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Museums Kennedy Space Center

Industrial Prismalume fixtures create high-tech look
at Appollo/Saturn V Center, Kennedy Space Complex

The Kennedy Space Center in Florida is home to the largest rocket in the world—the Saturn V, which was part of the Apollo program that sent man to the moon. Previously, the 363-foot long, 6.2 million-pound rocket was displayed in the Rocket Garden outside the Kennedy Space Center complex.

However, the elements were beginning to take their toll, and visitors were sometimes reluctant to spend much time touring the rocket because of the outdoor temperatures and humidity—particularly during the summer.

To preserve this critical piece of American history and to stimulate visitor interest, the Saturn V was moved inside the new 47,250-square-foot Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here, visitors can watch the U.S. space program’s missions to the moon come to life with dramatic multi-media presentations, hands-on displays and actual Apollo flight hardware.

Lighting the Center—which is one of the largest display areas in the world—was a challenge because of the structure’s sheer size. The metal deck ceiling is 64-foot high and crisscrossed with blue bar joists. The building is supported by rows of steel supports.

Designer Robert J. Laughlin, principal, Robert J. Laughlin & Associates, Winter Park, Florida, wanted to install an industrial-type lighting fixture while providing the Center with museum-quality illumination.

“The goal was to create a high-tech environment that would enhance the rocket’s appearance. The lighting had to be crisp, clean and glare-free—particularly since the Saturn V is white. The rocket was refinished before is was placed on display, ” Laughlin described.

Ambient lighting is provided by Holophane Enclosed and Gasketed Prismalume® units with 175-watt metal halide lamps. Luminaires are mounted on the bar joists, installed in pairs with the luminaires in each pair spaced 12 feet apart. A total of 36 fixtures are installed, with the overall spacing at 50 feet from the center of each pair.

The Prismalume units provide 20 percent uplight, eliminating the caven effect that can result from a dark, high ceiling.

“A dark space above the display floor would have given the impression the structure is much shorter,” Laughlin explained. “One hundred percent downlight could also result in too many shadows.

Our objective was to make the Center as light and airy as posible so visitors could experience the facility’s magnitude.”

Because the Center has a number of skylights and perimeter glass on one side, fixtures are equipped with bi-level output control in the form of Holophane’s Automatic Energy Reduction System (AERS) and alternately switched in groups to provide the Center with ultimate flexibility in light control—without installing an expensive dimming system. On very bright days, perimeter luinaires can be turned off entirely.

Light levels in the facility vary, depending on the number of fixtures illuminated and whether they are on full or half brightness.

Light levels are as follows:
All fixtures on, full brightness: 14 footcandles
All fixtures on, half brightness: 8 footcandles
Two-thirds of fixtures on, full brightness 10 footcandles
Two-thirds of fixtures on, half brightness 6 footcandles
One-third of fixtures on, full brightness 5 footcandles
One-third of fixtures on, half brightness 3 footcandles

Fixtures are illuminated 72 hours each week. The Kennedy Space Center is open every day throughout the year, except Christmas.

Laughlin indicated that supplemental lighting is installed near some of the displays, around the rocket, and beneath some of the catwalks.

“With the lighting, we have created an interesting environment,” said Laughlin. “The Apollo/Saturn V Center is beautiful—yet the rocket is still its centerpiece.”


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