Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 1164: Spaceship Earth History

What is it about Spaceship Earth that's so interesting? Why in the world do I like it so much, and how in the world did it get there? After all, an 18-story geodesic sphere doesn't just build itself in the middle of Florida! So instead of just talking about how great Spaceship Earth is again, let's take a second to appreciate it's history...and talk about how great it is. 

Way back before Epcot opened, Spaceship Earth was designed with the help of a well known science fiction writer named Ray Bradbury, who also happened to assist with the original storyline for the attraction that would call the geodesic sphere home. The term "Spaceship Earth," however, came from Buckminster Fuller, who developed the structural mathematics, which many compare to a large golf ball (even I called it that once). If you really want to get technical, it's geometric shape is a derivative of a pentakis dedecahedron, which features each of the 60 isosceles triangle faces divided into 16 smaller equilateral triangles. Each of the 960 flat panels is then divided again into four smaller triangles, which are divided again into three isosceles triangles. So, in theory, there should be 11,520 total triangles on Spaceship Earth. However, some of them don't exist or are only partially there due to structural supports and doors. Instead, the official number is 11,324 full triangles, with some 200 partial panels. 

Gosh, all that math and we still haven't gotten to the actual construction, which took 26 months and 40,800 labor hours. So, in other words, the next time you feel like that lego building your working on will never be finished, remember how long Spaceship Earth took to take shape. Technically, the attraction is two separate structures, with the external shell of the sphere itself and the internal ride system we all know and love. To support the structure, they drove six legs deep into the ground (somewhere between 100' and 160' feet down), meaning Spaceship Earth is almost as tall underground as it is above ground. Oh, and if you've ever wondered how heavy it is, the weight listed on most websites is 15,520,000 pounds. Try fitting that on a scale. 

Inside, Spaceship Earth was originally sponsored by the Bell System from 1982 to 1984, until AT&T took over until 2004. And finally, starting in 2005, Siemens became the sponsor of Spaceship Earth, and continue to do so today. The interior attraction, of course, tells the story of communication all the way from the earliest cave dwellings and far into the future, whether that future be portrayed through audio animatronics like the rest of the attraction or a short video featuring you as the main character. And if you were wondering about the historical accuracy of what you see, just remember that several universities and the Smithsonian were called in to help make the experience historically accurate, and every item is an authentic representation of the time period. 

If you want to know more about the history of Spaceship Earth, here's a fun documentary from 1982! 

Have a magical day!