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I've liked the space program since I was a young child -- I have pictures of the cake from my second birthday, with a rocket and astronauts on it.
I never got the chance to see a Saturn V move on its own. Piecing together information I remember as a child with facts I know as an adult, the closest I ever came to seeing a Saturn V launch was Apollo 17. I had just turned five, and I was going to be able to stay up late to watch the launch (which would have been around 8:30 pm). Unfortunately, there was a hold and my parents sent me to bed.
Since Kennedy moved their Saturn V into a building years ago and Johnson just finished putting a building around their Saturn V last year, I figured that this would my last opportunity to see a Saturn V move. Ever since attending the groundbreaking last year when I spoke with Larry Capps (CEO of the USSRC) and he said that the move was expected to take only three or four days, I knew I had to be there for it.
I used the "contact us" link on the website to get periodic updates on the move; eventually, the move was set for July 10-13, with the Saturn/Apollo Reunion scheduled for July 13.
I got a bit of a scare in the middle of June. I check the webcams every morning. One morning I saw that the service module/SLA combination had been moved to the lot behind the Saturn V Center. I half expected that the contractors would slip on their schedule and wind up moving it late -- I never expected that they'd move it early! I tried emailing my regular contact, but she didn't respond in her usual prompt manner.
I called the USSRC's main number and was forwarded around from one person to another ("Someone told you I'd know something about the Saturn V move? No, not me. Maybe try..."). Eventually, someone told me to try "Cliff" and gave me his extension.
I got through to "Cliff." He was very friendly and we chatted for a good 15 or 20 minutes, both about the Saturn V move and about space artifacts and the USSRC in general. He told me that they'd moved the SLA so that they could make site improvements necessary to move the first and second stages, and assured me that the move would not take place until July 10. After I hung up the phone, I Googled "Cliff," only to find out that he was Cliff Broderick, COO of the USSRC!
So, we drove down to Huntsville on Monday July 9 so that we could see the Saturn V in its "pre-moved" location one last time. There were a couple of people working on the Saturn when we got there, and a number of folks in business attire were there observing. One of the fellows had a "Cliff Broderick" ID badge, so I began to introduce myself, saying that I was from Wisconsin and had spoke with him about three weeks earlier. Before I could get my name out, he said, "You must be Mike."
I was soon to find that this sort of "southern hospitality" is indicative of the staff at the USSRC.
The SLA, as mentioned above, had been moved. The S-IVB was on a "Kamag," basically a very large flatbed truck. Sitting on the Kamag, the S-IVB reminded me of nothing so much as a float in a Fourth of July parade.
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