|Natalie's Final Mission - an Unforgettable End to the Anderson Space Center Dynasty|
Bon Voyage Natalie Anderson, Notre Dame de l'Odyssée
It was a sad goodbye on Saturday to Odyssey Set director Natalie Anderson. After nearly 9 years working in many ships, it was time for Natalie to surrender her Odyssey Set Director microphone to Nathan Young and, with a stiff upper lip, walk away. "Life is going to get really busy. It is time to retire," Natalie explained. "Time to let the younglings take the stage and prove themselves."
|March 7, 2015. Natalie Becomes an Odyssey Flight Director|
The Odyssey docked at 3:00 P.M. The crew departed leaving Natalie with her small crew and multiple visitors reminiscing in the ship's Control Room.
In parting, Natalie left this letter addressed to the multitude of volunteers she's had the privilege of working with over the years.
It is with a heavy heart that I leave the Space Center. But before I do, I wanted to offer a word of parting as a sort of closure for the many years I spent there. I have two stories to tell. I started volunteering in 2009, nearly 9 years ago. I was 11 years old and bright eyed and bushy tailed. My favorite ship has always been the Odyssey and will always be the Odyssey in whatever incarnation she will be in. Very soon, I realized that it was impossible for me to become an Odyssey flight director. There were 5 flight directors in it at the time. So I shifted my focus to the Phoenix and started working towards flying her instead. Dave Daymont even started to train me in secret before I turned 15. Then the Space Center closed in 2012 and I thought that would be it. Even when it reopened I thought that I would never return. I had decided that my life would go in a different direction. But when my brother came home from his mission he brought me back and had me play Rool in Intolerance. The bug bit me and suddenly I was thrust back into the whirlwind that only the Space Center provides. I soon was supervising and then flight directing and eventually became the Set Director of the Odyssey. Five years ago I never would have thought that would have been possible. Now I’m moving onto other things with my life but I’ll never forget my experiences. That is the end of the first story and the moral is this: Never give up on your dreams. If you want something, go for it, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem. Anything worthwhile in this life requires effort. It can be hard. It can be excruciating. But it is worth it. Do the best work you can do, give it all you’ve got, and you’ll eventually find success. Passion can make up for a lot of things.
The second story is very personal. Some of you may know this, but some may not. When I came to the Space Center it was actually mostly for an escape. All of us do it, in some form or another. We escape from school work, from family struggles, from real life and thrust ourselves into a world of fantasy. We can be other people for a while, be in places far away from our troubles. My struggle was with the impending death of my father. When I was 6 he was diagnosed with cancer and every year until his death there was the fear that it would be his last.
As a camper I delighted in the wonder that the Space Center gave me. I came every year. When I started to volunteer I came every week, sometimes multiple times. Anything I could do just to get away from the terrifying prospect that my dad had cancer. However, it wasn’t perfect. As a volunteer I wasn’t very outgoing, and I was very naive. Shortly before the close of the Space Center I decided that I would stop volunteering because I was being bullied in the place of my refuge. Two weeks after my decision it was announced that the center was closing and no one knew that I had quit. When Alex came home he pressured me to come back and I didn’t want to because of those experiences. Luckily, I came back. And when I did I was welcomed with opened arms. My escape and refuge had returned. I came to the Space Center looking for an escape and instead I found a family. Not one to replace the one I had, but another one who took me in. And this family supported me during the hardest time of my life. My father succumbed to his cancer two years ago and I felt so much love from my Space Center family. That’s the end of my second story. Here’s what I want you to take away from it: Be kind. It doesn’t take much to be kind to another person. It doesn’t take much to be a friend and to make other people feel loved and valued. I hope that I’ve been able to do that for many of you. Remember that you never know what is happening in another person’s life. It could be anything. Bullying at school, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, death of a family member or loved one, serious illness, really anything. Just take the time to be kind. You won’t regret it.
The last thing I want to point out doesn’t really have a story. But it is important nonetheless. You are working at the Space Center. You get to go out into space every time you walk through those doors. You have an amazing opportunity. It’s called the “Discipline of Wonder” for a reason. Enjoy yourselves. Don’t be afraid to try new characters or do new things. Ask for advice and feedback. Make the most out of every experience you have at the Space Center because you won’t always have it.
I love you all so much. Every single one of you is worthwhile and valuable. Every single one of you has potential for growth. And every single one of you has the opportunity to be a friend and become part of a family. You are all such amazing human beings. Keep being fantastic.
A Video of the Last Minutes of Natalie's Final Mission on the Odyssey and Nathan Young Knighted as the New Set Director.
Nathan Young Receives the USS Odyssey's Microphone. The Crowning of a New Set Director at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.
|Nathan Young Holding the Odyssey's Microphone, his Sceptre of Lordship over the Odyssey and All Who Sail in Her.|
Nathan Young started as a volunteer at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in 2010 during the Center's Voyager Era. Because of his talent, excellent communication skills, and helpful attitude to all, Nathan rose through the ranks. He left on an LDM mission in 2015 and came back into the Space Center Collective upon his return in 2017.
Nathan was made an Odyssey Flight Director during Megan Warner's directorship of the CMSEC in February 2014. Below is a reprint of the blog post celebrating his elevation into the Odyssey Society of Unified Flight Directors.
From February 8, 2014
Nathan Young Given Odyssey Flight Director Certificate.
Nathan Young was shocked and bewildered this afternoon when Megan Warner, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, told him that she was giving him his Odyssey Flight Director Certification. "Why,...... How?.....," Nathan questioned. "That mission went really bad. I thought for sure I'd flunked."
"That's just it," Megan explained. "Your crew was difficult and you handled them well. Flight Directors have to be able to handle rough crews and you did it."
I followed Megan and Nathan into the Odyssey Control Room for the official presentation of the Odyssey microphone - signifying Nathan's new status as Odyssey Flight Director. Nathan couldn't control his pride, as demonstrated in the photo above. "I did it, I did it," he mumbled under his breath over and over again. I told him to STOP and come back to Earth after he was seen asking people to pinch him to make sure he wasn't dreaming!
Congratulations Nathan on your promotion.
|The Set Director of a Space EdVentures Starship|
The Founder's Blessing to all New Set Directors:
May the spirit of those who've come before guide you in your journey out into the heavens, and through the raging of the solar winds and tempests of gravity's fury; until day and night come to an end (or your retire to a planetside job). Take into your most gracious protection, the persons of thy staff, volunteers, and crew and the Starship in which they serve. Preserve them and all who sail in this ship of dreams from the dangers of the cosmos, and from the violence of the enemy. And in your care, may they all return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of their labor; and, with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies, skills, and flightsmanship. Amen
A Picture from the Space Center's First Decade. A Much Younger Mr. Williamson on the Bridge of Simulator 1, the USS Voyager.
The bridge of the USS Voyager around 1997. I'm getting a field trip groups ready for departure. You have to love those early Mac's! These were the computer's I'd have to occasionally slam on the side to get the hard drives to spin up.
The lower level was short and long-range communications. To the left on mid-level was Left Wing (weapons, engines, shields, power distribution) and Damage Control. Behind me is right wing: Sensors, scanners, navigation, thrusters, and power. The box above the captain was the original engineering station. Cadets crawled into the box to perform tasks. Did you know that the engineering station was not originally part of the bridge? That was an open area looking down into the crew quarters when the Voyager was built. After a bit of thinking and experimenting, I realized the noise bleed through would be too much and had the area roofed with a platform for the engineering box and later the engineering station.
The Voyager first captain's station was enclosed. The captain had to walk around the first officer to step down to the bridge.
The Best Gifs of the Week Edited for a Gentler Audience