On this date 5 years ago the space shuttle Discovery first went on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, next to Washington Dulles International Airport, following its final spaceflight. It’s imposing to see staring back at you as you walk into the gallery. The size of the orbiter is massive, especially when you compare it to every other vehicle that has carried humans into space before or since (most of which have some display version, if not an actual vehicle, either at the Udvar-Hazy Center or at the main facility in Washington, D.C.). The Smithsonian has preserved Discovery as it was following its final mission, still with scorch marks on the outside from its final reentry. I was surprised to see that a lot of the exterior is covered in fabric; only the black part is ceramic tile. Both provided the same thermal protection performance. These pictures are from my visit this past New Year’s Eve.
Discovery stares you down as you enter the gallery.
It’s not the biggest plane in the building, but it’s nowhere near the smallest.
I had to step way back to fit the entire orbiter in this picture.
Compare the person standing under the main engines to get a sense of just how huge Discovery is!
These are some of the maneuvering motors on the nose.
Here’s a full-size crop of the previous photo for a detailed look at the tiles. While capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, they’re actually very fragile and can be broken just by someone touching them. The lining between the tiles is felt, which is the source of most of the scorching you see.
Looking down the starboard side of Discovery from my eye level. I’m 6 feet tall (roughly 2 meters), for an idea of the size.
This is a full-size crop of the previous image. Notice the difference between the part covered by fabric and the part covered by tile.
For more on Discovery’s transfer to the Smithsonian I highly recommend the documentary Shuttle Discovery’s Last Mission. It still shows on TV sometimes (I saw it by chance a few weeks ago), or is available on Netflix.
I’m wearing this shirt and hat today, and they’re very special to me; I got them on this day in 2006, when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup:
I didn’t just get these that night, I was in the stands watching the team win. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, something I’ll always remember. That was easily the best $120 I’ve ever spent. Just getting those tickets was something I was proud of. (more…)
We tend to think of America’s Founding Fathers as all being old men, but some of them were definitely on the young side. Todd Andrlik took the trouble to compile a list of how old various players on both sides of the American Revolution were when the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. While Ben Franklin was 70 and Samuel Adams was 53, George Washington was only 44 and John Adams was just 40. King George Ⅲ was just 38. The youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence appear to have been just 26 years old: Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge, although the list doesn’t indicate whether or not they actually signed on July 4, 1776 or were among some of the people who added their names later. Still, our perspectives seemed to have been shaped by how these men looked when their portraits were painted years later, not how they looked during the Revolution.
In college I kept a blog for a while. Eventually it fell by the wayside as college got busier, I started working outside of college, and then I graduated and focused on my job and other pursuits. I’ve taken a look back at my original blog posts (I may at some point add some or all of them back in here for archival purposes) and in my original post I stated why I started blogging in the first place:
Often I will see or experience something that I want to share with people, but for some reason or another there is no one to share it with. This blog gives me a place to relate these experiences, share interesting (to me at least) links and stories, or ramble on with a thought or something like this.
Over the years Facebook and Twitter filled that role for me, particularly as we got smartphones and sharing more content in the moment got easier. I still plan to share that content here, but I’ll also show off some of the more creative things I’ve done. I’ve had the opportunity to do some interesting things both professionally and as a hobby and it’s nice to finally be taking some time to share those with other people and show off a little bit. Things have changed a lot with the Internet and WordPress since I started blogging (my original blog was also on WordPress), and I’m excited about the things I’ll be able to show you.