Monday, April 25, 2011

Back to the Navy Yards

Meet Neil. He's the new Armstrong in my life--just kidding, "he" is just an empty life-sized replica of NASA's Apollo Era A7LB, created by mad scientist/artist/inventor/CEO of the Brower Propulsion Laboratory, Steven Brower. The A7LB is an upgrade of the A7L, the suit Neil Armstrong wore when he became the first man to walk on the moon.

We're over the moon!

Brower's copy of the A7LB looks incredibly lifelike, and cost a fraction of what NASA spent to manufacture the original. On his Web site Brower describes the suit as having "several layers, and a mechanical and air conditioning system that mimics the actual artifacts, although made in my art-poverty-compromise vernacular. I machined all the fittings and fabricated all the plastic and rubber parts in my shop."

Pictured below is the other Armstrong in my life, no relation to the astronaut. Here he's being forced to demonstrate how this sandblaster doubles as a drink cooler. 

Gouache paintings from the BPL-004 Experimental Outsourcing Mission To China, the LIMPER (Limited Intelligence Marginally Produced Exploration Rover), and other models and inventions, including a karate chopping mechanical arm were on display at the Brower Propulsion Lab open studio that took place on April 23, 2011. It was too crowded to take many pictures, but I did get a shot of BPL's "recycled mugs":

The last time I was in The Brooklyn Navy Yards I wanted to take a closer look at the building in the photo below: BLG 128163-A1. Well, wishes do come true since the Brower Propulsion Lab is also in the The Navy Yards right next door. In its heyday this building was at the center of "America's premier shipbuilding facility," but it's seen better days.

This building consists of many terminals and multiple floors, and spans at least a city block--it's so big my friend Bryan noted it has its own atmospheric haze. The terminals needed to be massive enough to accommodate the ships constructed inside them, for scale the most famous battleship built there, the U.S.S. Missouri, is longer than the Washington Monument.

It had rained earlier that day, and the puddles together with the late afternoon light gave the area a nice glow. BLG. 128163-A1 smelled very musty after the storm.

It's fun to imagine this factory up and running, especially during World War II, when female mechanics and technicians reported for duty for the first time ever. At one time thousands of people worked in this building, today broken glass and inoperable bits of machinery are all that remain.

Here's a view of one of the dry docks with the East River and the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance.

Goodbye Navy Yards. I can't wait to visit again.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Oh, BLG 128163-A1, they named you so poetically!