Monday, January 26, 2009

If You Turned Your Back on the Ocean

And if you turned your back on the ocean, here is what you saw.

On the other side of the dunes was the beach house, painted yellow with a deck wrapping around from east to north.

To the southwest, in the distance, was Complex 40, where they used to launch Titans but which now hosts a Falcon 9 standing beside a skinny gantry flanked by four tall lightning suppressors.

Further beyond that, far in the distance on the far side of the Banana River, was the Vehicle Assembly Building, where they stack the rockets, standing so tall above the marshes that it's hard to imagine that the stars on the flag painted on its side are six feet across.

To the northwest, was Complex 41, where they still launch Atlases, although the pad was empty, the four lightning suppressors pointing skyward without any rocket to protect.

Further north, was Complex 39B, with a Shuttle standing next to the gray gantry, the orange tip of an External Tank just poking up over the steel superstructure and one white Solid Rocket Booster standing at its side, if you took the time to concentrate.

And beyond that, yet further to the north, was Complex 39A, where they will eventually be disassembling the second Shuttle gantry and preparing the place for Constellation with brand new lightning suppressors so tall that they seem to stand next to the pad 39B water tower from that angle, even though it is well to the north.

Spread out among the vast plain of stunted trees and sandy growing undergrowth oblivious to everything but the sun and the wind and the sky, that is what you saw if you turned your back on the ocean.

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