Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Space Center's Dark Friday.....

Lost, Without Purpose. Slightly Drooling. Signs of a Space Center
Employee / Volunteer Suffering from Dark Friday Dementia

Hello Troops,
The Space Center celebrates a Dark Friday tonight. Dark Friday is defined as one of those rare Friday evenings without an Overnight Camp. I decided not to schedule a camp on October 30th because of Halloween. I reasoned the staff would enjoy a weekend off for spooky merrymaking. I since discovered my reasoning was flawed. The staff made it clear their desire for larger paychecks took precedence over released time from service to search our village for Halloween parties willing to accept bewildered Space Center staff and volunteers.

So, a couple dozen camp regulars are free tonight. I’m hoping they have someplace to go and don’t end up aimlessly wandering the streets of Pleasant Grove looking for purpose and direction.

For a Space Center employee freedom on a Friday night can cause a form of dementia. This malady, a distant cousin of Alzheimer's, is temporary - usually disappearing with Saturday’s sunrise. During the evening hours family and friends of Staff should be prepared to offer support and treatment if necessary. Please check for Friday Dementia's symptoms by answering these questions concerning your loved one's behavior:
  1. Is your loved one aimlessly wandering through the house asking if the crew has arrived.
  2. is your loved one taking sheets off the beds and covering every light fixture in your home?
  3. Is your loved one looking through the kitchen’s cupboards and fridge for Little Caesar’s Pizza?
  4. Is your loved one forcing Grandma to sit through station training at the living room computer?
  5. Is your loved one rifling through your closets and dressers for any item of clothing that might identify them as an Orion Pirate?
  6. Did your loved one interrupt your Friday night video with popcorn and Diet Coke with shouts to find cover, the Shadow was coming?
  7. Is your loved one asking you for a midnight snack of ice cream sandwiches and WalMart Orange Soda?
  8. Is your loved one sleeping on the floor with their computer and /or iPod, oblivious to the world - lost in some TV show recorded on iTunes and heard through a pair of ear buds?
  9. Did your loved one throw a tantrum when your breakfast of cold cereal and pop tarts not include a WalMart glazed donut?
  10. At 10:30 A.M. was your loved one standing in front of you telling you his/her name and asking for your vote?
  11. At 10:45 A.M. was your loved one asking how many votes he got and when can he pick up a WalMart card?

These are the symptoms of a Space Center Staff / Volunteer suffering from Dark Friday Dementia. I suggest you take your child in your arms if you see these symptoms, and with a big hug, explain that all will be well. Remind them another Friday is only 7 days away. Explain to them that life outside the Space Center exists on a Friday night. Hand them a phone and tell them to call a friend. In serious cases, please call me. I’ll order them to bed. They are programmed to follow my orders

As for an old Space Center Director, my Dark Friday will be spent doing what I love most - Sitting Quietly.

Happy Halloween to all. Give your pancreas a work out this weekend and consume mass quantities of sugar and don’t forget to do what we love doing most - scaring the snot out of younglings tomorrow night :)

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paul (The Razor) Bauman Escapes. Reward Offered!

Paul (The Razor) Bauman (right) with his Side Kick Todd (Scarface) Rasband. This photograph shows Paul in the ‘school’ enjoying a bit of free time with his co workers before the next batch of cadets arrived for ‘treatment’.

All Points Bulletin
Commandant. CMSEC
Pleasant Grove

Paul (The Razor) Bauman, once a supervisor at the CMSEC, escaped on Monday. He was last seen at 5:40 P.M. running across the west lawn toward the electrified hedge separating the school’s ‘play ground’ from No Man’s Land. No Man’s Land, as all our ‘students’ know, is the seemingly peaceful neighborhood surrounding the ‘school’. Of course, the homes are all empty. They are for show only. This ‘show case’ community is another way we convince local authorities (and pesky representatives of the International Red Cross) that Central is a real school, and not a cleverly disguised asylum for the slightly off balanced.

The photograph above is the latest picture of Paul in the ‘school’ enjoying a bit of free time with his co workers before the next batch of cadets arrived for ‘treatment’.

Paul (The Razor) Bauman worked at the institution for a number of years. He began as a ‘camper’ at the Institution’s ‘Space Center’. After surviving several rounds of treatment (the staff refer to them as ‘missions’) Paul was rehabilitated and recruited to work as a volunteer. Paul was popular with the ‘campers’. He brought a caring, human touch to the treatments. He told stories at bed time and always had time to listen to their concerns.

Paul’s talents at calming the ‘campers’ by making treatments seem fun convinced the Commandant to place him on the ‘school’s staff. Last week Paul approached the Commandant and requested a release from his duties. The Commandant reminded Paul that once on the Institution's payroll there was no release. He could appeal the Commandant’s decision but such a move was risky. If his release was authorized by the Board, he would be subject to a painful ‘debriefing’. Memories of his time at the Center would be erased using electroshock therapy. Debriefing was effective 50% of the time. The unfortunate ones that didn’t survive are housed in a special section of the ‘school’.

Yesterday, Paul finished working a treatment. As the ‘campers’ were escorted away from the ‘simulator’, Paul saw a lapse in security. Private Spenser Dauwalter was in the office filling out paper work instead of securing the perimeter. Our security cameras tracked Paul as he escaped through the ‘simulator’s’ back door and bolted across the blacktop and onto the lawn. Automatic sensors were triggered. Alarms rang. Sharpshooters, hidden in the trees, did their best to bring him down. Unfortunately, due to extreme wind, they couldn’t get a clear shot. Branches and flying leaves obstructed their view. Paul pulled out a classified document when he reached the electrified hedge. It held the combination to disable the electric current. He climbed the hedge/fence and landed in the false neighborhood.

He ran into one of the hollow brick homes. The security camera in the fireplace's mantle showed him consulting his iPod. He carefully traced his moves around the land mines hidden in the lawns, driveways and tree trunks on the device's touch screen. He walked to the screen door, looked for approaching agents, found the coast clear and ran. It took several minutes of dodging and jumping before clearing the field.

Six minutes after leaving the 'school' Paul faced one last wall. Freedom waited on the other side. With a chimp's agility he scampered up the wall and went over the top. He startled a young couple walking their dog near Harts when he landed directly in front of them on all fours. From there he disappeared into the dark.

The Commandant is authorizing a reward for the successful capture of this escaped, deranged and confused ‘camp’ supervisor. Approach with caution. He will not allow himself to be captured and repatriated without a fight.

(Troops. Paul Bauman left the Space Center after several years as a volunteer and employee. He is a senior now and his life is filling with several things. I want to thank Paul for his devoted service to the Space Center and our students. The campers really loved Paul and the staff will miss him. Thanks Paul for everything. We wish you the very best of luck and do stay in touch. Mr. Williamson)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

50 Year Anniversary- Luna 3 Pics released

Luna 3 probe

On October 26, 1959, the Soviet Union released a series of pictures taken by the Lunik 3 (Luna 3) probe. The significance of these pictures is that they were the first to show the far side of the moon, previously unseen by man. Launched on October 4, the picture sequence of 29 frames was taken on the 6th and 7th. Once the probe left the moon, on a return towards the Earth, the Russian scientists attempted to transmit the pictures on the 8th but encountered difficulties. Only about 17 poor pictures were able to be transmitted by the 18th of October. These pictures were publicly released on the 26th.

The Undiscovered Country... the Far Side...

Communications with the probe were ended on the 22nd. It is estimated that the probe made several orbital passes of the Earth, but never really achieved a stable orbit and probably burned up in Earth's atmosphere sometime between 1960-1962.

Soviet Commemorative Stamp

One thing I love about the Russians is that they loved their space achievements. The Russians loved to commemorate everything with stamps, and this was a great one.

Mark Daymont,
Space Center Educator

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Chuckle for our Fellow Star Trek Fans.

Hello Troops,
I know, how improper to use Bud Light cans for warp nacelles. Diet Coke cans would be more appropriate but hey........ well worth the laugh.

Mr. W.

The Galileo Nears Completion

The Galileo as of October 24, 2009

Hello Troops,
We are getting closer and closer to finishing the Galileo. Kyle Herring and his team worked this weekend on odds and ends.

  1. The movable control room was delivered. Spencer Robinson built it over the last couple weeks.
  2. Alex A. is finished with the new controls. He started testing them in the school's computer lab on Saturday. He will install the controls once we get the computers and network in place
  3. The Programming Guild spent all day Saturday working on the Galileo's Cocoa Programming.
  4. Kyle and Taylor (his nephew) polished the ship up nicely on Saturday and snapped this picture.

We are excited to welcome this new ship to the Space Center's Fleet. The old Galileo should be up on the Utah State Auction Site if you're interested in bidding on the old Galileo.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Chapter 8. Tex

Hello Troops,
This is Chapter 8 of a new mission I'm writing. All the chapters are posted on this Blog.

I enjoyed writing our school mission 'The Children of Perikoi'. I enjoy telling it even more. I've wanted to continue the story and did once several summers ago. The mission was told in the Galileo. It was OK but not what it should have been. I blame myself for that. Not everything you write is good. This is another attempt at a continuation of Perikoi using our own staff and volunteers as characters.

Enjoy and post comments. I'd like to know what you think.
Mr. Williamson

December 22, 2321
03:00 Hours
Lost, Somewhere in the Galaxy

Continued from Chapter 7.

“Who is it?” Carick asked.
“I honestly don’t know.” Cadet Merryweather responded. “I remember seeing him in the hallways at the Academy but third years and first years don’t really mix,” Merry was focus on a piece of bright yellow cloth that seemed to be welded onto the boy’s burned skin. Using tweezers, he tenderly took the fabric by a corner and slowly pulled back. Meredith reminded him to spray the wound with Regeneration after every few centimers. The young cadet stopped squirming. The pain took him into unconsciousness.

Carick turned and walked across Sick Bay to the dozen or so cadets suffering from less severe wounds. They sat two or three to a bed. Carick questioned each of them about their circumstances. He thanked them for their work and reassured them that they would get home. He asked them to get stitched up and return to work as soon as possible.

“We don’t know where we are. I’ll be honest about that,” he said. “But we are alive and the ship is holding together and for that we can be proud.”

He thought for something else to say. His mind was blank. He’d said everything he thought a real captain would say in their situation. He ruffled the hair of another first year and turned to leave.

“Going so soon,” Payne called out. She just finished putting the last stitch in Rowberry’s arm and was spraying it with Regeneration. “You know I may not be able to send many of them back, right?”

“Do what you can,” Carick answered. I don’t know our current situation so I need anyone that can read and punch buttons working, even if they're all elbows."

“What’s the biggest problem?” Interrupted a second year cadet wearing a baby blue Academy shirt.

Carick turned toward the questioner. “What ‘s your name?” he asked.

“Colin,” the boy answered. He held his swollen wrist up against his chest. His face was a mixture of dried sweat and dirt. His dark hair was dusted with some kind of white powder and his brown eyes were outlined in red from lack of sleep.

“Well Colin, the ship’s main computer is down. That’s the biggest problem if I had to pick just one.”

“I think I can fix that,” the boy struggled to get to his feet. Carick reached out to stabilize him. “I’m top in my class in main frame logic and networking .”

Carick looked at him closely. He knew he recognized his face from somewhere. “Are you the second year cadet that won the Academy programming competition? The little Einstein genius kid that put all the older students to shame?” Carick asked hoping for a positive response.

“That’s me,” Colin beamed with pride. He was happy some of his fellow second yearers were there to see the Cadet Captain of the Academy actually recognized a lowly second year.

“Payne, this boy is next.” Carick took Colin by the shoulder and walked him to Cadet Payne’s table. “I need him on the bridge asap. He might be able to get us back on our feet.”

Shouting was heard down the hall from the Sick Bay’s entrance. It became understandable as it got closer.
“We need some help here.” came the voice of someone Carick knew very well.
Nuila?” he shouted as he ran from the sick bay toward the sound of Sixth Year Cadet Warren Nuila’s voice. He froze dead in his tracks when he saw the reason for their urgent call. Nuila, accompanied by two other younger cadets, was carrying the lifeless form of a full grown adult. It looked like a man in his mid to late fifties.

“Is that Tex?” Carick asked, afraid of the answer.
“Yes. Help us?” Nuila answered. Carick reached under the lifeless body being held up by six other hands and helped carry it the last fifteen or so steps into the Sick Bay and onto Payne’s Diagnostic Bed. Colin jumped off the bed and stood back to make room for the chieif engineer.

“Sir, I’ll come back later. I can manage with this wrist. Permission to go to the bridge to begin work on the mainframe?” Colin asked.
“Go,” Carick ordered.
“Yes Sir!” Colin responded. He turned to leave.
“Hold it,” Merry grabbed a sling from a supply cabinet and quickly positioned the injured wrist up against the boy's chest. “Go.” he said pushing the young cadet out the door.

“Payne adjusted the body of the Voyager’s Chief Engineer under the scanner and activated the arm. A series of laser lights washed over the body indicating where the scan was working. The scan would take several minutes. Payne stared intently at the screen beside the bed, watching the results as they came in.

“What happened?” Carick asked. Nuila was out of breath. It was obvious it took all their strength to move him from the lowest deck to Sick Bay without the aide of a fully functional turbolift.

“We were all strapped in. The ship was getting bounced around real bad. Sparks were flying everywhere. Then the decompression alarm went off. He looked at his screen to see if the automatic force fields were engaging. I heard him swear over the twisting metal. He was punching away at his terminal. Whatever he was trying to do wasn’t working. He released his safety harness and tried to get to a set of manual controls on the other side of the room. Then a hugh jolt shook the ship. It threw him into a wall and then down to the floor. He stood up looking really dazed. He made it to the controls and manually shut the bulkhead doors then collapsed to the floor. He never regained consciousness.” Nuila stopped to catch his breath.

“What’s the damage?” Carick asked.

“Are you talking to me?” Payne responded without taking her eyes off the diagnostic readouts.

“No, Nuila,” Carick said. “What’s the damage to the ship?”

“There’s a tear in the hull running along the side of the ship.” Nuila explained by using his hands. “Its just like the Titanic except instead of water leaking in, the Voyager was loosing its atmosphere and temperature. Tex was able to manually close the bulkhead doors but we’ve lost access to large sections of the ship.”

“Well at least the bulkheads are holding,” Carick said looking relieved for s sliver of good news.

“Well, they may not hold for long,” Nuila answered. " As long as we don’t move the ship we should be OK. But, if we have to move, the rupture may grow. Engineering is the next section to decompress. It’s not good at all.”

“Suggestions?” Carick asked.

“Roberts is looking at the situation now. I’ll go back down to help.”

“Roberts?” Carick questioned. “You mean Kevin Roberts?”

“Yes Sir?” Nuila answered.

“I totally forgot he was on board.” Carick was relieved to hear the news. Cadet Roberts was a Sixth Year Cadet, nearly ready to graduate. His position in Starfleet Academy was guaranteed. “ He knows his way around a Starship for sure. Best Sixth Year we have for Engineering. OK, tell Roberts he’s the ship’s new chief engineer. You’re his second. I want a solution to the rupture asap. If we are in enemy space, and I think we may be, we will need to move and fast. Go!”

“Yes Sir,” Nuila said leaving Sick Bay to retrace his steps through twisted metal and down several decks to Main Engineering.

“Update?” Carick turned to Payne. She looked worried.
“His brain is swelling. This is beyond anything I can fix.” She thought for a moment.

“Merry, I need Meredith. Are you good for a bit?” Cadet Merryweather continued to work on his patient.
“Go,” Merry spoke to the Meredith Hologram. It dissolved and reappeared next to Payne.
“How may I assist Cadet?” Meredith asked. The hologram seemed solid yet pixelized enough so one could easily tell it was a high def hologram. She looked to be a woman in her mid 50’s with dark brown hair, a kind face with green eyes. She was dressed in a standard issue medical uniform.

“Meredith, suggestion for treatment on bed 4?” Payne asked.
“Stand By,” Meredith said. Her program was beautiful in design. Even while processing information her hologram stood like a person deep in thought. She had one arm across her chest. The other arm rested on that arm bringing her index finger up against her right cheek.

“Let’s begin by reviewing the data.” Meredith said, sounding like a teacher. “Please tell me your conclusions and the method by which you came to those conclusions.”

“Meredith, override teaching mode. Emergency situation. Activate consulting mode,” Payne knew Tex had very little time. She needed advice and she needed it immediately.

“Working,” Meredith said as she switched from teacher to medical consultant. “Patient is suffering from Brain Edema.. Your treatment suggestions follow. Begin with oxygen therapy. Put the patient on a respirator. Two. Insert an IV. Fluids will keep his blood pressure from dropping too low. This will help to make sure that the body -- including the brain -- is receiving enough blood. Three. His body temperature must be lowered. Lowering his temperature will relieve the swelling and allow the brain to heal. The medicine to place in the IV is listed on your PAD.
If the patient does not improve then a Ventriculostomy would be proper.
A small hole will need to be cut in the skull for the insertion of a plastic drain tube to drain away the Cerebrospinal fluid from inside the brain, helping to relieve the pressure.

“Meredith, I can do everything but the Ventriculcstomy.” Payne said while consulting her PAD for the proper medicine to place in the IV.

“Understood,” Meredith answered. “Then let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Payne, we need him. Do what you can?” Carick said while placing his hands on her shoulders. “Keep me informed of developments. Send a runner if you need to.” Carick quickly left the Sick Bay and down the hallway toward the turbolift elevator. He stopped short of the lift and entered Biology Lab Two. The room was completely dark. He waited for the door to close then sank down to the floor with his back against the wall. His body shook with spasms of fear at the responsibilities resting on his shoulders. He was only 17 years old. For a precious few minutes he could still be a boy crying alone in the dark. But only for a few minutes. People were waiting for him and he had a ship to command - a ship lost somewhere in the Galaxy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

CBS Announces New ‘Star Trek Live’ Theme Park Show – Exclusive Details October 23, 2009

Hello Troops, Well - it sounds like CBS and Star Trek, along with Mad Science are working on something very similar to the experience we offer at the Space Center. We all knew it was just a matter of time before our unique interactive simulation was adapted for wide distribution. I'm curious how it will work and how the audience will interact. Lots of information missing from the article but enough to be real interesting. Mr. Williamson

CBS Announces New ‘Star Trek Live’ Theme Park Show

by Anthony Pascale

Star Trek is headed back to theme parks. Today CBS, along with the Mad Science Group, announced ‘Star Trek Live’ a new traveling interactive stage show which will be combining "science and entertainment" using Star Trek. More details below, plus TrekMovie has the exclusive first look at the logo and marketing brochure.

Star Trek Live!
Star Trek Live is a touring interactive stage show that will be appearing at theme parks and performing arts centers across America, starting in 2010. TrekMovie has a first look at the official brochure (below), which promises:

Audience members join Starfleet Academy only to be unexpectedly whisked into an adventure steeped in the grand tradition of Star Trek itself. STAR TREK LIVE combines cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction, and cool science to create an exhilaration and unforgettable theatrical experience.

The 60 minute show will have audience members playing the parts of Starfleet cadets, who are learning from Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, when the Enterprise is attacked and you set off on an adventure that will combine Star Trek fun with real science. CBS is working with Mad Science Group, a company that specializes in educational entertainment, and the brochure promises the show correlates with a number of national science education standards. No word yet on what footage and imagery the show will use, but the brochure (below) does include a shot of the Enterprise from JJ Abrams new Star Trek movie.

Here is the marketing brochure:

Front (click to enlarge)

Back (click to enlarge)

Press Release


Interactive show slated to debut in 2010

NEW YORK October 23, 2009 – CBS Consumer Products, a unit of CBS Entertainment, and Mad Science®, have united to launch an interactive stage show — STAR TREK LIVE.

Targeted for a run in theme parks and performing arts centers across the country, the show takes audiences of all ages on an exhilarating journey with Captain James T. Kirk and Vulcan science officer Spock. The show combines cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction and an exploration of real space-age technology.

"The STAR TREK brand continues to offer entertainment and education through this multifaceted live stage show," says Liz Kalodner, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Consumer Products. "STAR TREK LIVE allows fans to experience Starfleet Academy firsthand and follow in the footsteps of STAR TREK’s iconic heroes."

Mad Science’s Managing Director and producer Leonard Lipes added, "So much of the STAR TREK technology once considered science fiction has become a reality. STAR TREK LIVE is going to explore many of these technologies as well as other sciences for a truly memorable experience resonating to audiences of all ages.

Combining science with entertainment, STAR TREK LIVE sparks a world of discovery by teaching and encouraging scientific literacy. Audience members will leave the attraction with an understanding of the different elements of science and technology.

STAR TREK LIVE will debut in 2010 and travel throughout the United States and Canada.

Eager to learn from Starfleet’s best and brightest, Captain James T. Kirk and Vulcan science officer Spock, our cadets assemble, anxious to prepare for their first day at the Academy and an exploration of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise. As we are introduced to the proud legacy of the most powerful and most advanced ship in the fleet, the Enterprise and Earth itself come under attack from alien forces, leaving the fate of the Federation in the hands of our cadets. Our cadets will have to quickly learn the intricacies of living and working in space, modern space travel and the latest in communication and technology as they draw on the achievements of science in the 21st century. It will require all our knowledge, ingenuity, logic and an exploration of science to discover what is happening and how to set things right before it’s too late!

About CBS Consumer Products
CBS Consumer Products, a unit of CBS Entertainment, manages worldwide licensing and merchandising for a diverse slate of television brands and series from CBS, CBS Television Studios and CBS Television Distribution, as well as from the company’s extensive library of titles. Additionally, the group oversees the CBS Retail Store and online sales of programming merchandise. For more information, visit

About The Mad Science Group®
Mad Science® is the world’s leading science enrichment provider sparking the imagination and curiosity of children around the world. With live performances conducted in schools, camps, homes and theme parks, the Mad Science Group has developed over 2,000 hours of original content, with thousands of unique interactive activities! The company delivers its brand of fun science through an extensive network of 200+ franchised locations in 29 countries, and through its own award-winning large-venue touring production unit, Mad Science Productions®. This year, the company will conduct 250,000 live presentations in 13,000 public and private schools in North America, reaching over 7 million families. For more information, visit

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Orionid Meteor Shower Under Way

Meteor crosses star trails in a time-lapse photo

As Earth crosses the path that Halley's comet makes around the sun, we encounter the dust and ice grains left behind. These particles hit the Earth's upper atmosphere and quickly heat up from the friction with air molecules. Since the particles are usually small, these reactions appear as swift flashes of light leaving a trail of hot ionized gas.

The best time to see these meteors is at about 3 am as the Earth positions your viewing point directly into the dust trail. Reports indicate about 25 meteors per hour on the average. You never know when a brighter fireball may appear (a larger bit of dust!) Look in the direction of the constellation of Orion, which gives this shower its name.

The shower will peak on Wednesday night. Previous years have seen an average of 60 meteors per hour. Check for all sorts of good stuff on this shower, including pictures, sounds and more!

---------- Bunker Alert -------

Here at the Bunker we expect to be safe from the bombardment released by the Halley mothership. According to the evil plans of the Comet Realm, comets which miss the Earth completely (and there are many) turn into orbital bombers and release their matter, hoping to get us through whatever means necessary. The poor planning of the Realm engineers means that most of the bombardment particles are too small to last even to the ground. However, take proper precautions and avoid annihilation by specks of outer space rocks!

by Mark Daymont
Asst. Director

Ares-1X Rollout

Ares-1X on the way; Launch control center in foreground

At about 11:39 pm MDT Monday, NASA began the rollout of the Ares-1X test rocket from the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). Securely mounted on the giant crawler, the system will slowly roll over to Pad 39B which has been undergoing modifications for use with the new launch system.

View from High Bay 3 inside the VAB; catwalk is 16th floor

While listening to the NASA TV announcer, I believe I heard him say the rocket weighs in at about 16,000,000 pounds. Not sure if he meant rocket and crawler together. The crawler and base carefully adjust enormous hydraulic systems to keep the base level and cause minimum vibration to the rocket assembly. It's expected that even as tightly clamped as possible, the top of the rocket may move as much as a foot, while the base may adjust up to 6 inches.

SRM first stage has 4 segments; Actual Ares will have 5

For comparison, keep in mind that the VAB was built tall enough so that the giant of them all, the Saturn V, could just barely make it through the doorway with the launch tower attached to the base. Looking at the picture above, you can tell that the Ares=1X is almost as tall as the old Saturn V!

Rear view of Crawler from VAB High Bay

The crawler is moving along slowly, working up to its expected speed of 8/10 of a mile per hour. In the photo above, look carefully for the man walking beside one of the crawler tracks for a size comparison. Ahead of the crawler, a huge water truck is wetting down the gravel roadbed with great sprays of water to keep dust down and settle the gravel.

The capsule at top is a "boilerplate" model, which means it has the same dimensions as the eventual capsule but has no equipment inside other than telemetry sensors. This test rocket has 4 segments in its solid rocket motor first stage, which have participated in various shuttle missions going back to the late 80's.

I just heard that the actual weight of the rocket stack is 11,067,000 pounds. The order has been given to begin closure of the VAB door segments. Next stop: Pad 39B, which at one time saw the launch of Apollo 10. Pad39B is usually kept as a backup readiness pad for human spaceflight.

by Mark Daymont
Asst. Director

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Voyager Club to Meet Wednesday Night.

The Voyager Club is open to all students between the ages of 10 and 14 . It meets at the Space Center once per month on either a Wednesday or Thursday evening from 7:00 - 8:00 P.M. There is no charge to attend. All students must wear their Space Center T-Shirts. If you don't have one you may purchase one at the door for $10.00.

Club Objectives
  • A place for students interested in physics, astronomy, aviation, engineering to meet together, learn and make new friends with similar interests.
  • Motivate students to study math and science.
  • Teach students the history of science.
  • Exercise imaginations and wonder through discussions of where science and math can take us in the future.
  • Let's not forget a good helping of science fiction as well because at the Space Center we believe science and science fiction can complement each other. Remember, it starts as science fiction before it becomes science.
Class Rank Hours
Now the best news for all you Space Center Frequent Flyers desperate to increase your rank. Each time you come to a meeting you'll receive a certificate for 1 class hour, and you didn't have to pay for it! Now that's quite the deal.

This club is sponsored by the Space Education Center and run by its staff. Students are expected to be respectful of the staff and each other during the meetings. Any student not able to control their actions or voices will not be allowed to return.

Well, there really aren't any except the class hours, the learning and meeting other students your age with similar interests. We can't offer discounted missions. The Space Center does not receive a yearly budget from the School District. We earn our own way and the only way to do that is through our mission and camp tuitions.

Club Notifications
You'll get Club notifications through the Space Center's Blog. The blog is the only tool we will use to communicate Club meeting times and news. So, read the blog to know what's happening. Don't call the Center. If you do you'll be told to go back and read the blog.

So here it is in a nutshell. You read about an upcoming meeting in the blog. On the day of the meeting you put on your T-Shirt and find tranportation. You participate, learn, and engage your imagination for one hour and you go home. See how easy.
Sorry, no camp outs, extra meetings or parties, however, we may do one field trip to Clark Planetarium by school bus to see their new dome show expected in February.

OK When is the First Meeting and What are We Going to Do?
  • Date: October 21 (Tomorrow)
  • Time: 7:00 - 8:00 P.M.
  • Where: Discovery Room. Space Center
  • What to Bring: Wear your T-Shirt.
  • What Will We Do:
  1. Briefly discuss the latest in space news.
  2. Mr. Daymont, Magellan Flight Director and Space Center Educator will be speaking on the current Space Shuttle Program and the future of space travel in the United States.
  3. I'll have a few words to say myself. Don't know what. I'll think of something intelligent ;)
Hope to see you there. Oh, one other thing. If for some reason (earthquake or power failure or plague or pestilence or swine flu) we need to cancel the meeting, the only notification will be posted on the blog. Remember to always read the blog, especially before leaving your home to come to a meeting. If you show up and there is no meeting is will be your fault and not ours........ fair warning.

Now, Have A Good Day,

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Chapter 7. Escaping the Wormhole

“This is it. Hold on!” Carick’s voiced echoed through every loud speaker on the Federation Starship Voyager. Roberts pulled once more on her restraints to be sure they were as tight as possible. Others were doing the same throughout the ship.

Violent spasms shook the Voyager as her entire body disappeared across the event horizon of the alien wormhole. Anyone and anything not fastened down and secure was thrown about like the beads in a shaken baby’s rattle. Carick tried to order an increase in shields, knowing that such a precaution was useless in a wormhole but he couldn’t get the words out . The shaking was too powerful. It was all anyone could do to keep their heads fastened to their shoulders. Carick knew there would be serious injuries, perhaps fatalities if, by some miracle, the Voyager held together. He tried not to think of that and instead focused on the readouts flashing across the Sphere. Everything was shaking so badly he couldn’t read the words. The diagrams, on the other hand, were understandable. The shaking was quickly approaching the Voyager’s limits. Hull ruptures were eminent.

Carick knew the alien wormholes collapsed shortly after their ship’s exited into normal space. It was something he was counting on when her ordered the ship in. At twenty seconds in he began doubting his judgment. Perhaps the wormhole sensed the presence of a ship and whatever enormous power source the aliens were using to keep it open was programmed to keep the wormhole open as a safety precaution until the ship exited. If so, the Voyager would exit the wormhole at the exact location in space where the alien ship was when it opened it. His ship might appear near an enemy base, or worse, near their home world. His mind began working through everything he was taught concerning wormholes. He tried to remember something - anything that might tell him how to collapse an open wormhole.

“Hull Breach. Hull Breach.” The voice of the ship’s computer was loud and strong. Decompression alarms rang throughout the ship. Those that were still conscious strained to see if any of the walls in their rooms showed cracking. Carick tried to focus the best he could on the readouts hovering before him. It was showing the rupture's location but his head was bobbing up and down and side to side so violently he couldn’t make it out.

Another siren sounded on the heels of the decompression alarm. Carick recognized the sound from his time in the battle simulators. “Fire Alert, Fire Alert,” the computer said again, loud and strong. “Automatic suppression systems engaged.” The alarm continued. Carick felt himself slipping away. He was loosing consciousness. He struggled to stay alert but the shaking was too violent. The last thing he remembered hearing was the computer saying ,” System Failure.....”

Everything went dark

“Captain. Captain?” it was Aland’s voice that brought him around. It sounded weak but close. Carick opened his eyes. The bridge was still in one piece. The smell of electric fires forced him into a coughing fit.
He looked around. His crew mates were slowly waking up. Each of them still strapped to their seats.

“Aland, you OK?” Carick asked.
“I’ve got a really bad headache.” Cadet Aland answered rubbing both temples with his two index fingers.
“Yea, me too. Unstrap and check everyone else. I’m going to try to get the Sphere online.” Carick unfastened the harness that held him tightly to his chair. On its release, he immediately noticed severe pain in his neck and shoulders. He knew everyone in the ship would be suffering from some form whiplash, broken bones, or both.

He struggled from his chair as Aland circled the bridge, stopping at every station to revive and /or assist his crew mates.
“Computer?” Carick said hoping for an immediate response. There was none. He said it again. And again no response. He punched the button on his chair to illuminate the Sphere. The projectors on the lower level failed to come on. They were complete in the dark concerning their location and the condition of their ship and crew.

“Nothing seems to be working,” he said to everyone conscious. There was a hull breech. I think that's how most of us lost consciousness.”
“Not to mention being thrown around violently,” Roberts added while rubbing her left shoulder and neck.
“Well, we’re alive so if it was a hull breech then either the force fields engaged or the bulkhead doors closed. Murdock, do you know anything about the Sphere?”
“I know my station and that’s about it.” Murdock answered.
“Anyone know how to get the Sphere to work?” Carick asked. There was no response. “Murdock, up to the top tier. The mainframes for the bridge are up there. I know you don’t think you know anything about how this ship’s computers work, but I also know the classes you took last term and one of them was advanced computer networking. Get up there and put some of that knowledge to use. I need the computer and Sphere back online.”

“I’ll do my best.” Murdock responded. He jumped from his chair and started climbing the black metal steps leading from the second to the third tier.

There was groaning coming from Carick’s left. Cadet Hall was coming to. Water was dripping from his face. Aland stood over him with plastic cup looking proud of himself.
“He’s the last.” Aland reported. "All present and accounted for."
“Good, we all made it then. Listen up troops,” Carick’s voice was as loud and strong as it was during station departure. “This is an update. We made it through the wormhole. I don’t know where we are. I do know we are alive and from what I can tell we’ve not been boarded. That tells me we didn’t appear in the heart of some alien starsystem. I’m hoping the wormhole did what I thought it would do - collapse around us - and by doing so, dropping us off somewhere in the galaxy far from enemy space.” He looked at his comrades. They looked shaken up but and bruised but their eyes were full of life and hope. That gave Carick the energy he needed to continue.

“The ship is damaged. No Sphere or computer. Murdock is working on restoring the computer on the third level.”
“Up here,” Murdock said as he peered over the metal bannister down to the second tier.
“Ben, you’d better not screw this up.” Harken warned. “We need that computer. If you don’t know what you are doing, don't touch anything. If Tex is alive he can fix it, or maybe one of the those second and third year brainiacs can do it.”
“Hey! What do you think this is?” Murdock shot back while pointing to his head.
“Well, for the last several minutes let’s see, I’m guessing a Punching Bag like everyone else’s.” Harken looked please with herself.

“Enough people,” Carick interrupted. “We need to find out what’s damaged and who’s injured. We need to find out where we are. We need to get this ship running. Harken, you stay up here with Murdock. Help where needed. Hall and Aland, you two go to engineering. Report to Tex. Help him get things repaired. Roberts, you find Stellar Cartography. Find out were we are. I’m going to sick bay and check on injuries. Let’s move people!”

The cadets stood and moved together toward the turbolift. The door opened. They all breathed a sigh of relief. It it hadn’t, it would be deck after deck of descending ladders.
“Destination?” the computer voice requested after they all entered.
“I’m glad this system runs independent of the main computer.” Carick said while punching the destinations on the wall screen. He preferred to make his requests manually.
Each destination on the read out blinked green except engineering. It blinked red. Carick touched a few buttons, bringing up a diagram of the lift shafts.
“The shaft to engineering is blocked.” Carick explained while pointing out the blockage on the screen. “Hall, Aland - get off here, right before the obstruction, one deck up, and take the service ladders the rest of the way.”
“Yes sir,” they both responded.

Carick tapped the deck just above Engineering.
“Accepted.” the computer responded. The lift car started moving. Its first stop was Deck 6.

The doors opened. Carick stepped out. “I’ll be back on the bridge in 30 minutes. No need to report to me in person if we can get the intercom system back online. If not, I want one person from each team to meet me on the bridge with a full report in 30. Understood?”

Some nodded, others said “Yes Sir,” The lift doors closed.

Carick heard the sound of screaming in the distance. It was accompanied by shouting. He recognized the voice of Cadet Hanne Payne. He was relieved. She was someone classified as indispensable with her qualifications as an EMT. He sprinted down the hall. The screaming grew louder.

Carick turned the corner before reaching Sickbay's hall and nearly knocked Cadet Merryweather over. Mary was doubled over and vomiting on the floor.
“Mary, you OK?” Carick asked while watching where he was walking.
Merryweather stood upright and wiped his face with his uniform sleeve.
“You’re alive!” Mary said. “Captain, you’ve got to get me out of here. There’s too much blood and.....” the gagging reflex started again. Mary started to bend over. Carick took him by the shoulders.
“Calm down Mary.” Carick shook him slightly. “You know more first aid than anyone else besides Payne. You are the man for the job. From what I can hear there are cadets in there that need your help. Come on Mary. You can do this. Let’s go.”

Mary nodded and straightened his uniform. They walked side by side back to the sickbay doorway. The sliding doors were in the open position.

“Carick!” Cadet Payne shouted. “Thank God you’re Ok.” Carick stopped in shock at the sight of so many of his fellow cadets and friends on the tables and sitting on the floor. Blood was everywhere. It was truly ghastly.

Payne’s gloved hands were covered in blood. He could see she was in the middle of sewing up Cadet Rowberry’s badly cut left arm. Another scream filled the sick bay. Carick turned toward the source.

Mary was leaned over the squirming body of a first year cadet. Carick could tell by the color of his uniform. He could see the 13 year old cadet was badly burned across the chest and neck. Mary was attempting to remove some of the burned clothing with tweezers. Each attempt sent the boy screaming in agony.

Carick was relieved to see the Meredith Hologram standing next to Mary pointing to certain places on the boy’s chest. At least the tutoring program was still working.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The People of "No"?

Everything seemed to be going her way. Its was the perfect day for so many reasons:
  • The school’s Principal called a Sun Day and canceled school due to perfect weather.
  • She had her brand new birthday bike.
  • She found her swimsuit in the summer box mom was about to put away.
  • Her dog Lucky wanted to go for a walk and there was no better place than the beach.
And then....she encountered the world of "No".

Limits, fences, restrictions, and lower expectations are the concepts the people of "no" want you to accept when your young. Soon the girl pictured above will learn to downgrade her dreams, goals, and freedom. Instead of wanting the Moon, she’ll settle for a Moon Pie. The people of "no" understand it can be hard at first but soon she will adapt and accept a semblance of happiness if she hears "no" enough. Once conditioned to live in this multi layered cage, she will stop asking that annoying question, "Why Not?"

Think for a moment of the power embedded in the word “no”. It is fraught with fear, and fear is the primary tool of subjugation. If you do a “yes” in a “no” zone you could be overwhelmed by the fear of what may happen. That fear is what the leaders of a "no" society use for control. Accepting a "yes" attitude to the challenges of life can be a bit frightening when you are use to saying "no" and "I can't". It can be risky. You may fail.

Think of a canary just released from its cage. Take away the cage and what is the canary to do? Now it sees a world with no limits? It could get lost if it flies away. How will it eat? Where will it get its water? Who will listen to its song? How will it protect itself against unknown dangers? The captivity of strict limits gave the canary security, and in exchange for absolute security, the canary surrendered the joy of "yes" and freedom.

Now, to be honest, there is a need for "no" in every society. Take away all the "no" and you get anarchy. There must be laws, rules and regulations to govern where our freedom and the freedoms of others start and stop. The word "no" is necessary to safeguard heath and safety. But taken to the extreme, "no" can limit human potential and stagnate a society. The key is moderation in all things.

Everyone should carefully consider the decisions they make in life. A careful balance must exist between the two worlds of “no” and “yes”. Know when to say "no" and don't be afraid to say "yes" to your dreams.

You may now return to your normal reading.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Day of Fall Vacation, and Other Things.

Hello Troops,
I’m trusting everyone within the Alpine School District is enjoying their Fall Vacation. Everyone else in Utah had their vacation the first weekend in October. Leave it to us to be different.

I see one major advantage to having a Fall Vacation fall on a different weekend than the rest of the state. Our students visiting Disneyland will find shorter lines. A few years ago I stupidly went to Disneyland during UEA. What a disaster. It seemed the entire population of Utah migrated to the Magic Kingdom. The crowds were as thick as the ones you'd find at your neighborhood Walmart for the day after Thanksgiving sale. The park was so packed Disney employees stood on stools shouting at everyone to stay calm and walk to the right. It was so crowded at the Indiana Jones ride the employee on the stool started coordinating our breathing to prevent mass suffocations!

I don’t know how families were able to stay together in the hustle and bustle. I was sure half the families in the Park would get to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and find they had someone else’s children in tow. What a mess.

Moving on........

Today I went to the Center to answer a few emails and work on a few other projects relating to staffing. I was joined by a few other die hard supervisors and flight directors.

  • Megan ran a special mission for family and friends in the Phoenix.
  • Stacy, Rachel, Ben and Jon worked on the the Galileo’s storage cabinets. We need to make room for the equipment previously stored in the old Falcon cabinets. The new Galileo Control Room will be stored where two or three of the Falcon cabinets new stand.
  • Emily dropped by to cheer everyone on and lighten our day with her wit and endless knowledge of trivial and useless information. Oh, she also made the mandatory Little Caesar’s pizza run. Yes, our staff and volunteers thrive on a steady diet of Little Caesars Carbo Pizza seasoned with artificial cheese and a sneeze of something that resembles pepperoni.
Today was the day I set aside to do something about my antique cell phone. My cell phone broke months ago. I kept it stored in the Battlestar’s armrest planning on doing something about it when I had the time. Of course I’ve had plenty of time over the last several weeks but decided to wait until I could build up the courage to visit a Verizon store to buy a replacement. I had a vision of getting swarmed by over zealous salespeople claiming to have only my best interests at heart as they pushed a certain phone or plan. Their real agenda would be to get me to drop my $9.95 a month plan I’ve had since the dawn of the information age
(30 minutes peak and 30 minutes off peak minutes) for something with unlimited minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited costs. I mean, why would I need texting? There is a reason its called a phone. Phone means to hear. You don’t hear texts, you read them. So, by all rights, the phones used by teenagers should be called cell graphs.

To make a long story short, I called Verizon and told them I needed a new phone. The salesman on the other end of the line reacted like they always do when they see my stone age plan.
“Wow, I’ve never seen a plan like this?” the gentleman politely said in a New York accent.
“Yes, Its the grandfather plan offered to teachers and the elderly many years ago.” I replied. “Its real purpose was to get you to buy a phone and then, once you realized how fun it was to talk while driving down the road causing accident after accident you’d switch your plan to one with more minutes at a greater cost. Well, I didn’t fall for your ruse. I KEPT the plan. What do you think of that clever chops?”

Once I put him in his place and off the scent of hoping to get me to upgrade and part with my hard earned money from working in the trenches of the Space Center, he pulled a fast one.
“I’m sorry sir but I don’t think we have phones anymore able to adapt to this old plan.”
“But I don’t want to give up my plan.” I insisted.
“You could get a phone and upgraded plan that will do things you never thought possible.” he countered.
“This is what I need.” I replied. “I need a phone that calls out and lets people call in. That’s all. I don’t need one that has everything, including the tools you’d find on the most expensive Swiss Army Knife.”

“Well, may I suggest you go to a real Verizon store and see what they can do for you.” He ended the call by giving me an address in American Fork. He was confused by the North and West address numbers. I explained the Utah street numbering system. He commented a street numbering system like ours would be beneficial for those trying to navigate the streets of New York.
“Your streets are a bit confusing are they?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Kind of like all your phone and plans?” I shot back.
The call ended.

I drove to American Fork and found the Verizon Store. I walked to the entrance, took a deep breath and opened the door expecting to be attacked by hungry salespeople. Well, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t. I was directed to a touch screen terminal where I was asked a series of questions so the employees could assist me with my precise needs. The minute I hit 'enter' a nice looking sales girl approached and directed me to her computer. I handed her my last bill. She brought me up on her computer. I waited for the gasp I knew would come when she saw my General George Washington plan.

There was no gasp, only two raised eyebrows and a “Wow.” She let it go at that.
“I’m not sure we have a phone that will let you keep this plan.” she said.
“I want to keep my plan.” I answered.
“Lets see what I can do.” she replied. She exited the counter through a back door marked Employees Only. I expected to hear muffled laughter from the employees on break in the back. There wasn’t any. She came right back.
“Sir, we have two phone that will work with your plan.” she said.

I envisioned two brick sized cell phones that used rotary dials instead of touch buttons to dial your numbers. I was surprised when she came back with two normal looking phones. They even took pictures!

I picked the cheapest, swiped my credit card and left the store a very happy customer. I still have my plan and a new sporty phone that I’ll be proud to pit against any of yours in a side by side comparison.

Yes, it has been a good day.

Enjoy your break troops.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 6. The Escape.

The six bridge cadets sat upright in their chairs facing each other across the large circular bridge. They each had a large touch screen monitor. The monitors were exact replicas of the ones used in the Academy’s simulator. The operation of every station started with the input of a security ID. Because the Voyager’s stations were not coded Tex was able to override that feature allowing the cadets access to their assigned stations. Once the ship was in clear space Tex would work on proper security access codes.

Once in the system, the cadets could pull up their dedicated station’s controls. Each window could then be arranged to the cadet’s own liking. Data displays could be resized and positioned on the touch screen monitors or, with a quick finger movement, tossed up on the HSDD (Holosphere Data Display) or ‘Sphere’ for short. A window could be resized and repositioned on the Sphere. With another slide of a finger, the data read out could be rotated to face anyone on the bridge sitting in the command circle.

The Holographic Sphere is generated by several projectors circling the lowest tier of the bridge. When on, the HSDD fills the entire circular center of the three level bridge with a bight transparent globe. Command officers can choose from several display options. For instance, an outside few of the ship and its surroundings, easily enlarged or reduced. Another options is the inner ship view supplied by the hundreds of security and monitoring cameras. The Sphere can also show multiple layers of data. The bridge officers decide what to display in front of their own stations. The officer on duty in the Captain’s Chair decides what is shown in the center of the sphere for all to see.

“Computer, Activate the Sphere,” Cadet Captain Carick said as he sat in the captain’s chair and looked over his armrest controls. The projectors came on instantly, filling the the open space between all three circular tiers of the bridge with a bright 3D holographical Sphere. Numbers and diagrams scrolled in front of each station as the Sphere received instructions from the cadets. Carick tapped his left monitor. The Center of the Sphere displayed a bird’s eye view of the Voyager sitting in the McAuliffe Station’s Space Dock. Using his forefinger and thumb, Carick widened the image. The Voyager became smaller as more and more of the station appeared in vivid high definition in the Sphere. With a left swipe of his index finger Carick changed the angle to the back of the ship looking forward to the space dock doors. Smoke poured into the docking bay from numerous sections of the station. Repair skips flew in multiple directions. A large explosion registered near the outer space doors. A part of the station’s bulkhead ruptured. Through it Carick saw the black of space.

“Steering Thrusters Mr. Hall. Take us out.” Carick said to third year Cadet Adam Hall.
“Yes Sir,” Hall replied. Hall looked intently on the touch screen before him. It was set to display a 3D view of Space Dock. To the left of the screen were the thruster controls. With a tap of his finger the corresponding thruster fired.
“Easy Hall, this is real.” Carick reminded him.
“I understand.” Hall reassured him.
Hall tapped the forward thruster. Nothing happened. He tapped it again. Nothing happened. He tapped the diagnostics button. A moment later a data screen appeared on the Sphere in front of him.
“What’s wrong?” Carick asked.
“The thrusters are in station keeping. They won’t respond to my controls.” Hall was frustrated.
“Let me see.” Carick tapped his right monitor and moved a copy of the display to his section of the Sphere. He quickly examined it then tapped the monitor again.
“Tex,” he called out.
“Go,” Tex responded.
“We don’t have thrusters. They’re in station keeping.”
“I got it!” a younger voice called out in the background.
“You got that Razz?” Tex called back.
“Yep,” Second year Cadet Rasband replied. “There was a problem with the
fuel distribution. It’s sorted out. I forgot to take the thrusters off station keeping. Sorry.”
“Try it again Carick,” Tex said, then closed the line.
“OK Hall. Do your thing.” Carick moved the data display off the sphere and concentrated again on the image of the ship in space dock. Hall tapped the forward thruster. The ship moved forward.
“We’re actually doing this.” Hirschi said to fill the silence as everyone watched the ship inch closer and closer to the doors.

“Murdock, have a course for the Magellan Station ready. Aland, ready with emergency impulse speed when I give the order. We will clear the dock doors, go to emergency impulse, get clear of the station, position ourselves facing open and clear space then jump to warp 6. Everyone on the same page?” Carick decided to give all the orders at once. It would save a precious minute or two.
“Yes Sir,” the cadets responded at once.
“Harkin. Fire on everything in range. Do what you can to protect the station and this ship. Oh and raise the shields when we are clear of the door. Hirschi, pull up the science station. The more information you get on the aliens and their weapons the better. We don’t.....”

“Open up.” Hall interrupted Carick. The Space Dock Doors were closed. The large lights on either side of the doors showed red.
“Roberts.” Carick shouted out.
“I’m calling the station now.” Cadet Chelsey Roberts replied. A moment later the door lights changed from red to green. The doors started to part. Brilliant explosions illuminated the blackness of open space. Debris floated in all direction. The plasma trails of incoming and outgoing missiles crated a spider’s web of orange around the station.

“OK Troops, Battlestations and don't forget to Buckle up.” Carick shouted after pushing his 'All Decks' comm link. Everyone in the ship strapped themselves into their chairs. Some quickly crossed themselves before returning their hands to their controls. Others, having nothing to do but monitor readouts, clutched their desks or chairs. All understood the danger that waited.

“We’re out!” Hall shouted. The front of the Voyager emerged from the station into a volley of missiles and phaser bursts. The station was true to its word. It was concentrating weapon fire to give the Voyager time to escape. Carick widened the Sphere display to see more of the surrounding area. The Voyager appeared as a small toy ship in the center of the projection emerging from a much larger toy station. Orange missle trails and brilliant yellow steaks of phaser power shot from one end of the projection to the other. Carick examined the scene carefully, looking for a clear area to make jump to warp. The Bridge alarm rang before he could settle on a direction.
“Incoming!” Harken shouted. She was on her feet pointing to the Sphere. Carick saw what she was pointing at. Three of the several missiles in the projection were circled in red. The Voyager was their target.
“Take ‘em out!” Carick ordered.
“Yes sir, “ Harken responded taking her seat. A moment later the sound of phasers came from the outside the bridge's wall. Yellow lines shot out from the small Voyager in the Sphere. Two missiles were hit. One got through. Harken fired the phasers. The missile was too close.

An explosion rocked the ship. The Bridge lights and HoloSphere flickered, blinked out then returned.
“Carick,” Tex’s voice was loud and urgent. ”The missiles are two staged. The first stage carries a powerful warhead. It’s designed to create a small disruption in the shields. The second explosion carries the EMB burst designed to break through the opening and short circuit our electronics. It nearly did but the shield regenerated quickly enough to prevent it. We can’t take many of those. Got it!”
“Got it,” Carick responded. “Harken, fire on everything whether its coming at us or not. Just keep firing.”

“Murdock, course set for Magellan?” Carick asked.
“Finishing it now. Ready in 20 seconds if I’m reading this right. You realize safety protocols won’t let us jump if anything is in our way. You’ve got to get us into clear space.” Murdock reminded him.
Carick reexamined the Sphere looking for a clear area. “Hall, look to your 2:00 o’clock. There's an opening . Aland emergency impulse. Push it.”

The Voyager turned in the Moon's general direction. The impulse engines pushed the ship foward.
Another alarm rang out followed by an explosion. The Voyager rolled starboard. A massive power outage blacked out six of the ship’s decks. The impulse engines went off line. The ship moved on inertia only.
“Tex, Report!” Carick shouted over the alarms.
“That one nearly took us out. We’ve still got warp drive if you can get us clear. We’ve got wounded. Anyone to spare? I need more hands.” Tex was out of breath. Carick looked around the bridge.
“Hirschi, engineering. Move.”
“Yes sir.” Third year Cadet Zac Hirschi jumped up from the science station and ran toward the turbolift.
The lights continued to flicker. The Sphere maintained stability providing real time views of their desperate situation.
“Are we clear?” Carick shouted to Murdock.
“No!” Murdock responded.
"Damn It!" Carick was losing his patience. His ship was in grave danger and his cadet's lives were on the line.
Hall read the situation and knew what his captain was thinking. “I know Captain. I’m turning the ship. There's another clear area. Give me a minute.”

The Sphere showed the Voyager making a slow turn, its weapons firing. Several of the ship’s torpedoes found targets. The ones that didn’t acquired new targets automatically. Harken used phaser bursts for anything that got through the torpedo shield created around the ship.

“Bridge, this is Payne.”
“Go.” Carick responded.
“I’ve got seven cadets in sick bay. Two with burns. Three with broken bones and the rest with cuts and internal injuries.”
“I can’t stop the bleeding!” Carick heard Cadet Spencer Merryweather’s voice in the background. He sounded panicked.
“Mary, take care of it. Apply pressure. I've got my hands full.” Payne shouted back.
“I am applying pressure. Meredith is suggesting a Dermal Fusion but I can’t pick one up. It's taking both hands to stop this gushing artery. I think I'm going to be sick.” Mary knew he was about to loose his supper. He hated the sight of blood. The only thing keeping him from passing out was the adrenaline pumping through his veins.
“Sick bay out.” Payne closed the channel.

“Incoming!” Harken shouted. The explosion took the ship off its intended course. The lights went out. Emergency lights came on.
“Tex!” Carick called out. Static replied. “Tex!” he said again. And again, static.
“Communications are down.” Roberts advised.
Carick looked at his cadets. They were each his responsibility. He felt he was letting them down. That's when he noticed blood gushing from Aland's forehead. The injury ignited a rage deep within the Cadet Captain.
"We will not lose this ship!" he shouted. "Roberts, take care of Aland."
Roberts unbuckled her harness and ran to the wall unit displaying a Red Cross. She opened the hatch and pulled out a small suitcase. A moment later she was treating Aland’s cut.

“Hall?” Carick asked.
“We still have thrusters. Our inertia is good. We’re at 3/4ths impulse.”
“I still have torpedoes. Phasers are down and I’m firing.” she replied, nearly out of breath.

Carick looked at the Sphere. His warp jump opening was filling rapidly with small alien fighters heading in his direction. Their escape window was closing.

Static came from the speakers, then a voice.
“Carick?” It was Tex’s.
“We’re here.” Carick was relieved. Without Tex they didn’t have a chance.
“Warp power gone. We’re dead in the water. Hirschi is working on them but he doesn’t know enough. We’ve got another problem. Look at our onboard life signs. We’ve got intruders. I’m guessing three, maybe four. They transported over when the port shield collapsed. Don’t know where they are. Take precautions. I’m working on the engines. Tex out.”

Carick was out of options. “Get your phasers.” he ordered. The cadets reached under their chairs and released their hand phasers. “Meredith.” Carick called on the ship’s tutoring program. “Display Intruder Protocol?” A series of steps appeared on the Sphere. Carick swung the screen around the Sphere until the display faced Murdock. “Ben, follow the steps. Find the intruders.”

Carick looked at the Sphere. There were no more incoming missiles. They didn't want to destroy the ship anymore. They wanted his ship for something else. Fighters would be his next challenge and the odds were stacked against him.

Another alarm rang. It wasn't the one signaling an incoming weapon. This was the proximity alert.
The Sphere showed a wormhole forming off to their port side. It was large. Something big was coming.
“Meredith?” he requested.
“Working,” came the calm teacher's voice.
“Wormhole query. How long will a wormhole remain open after a ship emerges?”
“I can’t answer that without know how much power was used to create the wormhole.”
“And if we are moving through a wormhole and it closes. What then?”
“You emerge into normal space wherever you are when the worm collapses around you?”

“I know where you're going with this?” Hall grasped Carick's thinking. He realized this new plan would involve careful steering. We had to push the Voyager through the newly formed wormhole without colliding with the alien ship emerging and before the wormhole collasped.
“It's up to you Adam. Time to earn your first medal. Be a hero.”
“Yes sir.” Hall made the necessary adjustments. He pulled the opening wormhole into the Voyager's 12 o'clock.

Seconds passed. The wormhole grew bigger and bigger. Suddenly a large alien ship emerged. The Voyager’s collision alarms rang. The ship’s automatic systems attempted to steer away from the oncoming alien ship. Hall anticipated that reaction and overruled the safety protocols. The Voyager continued forward in this galactic game of chicken.

A moment later the alien ship’s thrusters lit up its port side. The ship veered starboard, narrowly missing the Voyager’s port nacelle. Missiles were launched. The Voyager entered the wormhole’s event horizon then disappeared down a long tunnel with an unknown ending.

Author's Note:
Once again, thanks for reading. This is the continuing story of a mission I'd like to eventually tell in the Voyager. Once again I beg your pardon for errors. I'm more concerned for getting the story down then making sure all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. So much to write and so little time...........
Oh, and thanks to all that are sending comments. Don't think I have this story all thought out to the end. I'm writing this one week at a time. As for next week. Right now I haven't a clue what will happen to our brave cadets. Stay tuned.

Mr. Williamson

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Report on the Extended Overnight Camp..... And Other Things.

Hello Troops,
Today at 10:10 A.M. the Voyager’s curtain came down to the sound of the cheers and applause of 13 campers. Their voices were joined by sounds of relief from the eleven or so staff - all celebrating the completion of the Center’s first Extended Overnight Mission.

Bracken Funk directed the mission, assisted by other flight directors and supervisors and some of the best volunteers the Center is blessed to work with. I was pleased with the results for many reasons, the chief of which - I wrote Event Horizon. I like the mission and am pleased to see it run again in a longer setting. I told Event Horizon myself a few years ago. No matter how I trimmed and shaved the story I could never get it told in a short 5 hour overnight block. Bracken suggested he tell the mission as an Extended Overnight Camp. Creating an Extended Camp model allows us to tell our longer stories and that means more variety for our campers.

Bracken spent many long, unpaid hours tweaking and polishing Event Horizon for its debut last night. Everyone is happy with the results. If you didn’t get a chance to attend I urge you to take the opportunity next time it is offered. It really is one of my best missions and we all know I write the very best missions - If I say so myself. Of course, I say that while blushing at my computer.

And now for other news.......

The Space Center started offering Supernova as a field trip option October 1. With the addition of Supernova, the Space Center gives teachers five field trip choices:
  1. Supernova
  2. The Children of Perikoi
  3. A Cry from the Dark
  4. Midnight Rescue
  5. Intolerance
Never before in our 19 years have we offered so many choices to our students. We also give teachers a choice between two awesome classes, again a first in the Center’s history. All of this is because of dedicated staff and volunteers that work diligently to make everyone’s experience at the Center one to remember. Be sure to thank our staff for their hard work every time you come to the Center. We need happy volunteers that feel their work is appreciated.

And now for a personal comment........

Boy am I tired. I don’t personally fly the simulator for these super long missions but I’m still here directing and chaperoning. I try to take a quick nip from time to time but find it difficult to drift off. Between the sounds of the simulators, the music, the explosions and the endless gaggle of children’s voices, my hopeful escape into unconsciousness is never fulfilled until everyone stops for the night.

Last night the mission went into sleep mode at 2:00 A.M. It was 2:30 A.M. before I got everyone down and could go horizontal myself. Just as I stooped over to take off my socks I felt an uncomfortable spasm in my back.
“Oh No.....,” I mumbled to myself. I knew what happened. My hypothesis was confirmed as I tried to stand upright. Back pain was my constant companion for the rest of the night. "Why didn’t I just sleep in my socks?” I thought over and over again.

After a few minutes of self loathing I realized that if this logic was carried out to its natural conclusion everyone on this planet wouldn’t move from their current spot for fear they could twist a muscle, fall down a flight of stairs, choke on a hostess twinkie, walk into the path of a UTA bus, get hit by lightening or fall out of a tree (just to name a few). No, I was meant to mangle my back muscle. It had to happen. The Fates decreed and my back obeyed. It is a lesson we all learn sooner rather than later. You can’t escape life. You’re in the thick of it and the only escape is death. So, either swim or check out and drift to the bottom.

So here we are like ducks on a pond. For the most part we maintain a calm, cool above water appearance while all the time kicking under water for all we are worth to stay on life’s course.

It is now 4:09 P.M. My back hurts and I keep drifting off at the keyboard. The Voyager is running ‘Perikoi’, the Odyssey is running ‘Goodwill Mission’, and the Phoenix is running ‘Supernova’. I hear Roger, our custodian, buffing up and down the hallway. That buffer brings the sound that heralds the start of our one day weekend. At 5:00 P.M. I leave the Second Happiest Place on Earth and set sail for the stars that signify home. We at the Space Center call it our ‘Only’ instead of Weekend. Its called an ‘Only’ because some of us only get one day off a week. We make the most of our Sundays. It gives us a chance to reconnect to the world outside of our science fiction kingdom.

OK, I’m stopping now. I’m surrounded by the sound of flight directors playing Paklids. I’ll go out in the hall and talk to Roger. I can count on him to share a bit of national scandal discovered from careful searches of the internet. If it isn’t contaminated flu vaccine it could be alien infiltration of Acorn. Regardless, it is more entertaining and informative.

I hope to see many of you soon here in the trenches, and don't forget to visit me and my friends at Cloverdale - our home away from home in a cozy little corner of the world :)

Mr. Williamson

Friday, October 9, 2009

Possible Paint Scheme for the New Galileo

Hello Troops,
Mr. Kyle Herring sent the pictures below for my approval. As you know, the new Galileo sits in Central School's lunchroom. It isn't finish - but close. Once it is operational (November 1) and capable of handling crews we will focus on external decoration. This is a design I like. What do you think?

Mr. Williamson

Comet War. The Earth Strikes Back!

Artist view of LCROSS stage separation

At 5:30 am MDT, Terran Space Forces tested a new weapon in the Interplanetary War against the evil Comet Realm. The spent Centaur stage of the LCROSS system impacted into a crater near the Moon's south pole, followed a few minutes later by the crash of the observation probe that accompanied it. NASA telescopes and observers around the world are scanning the area to analyze the debris cloud. Of course, most of us slept through it, unaware of the bold stroke mankind prepares in its effort to thwart the enemy's plans.

Speculation abounds over the mission of the LCROSS system.

A leading critic of the administration has panned the effort as a mega-dollar boondoggle. "We already know how to smash things. Our military should at least have tried this years before against one of the enemy's impactors. All we've proven is we know we can hit the side of a barn."

Target: Cabeus Crater

Some speculate, however, that this was more than a test. NASA has speculated for some time that there could be deposits of water ice located at the moon's poles were there are permanent crater shadows. So far, only Dr. Bernhard of the Asteroid War Institute has ever put forth the idea that the enemy had actually established a hidden outpost on the Moon. If true, this mission would be Earth's fist counterattack against an enemy that has been at war with Earth since before recorded history.

Apollo 14 third stage impact site

The development of this mission stems from the accidental bounty of information gathered from the Apollo program. After seismic sensors were placed by the astronauts of Apollo 12, the third stage of Apollo 14 crashed into a desolate empty plain on the Moon's surface. Sensor data led NASA engineers to believe that a fast moving empty stage could cause sever devastation to a region around the impact site, even without an explosive warhead.

Of course, there are still doubters out there. This reporter has even heard a relatively unknown theory that this was a mere science experiment designed to look for traces of water in the resultant debris cloud. Here at the Space Rubble Command Bunker, we'll place that one right with the Flat Moon believers.

Mark Daymont,
Space Center Educator
From his blog: