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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Astronauts' Beach House

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Author Topic:   Astronauts' Beach House
ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 06-09-2006 12:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting little query from an editor has prompted me to ask if anyone can clear up a question concerning the astronauts' Beach House - the one they still use as a quiet recluse prior to launch. According to "For Spacious Skies," the house was known back in the 60s as the "Life" house (which I'm not doubting, as I've heard it referred to by this name before). It is said in Kris and Scott's book that Life magazine leased the house, yet in a 1992 article written by Mike Mullane for the Smithsonian "Air & Space" magazine there is no mention of Life's involvement in the house. Similarly, there is a NASA site all about the Beach House, but this says that it was originally purchased by NASA, together with several other adjoining houses that were used to house KSC support staff. Does anyone have the correct story?

KC Stoever
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Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-09-2006 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, Colin,

My sense of the "Life house"--ca. 1962 at least--is that LIFE magazine leased a very secluded house on the beach to serve as an astronaut retreat. I know about the time span only because of the Carpenter journals (which for Rene-Scott entries covered late 1961 through spring 1962--so MA-6 and MA-7.

For Aurora 7 LIFE needed the house as a setting for the news coverage it planned around the Carpenter family vigil for the flight. Previous family vigils had taken place in family homes, not at the Cape.

I remember a long, long tree-shrouded private road to reach the place. It was south of the Cape. It may have been the same house Scott wrote about in his journal (and quoted in FSS) in the leadup to MA-6. But I don't know. In his journal entry, made prior to MA-6, it appears to be a crash pad, retreat, and party house. It was stocked with Wheaties and milk and juice.

I think it was for the muckety-mucks to use when they wanted.

IIRC, Chris Kraft mentions the LIFE house (by that name I'm not sure) and even describes its role ca. 1962 in his book FLIGHT--look for his account at the end of his "Man Malfunctioned" chapter, in what I often describe as the "kewl kids tree fort scene."

There might have been two houses, come to think of it.

As for the beach house, it's likely that Gemini- and Apollo-era beach houses were continuations of the tradition, but were altogether different houses. And leased by who knows.

LIFE's waning commercial interest in astronaut family stories suggests that it ceased leasing houses by the mid-1960s.

Kris


[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited June 09, 2006).]

[edited for coherence, June 9, 6:38 pm]

[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited June 09, 2006).]

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-09-2006 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kris and Colin--No, I don't think this is the same "beach house" in 1962 that was used during the Mercury flights. There was another beach house further down on the south-east side of the Cape air station that I recall Life magazine either rented or had a certain long-turn lease.`Let me check on that further, but the Gemini/Apollo/Shuttle-era beach house, designated on the official maps as KB-1699, contained just over 2,300 square feet and was indeed purchased/now currently owned by NASA. I don't know too much about the earlier Mercury-era "beach house," as I believe, that was before my time here on the Space Coast and is no longer a physical or "in use" structure. I'll report back.

ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 06-09-2006 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kris and Ken; apart from being two of my favourite people, I'm enormously grateful to both of you for your thoughtful responses. I had always assumed that the same Beach House was used right through from Mercury to the present day, and though my editor's question can now be answered I'm certainly hopeful that further information on the subject might be forthcoming for the interest of all.

Thank you,
Colin

ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 06-09-2006 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Incidentally, that NASA website on the Beach House is:
http://www.nasa.gov/missions/beach_house.html

or if that won'r open, just type into a search engine: NASA - If Walls Could Talk

[This message has been edited by ColinBurgess (edited June 09, 2006).]

KC Stoever
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Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-10-2006 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Colin,

I visited with Rene Carpenter today and I asked her about the Life house.

She recalls that there were two houses, which Henri Landwirth located and then LIFE magazine leased in the early 1960s. Henri stocked them both with the essentials. BTW, the Carpenters spent Christmas 1961 there and also the week around MA-7. As for your other questions, I can't help much more than that. Will ask Carpenter tonight. [[on edit: Carpenter remembered the Life house but not who leased it.]]

Kris

[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited June 11, 2006).]

eilisk
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Posts: 100
From: London
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 06-18-2006 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eilisk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi all

While reading this thread I went off in search of photos, having never seen any.

This website seems to have some good information, but I'll let our experts comment on that (-:
http://si.ksc.nasa.gov/KSCBHouse/KSCABH.htm

All the best
Eilis

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-18-2006 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Still trying to locate a pic(s) along with gathering more information about the Mercury-era beach house. NBC Space Correspondent Jay Barbree, while at my home a few days ago, was able to shed some light on the topic. The first beach house, as Jay confirmed, was indeed used by Life magazine reporters and photographers throughout the early 1960s. But as he recalls, Jay pointed out that it wasn't located on the south-end of the missile base itself, but rather was near Port Canaveral off the base just south of Jetty Park. Jay and I both believe the house is no longer there, however, we'll keep trying to secure more information. There may even be a file folder with some pics, etc. in one of my many "unorganized" file cabinets that I'll be checking as time permits.

KC Stoever
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Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-19-2006 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See the June 6 [approximate date], 1962, for some pics of the earliest Life house, one of them at least. There are interior shots mostly, and pics of the lawn and beach outside. I have some of the originals and will have to dig them out.

In May of 1962 We looked north to launch pad 14 to see MA-7 posed for launch, a fact that makes me conclude that the Life house in which at least the Carpenters stayed (there were two houses, according to Rene) was well south of the Cape.

SpaceCat
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Posts: 151
From: Florida, US
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-19-2006 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm having flashbacks here.... when I lived in the little town of Cape Canaveral '70-'72 I walked the beach a lot (hoping to meet THE girl- never happened, LOL) and there was one beach house that stood out from all the others because it was obviously older- built on an old reef rock outcropping with a commanding view of the ocean and 'missle row' to the north. Had a very nautical/driftwoody atmosphere to it. I believe it took a pretty heavy beating from storms in later years- last I remember seeing it (early '80's maybe?) it was abandoned- and may be gone now.
Going up for the MITEX launch this Wednesday- will snoop around the old neighborhood.

ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 06-20-2006 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I've already got the answer to my question it's been fascinating reading this discussion as memories are dredged up for many people, and I'm hoping more stories will come from this. Who knows, it might provide an interesting article for someone to write one day (I'm too busy, unfortunately).

Colin

SpaceCat
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Posts: 151
From: Florida, US
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-22-2006 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a great little nostalgic topic- so even though Colin has the answer he was looking for, thought I'd top it off with a 'report from the front,' as it were.....

I've lived about 100 miles downrange for the past 35 years. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, I drove up the coast to catch the Delta 2 MITEX launch.

-after which I took some time to look around the old neighborhood- Canaveral south of Jetty Park. Well, you know how it is when you return to a place after 35 years- at first it's totally unrecognisable, then suddenly you see a building, or a portion of a building that now bears different paint and trim and maybe additions.... but you just KNOW it was important to you once! -Such was the case for a couple Canaveral apartments I lived in during my time at the Cape in the early '70's. The beach house I so admired- and may well have been where you spent that Christmas, KC- is gone with hardly a trace. Canaveral has seen extensive 'beach renourishment' projects over the decades- and the only clue I spotted were some higher dunes at one point which might indicate the old reef rock outcropping underneath. The view north from there:

It would probably be correct to say there are no private beach homes left in Canaveral... like the rest of Florida it has become wall to wall condominiums.
And it's sad to see there is not much left of 'Missle Row' either- only the Delta 2 complex to the left, and the Atlas towers to the right.

From this angle, the old Mercury-Atlas Complex 14 would have been visible just to the left of the existing ( now decommissioned) Atlas Complex 21/22 towers on the right.

[This message has been edited by SpaceCat (edited June 22, 2006).]

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