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I've decided to make this a living collection by including my visit to NASA Goddard and new images from the Kennedy Space Center, but I wouldn't want you to miss my adventures with the shuttle Endeavour on the occasion of its last flight. This event is still a special memory, and I hope more recent followers will enjoy my closeups and personal reflections on the twilight of the shuttle program.
My Own Moment

This is really me, alone with the shuttle Endeavour and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Thursday afternoon at NASA Dryden.

I almost never want to be in photos.  Throughout our #nasasocial  event, everyone else would get their pictures taken, alone and in groups, still and jumping, with every aircraft, logo or souvenir, but I haven't even looked at the group photos (most are on Twitter).  But this moment made me hand someone my camera (bad of me, but I was too excited to even remember exactly to whom), and run to be alone for a final moment with the Endeavour.

We had just come away from visiting inside the SCA, and when we came out, the media were all gone, families all gone, and they had taken away the ropes and barriers.  I've scoured this photo, and there is definitely one other person and perhaps at most hints of two more, but they certainly didn't disturb my solitude.  I've followed the space program all my life, and the shuttle was the centerpiece of human exploration of space for two thirds of my life.  I believe that to move beyond this lone planet must be in the future of humankind; I'm excited about that future, but this also feels to me like the loss of a close friend.

This visit was absolutely a dream for me, and I'm so grateful to +NASA and their Social Media team led for this event by +john yembrick and Lisa Mattox (on G+?) for somehow picking and graciously hosting me; to +Sergey Brin (I try not to bug you here, but one time) for inviting me to try G+ originally when I'd otherwise have stayed a hermit; and to the whole photography community here for inspiring, teaching and supporting my work and my growth over the past year and change.

And because it's what I do, I'll tag a couple of themes as well: #photostorysaturday  with +Dave Beckerman, and #sentimentalsunday  with +Louisa Catharine Forsyth (+Sentimental Sunday Theme).
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Launch!

I was so excited to see my first live launch yesterday, at Vandenberg Air Force Base! This is the +SpaceX Falcon 9, rising through cloudy skies to carry Taiwan's FORMOSAT-5 satellite to orbit.


An early #machinemonday for +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday) and #technotuesday for +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday).

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Firing Line

This is the reconstructed Firing Room from which the Apollo missions were launched, from the Launch Control Center at +NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I love the rotary phones and "big screen" video :-).

I sell prints and other photo products at http://www.alexlapidus.com


For #machinemonday with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); #technotuesday with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday).

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Sweet Ride

Hard to believe it's been over four years since +NASA invited me to Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center for the last voyage of the shuttle Endeavour. I'm looking forward to another visit to NASA Goddard in Maryland one of these days, and hoping to catch a launch, perhaps at Vandenberg, whenever I can get down there at the right time.
#nasasocial   #ov105   #spottheshuttle  

Please come visit all my NASA and shuttle photos at https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+AlexLapidus/albums/5789942580206962769 ; prints and other photo products available at http://www.alexlapidus.com .


For #headsupmonday  with +russ vallelunga (+HeadsUpMondays); #aviationmonday  with +Mike Criss; #metallicmonday  with +Thomas Raschbacher (+#MetallicMonday); #machinemonday  with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); #technotuesday  with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday); #transporttuesday  with +Gene Bowker and +Annie Irving (+TransportTuesday).
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Time Capsule

On this date 47 years ago, we landed men on the Moon, and (later) returned them safely to Earth. The Apollo Project was a dramatic success, set in motion by a challenge to the United States from President John F. Kennedy; I hope we will one day again find leadership that will challenge us to create a great future.

This is an Apollo Command Module, with an entire Saturn V rocket in the background, from the Kennedy Space Center.

My Orlando album is at
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104294083885937159989/albums/6281906444734201505
I sell prints and other photo products at :
http://www.alexlapidus.com


For #machinemonday  with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); #technotuesday  with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday); and a bonus #transporttuesday  with +Gene Bowker and +Annie Irving (+TransportTuesday).
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Best Seat in the House

At least if all goes well! This is Firing Room 4 in +NASA's Launch Control Center for Launch Complex 39, at the Kennedy Space Center. The later Space Shuttle missions were launched from this room; currently it's being reconfigured for more flexibility to support both NASA and private space launches. I'm guessing the console instrumentation might get a bit of an update...

My Orlando album is at
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104294083885937159989/albums/6281906444734201505
I sell prints and other photo products at :
http://www.alexlapidus.com


For #machinemonday  with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); and #technotuesday  with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday).
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The Skies, and Beyond

This is Pad B at Launch Complex 39 of the Kennedy Space Center, where +NASA launched Apollo missions and many of the Space Shuttles. Currently Pad B is being being retooled for the Space Launch System, and a new set of missions beyond Earth orbit, beginning over the next couple of years, while 39A has been leased to +SpaceX for launches with their new Falcon Heavy system.

My Orlando album is at
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104294083885937159989/albums/6281906444734201505
I sell prints and other photo products at :
http://www.alexlapidus.com


For #skysunday  with +Randy Scherkenbach and +Patrick Scherkenbach (+Sky Sunday - Photography Theme); #machinemonday  with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); #technotuesday  with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday).
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The Astronauts' Memorial

At the Kennedy Space Center stands a giant mirror that reflects the sky (and sometimes a flyover by a flock of geese). This is the Astronauts' Memorial, emblazoned with the names of the men and women of the American space program who gave their lives in the attempt to take humankind beyond our lone, fragile planet. The dream is alive.
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Among the Stars

The "tradition," if you can call it that, on +Alien Abduction Friday has always been that They come to us. Perhaps it's time to take the battle to Them -- or is it even a battle?...
Happy #alienabductionfriday !

This is a single image, with no blending or compositing, from the Kennedy Space Center. The (real) space shuttle Atlantis is displayed like this, but only for a moment :-).

My Orlando album is at
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104294083885937159989/albums/6281906444734201505
Prints and other photo products available at ;
http://www.alexlapidus.com


+Alien Abduction Friday is brought to you by the crew of me, +Heiko Mahr, +Jetski, and +Janice Hackney with +Ruby Warrior Terrier, while Captain Irene is on a long term mission, on behalf of the #gplusaliennation  and Others Who Cannot Be Named #owcbn .
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The Future Mirrors the Past

This isn't great Art, just a picture of a thing, but it's a picture of a great thing :-).  Spread out horizontally, you can see the 6.5m diameter main mirror of the +James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), in its manufacturing clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.  It's composed of 18 hexagonal beryllium segments, which would glow a beautiful gold if they didn't have these dark covers over them to protect them (you can see the handles on the covers).

Scheduled to launch in 2018, the JWST has been called the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope -- not exactly a replacement, because its instruments will see farther into the infrared, to study very redshifted objects from earlier stages of the universe.  I had a chance to see it during our shortened #StateofNASA   #NASASocial  event at Goddard; my album from the visit is at https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104294083885937159989/albums/6249511478454458577 .


For #machinemonday  with +Michael Garza (+Machine Monday); #technotuesday  with +Andrew Gregor (+Techno Tuesday).
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