Space

See Neil Armstrong’s space suit at the ballpark

At the U.S. Naval Air Material Center in Philadelphia, a player swings a baseball bat in a B.F. Goodrich Mark IV spacesuit. Courtesy Smithsonian Institution

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum has launched “Apollo at the Park,” a project that will place 15 replica statues of Neil Armstrong’s iconic Apollo 11 spacesuit in major league ballparks across country.

National Park in Washington, D.C. got its statue this week.

Here are the rest of the team parks where statues will appear this summer at part of Apollo at the Park.

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Houston Astros
  • Minnesota Twins
  • New York Yankees
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Tampa Bay Rays

What’s the connection between space and baseball and that photo above? According to the Smithsonian:

In the late 1950s, workers at the U.S. Naval Air Material Center in Philadelphia took to a makeshift field in some interesting uniforms — B.F. Goodrich Mark IV spacesuits. The game was staged as a flexibility demonstration for the spacesuit.  The final score of the baseball game is unknown, but the Mark IV would evolve to become the original Project Mercury spacesuit, a definite home run!

And for stats fans, the National Air & Space Museum offer this:

*A ballpark stadium seat is roughly the same size at the Apollo 11 seat that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sat in for three days on their journey to the moon.

*The Apollo 11 landing site, Tranquility Base, and the lunar area that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored is roughly the size of a baseball diamond.

Airports of the future

What will the airport of the (near) future look like? I’ve got a story in the current issue of AFAR that lays out that scenario.  Here are some of the highlights.

Photo -by Harriet Baskas

Your face is your ticket

Get ready for single-token travel. A facial scan and an initial look at your passport is already all you need at some airports.

Smart(er) security lanes

Time-saving, stress-busting security checkpoints will soon be universal. Improved technology speeds up the bin-loading process and allows TSA officers to scan carry-ons quicker and find bags containing prohibited items in a flash

In-airport delivery

Food and merchandise comes to you, wherever you are in the airport. OTG’s tablet-centered ordering and grocery-style self-checkout lanes are expanding, as are app-powered mobile delivery services such as Airport Sherpa and At Your Gate, already on-duty at the Baltimore, San Diego and Newark airports.

 Where’s my bag?

Lost luggage is a bummer. But more bags arrive as promised thanks to airports that employ tools such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and monitoring apps to track bags from the time they’re accepted at the airport to delivery at the bag claim.

Find your car – and an open restroom stall

High-tech lighting systems guide travelers to open spaces in giant airport parking garages and direct home-bound passengers to lost cars. Airport restrooms are high-tech too, with occupied/unoccupied signals over the stalls and technology that alerts maintenance teams to lavs that need cleaning.

Count on cryptocurrency.

Australia’s Brisbane International led the way by letting travelers pay for purchases with cryptocurrency. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport followed with kiosks that exchange leftover cash for Bitcoin. Count on airports, the first and last city stop for international visitors, to embrace digital currency as its popularity rises.

A nap or a night at the airport

Short-stay cocoon sleeping pods and microhotels from the likes of Minute SuitesSleepbox Hotel, and Yotel offer weary passengers recharging rests inside terminals. For longer stays, look for more full-size airport-adjacent hotels, such as the InterContinental at Minneapolis−St. Paul Airport, opened in July, and the TWA Hotel at JFK International, due in 2019.

Airport cities offer milk, medical facilities and more

No longer ‘just’ transportation nodes, airports are branching out with full-service grocery stores, medical facilities, movie theaters and entertainment centers. The observation deck at Incheon Airport’s new Terminal 2 offers virtual reality experiences, while Singapore’s Changi Airport 10-story Jewel complex (opening 2019) promises the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

Go to Miami – or Mars

 

As space travel and space tourism moves closer to reality, some airports plan to double as spaceports, so travelers can set out across an ocean – or out of this world.

What features are you hoping pop up at the airport of the future?

 

Souvenir Sunday: Kennedy Space Center

Ready to travel into space?  Prepare for the trip at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.

And make sure to bring home souvenirs.

Souvenirs from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

Today is Souvenir Sunday, the day StuckatTheAirport.com takes a look at fun, locally-themed souvenirs you can find when you’re out on the road.

This week’s treats come from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center in Florida.

The giant complex houses the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, an IMAX theater, a Rocket Garden and lots more.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center also has a great gift shops.

Here are some of the favorite items I found, including astronaut pens, t-shirts featuring dogs and cats dressed for space, shuttle key rings, NASA mugs (of course) – and lettuce seeds for when people land on Mars and need to start planting food for the future.

Souvenirs from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

Souvenirs from Kennedy Space Center Visitor CenterSouvenirs from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

Souvenirs from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

Have you been to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center? Tell us about your favorite exhibits- and the cool souvenirs – you found there.

 

49th anniversary of the Moon landing

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon 49 years ago this weekend – on July 20, 1969 – so let’s take a walk back through history with some of the photos and artifacts from that event, courtesy of NASA and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the Moon – courtesy NASA

 

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin with the United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface.  Courtesy NASA

President Richard M. Nixon was on hand in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right) – Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin – aboard the U.S.S. Hornet.  The astronauts were confined in a Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) for 21 days after splashdown on July 24, 1969.  Courtesy NASA.

Souvenirs from space: This Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container (ALSRC) was used to preserve a lunar-like vacuum around samples taken from the Moon and brought back to earth.  Courtesy NASA and Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum.

Interested in seeming more snaps from the Moon landing? NASA and the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum have images from the collection here. 

Airline food that’s out of this world

When astronauts do a stint on the International Space Station they may request and bring along “bonus” snacks and meals for special occasions.

This summer, passengers departing on Lufthansa’s long-haul flights from Germany can “Eat like an astronaut” by ordering one of the dishes, Chicken Ragout with Mushrooms, that the airline’s kitchens prepared for German European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, who set out for the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6.

Keeping in mind the special requirements of space food – i.e. that it will be consumed in zero gravity – Lufthansa says its LSG Group Culinary Excellence Team worked with the European Space Agency to provide six special meals for Gerst and the Horizons mission.

“The collection includes typical dishes from the astronaut’s home region, Swabia, such as Maultaschen and Spätzle,” said Lufthansa in a statement, “In order to ensure that the meals fulfilled the specific health and safety requirements of the mission, the LSG Group team designed them as low sodium and able to maintain a shelf life of two years.”

Not flying Lufthansa this summer? Through late October, the business premier menu on Air New Zealand flights from Los Angeles to Auckland will include the popular vegetarian hamburger called the Impossible Burger.

Courtesy Air New Zealand

“Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants,” notes ANZ, “The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Sounds like space food to me.