Photo Of The Day: Endeavour In San Francisco

photo of the day

This Photo of the Day, “Endeavour in SF – see you in LA!” comes from Gadling Flickr pool member jrodmanjr and is taken with a Canon EOS 7D.

In 19 years of service, Endeavour went on 25 missions, carried 133 astronauts, spent 299 days in space and traveled 122,883,151 miles. Captured here by jrodmanjr is the shuttle’s last journey, which began Monday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will end at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Seen here, space shuttle Endeavour passes over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as Photos of the Day.

Tips for getting featured: include the camera you used along with any other equipment or processing software that might help other photographers know more about your image. Also, captions mean a lot when the image is not one that is easily recognizable … not a problem here for jrodmanjr.

Space Center Adds Up-Close Tours

space center

While Kennedy Space Center will not be launching space shuttles anymore, the 39-acre complex in Florida has not shut down for lack of anything to do. In addition to ongoing space programs, travelers visiting the Space Coast of Florida have some new options with up-close tours, some that were never before possible in the 50 year history of the facility.

“You’re going to be close to where history has been made and will be made in the future with new programs currently under development for space exploration,” Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the center’s Visitor Complex, said in a Los Angeles Times story.

Kennedy Space Center has added new access to previously restricted areas, including Launch Complex 39 where space shuttles and six Apollo missions took off. Called “KSC Up-Close” a choice of three walking, guided tours bring a deeper look at specific aspects of Kennedy Space Center.
In June, Gadling featured the Launch Control Center (LCC) tour that gets visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.

Other tours offered include the Vehicle Assembly Building tour, where visitors are granted access to the secure area, and the Launch Pad tour that goes nearly a quarter-mile within the perimeter security fence of Launch Pad 39-A.

All guided tours are $25 per adult and $19 per child (ages 3-11) plus tax and can be reserved online. Reservations, while not required, are suggested as tours sell out every day.

NASA Space Launch System


Flickr photo by mehul.antani

From the Gadling Archives: Travel smarter in 1982

The following post was uncovered while we were researching our Travel Smarter 2012 series. Deep in our archives, we discovered this article, titled “Travel smarter in 1982,” which was published in the spring 1982 edition of “The Illustrated Gadling Quarterly.” We are republishing it here as a reminder that, though a great deal has changed in 30 years, travel is still pretty tubular. We have updated the post to include links and video when appropriate.

gadling travel smarter 1982 TWA

Travel Smarter 1982

After last year’s air traffic controllers’ strike, this year can only see improvements in the world of travel (unless, of course, stewardesses decided to start pouring less whiskey in our drinks). While the FAA is still hiring and training new air traffic controllers, Americans are returning to the road, now that gas prices are finally normalizing. And, we’re seeing some bitchin’ technology that will make life away from home more comfortable than ever before. It’s 1982 and time to travel smarter!Air Travel

Flying was a total nightmare last year. Flight schedules were dramatically affected by the air traffic controllers’ strike and the industry is still recovering. That said, there’s no need to avoid flying and it’s still a luxurious way to travel.

How else can you travel the globe in comfort while eating delicious meals and watching some of Hollywood’s brightest stars on shared screens? And, as if air travel wasn’t already convenient enough, we’re hearing rumors that a new company, Airfone Inc., is testing out air-to-ground telephone service that could become available on commercial flights as early as this year! Can you imagine calling your friends and family to tell them that you’re a mile above them? No longer will time on a plane be lost time for your business.

For those of you who aren’t fans of all of those cigarette smokers in the backs of airplanes, Muse Air, the first non-smoking airline in the United States, plans to launch this year after being delayed by last year’s strike. It will only operate in Texas (between Dallas and Houston), but its focus on comfort has us believing that it will soon be a major player in the industry.

Road Trips

gadling travel smarter 1982 dodge ariesWith the oil embargo (and its effects on gas prices) behind us, and some people still squeamish about flying because of the strike, America is ready to reignite its love affair with road trips. 1982 should see more Americans hitting the road as gas prices hold steady rather than spiking dramatically, as they have since 1978.

If you’re looking to replace your old gas-guzzler, Chrysler has recently introduced two new “compact cars” that get much better gas mileage than most older models on the road. The Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant are both affordable, fuel-efficient and, of course, sleek. For under $6,000, you and your family can hit the road with money left over for a motel room that has HBO!

Still, with gas prices at over $1 per gallon, people are choosing their road trips wisely. One place that we’re certain will attract visitors is…

Florida

Why will Florida be so popular? Because in 1982, the future is now in the Sunshine State! This year will see the opening of Disney’s EPCOT Center and the third launch of NASA’s new space shuttle program.

EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) is a tourist attraction unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. It’s the 21st century…today!

Guests will be able to enjoy Future World, a look into, well, the future, and the World Showcase, which allows visitors to travel the globe without ever having to leave central Florida! Future World features exhibits such as the Universe of Energy sponsored by Exxon and The Land, brought to you by Kraft. Both attractions look at our environment and how humans, along with massive multinational corporations, keep the planet clean.

The World Showcase features pavilions from nine countries representing such exotic and hard-to-reach locales as Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. One of the nine pavilions is dedicated to the “American Adventure,” which you can experience right here in America! We’re hearing whispers that they will add more countries in the future. Hopefully we’ll be done exploring the Canadian pavilion by then!

Meanwhile, not too far from Orlando, NASA has begun launching their new space shuttles from Kennedy Space Center. Just last year, the Space Shuttle Columbia completed the first two missions of the program. This March, it will launch again with two astronauts on board. Tourists from around the world are expected to converge at Cape Canaveral to watch as the shuttle leaves Earth to explore the great unknown. It’s quite a sight and should be on everyone’s must-see list. It’s your chance to see the beginnings of a space program that could have us colonizing Mars in 20 years!

Technology

One of the advantages of road trips has always been the ability to listen to music along the way. With the radio and cassettes, we have music, news and entertainment everywhere our cars can take us. But what happens when we choose to fly? While in-flight movies can help pass the time, sometimes we just want to listen to our rad tunes. That’s why we’re so excited about the Sony Walkman. The portable cassette player has been around for a few years, but thanks to some competition, the price is finally right for almost any traveler.

You can now find a Walkman for around $25 or $30 and are limited only by the number of cassettes that you want to carry in your luggage. That means that you can afford one for everyone in your family, which should finally put an end to all of that whining from the kids about how bored they are on the plane or in the backseat of the car.

Get going!

There’s a bodacious year of travel ahead of us and hopefully you can take advantage of our tips and suggestions. Head over to your local travel agent, have her find you the best fares and hotels and get out there! Or, load the family into your new car and get down to Florida for a look at the future.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a hot new destination, trust us on this bonus tip: the Falkland Islands are the place to be in 1982!

Top photo of TWA Boeing 767-200 via Flickr user Deanster1983.
Second photo of 1981 Dodge Aries via Flickr user aldenjewell.

The Final Shuttle Launch and the Future of the Space Coast

About 12 hours before STS-135 was set to blast off for low Earth orbit, my friend Rob and I were driving toward Titusville, Florida with a car full of camping supplies and our fingers crossed. The weather was foul, and the chances of a launch were just 30 percent. But we were in Central Florida to see a blast off, and so to the Space Coast we were headed.

Traveling the American Road – The Last Shuttle Launch: STS135


As we know now, the shuttle did take off as scheduled, making its final graceful, powerful arc into the low clouds, punching through the smallest break in the weather on the way to the International Space Station. It was an exciting, historic moment, made bittersweet by the mass layoffs that would follow the shuttle’s landing on July 21.

The economic impact of the program’s end on the Space Coast will extend beyond the pink slips delivered to now-unneeded engineers and shuttle support staff. As one construction worker I met explained, the estimated 1 million visitors that turned out for the final launch will likely never again come to his hometown. Rooms, restaurants and tours will go empty, leaving the tourism business reliant on seasonal fishing trips and historians of the space age who will trickle in, yes, but not in numbers like those seen this July.

Two days after the launch, I visited Kennedy Space Center, where pride in the 30-year history of the shuttle program is enormous–to the point that no one there seemed to have acknowledged its end. A sign reminded visitors that “NASA centers have embarked on a phased program of expanding and updating the space shuttle’s capabilities” and a short film suggested that “Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see a shuttle on the way to the pad today.” While there was no shortage of visitors that day, I wondered how long the attraction of the place would last without a manned spaceflight program and how long the gift shop would continue selling out of STS-135 merchandise.

Driving away from the Space Coast, we stopped for a bite at Corky Bells, a seafood restaurant in Cocoa, Florida, very close to the Space Center. Near the register at the entryway was a doorknob from its original location, engulfed by a fire sparked by Hurricane Frances in 2004. The restaurant moved into its current building, reconnected with its regulars and kept serving heaping platters of fried crabs, clams, shrimp and fish. Lunch was excellent, but without launch-day crowds, will Corky’s weather the coast’s latest storm?

Second-to-last Space Shuttle launch is big tourism draw

Space Shuttle, Space Shuttle Endeavour
Tomorrow’s launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has turned into a major tourist event, the Associated Press reports. NASA estimates half a million people will show up for their second-to-last chance to see a shuttle launch. Other estimates vary from 250,000 to a whopping 700,000. That could rival the crowds that came to see the first Moon mission.

Hotels are sold out and homeowners near John F. Kennedy Space Center are reaping the benefits by renting out spare rooms. Local businesses are also seeing a boom. The AP estimates the launch could pump $15 million into the local economy.

Let’s hope so, because when the last shuttle goes into space this summer, there won’t be any more launches for quite some time. NASA hasn’t finished developing anything to replace the aging shuttle fleet and transport to the International Space Station will be the job of the Russians for the time being.

The Endeavour launch is scheduled for 3:47 EDT tomorrow. It will be mission number 134 for the fleet. The final mission will take place June 28 or later and the honor will go to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

I’m not surprised this is getting so much attention. I grew up with the Space Shuttle and I’ve always wanted to go to a launch. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make it. I’ll be cheering, though, especially for mission commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a crazed gunman in January. She’s recovered enough to be present when Kelly heads for the stars.

I’ve never met Kelly, but I have met Gabrielle Giffords. She’s the younger sister of a college friend and I met her twenty years ago when she was a bright young Fulbright scholar. While I only chatted with her a few times I always had the impression she’d go far. My friend and I drifted apart, as college friends often do, but over the years I always paid attention to Gabrielle’s career. I wasn’t surprised in the least when she became a Congresswoman. And I won’t be surprised if I see her back in Congress one day.

Have a speedy recovery, Gabrielle, and enjoy the launch for me.

[Image courtesy NASA]