Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cosmosphere, 2017: Part 8

If you haven't seen the previous segments, follow the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7.

When we left off, we had seen everything through the German Wall.  We were now ready to head outside to the Titan Rocket Pit.  But first, we need to refresh ourselves

with Korolev and his mighty rockets

and this authentic RD-107 rocket engine.

In the mid 1950s, the Soviet Union dug a deep pit in central Asia where they tested Korolev's R-7 rockets.  The U.S. desperately looked for this launch site, and they sent Frances Gary Powers to find it in his spy plane.  Unfortunately, he was shot down before he photographed the site.

Keeping the launch site secret was a big priority for the Soviets.  It was the equivalent of the U.S. proving grounds at Cape Canaveral.

The R-107 rocket engine was designed by Valentin Glushko, a bitter rival of Korolev.  However, Korolev needed Glushko's expertise on rocket engines to run his rockets.  Because these two men were such bitter rivals, they actually crippled the Soviet spaceflights.

I wanted to know more about this rivalry, so I went looking for answers.  In 1974, following the successful American moon landings, Leonid Brezhnev decided to cancel the troubled Soviet program to send a man to the Moon.  He put Glushko in charge of all spaceflight.

According to Encyclopedia Astronautica:
Once in charge, Glushko consolidated the Soviet space program, moving Vasily Mishin's OKB-1 (Korolev's former design bureau), as well as other bureaus, into a single bureau.  Glushko's first act, after firing Mishin altogether, was to cancel the N-1 rocket, a program he had long criticized, despite the fact that one of the reasons for its difficulties was his own refusal to design the high power engines Korolev needed because of friction between the two men and ostensibly a disagreement over the use of cryogenic or hypergolic fuel.
This plaque tells and shows the stages in which the first Sputnik was launched.  First, Korolev's R-7 left the launching pad, with Glushko's R-107 engine attached to one part and his R-108 attached to another part.  Once the R-107 had used all its fuel, it detached and fell back to earth landing in the Asian desert.  The R-108 took the rocket into orbit, and once the fuel was used, it, too fell to earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean near Japan.  Once it obtained orbit, Soviet propaganda revealed that it was the first unmanned test of a spacecraft.  As mentioned on the plaque, this sent shock waves through the U.S. space program.  It took less than 15 months for the Soviets to put a man in space.

In 1947, president Harry Truman approved construction of a missile base at Canaveral.  The first rocket launched  was a modified V-2, designed by von Braun.  Although the U.S. kept these missile launches secret, tourists, orange growers, and fishermen in the area were well aware of what was going on. 

In late 1957, Vanguard I was the first rocket launched from what was now being called Cape Canaveral's "spaceport."  It's the one that blew up on the launchpad with the entire world watching.  With Werner von Braun's modified Redstone, Explorer I was the first rocket launched by the U.S.  That was the beginning of the Mercury era.

An authentic (flown) Mercury Redstone rocket sits outside the Cosmosphere as shown in this photo I grabbed from the internet.  We saw how the first Mercury-Atlas Redstone (Mercury-Redstone I) blew up less than a minute after launch and traveled a mere four inches (100 mm).

The Cosmosphere has the remains as I showed in part 7.  Surprisingly, this failure led to the next generation of rockets, which was when von Braun created the increasingly more powerful Saturn rockets.

There were lots of rules we had to follow as we enter the Blockhouse.  The first one was a mere 400 ft. (4000 meters) from the launch pad.  When the first blockhouse was built, rocket control circuits used direct current (DC) over copper wires. Due to the resistance of the wires, the voltage to the controlled relays and switches on the rocket was limited to the distance between the control point and the rocket itself.

The walls of the first blockhouse were two feet thick, and the dome-shaped roof varied from approximately five feet thick along the edges to nearly eight feet directly overhead.

I caught my friend Scott taking a photo of the monkey pod in which Mercury-Redstone 2 carried Ham the chimpanzee.  More on this later.  However, if you look carefully at the blockhouse imagery, apparently "Failure IS an option."

I had to skip around because there were so many people also trying to take in the rest of the museum before it closed.  On the right, you see the blockhouse windows.

This is an air supply tank model found in the blockhouse.

This shows the testing of the first successful U.S. spacecraft, which was known as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM.  It was designated Mercury Atlas I.

The Mercury-Redstone I actually came before the Mercury-Atlas.  It was borne out of WWII, and was nicknamed the  "American V-2."  It was designed by von Braun.

This shows the various Redstone Rockets, and the "Four Inch Rocket," the first Redstone that blew up on the launch pad.

Finally an interactive exhibit.  You could press the red buttons and see the various lift-offs from the blockhouse of each of the Mercury launches.  It was what they looked like from the person viewing it from the blockhouse.

Definitely not the best photo in the world of the capsule that took Ham, the first of three monkey's in space.   The enclosed capsule held the monkey in a specially designed chair inside the hard case.

Some of you will remember I told you about Dr. Randy Chambers who sat on my dissertation committee.  He told us these same types of cases he and his team designed, were first used to test bears that he and others pushed out of high altitude airplanes prior to any space mission.  At a certain height, parachutes were deployed and the bears, just like Ham in space, were returned safely to earth.   No bears were ever harmed in the testing.

In later years, Chambers continued to argue that IF the hard bodied capsules had not been scrapped in later flights, all the members of the doomed Challenger that exploded shortly after take-off years later would have survived.  He had seen data that showed they had survived the explosion, but died as they plummeted to earth.

On the left is an Atlas mixing fuel tank and on the right is an Atlas engine.  Both were authentic and flown in space.

In the course of no more than a few feet in this room, we went from the 1950s Mercury unmanned ICBMs to the manned Gemini-Titans of the mid to late 1960s.  Note the blockhouse has been replaced by a huge mission control room.

After launching nine other Titan rockets, NASA engineers finally discovered a problem during take-off.   After reviewing the other launches, they determined the problem was not significant.  Thus, ignorance truly was bliss.

It was now time to venture outside to see an authentic Titan rocket that had flown in space.  Talk about making a person feel small!

The rocket is genuine, but the pit it sits in is a reproduction.

I could have climbed much higher, but was wearing a very loose fitting dress, and was a bit afraid of exposure in the event someone else came out at the same time.

Back inside we stepped back into the 1950s again.  I'm not sure who designed this area, but the layout was so convoluted and jumped from era to era so quickly, you soon got quite confused unless you were a space history buff.

Flying in the Freedom 7 capsule aboard the Mercury-Redstone 3, Alan Shepard was the first American in space in May, 1961.  However, he was not the first human in space.  That role went once again to the Soviets five months earlier.

You don't need to speak or read Russian to understand the Soviets beat the U.S. into space again, this time with the first human.

In April, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.  His Vostok spacecraft completed a 108 minute orbit of the Earth.

He became an international hero

and won many honors before he was killed in a MiG training jet he was testing in 1968.

Once again, the Soviets were first and were all too quick to let the world know it.

As much as I would love to finish this before the end of the month, I don't want to overload you with too much information and facts.  I think this is a good time to stop.

Thanks for joining me today in this next installation of the Cosmosphere.  When we take up the venture again, we will see the Vostok (a genuine back-up) that Gagarin took into outer space, along with other artifacts from behind the Iron Curtain.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I've been wanting to play with Valerie and Chrissie at Tag Tuesday for weeks.  When Wendy picked Texture as the theme

I knew I simply had to play.

Wendy suggested such items as fabric, ribbons, and yarns.  So I dug in my fabric and fiber drawers and came up with this.

The sewing kept the fibers, hem tape, and knitted yarn in place. 

For this piece, I started with a die cut tag, to which I added various fibers, hem tape, knitted yarn, a punched and stamped circle, a sandwich pick, and variegated thread.  For the tag tie, I wanted something unusual, so used a recycled twist tie that I'd removed from my new monitor cord.  I really hope I find time to make more of these textured tags before time runs out.

But I was very unhappy with the scan, so decided to see how different it would look photographed.

To say it made a difference is like calling the Queen Mary a rowboat.  My scanner couldn't compare to this photo.

Even the close-up provided truer colors.

The texture in the knitted bottom was so much clearer, too.  I hope you agree.

Thanks for visiting me today, and thanks to the wonderful artists at Tag Tuesday for sharing their texture tags.  I hope to see you there, too. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Go Fish! (a three-fer)

I finally found a bit of time to create some art for three challenges.  Today I'm joining Art Journal Journey, Moo-Mania and More, and Try it on Tuesday with this piece that came together after I saw how well each challenge fit together.

I call it Go Fish!  It's a play on a card game of the same name.

We'll begin with the bubbles expelled by the fish (yes, you must use your imagination) because these bubbles contain letters and numbers which is the theme this fortnight for Try it on Tuesday.

The fish are the main focus of an underwater theme, Moo-Mania and More's challenge this fortnight.

And finally, the circles are Rosie's theme this month's host at Art Journal Journey.

Materials used include heavy white cardstock painted with watercolor crayons.  To that I added small circles made from a Martha punch and colored, and a large circle punch I colored in a different blue watercolor crayon.  The fish and most of the fish bubbles were stamped, although some had sticker numbers added.

Thanks so much for joining me today, then please join me at Art Journal Journey, Moo-Mania and More, and Try it on Tuesday

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Keepers of the Plains

Some of you saw a Keeper of the Plains I showed during a T Stands For Tuesday post a couple of weeks ago. 

This is the actual Keeper as it is lit by a ring of fire (a nightly event).  It was created by Blackbear Bozen, a Native American, in 1974 and placed at the confluence of the Big Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers.  

It is a large (44 feet/13,41meter) metal (steel) sculpture.

Back in 2014, there was a contest in which artists were juried.  At the time, I thought there were to be 10 Keepers.  I've since learned there are currently 19, but 25 were originally ordered.  According to Together Wichita:
Keepers on Parade is a public art project proudly brought to you by Together Wichita. Ten feet tall fiberglass Keeper of the Plains replicas were painted, adorned and magically transformed by local artists.
This is what they looked like before anything was added.

I also learned they are all around town.

This is the first Keeper I found.  I took this photo from the car as we were leaving the zoo in November, 2016.  Not the best picture, but I had to rush because they had just unloaded it.

This is the second Keeper I found.  I stumbled onto it accidentally.

The rest I found on the web.  As I find them in real life, I will update my blog.  Until then, these are the ones I've found on the web.

This one sits on the campus of Friends University.

These were on display at the Indian Museum

before being placed around town.

This one was a progress report on a zentangle blog.  The woman was creating zentangles on the Keeper, but the blogger didn't give the artist's name or anything about her.

I was unable to download the ones from Together Wichita, so if you want to see them you will have to go here.

Thanks for joining me today as I take a break from the Cosmosphere photos.  They have begun to get a bit overwhelming and they don't seem to create much interest for the incredible amount of time I spend documenting them.