Monday, March 2, 2015

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The Goddard Space Flight Center has a nice, not very large, visitor center where we spent a fun afternoon. What kid doesn't love space? The center includes all sorts of displays, about planets and galaxies, artificial satellites, space ships, and they even have some rockets outside.

Goddard's Visitor Center

J and L enjoyed posing in front of informational displays more than reading them. They have a nice one on the planets and another on galaxies.

The sun's natural satellites

L in the galaxy

Models of various scientific satellites are on display. Probably the most famous is the Hubble Space Telescope, which lets astronomers sees the far reaches of the universe in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. It was launch in 1990 and is still working today.

Hubble Telescope model

A model for seeing into the Hubble (L was not impressed)

Detailed view of the model

A less famous telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope planned to launch in 2018. It will replace the Hubble Telescope and provide imagery in the visual and infrared ranges.

James Webb Space Telescope

Another display shows the International Space Station along with a scale model of the space shuttle. The first bits of the station were launched in 1998. Now it is earth's largest artificial satellite and can be seen with the naked eye on a good night.

International Space Station

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a spacecraft launched in 2009 to map the moon in preparation for further exploratory missions.

LRO model

Orbiter details

The Center also has a moon rock, which was much cooler to me than to the children.

Moon rock

A more fun interactive exhibit is one on solar panels, demonstrating how the proper angle gives more power.

Working the solar panels

By far the most popular exhibit is the life-size replica of a Gemini capsule. The Gemini Program ran from 1961 to 1966 and put crews of two astronauts into earth orbit. L and J were happy to try out the capsule.

J boards the capsule

J pilots the capsule

Capsule controls

Another control panel

The crew of two with plenty of space

L wants out!

Outside are several rockets and missiles along with a planetary rover.

Third stage engine of a Delta Rocket


Tomahawk missiles

Planetary rover

In case you were wondering, Dr. Robert Goddard was a pioneer in rocketry. He made the first successful liquid propelled rocket and developed multi-stage rockets. He died in 1945 just days before the Hiroshima bombing.

Bust of Goddard

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