Disclaimer:This post was written by a true space-flight enthusiast.
So be aware that some parts of this blogpost might be highly influenced when writing about anything aerospace related.
After the delicious Indian food, the night before (being one of the only healthy meal options on this trip so far) I decided to start my day with a healthy bowl of porridge. Several scoops of chocolate chips still do count as “healthy” right?
Shortly after breakfast we started up the engines, tightened our seatbelts and turned on some old-fashioned country music
– our “Space-Ship” was ready for take-off!
We took Interstate 64 towards Hampton to reach our first scheduled appointment of the day.
Therefore, we had to take the “HRBT” (Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels), which opens-up to a beautiful view. Westwards we were stunned by the silhouette of several huge aircraft carriers stationed at the Norfolk Naval Station. But looking eastwards into the width of the Chesapeake Bay, was also a breathtaking experience on a beautiful day like this. If you are lucky, you might have the chance to also see a group of dolphins swimming here as well.
My Conclusion: Taking one of these very long water-crossing roads and tunnels is definitely a must-see in this area!
After only 20 minutes of driving, we arrived at the NASA Langley Visitor Center (one of the locations that got me truly excited about this trip).
But we got spontaneously distracted somewhere on the way from the parking lot to the visitor center. Of course, we had to check, which stunning offers “Chuck’s Camera Plus” (a small but loaded shop for used camera equipment) provided.
When we finally arrived and entered the NASA Visitor Center, the little “Aerospace-Nerd” inside me got very excited.
Seeing these many Rockets, Space Capsules, Jet Planes and all the flight-proven hardware in one room was definitely a experience of its own.
And there it was: The Crown-Jewel of the exhibition – The Apollo 12 Capsule
The here displayed capsule was launched over 50 years ago and safely took people to the surface of moon for the 2nd time in human history.
It was once combined with its service module (burned up in the earth atmosphere) and the lunar lander which is and will be standing on the surface of the moon for millions of years.
This system was then placed precisely on top of the mighty 101-meter-high Saturn V rocket and accelerated by burning over 2 million liters of propellant during the accent phase.
By the way: Did you know that the Apollo 12 capsule was struck by lightning twice?
Shortly after lifting of the launchpad, whilst blasting through the clouds, lightning hit the rocket during the accent phase!
This caused several systems to fail and could have been fatal for the mission and the life of the 3 astronauts. But the fast reaction of the crew luckily saved the mission.
Due to NASA’s internal covid restrictions, they could not offer us a guided tour. Therefore, we had plenty of time to enjoy the exhibition at our individual speeds. We even watched an interesting 3D movie, which explained the origin of life on earth in a very cinematic way.
After spending our time and money in the NASA merchandise store, the crew of the “VAST spaceship” safely landed back on earth.
But of course, the adventure did not end here!
The next mission was to travel back in time!
For Lunch we went to a local Smokehouse-Diner called: “Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que”
This place is well-known for its delicious food and the unmistakable charm of the 1960s.
But for sure we didn’t “call it a day” right there.
We dared to even travel back further in time. In fact, all the way back to the 17th century!
The College of William & Mary was founded in 1693, therefore being the 2nd oldest University in the United States (behind the famous Harvard University).
It is located within the city of Williamsburg, which, founded in 1632, was one of the first English settlements in North America.
Visiting this place truly felt like traveling back in time to the colonial age.
In fact, the city is a well-preserved place and also a restored historic area. The three cities of Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg are a part of the so called “historic triangle” which attracts more than four million tourists every year.
Even cars are forbidden in this area (which is very unique in the United States).
Walking through the college and the streets of colonial Williamsburg provided a overall immersive experience.
We’ve experienced first-hand, how getting in touch with some of the local “cosplay-settlers” can be. Fortunately, we could effort to pay the jail bail for our most wanted VAST organizer Klaus Magarin.
On our way back to the “VAST-Spaceships” we were spontaneously invited to take a look at the Williams and Mary University’s art department, which we gladly agreed on. Our design students were specially glad about this special opportunity
After this long and exciting day we made our way back to our “home port” near the ODU campus.
(Luckily not on horses
or by rocket power)
Written by Max Häusgen
(Dual Student of Business Administration @Avacon)
– Friday – September 16th, 2022 –