What Is NASA's Astronaut Beach House?
Astronauts are driven disciplined physically fit and trained to solve complex problems in high stakes situations. But of course sometimes they just want to get away from it all from the press the physicians and the rigors of flight prep. You've gotTa make time to sharpen the saw. But where on earth can these people find a little seclusion? Well M- since nineteen sixty. Three Nasr's kept a bungalow on the East Florida coast closed to the general public. It's been a welcome retreat for generations of astronauts barbecues and bottles signings are cherished pastimes at the hideaway so are fond farewells. Historically this was the last place where many space bound crews got to hang out with their families before launch. Here's the story of the Kennedy Space Center Beach House and Conference Center or the Beach House. For Short Florida. Nasa go a long way back in nineteen sixty one. It was decided that the agency would build a new launch center on Florida's Merritt Island which is technically a peninsula by the way other sites were considered including New Mexico's White Sands missile range. Where the first atomic bomb had been set off sixteen years prior proximity to the Atlantic Ocean gave Merritt Island a strategic advantage. Rockets launched there could streak across the ocean without disturbing populated areas. Latitude was another plus. Florida is reasonably close to the equator. Where Earth's rotation speed is at? Its fastest when you set off a rocket in the sunshine state. The vessel can save fuel by capitalizing on this principle. It's why Merritt Island is now the home of Kennedy Space Center SPACEPORT NASA. Wasn't the first group. Take an interest in this region however the US military had been testing missiles on nearby Cape Canaveral since nineteen forty nine and then came snowbirds education homes and other seaside properties sprouted like daisies and the postwar economy. One piece of real estate was a two story. Beach House constructed in nineteen sixty two really. It was just another wood framed building in the Neptune beach subdivision at first Nessa partnered up with the Army Corps of Engineers to buy the entire development in nineteen sixty three four. Thirty one thousand five hundred dollars which is a little more than two hundred sixty six thousand eight hundred dollars in today's money neighboring houses and the gas station were cleared away but this plain Jane cottage escaped. The wrecking ball situated on government owned land. The Beach House is well off the beaten path in his two thousand six memoir astronaut. Richard Mike Mullane said the place was as isolated as Mars originally called the astronaut training and rehabilitation building. It started out as a home away from home. A place where crew members could get some shut. Eye on overnight stays as the decades past the bungalow evolved into more of a hang out. Spot astronauts could drop by individually or as crew many also chose to take their spouses and families over by design though. This isn't the easiest spot to access the space shuttle veteran Robert Springer who flew missions in nineteen eighty nine and nineteen ninety recalled. The Hannah's crewmates used to borrow the key from an acid staff member. A spontaneous visits were not encouraged. Though a one day payload specialist Samuel Durant's waltzed over with some colleagues but forgot to give the administrators any advance notice on their way back. The group was met by Swat team and guests had to play by the house rules. For example young children were barred from the premises. During astronaut quarantine periods. The House has entertained. Its share of politicians and diplomats. And to this day it remains an active meeting place for government organizations but among. Space History Buffs. This mid-century is remembered first and foremost as an explorers waystation filled with the stories of its tenants. There was the time that springer and a crewmate winter a dip in the ocean only to be met by helicopter full frantically waving airmen. It turned out. The swimmers had gotten a little too close to an enormous gang of sharks unaware of the danger and oblivious to the warning. The astronauts waved back. Don't worry everything turned out fine. Prelaunch barbecues are traditional shortly before his space takes off. It's customary for them to gather with family members of the cottage for muscles and Colm Rotary. Sometimes the guests get dinner and a show former Kennedy space center. Deputy Director James A gene. Thomas witnessed a cause play prank at one of these beach parties. The mission being toasted that day was set to include Franklin Story Musgrave a legendary astronaut. Who happened to be bald just for kicks. The rest of his crew decided to impersonate. Mas Great at this barbecue so everyone showed up with rubber latex sheets on their heads and name tags that read. Hi I'm story. Another longstanding tradition at the Beach. House involves leaving. Your mark. Outgoing crew will sign a wine bottle before they blast off official mission logos usually adorned these mementos by now. Few decades worth of space. Flights have been chronicled on bottlenecks and wine labels now can cabinet display in two thousand sixteen hurricane. Matthew did a number on the bungalow necessitating massive repairs inside and out once. The kitchens bathrooms multiple walls. And most of the second floor had been overhauled. The cottage reopened on July twenty fifth of twenty eighteen. We reached out to the Kennedy Space Center. Which informed us that. The House is not currently being used by any astronaut crews. But who knows? Maybe that'll change in the near future. Nasa does want to quote. Put the first woman in next man on the moon or the twenty twenty four no doubt future occupants will feel mixed emotions at the old beach house most astronauts do along with their loved ones. Donnellan. Mike's wife said in two thousand ten interview with NASA as a spouse. You know you're coming out here to say goodbye and you don't know if it's the last time yet by many accounts. Fear intermingled with excitement from the bungalow visitors have gotten some spectacular views of eager rockets ships ready for launch gleaning from the nearby space center.