Stennis Space Center, Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi

Stennis Space Center is one of the grand NASA major centers going back to the days of Apollo. Here is where engineers and technicians assemble and test fire huge rocket engines, and do a lot of booster research and development. In the grand days of the Moon Race, this is where NASA and contractor folks assembled the first and second stages (S-IC and S-II) of the huge Saturn boosters, prior to putting them on a barge for the trip to Cape Canaveral.

Unfortunately, Stennis remaned closed for repairs due to Hurricane Katrina at the time of my brief visit in December 2005. The only accessible display is a replica Lunar Module - nicknamed "Lem-on-a-Stick" - outside the ticket stand. The tours actually begin at an Interstate Highway 10 rest stop/Mississippi Welcome Center, where this vehicle mock-up sits atop large metal poles some 8-10 meters off the ground.

Here's the curious thing about the display: nowhere do you see the expressions "LM," "LEM," or "Lunar Module!" The single informational marker (image: left) calls the vehicle "Lunar Lander" and "Lunar Lander Vehicle (LLV)!" I find it very surprising that NASA Stennis and the State of Mississippi didn't bother to call this spacecraft by its name. To add a bit more error - the leftmost image, showing the Apollo 11 Eagle ascent stage returning from the Moon, is printed negative-reversed (you can tell because the bulging asymmetrical propellant tank is on the wrong side).

(More to come when Stennis reopens)