NASA Launches Solar Orbiter / Students Experience Space Center



By Lexi S.

3… 2… 1… BLAST OFF!

This familiar saying is a tribute to a rocket launch around the country. Many rockets are launched by popular companies such as SpaceX and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) each year, and my family and I were even able to watch one during the summer.

Recently, NASA partnered with the ESA (European Space Agency) and they have taken action to carry a solar orbiter into space. They sent the orbiter to observe the sun by orbiting around it and using many unique tools to learn more about Earth’s most important star. How, you may ask, did they get the orbiter into space? The answer lies within an atlas…

No, not the type of atlas that contains a bunch of random Earth maps. NASA used an Atlas V rocket to carry the orbiter into space. This configuration is the 411 model, and this was the 6th time an Atlas V 411 is launched into space.

The Atlas V was created by the ULA, or United Launch Alliance. The ULA partnered with NASA and ESA to help the Atlas V take the solar orbiter into space.

Something that makes this launch more personal is that this launch happened at our very own Kennedy Space Center. KSC is one of the most popular launch sites, home to businesses like SpaceX. There has been 135 launches from KSC, as well as the site for many landed flights. Many Floridians, as well as others around the world, are excited to see what will happen at launch pads such as 39A and 39B in the future.

Photo by Bill Jelen

Right around the time of the solar orbiter launch, some of Farnell’s own 7th graders took a field trip to Kennedy Space Center to experience what NASA sees and does on a daily basis. One main part of the trip was when all the groups met together and took a tour to the Apollo/Saturn V center to learn about some of the most famed space missions, such as Apollo 11 and 13.

Before the bus tour to the Apollo and Saturn V center, the groups were free to do whatever they wanted. Many visited gift shops, dined at restaurants, and some visited centers such as the Atlantis experience center.

Adriana A. was one student to go on the trip. She says “Seeing the Apollo rocket was my favorite part of NASA.” When we visited the Apollo/Saturn V center, there was the real rocket from one of the Apollo missions hanging above our heads. This is really cool to experience, and can also be a good photo op.

Jack D. also visited NASA. His favorite part of NASA was “eating freeze dried ice cream sandwiches.” KSC provides restaurants with normal food such as burgers and fries, but you can also buy freeze dried ice cream sandwiches from the gift shops. This is one of the many cool souvenirs KSC carries.

This field trip was perfectly timed, as students were able to see the site of a launch that happened a few days later. This Atlas V launch is a very important step in our knowledge of space, as we will see new facts about the most important star to our planet. New space technologies are being created all the time, and new discoveries are made every day. Around the world, people are excited to see what new space information will be found. Who knows, maybe there are aliens out there…

Note: Kennedy Space Center’s next launch is March 6th at 11:50 p.m. Be sure to tune in as they send a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station!