NASA Extends Holiday 'Greenings' to Santa Claus
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is putting a little more emphasis this year on the "green" part of the traditional red and green colors for Santa Claus' flyby of Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 24.
Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility, with its 15,000 feet of runway nestled in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, should be a familiar sight along the Space Coast for Santa. Like many other government agencies, NASA grants Santa permission to fly over Kennedy's airspace during his globetrotting flight, so there will be no mistaking mistletoe for missiles.
Kennedy is becoming more environmentally friendly and is happy to show off the center's green spaces to the jolly old fellow this year. So for one night, the LC-39 area temporarily will become the SC-39 area -- as in the Santa Claus-39 area.
It is obvious St. Nick is no stranger to using an alternative-fuel vehicle. He has been using reindeer-powered propulsion, or in NASA acronym terms RPP, for centuries. But if Dasher or Comet need a little rest while traveling over Central Florida, Santa might consider borrowing one of Kennedy's more than 900 alternative-fuel vehicles. Perhaps he'll get behind the wheel of an electric car, which can travel about 100 miles for less than $2.00. The center is planning to have its entire fleet of automobiles running on substances other than gasoline within a decade.
If Santa is looking to expand his toy workshop at the North Pole, he might want to adopt some green principles from the construction folks at Kennedy. Five facilities are qualifying for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification. The Life Support Facility already earned silver certification, and the Propellants North Facility is expected to receive the highest rating, platinum, when it is complete next summer. There are about 145 platinum-rated facilities in the United States with only one other in Florida. The green features at the Propellants North Facility will include high-efficiency walls, a roof constructed of recycled metal covered with a rainwater harvesting system to supply restroom fixtures, air conditioning with energy recovery technology, and landscaping that will use native species and recycled crushed crawlerway rock for mulch.
Even though Santa will be flying by the light of a half-moon Christmas Eve, he will get to see for the first time Kennedy's new solar power facilities. A one-megawatt solar farm inside the center has been supplying the spaceport with clean, renewable energy for several months. A 10-megawatt facility outside Kennedy's gates along State Road 3 is set to be complete in the spring and will supply electricity to Florida Power & Light customers. There are even plans to increase that solar farm's generating capacity to 100 megawatts.
If Santa has any plastic milk jugs he wants to recycle after visiting houses and eating cookies in the area, he can take advantage of Kennedy's growing recycling program. In 2009, employees collected about 496 tons of office paper and cardboard, 1,364 tons of metal, and 15 tons of plastic, glass and aluminum. Also, about 30,000 tons of recycled concrete was used in this year's NASA Causeway seawall repair project. The proceeds from recycling activities are used to fund additional recycling, green purchasing and pollution-prevention efforts.
In case anyone gets concerned Santa will be so influenced by seeing all the eco-friendly and recycling initiatives at Kennedy that it will affect his present-giving strategies, NASA officials are confident Mr. Claus will not start "regifting."
For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy
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