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Zero-G tour Florida April 2012

The trip was to take place in April 2012, and here is the report, with a quite surprising end:


The approach to Orlando was already dominated by thunderstorm clouds. These would earn an unfavoured reputation later on...

Thunderstorm clouds on the approach to Orlando

Beach behind the hotel

Our hotel was the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, which has a nice and quiet location on the Atlantic shoreline, with access to a wonderful sandy beach.

Hotel Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, our domicile for the duration of the tour, seen from the beach

View out to the sea

Kennedy Space Center

Our first visit was dedicated to the Kennedy Space Center, which 2012 celebrates its 50th anniversary. To this occasion we received a membership in the Commander's Club from our tour operator. Included in this membership is a whole year of free entry to the KSC.

The ISS as a wall painting

The compulsory picture with the NASA logo

Explorer 1, the first US satellite

Original flown Gemini spaceship

Gemini EVA suit with repulsion gas pistol

Apollo EVA suit

The rocket garden, lying horizontally the Saturn 1B

The Mercury spacecraft was this small!

The Goddard rocket, the first flown liquid propellant rocket in the US

Replica of the Mercury control room

Original flown Mercury spaceship

Moon buggy to try out, with our team

All NASA rockets till Saturn V, true scale models

After the KSC visit we had a quick look at our zero-g aircraft on the local airport in Titusville, a Boeing 727, which which we would fly the next day.

Astronaut training and (planned) zero-g flight

Then the big day had arrived, in the morning we were scheduled for an astronaut training, and in the afternoon the zero-g flight would take place.
At the beginning we heard a presentation from astronaut Bob Springer about his missions and spaceflight in general, then we were shown the Space Shuttle simulator and the mission control room.

Group picture with astronaut Bob Springer in front of the Space Shuttle simulator in the training facility

In the commander's seat in the Shuttle simulator

At the zero-g wall, in reality this is a simulated descend from the lunar module with a device that reduced the effective body weight to 1/6th.

Overview over the training facility with zero-g wall and multi-axis trainer

group picture in front of the zero-g aircraft

Our team only

Of course we knew that the pilot's decision was for our safety. It was nevertheless a bitter disappointment, we were looking forward to weightlessness so much. Yet we decided immediately that we would repeat this tour, to finally experience weightlessness in November.

You find the travel report from November right here.

Then we did a simulated Space Shuttle mission, completely from take-off to landing, including a satellite deploy in "flight". We also got to try out the zero-g wall and the multi-axis trainer. At the end of the training we were given the certificates for the successful participation in a ceremony held by Bob Springer.
After that we had our date with the zero-g aircraft.

Robotic arm station in the Shuttle simulator

Middeck lockers

Real zero-g is a lot different, as I know from previous experience!

The multi-axis trainer in action. During the times of Mercury the astronauts had to stop a similar device by means of a control stick. We rode a simpler version without this feature.

Group picture in the aircraft

Sadly this was the last picture inside the aircraft. After a last short briefing we laid down on the floor, we heard the announcement "one minute" and were waiting for the pullup with its 2 gs and the following parabola. But there were no parabolas. Instead we were ordered back to our seats. The previously collected shoes were given out again and we were told that outside the flight conditions were unfavourable for flying parabolas. The pilot could not see the horizon and therefore he cannot perform zero-g maneuvers, since they require visible flight conditions.

The thunderstorm clouds (I mentioned them at the beginning - remember?) were reaching too high and were too widespread for us to escape them anywhere within our flight area.

Launch pads and the Saturn V

Shuttle simulator near the Vehicle Assembly Building

Space Shuttle main engine, upper part

Zoom to the launch pad of SpaceX

Pad 39B (already disassembled, left) and Pad 39A, the former Apollo and later Space Shuttle launch pads

Crawler transporter for the transport of the Space Shuttles to the launch pad

Origional Apollo mission control room

The Saturn V in life size

Saturn V third stage

Apollo spaceship with escape tower

The astrovan

The Lunar Module

Apollo flight suit, as worn inside the Apollo spacecrafts on the moon flights.

EVA suit as worn on the moon, with over-boots and helmet.

The bald eagle nest of the KSC (tree in the middle background), to date it survived all hurricanes.

Since sitting around with sad faces does nothing good, on the next day we visited the launch sites and the Saturn V as a conclusion of our trip.

Space Shuttle main engine

View of different launch pads. In the middle of the picture there is the launch pad of the private company SpaceX.

Pad 39A, from which almost all Space Shuttles launched.

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the biggest building in the world, and to the right there is the launch tower of the never finished Ares rocket.

The launch platform of the Space Shuttles, the space beneath is where the crawler transporter would go to carry the platform to the launch site.

Saturn V first stage engines

What the press had to say about the first moon landing

Apollo Command Module

One of the ubiquitous vultures of the Kennedy Space Center

The astrovan for the transport of the suited-up astronauts to the launch tower

Inside the Lunar Module

Moon buggy with equipment

On the private launch observation lounge, where the family of the astronauts would watch their loved one's launch, with our tour operators Michaela Pannes (left, standing) and Thomas Kraus (right, standing).

and then we had to say goodbye... until next time in November

Sunrise on the day of our departure

A last group picture in front of our tour bus (left to right: Ernst, myself, our tour operator Michaela Pannes and Birgit)

Many thanks to our tour operators, who always managed to motivate us again, despite the scrapped weightless flight.
Furthermore we can use our free entry to the Kennedy Space Center once again!

Zero-G trip November 2012

European Space Tourist (german)

Zero-G Corporation