Space Shuttle Home Nears Completion In Florida

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Atlantis has a new home in Florida that is nearing completion. As the latest Space Coast attraction, the new $100-million home of the historic spacecraft will launch June 29 at Kennedy Space Center. Far more than a place to store the used orbiter, the new facility will offer visitors unprecedented access to what was once highly classified hardware, uniquely displayed.

This unique experience delivers extraordinary access to Space Shuttle Atlantis, positioned as if it were in space as only astronauts have seen it before. Suspended 30 feet above ground and rotated at slightly less than a 45-degree angle, Atlantis will have her payload bay doors open and robotic arm (Canadarm) extended. Visitors will be able to view the orbiter from below or via a raised surrounding platform.

With 33 missions in space to the credit of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the exterior has been left as-is for visitors to see the wear on its protective external tiles. Over 60 supporting and interactive exhibits plus high-tech simulators tell the story of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program and the amazing engineering that transformed the way humans explore space. Prominently featured is the shuttle program’s role in building the International Space Station as well as the launch and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.While the newest attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex, Atlantis is just one feature to be enjoyed by visitors. The Shuttle Launch Experience simulates what it is like to blast off into space. The Rocket Garden features Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space, alongside Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. The Astronaut Training Experience brings visitors realistic astronaut training.

Other exhibits trace the history of America’s space program from its beginning and get into the future of space exploration. Far from a relic of another time and a different NASA focus, the Atlantis exhibit promises to complete an experience that fans of space travel may have only dreamed of until now.

Better yet, the Kennedy Space Center website has a rich array of interactive content including a “countdown until the next launch” timer and an Ask An Astronaut feature that invites visitors to pose questions to those who have actually been there and done that.

About the only part of the space shuttle program that visitors won’t see is an actual launch, but we have one of those for you here in this video:




[Image credit – Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex]

Gear suggestions for holiday weekend trips outdoors

patagonia lightweight travel pack outdoor gear gadlingSummer is in full-swing and with the Independence Day weekend right around the corner, people are planningfor trips to the great outdoors. From hiking to camping, getting into nature is a great way to enjoy the holiday and unplug from your everyday life. However, if you’re going to do it right, you need to have the proper gear. Last year, we set you up with the ultimate camping gear guide. All of those great products are still staples in our collections, but we’ve discovered some new accessories that will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Whether you’re spending July 4th in a tent, on the trail or simply on a picnic in the park, you’ll want to check out our latest outdoor gear suggestions.Packs

If you’ve packed many of your supplies in your daypack, it makes it heavy when it comes time to use it on a hike. Rather than unpack all of your gear and risk losing or forgetting it, it’s easier to have a second pack with you that you can take with you out on the trail. The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack folds into itself when you’re not using it and carries plenty of provisions when you’re ready for a day away from camp. It’s a bit pricey at $79, but it’s durable, sturdier than other packable bags and holds 26L when you’re ready to attack the day.

If all you need is the bare essentials when you go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, then the Black Diamond Flash Pack is perfect for keeping things light. It holds only 9L but it’s hydration compatible, has enough pockets to keep you organized and its low profile will prevent you from snagging a strap on a tree as you barrel through the bush.

Tools

outdoor gear gerber metolius clip folder knife gadlingWhen you need a knife larger than anything on your multitool, you’ll want the Gerber Metolious Clip Folder. It’s big enough to handle tough jobs but small enough to fit in your pocket or clip to your belt while not scaring away anybody you might encounter in the wild. Whether you need to cut some rope or field dress a fresh kill, this knife is a reasonably-priced option for outdoorsmen of any experience level.

We mentioned the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern in last year’s gear guide, but they’ve supersized things with the new Titan Lantern. It’s 250-lumen LED system will illuminate your entire campsite, making cooking a breeze long after the sun has set. Never underestimate the importance of a strong, reliable light.

Apparel

Venturing outdoors requires you to pack layers. If you’re like me, you hate carrying that extra weight in your pack. Thankfully, when it comes to preparing for rain, at least, you can now pack a jacket and not even notice it. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco Wind Shell Jacket is the lightest jacket we’ve ever encountered, yet still manages to be durable, well-made and have strong seals around all of the zippers. It might not pack into one of its own pockets like some other lightweight jackets, but it packs easily and does the job of coats five times its weight.

outdoor gear keen kanyon gadlingShould you pack hiking shoes or sandals? Why choose (or deal with lugging them both around) when you can have two in one with the Keen Kanyon? They dry quickly, are ultralight and provide a closed toe for optimal protection when you’re using them as hikers. The bungee lacing allows for an optimal fit without having laces dangling off of your shoes when you’re out on the trail.

If you prefer a more closed shoe, then the Teva Churn is a must. The breathable mesh still allows you to fully submerge them in water when dragging your canoe onto shore, but you can trust that they’ll dry quicker than most hiking shoes. The fold-down heel also allows you to wear the Churn as a slip-on when you’re back in camp.

No matter what you’re getting into this weekend – and the rest of the summer, for that matter – make sure that your gear is in good shape. If not, replace it with our suggestions and you’ll be set for a holiday away from work and immersed in nature.

What’s your favorite outdoor gear? Share your suggestions in the comments.