! LOL And yes I was going to comment on the Grace Bros 70's mannequin!! ;o) Really fascinating stuff though Livvy, I'll have to show Sim I think he'd enjoy it too .....oh dear, I just told Sim he has to read your blog and shouted to him that it was about rockets and he shouted back "Rickets?! Why would she be blogging about rickets?" When I finally stopped laughing I put him straight! LOL! ;o) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Olivia said...

Kissy - hey there. Yes, Um Naief said something about not being able to read your blog. Took them long enough.


Flighty - technologically, we seem to have reached a plateau.

Thank you for your good wishes.


Considering their legacies, let us hope N Korea and Iran know better ... India and Pakistan are indeed worrisome. Honestly, in today's world, why bother pulling stunts like that?

Yes, that is the Skylab that never went into space.

Isn't the X-29 beautiful?


Diva - hellewwww lovely!

I hope Simmy enjoyed the read.

Those bananas are not much older than me!
A lot of the mannequins in the museum were lantern-jawed 1950s style models - hehe.

I could blog about rickets if you wanted. A return to my old education-style blog?


MJ said...

hey! just to say hello and that I am glad you have a blog! I am trying to gather as many blogger friends as possible, and I guess I am doing a good job, haha! Btw, those pics are impressive! Hugs

Tea N. Crumpet said...

It's hard to believe that there was ever talk of Americans sending people to colonize other planets, isn't it?

steve said...

Union Station is a marvel. In the mid-1970s, Amtrak used the old Railway Express building as a station, while Union Station was to be the National Visitors' Center for the Bicentennial. That never really happened. I remember walking through what seemed a ruin in 1978, stepping on plywood over the holes in the floor. Somehow Congress allocated some money to restore it during the 1980s, and it's now the showplace it deserves to be.

P.S. the mannequin's hair is a little short for the '70s, but, then it's probably right for the military then.

Olivia said...

MJ - welcome back to blogging, it's been a long time!


Tea - even in the 90s I remember reading how we were going to seed an atmosphere over Mars and send the 2000s that has definitely taken a backseat to more pressing concerns.


Steve - sounds as if Union Station has undergone a revival much like that of Grand Central Station here in NYC.

Both masterpieces. I am so glad that in the past two decades or so we have focused on renovation, rather than continuing the demolition projects of the 1960s. How many national treasures were lost both here and in the UK in those days.