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

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's All Quiet on the Western Front.

Hello Troops,
Its 11:37 P.M.
All Quiet on the Western Front.
We are on the first day of the Space Center's very first Ultimate Camp. Twenty five of the 44 campers here tonight are on the Ultimate Camp.
Last February, as I contemplated this summer camp season, I created the Ultimate Camp by joining an EdVenture Camp to a regular one night Overnight Camp. Campers could sign up for just the EdVenture Camp, or the Overnight Camp or Both - thus, the EdVenture Camp.

Our Ultimate Campers will compete this EdVenture Camp on Wednesday at 3:00 P.M. At 3:30 P.M. they will get an additional three hour mission, then supper. After supper they sign into Overnight Camp four and join twenty new campers coming for just for the OV camp. I thought the concept was brilliant, if you don't mind me tooting my own horn. We have a four day, three night camp without all the work of designing a completely new camp.

Will it be successful? Ask me Thursday morning at 10:00 A.M.

This is our fourth EdVenture Camp. We are on the downhill slope toward the end of the summer season. As a staff we are praying for a peaceful camp. Last week's EdVenture Camp had its moments. We had several severe ADD campers and one young man that loved to roam the sleeping areas in the night. At first I thought it was sleep walking but now I'm not so sure. I don't think it was anything sinister - the kid was barely 10 years old. I think he was exploring. I'd get him settled then as soon as I went to bed he'd be up again. Finally four of the boys came to get me. They said he was pretending to be Golum from Lord of the Rings and was scaring them. I finally had to put him closer to me and the other staff.

I didn't get much sleep during that camp. He would lay there watching me to see if I'd drift off. If I pretended to go to sleep he'd slowly get up, testing the waters so to speak. I'd then open my eyes. He'd see me and lay back down. It was cat and mouse for several hours. He finally went to sleep.

It's all OK. It is what we do. We run a children's camp and we all know that children say and do the Darnest things.

It's 11:51 P.M. I'm hearing creaking in the loft. The boys are settling down and hopefully falling asleep. Jon and Todd are on the bridge. The younger male staff are asleep in the Odyssey. The girls are at the other end of the school with Mrs. Houston and the other female staff. Our high school boys are sleeping in Discovery. Kyle, our maintenance man, is working on the Galileo in the Cafeteria. It's difficult for him to work on the Galileo during the day. The ship is far too busy. Instead he's shifted his working hours to work during the night while everyone else sleeps. He was under the ship drilling something when I left him twenty or so minutes ago.

There's more creaking in the loft. That is the only sound I hear that tells me others are in the building. The sound of air moving through the air ducts is the underlying melody to the still one rarely finds at our Space Education Center.

We have a good staff. They are real troopers, each going the extra mile to ensure our campers have a good experience at the Center. I'm hoping they all sleep well. This will be one of our longest weeks of work yet.

I'm tired now. Midnight lies two minutes away. At the stroke of twelve the Space Center ghosts and goblins come out to play. I hope to be snugly tucked into bed before the last chime with my blanket pulled tightly over my head. Perhaps luck will take pity on his poor traveling companion and inspire our spirits to search for mischief elsewhere.

Good Night Troops,
Mr. Williamson

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Marissa Vists the New Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. This is Her Report.

Mr. Williamson,

As some of the Space Center's staff know, I recently went on a two week trip to Florida with my family. We went to all four of the Disney World parks, the Kennedy Space Center, and Universal Studios. The highlight of the trip was that in the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was doing some soft openings. By now the mini-park is open, but a lot more crowded than when we went.
Once you walk into the mini-park, you are just blasted with detail. You see the Hogwarts Express first thing to your right and it's even steaming. There's a conductor hanging around in that area so you can take your picture with him.
Once past that you see that you are walking down a cobblestone street in Hogsmeade. I love that they purposely made everything look crooked. There is snow on the roofs of the buildings that sparkles in the sunlight just like real snow, and it has started melting near the top of the roof. To your right you see Zonko's joke shop and Honeydukes. Zonko's is in Hogsmeade according to the books, but combines some of Fred and George's merchandise, such as Pygmy Puffs and Extendable Ears. Honeydukes sells candy and treats. They had just to name a few: Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Juice, Pepper Imps, Cauldron Cakes, Acid Pops, Bertie Botts Every-Flavor Beans, Fizzing Whizzbees, and treacle fudge. Some of Zonko's merchandise were: Pygmy Puffs, Rubber Chickens, Inflatable Tongues, Sneakoscopes, Extendable Ears, Screaming Yo-Yos, Boxing Telescopes, Shrunken Heads, and Fanged Flyers.
Next thing you see on your left is Dragon Challenge, a remake of the Dueling Dragons coaster. It has two different tracks, the Chinese Fireball and the Hungarian Horntail. In the line to get on the ride you walk through the Champion's tent, which has the Goblet of Fire in the middle. Further down you see the Triwizard Cup and the champion's golden eggs.

Back in Hogsmeade, right across from Dragon Challenge you see the Three Broomsticks. The Three Broomsticks is, according to the books, the main place you go in Hogsmeade if you want to eat. (the Hog's Head is second) So in the WWOHP it is basicly that. It is a sit down restaurant that offers all sorts of foods that you would find in England, along with some strictly Harry Potter related items. The Hog's Head pub is sort of combined with the Three Broomsticks. They sell Butterbeer and some other drinks. Butterbeer is like a fine tuned root beer with butterscotch foam on the top. And yes, they have a hog's head that moves around and grunts.
Now getting further in Hogsmeade, we start to see some shops on the left that aren't ever open, but there to display some cool things from the book. Such as in one display, you see a giant Mimbulus Mimbletonia plant like the one Neville had in the 5th book. You also see some Gillyweed that Harry used in the 2nd task in the 4th book.
Across from all these displays is the owlery. They basicly took the top of the Great Hall, (not the starry part, the real ceiling) and put some owls up there,(fake) as if they were delivering the post in the mornings. There is even a real working clock with the gears moving.

Next to the Owlery is a shop called Dervish and Banges. It sells mostly odds and ends and some clothing too. Also inside is an animatronic Monster Book of Monsters in a cage that growls at the passerby. I got my robes from here. (Slytherin of course)
Going further up the street we see Ollivanders wand shop. Technically, it is supposed to be in Diagon Alley, but it just wouldn't be Harry Potter without a wand shop. Here you can have a interactive experience that is just like when Harry gets his wand in the movie. After the interactive part you can get your picture with Ollivander and then head into the shop part. They have all of the main character's wands, as well as some of the secondary characters. (Hogwarts teachers) To keep up with Slytherin mindset, I got Voldemort's wand, which is exactly 13 and a half inches just like in the books.
Now we are pretty much out of Hogsmeade and we can see Hogwarts looming up above us. To our left we see The Flight of the Hippogriff, a kiddie coaster. When on The Flight of the Hippogriff you see Hagrid's hut and his pumpkin patch, along with an animatronic hippogriff.

And now for the star attraction of the WWOHP we walk right underneath the castle to the entrance of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Walking through just the line is amazing. I'll try to keep this quick. First we see a mock up of the Mirror of Erised and a statue. Then we walk out into the Herbology Greenhouses where we see and hear mandrakes. Then walking back into the darkness of the castle you see two more statues and the 4 House points hourglasses. (Gryffindor is in the lead of course) Now straight in front of us is the gargoyle that leads into Dumbledore's office. Then we see the first of the moving portraits that are actually videos with a layer on top of them to make them look like real paintings. We then come out into a large room which is Dumbledore's office with a 3-D hologram of Dumbledore talking to you about the ride. After that you walk into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where you see a hologram of Harry, Ron, and Hermione telling you that they are going to try and sneak you out of the castle to watch a game of Quidditch. We then walk into a large room that has many portraits including the four Hogwarts founders, who are interacting with each other. Then you see a mock up of the Pink Lady, the portrait that is the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room. Then, guess what? We walk into the Gryffindor Common Room. It looks exactly like it does in the movies, with a few more moving portraits. Then at the final part of the line, we see an amazing animatronic of the Sorting Hat giving you final instructions on the ride. Then you come out into the loading area of the ride which looks like the Room of Requirement. Then you get on the ride. The seats are designed like rollercoasters that attach on the top, but this is more of a simulation of flying than a rollercoaster. You can tell that they do the best that they can to hide all the mechanisms behind the ride. I'm not going to give you an entire walkthrough of the ride, you'll just have to go there and do it for yourself but I can tell you that there is no other ride like it that has ever been created before. It combines screens with interaction, but there are a few places where you will get a little bit wet and others where you will feel the heat.
The ride ends in a shop just like any other ride. The shop is called Filch's Confiscated Goods. They have a good selection of stuffed magical creatures you can buy such as owls and phoenixes. They also have Hogwarts mugs, Quidditch supplies, pins, and Marauder's Maps.

During the day, they have shows about every 45 minutes. There are two different shows. One of them is a Hogwarts Frog Choir with 4 singers, one from each house. Two of them will always have portable anamatronic frogs that will "sing". In the other show they bring in three students from Durmstrang and four students from Beauxbatons. The students from Durmstrang do some acrobatics, and the students from Beauxbatons dance gracefully and twirl their ribbons.
Overall the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an absolutely amazing place.(considering how much I wrote about it)
It is better than the rest of Universal. Hogwarts castle is truly an amazing work of architecture. You can see it looming above the trees almost everywhere in Universal's Islands of Adventure. Every square inch of the WWOHP (have you figured out what that stands for yet?) was checked by J.K. Rowling. Even the actors from the Harry Potter movies came and checked it out. Now I must admit that the WWOHP is better than the Space Center. (sorry Mr. Williamson) Go there.

Marissa B.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Enough! I've Spent Enough Time Today Trying to Prove This Wrong...

Please Click to Enlarge

Hello Troops,
I've spent enough time sitting at my desk trying to prove that I CAN move my foot and hand in opposite directions. You can imagine how ridulous I looked to the unaware customer that came in during one of my attempts.

I'm forwarding this on to you so you can waste a portion of your day trying, and looking just as foolish as me.

Oh, and if you can do what this says you can't do, then you are to be worshiped indeed.

Mr. Williamson

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 3

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.

Aleta Clegg.

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 3

by Aleta Clegg
Space Center Educator and Digitarium Director

“Shuttle bay looks clear,” Turner whispered.

Vasha nodded. She tapped a code on the access panel. The lights blinked.

“Shuttle undocking sequence intiated. Odyssey will undock in 10 minutes.” The words scrolled across the screen.

I fingered the phaser Vasha insisted I steal. Could I shoot someone from my own crew? Even on stun? Could I do it without shooting myself? I’d flunked every weapons exam I’d ever taken.

“They’re waiting on board for us.” Vasha waved us into the shuttle bay.

The airlock hissed shut, cycling quickly. We entered the Odyssey.

Commander Perry tapped keys on the command station. “Ship systems are coming online. Lieutenant Harken is on deck two persuading the ship’s computer specialist to join us. We’re going to need her help to get Delphi installed. We can get to the first objective, but we’ll need Delphi to fly beyond that.”

“Good work.” Vasha seated herself in the captain’s chair. “Turner, keep an eye on the power at Operations. Stevens, you take the comm. Perry, you have the pilot’s station.”

“Undocking procedure commencing. Shuttle bay doors opening,” the computer announced. “Disconnecting power from the Voyager.”

The lights dimmed. I slid into the chair in front of communications, Commander Perry sat to my left. She tweaked the thrusters. The ship lifted smoothly, sliding through the open doors into space.

Lights flashed on my station. The computer beeped. “I think someone is trying to hail us,” I said.

“Ignore them,” Vasha ordered. “Lieutenant Harken, set the computer to send an equipment malfunction code. Then get the torpedoes loaded with the decoy packages.”

“What happens if they fire on us?” Turner asked.

“They won’t. Delphi has disabled all weapons on the Voyager.”

“My lights are still blinking.” I prodded my controls.

“Harken? Are the decoys ready?”

“One moment, ma’am.” The overhead speakers crackled. “Evangeline put up some resistance. We’ll be ready to launch in a few moments.”

“How are power levels, Turner?”

“I have no idea. I’m a cook, Vasha.”

The lights flipped red. The alarm hooted. “Incoming torpedo. All hands brace for impact.”

“The Voyager is shooting at us?” Not even on my worst days did I ever imagine Captain Herring would shoot his own ships.

“Not the Voyager. That’s a battleship, but not showing any identification.” Turner tapped the sensors screen. “Unless I’m reading this wrong.”

“Get us out of here, Perry!” Vasha pushed Turner out of the way. “It’s a marauder! Harken, load those decoys!” Vasha turned to the Tactical station, her fingers flying over the keyboard as she bypassed the security codes. “Turner, push these buttons when that turns green.”

She came at me next. I tumbled from the chair, squeezing against the wall to get out of the way.

“All hands, brace for warp speeds, warp engines have been activated. Warning. Incoming torpedo. Impact in five, four, three...”

Vasha typed furiously. The warp engines powered slowly. Commander Perry calmly punched the thrusters, shifting the ship to one side.

“Two, one. Impact.”

The lights dimmed, the ship shook, smoke and sparks erupted from the engineering pod. The Odyssey shuddered as it accelerated to warp speeds.

The lights shifted back to normal blue.

“We’ve lost the engine core interositer and the main power grid,” Harken reported over the speakers.

“The stealth field is still operational.” Vasha brushed past me to check the command screen. “We’ll activate it later, when we’re closer and Delphi has had a chance to integrate.”

“Do you have a plan to rescue Captain Herring’s sister?” Turner asked.

“Did you get those decoys launched?”

“I pushed the button.”

Vasha smiled, seating herself in the captain’s chair. “My plan is already working. We’re going to trade with Del Brugado.”

“You’re giving him Delphi?” I shot a suspicious glance over my shoulder.

“Don’t be silly. I’m using Delphi to take over Del Brugado’s ship to deliver him to Starfleet headquarters. I just need to dangle bait that he can’t resist. We’re going to steal the Gemini device to trade to him.”

“We’re stealing a top secret device to give to a pirate. And here I thought I was through being a criminal.” I bit my tongue on the names I wanted to call Vasha. Idiot was the mildest by far.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 2

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.

Aleta Clegg.

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 2

I slammed the cover of the replicator shut. Everything checked out perfect, but the hamburger deluxe still tasted of fresh strawberries, not flame-broiled beef. The light in the cafeteria flickered off. I slumped against the wall in the sudden darkness. Find the spy, ha! Admiral Williamson was delusional if he thought I could find anything on the ship. The Voyager was a mess. Nothing worked properly. Half the crew were on report at any given time. Captain Herring locked himself in his quarters for days on end, refusing to talk to anyone except Lieutenant Bradley.

Rumors of mutiny floated in the air. Mutiny against the Captain, not Starfleet, although if the Admiral was right, someone wanted the Voyager in Del Brugado’s pink-gloved hands.

The lights blinked back on. I collected my scattered tools.

Turner, my assistant, poked his head through the door to the empty cafeteria. “Adrian? The replicators on deck ten are delivering charcoal lumps.”

“Do they taste like strawberries?” I stuffed tools in my pockets. “We can’t get any replacements until we make Starbase 89 in another day or two.”

We walked together to the lift. Turner shot suspicious glances at the crew, clustering in small groups in the hallways. Officers stopped whispering as we passed. We stepped into the lift. The door slid shut.

Turner watched the lights flicker past. “This ship is cursed.”

I nodded agreement. Williamson’s warnings about not trusting anyone echoed in my head. Was Turner part of the conspiracy? He couldn’t be. He had less access than I did. How the Admiral expected me to find his spy was still a complete mystery.

The lift slowed, then changed direction.

I frowned. “We’re not headed for deck ten. We’re going up.”

Turner punched the stop button. The lift continued moving. He hit it again. “Stupid messed up piece of junk! Top of the line ship, ha! Nothing works right.”

I pulled a screwdriver from my pocket. “Let me at the controls.”

“And get us stuck here for the next six hours? I know how you like to abuse door controls.”

“Get out of my way, Turner.”

Turner crossed his arms. “Report me for mutiny. I dare you. I don’t want stuck in the lift with you. It’s still moving so it’s not broken. It’s just not going to deck ten. We can take the emergency ladders once it stops.”

As if on cue, the lift slid to a stop. The doors opened on a dim laboratory space with a clear dome ceiling. I craned my neck, watching stars as I exited the lift.

“Where are we?” Turner asked, staring overhead.

“Auxiliary Astronomical Observation Deck.”

We both looked to the far side of the room. A thin woman nervously chewed her fingernails. Her lips twitched in an imitation smile. “Hello, Adrian.”

“Vasha.” I greeted her. “I thought you were transferred to a planetary posting.”

She shoved a stray strand of hair behind one ear. “Captain Herring refused to sign the transfer papers.”

“Access ladders are over here.” Turner opened a hatch.

“The lift didn’t malfunction,” Vasha said. “I programmed it to bring you here. I trust you, Adrian. I need your help.”

Turner closed the hatch.

Vasha chewed her lip, watching me.

More intrigue. I hated playing games with people. I shoved the screwdriver back into my pocket. “What do you need, Vasha?”

“They’re filing charges against Captain Herring, conspiracy and piracy. He’s going to be court-martialed when we get to Starbase 89. I can’t let that happen. He doesn’t have a choice.”

I studied her face. “You know something about the mutiny or about the sabotage to the ship?”

She nodded. “Someone is trying to use the Delphi AI to control the ship.”

“They wiped the memory banks. Several times.”

Vasha flicked a glance at Turner. “They have a corrupt copy they keep installing. I don’t know who or I’d stop them. Del Brugado is holding Captain Herring’s sister and her family hostage. The captain has no choice but to do what the pirates tell him.”

“Why haven’t you told someone, like Admiral Williamson?”

Vasha shrugged. “I have no proof. Not yet. But I have a plan to help Drew, I mean the captain. I need your help.”

“How can we help? We run the kitchen.”

“I saw what you did last time, both of you. You can help.”

“Do what?” Turner asked.

Vasha pulled a data chip from her pocket. “This is the real Delphi protocol. I tweaked the programming.”

“We’re going to use it to take over the Voyager?” I couldn’t hide the skepticism in my voice. “It didn’t work last time.”

“But it did,” she corrected me. “It just took longer than I expected to fully integrate. And we aren’t taking over the Voyager. It’s too big. No, we’re going to rescue Drew’s sister and her family. You are going to help me steal the Odyssey. And Delphi is going to make it possible for us to fly it.”

I saw insanity in her eyes as she smiled. “Would you rather be shot in the mutiny that will happen tonight?”

Great. Steal a ship or get caught in the crossfire in a mutiny? Either way, my career and possibly my life were over. I accepted the lesser of the two evils.


Vasha dropped the data chip in her pocket. “Right now.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Almost Time for Bed

Hello Troops,
It's 11:35 P.M. on Friday, June 18. I'm at my computer. The door is open into the Voyager in front of me. I hear faint laughing from the Crew Quarters. I'm guessing Jon and Todd are telling stories before going to lights out. I hear the sound of two air conditioners. I hear air exiting the vents in the ceiling directly above the Transporter leading to the stage.

It's quiet now. No more laughing. They must be going to bed. The junior high staff are tucked away in the Odyssey to my left. They are either asleep or watching a video or two on their ever present ipods. The senior high male staff and volunteers are in Discovery. I'm sure they're not asleep. I gave them until midnight to talk.

I spoke too soon. Loud laughter now from the Crew Quarters. Jon and Todd are in true form tonight. I'm surprised they've got the energy. This was swimming and video night. Several of the campers were sound asleep and had to be woken up to go to bed when the video ended at 11:00 P.M.

I'm hearing two boys climb the ladder to reach the Captain's Quarters and bed. It's 11:43 P.M. now and story time must be ending.

This has been a wonderful camp. We have 41 campers, twelve of whom are on the joint Astrocamp / CMSEC six day camp. The kids are kind, courteous and respectful to the staff. They are sci fi fans and enjoy their time in the ships. They were excited to watch an episode of old Classic Trek. We watched "Balance of Terror".

One of the boys is tapping the plastic window pane looking out of the loft and into the Briefing Room where I'm sitting. I think he wants my attention. I'm typing so I'll ignore him. I can't see him anyway due to the glare of the reading lamp to my left. The beds in the loft are creaking. The boys are moving. That is the one downside to those loft beds. Every turn is accompanied by the creaking of wood.

This camp ends at 3:00 P.M. tomorrow. We will be sad to see this group of campers leave. We will be excited come Monday evening to greet another new set of campers for our next EdVenture Camp.

11:52 P.M. My pad is waiting on the floor, my shoe is in the doorway keeping the door into the hallway partially open. I'm tired...........but there are a few other housekeeping things I need to do while on the computer.

Yes, you could say the night is lovely, dark and deep but I have miles to go before I sleep.

Nodding in and out of consciousness, I am,

Mr. Williamson

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 1. Adrian is At It Again.

Hello Troops,
OK, message received. We've heard comments critical of the lack of posts on the Blog lately. I'm guilty as charged.

Good News, Aleta Clegg, published author of the new book Nexus Point ( and Space Center Educator and Digitarium Director has graciously offered to create a new installment in her Adrian Stevens series from last summer.

Please enjoy this new installment in the life of Adrian Stevens.

Mr. Williamson

This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.

Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 1
Aleta Clegg

Admiral Williamson leaned back, his chair squeaking. “How is life aboard the Voyager, Stevens?” He watched me as if I were a bug under a microscope.

I shifted my weight, uncomfortable in the tight Starfleet uniform. “Fine, sir.”

“Really?” He arched one eyebrow. “You can speak freely, Adrian. I want an honest answer. If I wanted a politically correct asinine answer, I would have asked Lieutenant Bradley.”

I searched for a polite way to frame my answer. “Stressful, sir.”

Williamson tapped his steepled fingers against his chin. His air of benevolence didn’t fool me. He was the meanest admiral in Starfleet. He let silence hang between us, heavy and dense. I resisted the impulse to loosen my collar.

“You’ve learned some discretion. Admirable trait. But right now, I need answers. I need the truth.” His chair thumped forward. He fingered a stylus lying on his immaculate desk. “Have a seat and tell me the full truth, Adrian.”

I dropped into a chair. “You want everything, sir?”

“Every piece of dirty laundry. Your report won’t go beyond this office.”

I started with something safe. “The computer glitches in the ship are driving everyone crazy. Ever since Captain Herring activated the Delphi protocol, nothing responds right. They’ve wiped the core a dozen times and reinstalled everything, but within a day or two, the problems are back.”

“What kind of problems?”

“Doors opening and closing on their own, locking and unlocking at random intervals, lights shutting off. Nothing that would jeapordize the safety of the crew. One of the engineers, Larsen, reported voices in an empty corridor last week, but everyone thinks he’s nuts anyway.” I frowned. “The replicators are off, too. Everything tastes like strawberries.”

“That could be worse. Everything could taste like fish.” Williamson tapped the stylus on his desk. “And Captain Herring, any odd behavior?”

“No worse than before, sir.” I shifted on the hard chair. “I’m not the one to ask. I’m not privy to his conversations or his messages. I cook the food.”

“And keep the inventory lists. Captain Herring ordered enough computer chips to completely replace every system on the Voyager. Why?”

I shook my head. “There are only the regulation spares on the Voyager, sir. If he ordered that many, I’d know.”

“He deviated from his assigned route last month. Twice. The Voyager made unscheduled stops at two colonies near the Klingon border.” Williamson’s fingers tapped rapidly on the desk, the stylus clattering. “The complement of arms aboard the Voyager does not match the manifest. Half a dozen quantum torpedoes are missing, along with most of the hand phasers. Where are they?”

I swallowed hard. “I have no idea. I don’t inventory weapons. Lieutenant Bradley is responsible for those.”

Williamson leaned forward, lowering his voice. “There is a spy in Starfleet, one working for the Fellucian Marauders.”

“And you think he’s on the Voyager?”

“I’m positive that he, or she, is part of the Voyager’s crew. You are in a perfect position to find the traitor, Stevens.” The admiral’s steely eyes bored into mine. “I want a name within the week.”

I nodded. Guilt lay heavy in my belly. I’d suspected something, but not this. After our encounter with Del’Brugado and the Fellucian Marauders, I’d come to respect Captain Herring. I’d never like him, though. And I’d never have believed he would betray his command. But deep down, I knew something was wrong.

“I want you to find information, Stevens, no matter where the trail leads. I need to know who is leaking information to the pirates. Every move we make, every ship we send, it’s as if they know exactly what we’re planning before we even send the orders.”

“You suspect Captain Herring. How do you know it isn’t me?”

Williamson smiled, cold and calculating. “You said yourself you don’t have the right access.”

“But the captain works for you. Doesn’t he?”

“Go find me a spy, Adrian Stevens. And watch your back.” He set the stylus on his desk. “I hear Del Brugado plays for keeps.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bright Green Comet is Streaking Across Early Morning Skies

There is a bright green comet is streaking across early morning skies this week.
Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 has been steadily gaining brightness and will be most brilliant through June 16, during its closest approach to Earth at about 105 million miles (170 million kilometers) away.

Some predictions say the comet—best seen from the Northern Hemisphere—could be at least as bright as the stars that make up the familiar Big Dipper constellation.

C/2009 R1, already visible to the naked eye as a faint, fuzzy ball low in the northeastern sky, is best seen in the hour before the sun rises, said Anthony Cook, an astronomical observer at Los Angeles's Griffith Observatory.

"Because it has a hazy outline, it should be observed from as far away from light pollution as possible," Cook said.

(Read about a green, two-tailed comet seen in 2009.)

"Between now and the 24th of June, it's visible in a moon-free sky, but after the 26th it will be too close to the sun to see."

Comet McNaught's Superlong Tail Promises Flashy Show

The intensity of brightness seen in comet McNaught C/2009 R1—named after the Australian astronomer Robert McNaught who first spotted it in September 2009—only occurs once every four years or so, Cook said. (Learn about the "age of comets.")

Another comet also named by the astronomer, McNaught C/2006 P1, put on a spectacular show in 2007. It was later discovered to be one of the biggest and brightest known comets.

As C/2009 R1 nears the sun, its ice melts, releasing gas and dust that stream away into space. (Explore an asteroids and comets interactive.)

This reaction forms a distinctive blue tail of ionized carbon monoxide stretching a million miles (about 1.6 million kilometers) long. Through binoculars, the tail appears about the same length as the width of the full moon in the sky.

Meanwhile, the comet's nucleus is only a few miles across, with a surrounding glowing greenish cloud of gas that is about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) across—roughly the distance from Earth to the moon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Its Monday. What Are We Doing Here!?

Hello Troops,
It's Monday evening. So what am I doing at the Space Center at 9:35 P.M.? Why, running an Overnight Camp. Why else?

The Space Center's working schedule is all Topsy Turvy in the summer time. Without school schedules to work around we can offer our camps throughout the week.

This summer I organized the schedule so we could have one overnight camp and one EdVenture camp (3 day camp) per week with numerous private missions running whenever we aren't running camps. It keeps us busy, and busy is a good thing. Being busy means a steady flow of income and the summer season is where the Space Center makes most of its yearly operating budget. Remember, the Center doesn't receive a yearly budget (except for my salary) from the District. We must raise our operating budget ourselves.

Tonight's camp started messed up. The camp register showed 43 campers. By the time everyone was signed in we had 48! Our normal max. for all camps is 45. We were over our max by three. Four campers arrived one month too early. Their Confirmation Forms said July 14-15. Of course, I didn't look at the month on their forms, I only saw the 14-15. I assumed they had the correct forms and that Mrs. Clegg forgot to put them into the computer when she enrolled them. It wasn't until she pointed out the fact that the word "July" was on the paper and not "June" did I realize their mistake and mine for not catching it when the camp started.

Regardless, we were at 48 campers and 45 was our max. To solve the problem, I decided to have the Voyager, Phoenix, and Galileo tell 2.5 hour private missions instead of five hour missions. The Voyager can handle twelve for a private mission but not for a five hour mission. The three ships are telling their short missions now. At 10:20 P.M. the campers will switch ships and get to do another 2.5 hour mission. We used to do it years ago whenever we had more kids in the camp than planned for.

I can hear the Voyager crew on the other side of the door in front of my desk.
"Go Go Go Go!" a young boy's voice is commanding. The Voyager crew is crammed at the Stage Transporter Door waiting their turn to enter the Stage on the other side to do their "Away Team" experience. Orion Pirates are in the ship. They plan on making their "Last Stand" on the school's stage. Not as rustic as Little Big Horn but it will do the job.

I'm loving this cooler weather in Utah. It has been good for us, as long as it warms up by Friday. We are running our second EdVenture Camp this Thursday - Saturday. We go swimming Friday night. Highs in the 60's doesn't make for good outdoor swimming. The weather will cooperate. It should get into the 80's this Friday. Perfect for the pool.

Zac is running the Magellan for this camp. He is telling the Magellan's new story for the first time. Brittney and Nicole are his supervisors and hand holders to help him get through the parts he doesn't know.

I hear the Voyager crew again. They are returning from the Stage. From the excitement in their voices I can tell they were successfully able to defeat the invading Orion Pirates and keep their ship under their control. Those darn Orion Pirates. Mischief makers throughout the entire known galaxy!

I think I hear someone walking on the roof of the school. Kids sometimes get up there and walk around. Boy will they be in for a shock when I emerge from the hatchway in the light of the pale moon..........

Mr. Williamson

Please Watch and Remember. Embrace Life

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our First EdVenture Camp

Hello Troops,
It's 9:20 P.M. by the clock above the Odyssey's emergency exit. We are a couple hours into our first EdVenture Camp for the 2010 Summer season. I'm yawning. I'm tired. I've been plugging away since 9:00 A.M. and have several more miles to go before I sleep. I'll be here a total of 50 hours before I go home, and that's just the start of the week! I still have full days of private missions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday along with another Overnight Camp Thursday night. Oh yes, its summer and that means I'm hear around 80 hours per week.

I'm paid for 40 hours and gladly donate the other 40 hours to the Center. It isn't proper to direct a non profit organization so dependant on volunteer help without setting the example and volunteering myself. So, Space Center Volunteers, Mr. Williamson is right there in the bunkers with you fighting the good fight and doing what he can to make the Center a success. Volunteerism is the life blood of the Center and I'm convinced the best way to lead is by example.

But, I'm asking for your 'understanding' if you come in and I'm not myself. You might find me slumped back in my chair asleep in a very Peppermint Patty way, or you might find me catching a few winks in the library. I've got a pad right by the Odyssey Control Room door so I can lay there and still track the missions and the campers. You might find me wondering aimlessly through the school looking purposeful (but in reality - quite befuddled). Wish me a good day. If I don't respond then take me by the arm and lead me back to the library and tell me to lay down. I should be right as rain in a few minutes.

Today I spent most of the day pondering over the working schedule, climbing up and down the ladder in the Custodial Closet to get to the school's roof to check on air conditioning. I discovered the Gym's AC was working (the compressor was doing its job) but wasn't putting out the air. The custodian and I found the reason. The belt driving the fan was too lose to turn the fan to deliver the cooled air.

The camp started at 7:00 P.M. We've got 34 campers. They are in their first short rotation (a 3 hour mission). I'm listening to the Phoenix crew debate with the ship's engineer about the impulse engine. The Phoenix is always the loudest ship. The poor captain has come out three times. He claims it is too intense. We stop tonight at 10:30 P.M. for ice cream and then bed. I've got just under an hour to go. I'm not sure I can make it. I think I'll take a walk through the school and then stretch out for a minute or two in the Library and listen to the Odyssey mission.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Falcon 9 A Success! Private Enterprise Proves it Can Be Done!

Hello Troops,
SpaceX is a private company under NASA contract to build the rockets needed to carry supplies and astronauts into space. Remember the Space Shuttles are due to be retired after a couple more launches.

This weekend SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space. This paves the way for the commercialization of space. This is a good thing for the American tax payers and I believe will open the door for a vibrant and active Space Program for the future. A career in the space industry might just be a possibility for the youth of today.

The following is an article on the launch and a short video.

Mr. Williamson

It was history in the making that could have a huge bearing on the future of US spaceflight. The commercial space company SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, with what seemed to be a picture-perfect lift-off and flight. The Falcon 9 rocket performed magnificently (at least from initial reports), hitting all the flight parameters precisely on time. The SpaceX team overcame delays for telemetry problems, a boat that unknowingly sailed into the restricted zone of the launch range, and one last-second launch abort on an earlier try. The team then successfully recycled the engines and sent the rocket off on a beautiful launch. Video from the rocket in flight was streamed online, showing the stage separation and engine cutoff, with a view of Earth in the background. UPDATE: reports that SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage and dummy Dragon capsule achieved a nearly perfect orbit during today's dramatic blastoff, hitting a bullseye of the orbital target. The apogee, or high point, was about 1 percent higher than planned and the perigee, or low point, was 0.2 percent off the target. The Falcon 9 blasted off at 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT) from launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The nine Merlin engines, fueled by liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene rocket fuel, provided a million pounds of thrust, sending the rocket to orbit in just over 9 minutes.

SpaceX was shooting for the Falcon 9 to reach a circular orbit 250 kilometers, or 155 miles, high and an inclination of 34.5 degrees.

On the video, it is evident the rocket experienced a slight roll, which was not expected.

Having a rocket succeed on its maiden voyage is quite unusual (it took the Atlas rocket 13 tries for success), so the SpaceX team has to be extremely pleased with not only the rocket's performance, but the team's ability to overcome problems and press on with a successful launch. 180-foot (55 meter)-high Falcon 9 carried a mock-up of SpaceX's Dragon capsule. With this success, the next flight may be a flight to the International Space Station to practice docking techniques — it won't actually dock, but practice approach. If that goes well, the next flight might actually dock and bring supplies to the ISS.

Congratulations to SpaceX!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scientists begin 520-day Mars mission simulation

MOSCOW (AP) - An international team of researchers in Russia on Thursday began a grueling simulation of a flight to Mars that will keep them locked in a cascade of windowless modules for 520 days _ the amount of time required for a journey to the Red Planet and back to Earth.

While the experiment, conducted jointly by Russia, China and the European Space Agency, will not involve weightlessness, it will try to tackle some of the psychological challenges of a real flight to Mars _ particularly the stress, claustrophobia and fatigue that a real space crew would face during interplanetary travel.

The six-member, all-male crew _ consisting of three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian-Colombian and a Chinese _ expressed confidence that the mission would be a success.

Diego Urbina, the Italian-Colombian member, said the mission would mean "accomplishing dreams about the future, doing something that no human has done before."

Psychologists said the simulation can be even more demanding that a real flight because the crew won't experience any of the euphoria or dangers of actual space travel. They have also warned that months of space travel would push the team to the limits of endurance as they grow increasingly tired of each other.

Well aware of this hazard, crew members equipped themselves accordingly. For instance, French participant Romain Charles said he was bringing along a guitar so he could entertain the other team members.

The main task of the Mars-500 experiment, conducted by the Moscow-based Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, will study the effects of long isolation to better understand how a real space crew should cope with stress and fatigue.

The facility for the experiment is located in Russia's premier space medicine center. It is comprised of several interconnected modules with a total volume of 550 cubic meters (about 20,000 cubic feet) and a separate built-in imitator of the Red Planet's surface for a mock landing.

The researchers will communicate with the outside world via Internet _ delayed and occasionally disrupted to imitate the effects of space travel. They will eat canned food similar to that currently offered on the International Space Station and take a shower once every 10 days _ mimicking space conditions. The crew will have two days off in a week, except when emergencies are simulated.

The ESA said the crew will also regularly play video games as part of the agency's project to develop personalized software to interact with crews on future space missions.

Other crew members include Sukhrob Kamolov, 32, Alexander Smoleyevsky, 33 and Alexey Sitev, 38 _ all Russians _ and Wang Yue, 26, from China.

For mission captain Sitev, the experiment means separation from his wife just a few weeks after the two wed. When asked about marital repercussions, he tried to put on a brave face.

"I'll tell you that it's difficult for me to part with my family, just as it is for any other person," he told journalists just before the experiment began.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

As Always..... The Imaginarium at Work.

Imaginarium Handbook.
Rule 1
Ask, "How?"
Don't Ask, "Why?"
For often, if you start with "Why?", the Magic never happens........
Enjoy the Magic of Imagination.