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Monday, September 12, 2011

A Brief History on the Space Center's Simulators.

Hello Troops,
I'd like to thank Kyle Herring (David Kyle to many) for taking the time and writing this piece for The Troubadour outlining the early history of the Space Center's missions and simulators.

The Voyager's history is well documented from the year 2000 on. Unfortunately I wasn't writing a blog or posting things to the Internet during the years 1990 to 1999. I was too busy running a Space Center. The history must come from the memories of those who lived through those founding years.

Kyle was and is the Space Center's best friend. His contributions to the Center have made the Center what it is today. I rest easier at night knowing Kyle's 'got my back'.

Thanks Kyle!
Mr. W.

David Kyle
Sorry, its the only picture I have somewhat complimentary :)

And Now, the Early History
David Kyle Herring
I’d like to take a moment of your time and explain from my memory how the center got where it is, what actually makes the magic, and the traditions now taken for granted or discarded because it's the old way of doing things and/or takes a lot more work.

We all know the Space Center didn’t just appear out of thin air, and very few people know all the fun stories, sacrifice, stress, and hard work done by Victor, Lorraine Houston, Bill Schuller, Mark Daymont, Dave Wall and other staff members and volunteers who set a written and unwritten standard of what makes a bad, good or great simulation and overall experience.

It's time to write the Space Center’s early history so new staff and volunteers will understand that they are part of long line of succession and tradition that evolved over the past 21years.
I realize I can't tell everyone’s stories, but I can share an extremely abbreviated version of my experience over the past 21 years.

I really loved bringing back the long Overnight Missions the Center told during the 1990’s, now called "Super Overnight". It was in 2005 when I convinced Vic to let me do it. My goal was to recreate the magic I experienced back then for the younger Space Center fans of today.

When I was a kid. Overnight Missions were 18 hrs long - you even received 18 rank credits for attending. Kids arrived at the center at 5pm, picked our bunk and placed our gear on it, ate pizza in the briefing room, stood at attention every 5 minutes when Bill (Admiral Schuler) walked in the room, did push ups if we didn't take it seriously, went to bed at 12 midnight with threat of slime devil eggs in our sleeping bags and woke up to alarms at 6am. We ate breakfast on deck 2, while the mission was in progress and went home at 11. The only part I was not able to recreate was the $25 price tag.

I did not want to be 'just another volunteer' when I set out to work at the Space Center. It was to build, build, build. I wanted to build simulators because I wanted more students to experience what I was experiencing. For years the Space Center was very difficult to get into if you didn't live in Alpine School District - Getting in on a Overnight Missions was almost impossible.

I worked around the clock starting with the Galileo, once that was finished I turned my attention to the unfinished set “Magellan”. Vic asked me to help Mark get running it up and running. I installed the video, sound, and wired most of the control room just in time for summer camps in 1999. Then I was asked to work on the Voyager’s last major refit (Fall of 2000). The Voyager got new color computers and Principal Dan Adams and I built new desks. It took pulling Vic’s yellowing teeth to get him to put in a half way decent sound system and mixer in the Voyager (Vic was always preoccupied with the cost. It’s taken awhile but today I believe he understands that if you go cheap you get what you pay for).

After the Voyager, our attention shifted back to the Magellan to make a new Space Center Class room and hall way (transition) and experimental sliding door. At about the same time, the Space Center acquired a grant to buy two new star labs, one of them was destined to be the Falcon. That simulator was a huge pain my in side. I was glad to see it go and for the record I didn't design it but I had to help build it, wire it and equip it. I hated it.

A year later we remodeled the Odyssey for the 3rd time. Next was the expansion of the Magellan control room, that was no tea party. I had to come up with a compromise between Vic and Ryan over a door or wall to the hallway from the control room. The compromise is the Hatch you see there now. Then Vic went on vacation and left me with replacing the Voyager carpet in 2 weeks! I literally had to break the whole ship down, get carpet picked out, put in and all back together before summer camps started... Unfortunately 2 days prior to our drop dead finish date I was in the hospital on death’s door - literally. My dad and former principal Dan Adams came in for me to put things together the best they could. I lied about how I felt to the doctors, nurses and Mr. Williamson and got out of the Hospital early with just enough time to finish putting the video and sound system together before the first summer camp.

Next we rebuilt the Voyager’s Decon, and started plans for the Phoenix. The Phoenix was a fun ship to build, except for the endless 14 hour days. Keep in mind. the space center doesn't pay overtime, if they did I might not have had to start a business to keep a decent income. The Phoenix’s computer controls held up its opening. We had new OS10 machines that wouldn't run HyperCard .... Matt Long came through in the end.

I tried a lot of new ideas in the Phoenix, including using aluminum plating on the floors, rounded ceilings, shakers under the floor, FRP pannels, large wire conduits, indirect lighting, and lighting the floors with rope lighting. It was about this time I found space in the basement for a "workshop" and it was good timing because the Magellan needed a new look badly...I also had something new, a helper! Tyson Kaylor, the 14 year old son of a new teacher at Central, came in as my apprentice.

We worked with Lone Peak students to design the new Magellan. I thought it was a great educational opportunity for the students of Lone Peak and a chance to work with Mr. Sanderson, the person Vic had draw up the Voyager’s original deck plans. The folks at the District Maintenance fought me tooth and nail. They didn’t trust student designed plans. We just didn’t have the thousands of dollars to have professionally designed plans drawn up. I do want to point out that the plans were supervised and approved by Mr. Sanderson, the Lone Peak Drafting teacher. I spent nearly half my time during the 6 months of construction fighting for hallways, double sound walls, extra sound insulation, tunnels, hatches, the use of FRP, maintenance access, ceiling height and design, desk design and materials, special lighting, aluminum plating on the floors, I even had to fight to get the right electrical connections throughout the station. The whole thing was a nightmare for both Vic and I. Building a simulator while relying on donated labor was something the district maintenance struggled with.

Shortly after finishing the Magellan in June of 06 I again ended up in the hospital. The original Iworlds was underway. I was hired to help build their simulators in Murray. I guess it was good money at the time but looking back, I wish I hadn't been involved.

In ‘07 I believe we refitted the Odyssey again, gave the Voyager new kitchen cabinets, a sink and built in microwave. We started really focusing on improvements all around the Space Center. I had one big goal Alex DeBirk and I had been working on since 2004. I lobbied Vic for new Galileo. The original was slowly falling apart. Something had to be done. Vic hesitated to spend the money but there was really no choice. It took me several years working with engineers from BYU, Scenic Solutions - company that specializes in set design, donations from countless individuals, and a lot of extremely long unpaid hours to get the new Galileo built. In fact we wouldn't have Kyle Jones at the Space Center now if it wasn’t for us taking the new Galileo down to the Utah Co. Fair. That's where Stacy and I first met Kyle and introduced him to the Space Center. Thank heavens we found him, because life came calling and I had to move on and make real money (not that phony Canadian stuff they pay us with at the Space Center :)

I couldn’t be successful in a new career and maintain my hours at the Space Center.

I know that once a Space Center inductee always a Space Center inductee. I’m happy to help whenever time allows. Now that I think about it, we haven't even smacked a bottle on the side of the Galileo yet.

David Kyle Herring.
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