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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Space Center Breakfast and Halloween. An Odd Sunday Assortment

Hello Troops,
I start with a random thought. Our calendar says that Sunday is the start of a new week. We all know the real truth, Sunday is really the last day of the week making Monday the start of a new week. I've got to go with my gut on this one folks. Ending with a Sunday and starting the week with a Monday makes sense. It feels right. So, which Roman Emperor eons ago made Sunday the start of the week? May he rot in his grave for this mental blemish on the world's calendar.

Next Sunday America returns to Standard Time. You get to move your clocks back one hour. For those of you who relish unconsciousness, you'll get your heart's desire with one extra hour of sleep. Switching to Standard Time is more of a nightmare for me. For the next several weeks I'll wake up at 4:00 P.M. instead of 5:00. I'll be back to normal come Christmas.

Mischief was played at the Space Center this weekend. Our new Magellan front piece backlit sign was damaged. One of the lights went out as well. This set piece was only a little over a week old.

The Voyager lost a couple switches from the engineering panel in Decontamination. This is a pain because losing switches requires editing the Engineering Reports printed for the Bridge Engineer during our Voyager missions.

I'm blaming the damage on a KAOS agent who I believe penetrated our defenses during the Overnight Camp disguised as overdressed 5th grader from Central Elementary.

Alfred Whomple. KAOS agent wanted for Mischief.

The photo above is from one of the Center's surveillance camera's capturing the face of Alfred Womple, a known KAOS infiltrator who knew very well the camera was on and pointing directly at him. Alfred was sitting on the steps of the gym right before the camp started wearing the true face of guilt.

What KAOS doesn't understand is that we know what they're up to. We know where they are headquartered (below) and will marshal our forces against them.

I know that if I say the word, hundreds if not thousands of our faithful Space Center fans and readers of The Troubadour will take up arms and march against KAOS, making the Occupy Wall Street movement look like a picnic with Grandma.

Space Center Kitchen Staff on Strike

Space Center Kitchen Staff Walk Out in Protest at Verbal Tongue Lashing from a Disgruntled Camper.

Every week at least three people in an Overnight Camp of 45 complain about the breakfast we serve on their camp survey form. They object to the donuts. They find the Gogurts unpalatable. Their delicate digestive systems have difficulty in processing the high fiber of the fresh fruit. Some of their harshest criticism is reserved for the Sunny Delight artificially flavored and colored Orange (in name only) juice.

An Unidentified Vocal Critic of the Space Center's Overnight Camp Breakfast. The verbal abuse he unleashed on our Kitchen Staff resulted in their walk out. He insisted on repeated helpings of better food and juice, threatening to expose the Center to the world for what it really was - Cheap on Food.
"How can I concentrate on defending the galaxy from the scourge of the Orion Pirates without something more substantial than this crap!" he said with such force the campers around him were baptised in spittle.

In our defense, I'd like to point out that the camps and private missions are the Space Center's only source of income. We do not receive a yearly budget from the school district. We could spend more money on breakfast but I think you know how we would offset the increase in the food budget..... Spot on - I'd have to raise prices.

Right now we charge $43.00 per person for an Overnight Camp. That's a steal when compared to the price other places charge for overnight camps. I could raise it to $50.00 a person and serve a full English Breakfast sure to delight our culinary critics; however not a good idea for the thousands that attend our camps looking for fun missions at a reasonable price, not exquisite Michelin Star cuisine.

The Dream Breakfast of Some of our Campers.

I'm working with a mediator from the Imaginarium's Office of Labor to bring our cafeteria staff back by this coming camp on Friday. If unlucky, we will be serving bread and water. It will be a dark day at the Space Center if it comes to that. There is however one single course of action left if negotiations fail. Aleta Clegg, our summer cafeteria manager and cook, office manager, curriculum writer and director of our Digitarium Planetarium may be willing to cross the picket lines and fix breakfast for our school year Overnight Campers. She isn't intimidated by our school year kitchen staff, nor is she frightened by their threats.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think the Space Center would make an excellent TV reality show.

A Plea from Pleasant Grove's Police Department.

Pleasant Grove's Police Department knows how upset our town's children get when given something healthy in their trick or treat bags on Halloween. Last year five Pleasant Grove children were arrested for torching the car of a person who rewarded their heartfelt and enthusiastic "TRICK OR TREAT" with small boxes of raisins. The children were stupid enough to capture their TRICK on film.

"There are other ways to express outrage," the police chief said while making the rounds at the town's elementary schools. "Have you considered smashing pumpkins on driveways or soaping windows?"

"What would you do if someone gave you a toothbrush?" asked one Central Elementary School Sixth Grader.

The Chief thought long and hard then raised his forefinger. "That's unforgivable. You all call me if you get a toothbrush in your Halloween bag and I'll be down in a flash with my Tazer!"

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Mr. W.

PS Thanks Bracken for the picture

Thursday, October 27, 2011

50 Years Ago Today: First Saturn 1 launch

Saturn SA-1 launch from LC-34 at Cape Canaveral.

Fifty years ago, NASA achieved one of its major milestones in the Apollo program. From Launch Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first rocket in the Saturn family blasted off. The basic first stage consisted of several Redstone rockets linked together, with a second and third stage assembly filled with water to test weight requirements.

Saturn 1 first stage during assembly.

The basic design of the rocket was under the direction of Werner Von Braun, who had succeeded in launching America's first satellite Explorer 1 on his Jupiter rocket back in 1958. The Saturn 1 used six times the fuel that the Jupiter had used in that flight. The nose cone of the Saturn SA-1 flight was a Jupiter nose cone.

Von Braun and Engineers with Saturn assembly.

LC-34 was constructed with Apollo in mind. A large concrete pad and rocket stand were built on the north end of the Cape Canaveral complex. The pieces for the Saturn 1 arrived in August. The main first stage arrived by barge. During the trip, the barge managed to hit one of the low bridges in the area. Still, assembly went well and fuel began loading on October 26th.

First stage being positioned at LC-34.

One sad note: LC-34 would be the site in 1966 of the Apollo 1 fire, in which three astronauts would perish. THe tower structures on LC34 were enormous compared to Atlas and Gemini structures, due to the height and size of the new rocket.

Saturn SA-1 ready for launch.

By morning of October 27, 1961 all was ready for the launch. There had only been a delay of about one hour. At about 11:06 am (my estimation from UTC) the vehicle lifted off and flew 206 miles downrange over the Atlantic. It reached an altitude of 86 miles before descending. All mission objectives were met.

Von Braun in the firing room bunker, observing the launch through a periscope for safety.

Remaining Concrete structure at Pad LC-34. Picture taken by SpaceRubble Commander.

Today, From the Imaginarium.

Hello Troops,
If you're reading this then you've been granted another day to make a difference. Today I want to:
  1. Make some money. That's always a good thing, especially if I want the Space Center to stay open.
  2. Make about 60 kids shout, scream, jump up and down, think, learn, stress out, imagine.
  3. Enjoy a bit of television.
  4. Write.
  5. Laugh.
  6. Be sarcastic, a favorite pastime.
  7. Have a descent meal.
  8. Survive to bed time.
  9. Get a good night's sleep.
  10. Learn something.
  11. Have a good political discussion.
OK, I'll get started on that list while you work your way through today's bits of imaginative inspirations found here in the Imaginarium.

Mr. W.

We all know they're bananas, so why not make your shoppers take a second look? Be imaginative. Why spend millions on droopy ads when a bit of in store humor and pizazz will bring in the customers. This store would get my business hands down.

I'm still searching. Anyone found an odd shaped bit labeled "Sanity"? If so, please return. I could use it.

Confectionery Perfection for the Overly Stressed. A perfect name for a business.
"Stressed Desserts". On the other hand..... hummmm.
I'm getting a mental picture of a display counter occupied by pies, cakes and pastries that are well past their 'Sell By' dates.
Stressed Desserts
Your Home for 'Yesterday's Best' Delights

Two fun doorways. All it takes is a bit of imagination.

Finally, a taste of winter yesterday and today. I'm not sure I'm ready for what's coming.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"The Good Son" the Untold Story of Captain Ernest Weatherly

Wyatt Lenhart as the Young Captain Ernest Weatherly on the
Olive Moon of Panthea

"Commander, sensors just picked up two phasers blasts on the surface." Science Officer Burrow said looking away from his computer screen. Across the bridge of the USS Maxwell sat the ship's first office, Commander Barnes.

"Put me through to the Captain." Commander Barnes stood up and took two steps toward the ship's main viewer. Three seconds later the familiar beeping of an open line sounded. "Captain Weatherly, we picked up two phaser blasts. Is everything OK down there?"

There was a pause. "You know Barnes, they shouldn't have done that to me. I warned them. They didn't listen. What was I suppose to do?"

Commander Barnes looked into the face of his science officer. They both knew what the Captain was talking about. "Get the doctor up here right away," he ordered.

"Oh we are way beyond that Barnes." Captain Ernest Weatherly's voice was calm, almost melancholy.

"Captain, what did you do?" Barnes questioned.

"We've had an accident down here. I've got two dead security officers at my feet."

"Captain, WHAT DID YOU DO?" Barnes voice transitioned from measured to stern.

"Something I should have done years ago." There was a pause, then Weatherly continued. "Have Burrow check his sensors. Look just over the moon's horizon. See anything?"

Lt. Burrow glanced at his screen. He tapped and enlarged the image with his forefinger and thumb. Four pulsing lights appeared on the screen. Tactical identification information scrolled over and beneath each image. "Four Orion Pirate ships coming this way Sir," Burrow responded.

"Do you believe in God Barnes?" the Captain paused as if he wanted an answer but continued before one was given. "I do, but playing it right all the time is just too difficult. Playing with the Devil..... now that's a whole different ball game with mighty fine rewards."

"Battle Stations!" Commander Barnes pulled up a holographic tactical screen to coordinate the attack sequences. He heard the Captain laughing at his response to the incoming ships.

"You don't need to worry about the Orion ships Barnes. They're coming for me, not you." Weatherly tapped a code into his communicator before continuing. "There's something attached to the Magnetic Field Generator around the ship's anti matter. That's what you need to worry about."

"He's going to deactivate the magnetic field!" Burrow rushed into the turbolift for Main Engineering.

"Tick tock goes the clock," Weatherly mumbled as he held up his communicator and pushed 'transmit'. The sky over the Olive Moon of Panthea briefly lit with a second sun.

Weatherly's communicator beeped. "Mad Dog, all is according to schedule," a female voice spoke with a heavy Romulan accent.

"Beam me up," Mad Dog ordered.

Coming this summer from Eclipse Pictures.
"The Good Son"
The true untold story of Mad Dog, the Orion Pirates and the Olive Moon of Panthea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

50 Years Ago: MIDAS, Discoverer 33, and Polaris Testing

Agena stage being loaded onto an Atlas rocket.

Fifty Years ago the US Air Force was attempting to place satellites in orbit that could warn us if an enemy country launched ballistic missiles at the USA. Named MIDAS (MIssile Defense Alarm System) the project would eventually launch nine satellites between 1960 and 1966. The sensors were primitive compared to later versions and often failed to detect launches. But the mission launched October 21, 1961 was successful. An Atlas-Agena rocket placed the MIDAS 4 sub-satellites into a polar orbit from the Pacific Missile Range.

Thor-Agena on the pad at Vandenberg AF Base in California.

On October 23, the USAF launched another Discoverer mission. Discoverer 33 failed to achieve polar orbit. The rocket shut down too early in the flight, and the spy satellite failed to separate and was lost into the Pacific.

Titan 1a.

On October 24, while scientists tracked the movement of the MIDAS sub-satellites in orbit over Earth, the Air Force launched a Titan ICBM from Cape Canaveral AF station. The small test MIDAS satellites detected the launch and successfully sent signals to Earth. This development helped our scientists plan on creating better sensors for the MIDAS satellites.

Polaris A1 on the test pad at Cape Canaveral.

Meanwhile on October 23, 1961, tests continued on the newest types of ICBMs, which were submarine-launched. The nuclear submarine USS Ethan Allen successfully fired off a Polaris A2, which was basically an improved Polaris A1. Eventually this missile design would enter srvice before the year was out and was placed on 13 submarines until 1974. This launch stands as the first underwater launch of the Polaris missile, and the tests were successful.

SSBN 608, USS Ethan Allen under way.

The USS Ethan Allen was the first submarine to be designed as a Ballistic Launch Nuclear Submarine. The first sub to launch a Polaris missile was the USS George Washington back in 1960, but that sub was modified from an attack submarine. The Ethan Allen had just completed trials and was commissioned in August 1961, before preparing for the Polaris tests.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Pleasant Grove! Space Center Volunteers take to the Sidewalk.

Occupy New York

This is New York under siege. An overly educated mob of young people have occupied a park near Wall Street demanding reforms to the nation's banking system and relief from their student loans.

"We're buried under tons of debt!" said one young man wearing tight jeans and an Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt. He spoke between bites of a croissant smothered in cream cheese. "I majored in Oppressed Studies. What am I supposed to do now? I can't find work."

"What is Oppressed Studies?" I asked.

"You study the world's oppressed people."

"And you can't find work?"

"Nobody's hiring, and it isn't just me. That girl over by the bottled water can't find work either."

"What did she study?"

"Extinct languages."

"My, you'd think companies would be beating down your doors." I spoke sarcastically. He took another bite of his croissant, oblivious to my response.

Out little town of Pleasant Grove is not immune to world events. News of Occupy Wall Street reached us by telegraph. Up until recently our streets were quiet, that has changed.

Occupy Pleasant Grove

This photograph was taken a few Saturdays ago. The group calls itself "Occupy Pleasant Grove". They've taken up part time residence at the town's Central Elementary School and home of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.

"We demand an end to the oppression of the 99% by the 1%!" shouted Morgan (last name withheld. Morgan fears reprisal from her friends and family in Park City). When asked why she wasn't protesting in her own town, Morgan replied that the residents of Park City WERE the 99%.

"I'm here with the simple, potato eating people of Pleasant Grove to show that some of us in the 99% really care," she explained.

"Here here!" exclaimed Matt, another weekend visitor from Logan.

Andrew, not wanting to be left from the discussion, chimed in. "We want peace, land and bread. We want a chicken in every pot."

"Here here!" exclaimed Matt. "Bravo and well said. By jove, I couldn't have said it any better."

"Quite," added Morgan.

"I'm in the Marching Band." Erin stepped forward. I had a difficult time hearing what she said. Her words were being formed around a Tootsie Pop. Chocolate I think, due to the copious amounts of brown dribble around her mouth.

"Here here!" exclaimed Matt.

"Erin, let's have you stand over here by the fire hydrant while we list our demands." Morgan took her by the hand and led her to the hydrant. "Now be a good girl."

I took out my camera for a snapshot to be added to this story. Erin rushed back.

"I cheer for liberty," Erin said taking a position.

"I do the thinking." Morgan jumped into a pose.

"I'll show oppressed people," Matt sat down on the sidewalk delivering his visual interpretation of what the movement stood for.

"I'm the muscle, in case the cops show up," Andrew flexed.

Mr. Williamson came out carrying two buckets of soapy water and brushes. "If you four are going to stand out here shouting socialist slogans at passing cars, you might as well do a little PR for the Space Center." He went back into the school and came out with a portable white board. He sat it on the side walk facing the street and wrote: "We wash cars for free until our demands are met".

They made $20.00 in tips, the Space Center got some good PR and several uninterested citizens of Pleasant Grove are driving around town with nice clean cars at no cost to them except for get an earful of demands ranging from more windmills and tulips to less homework and teacher sarcasm.

Occupy Pleasant Grove was seen later that afternoon at Sammy's in beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove. They were enjoying Sammy's famous Pie Shakes purchased with their tips. I joined them in a Berry Surprise.

"Are you enjoying the shakes?" I asked. They nodded, except for Matt. He stood by the door examining the workings of the Gum Ball Machine. "Now follow along with me, you worked and got tips. You took the tips and did what?"

"We bought these shakes," replied Morgan, the professed brains of the movement.

"So if you work you get......." I led them to the water and waited for them to drink.

"Money!" Andrew shouted.

"And what do we do with money?"

"Buy things," Erin answered. She started to smile. I could tell a light was coming on.

"We wouldn't have to work if they would just give us the shakes for free?" Matt returned to the table.

"Good Grief." I sank down in my chair. I could tell my generation had a lot to teach these youngsters. It was going to be a long discussion. I ordered a double, with a shot of pumpkin.

(Thanks to Morgan for posting this picture. Sorry Morgan, I couldn't resist. Some pictures just demand a back story. If you open the door with a picture like this, you'd better expect me to walk through :)
Mr. W.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Latest News from the Space Center. You'd be a Fool Not to Read.

Hello Troops,
It's Fall Vacation in Utah. The Starships are safely docked at Starbase and many crew members have beamed planet side for a bit of well earned rest and relaxation. A few of us remained on board to deal with maintenance and clerical duties. You see, Federation Starships need constant pampering, tweaking and good helpings of TLC.

I'm taking a bit of a rest from my work to put my feet up and stare out the main viewer. The Pacific is passing below us with what appears to be the coast of Chili off in the distance and growing larger. A good Diet Dew in hand would make it a perfect moment.

This is Dave. Dave is the Set Director of the USS Phoenix. Beside him stands his 2nd, Megan Warner. Dave is making a list of ship wide programming issues that need addressing when our programmers return from surfing in Hawaii and mountain climbing in the Andes. It's amazing how much distance one can cover in a few days of vacation when you have access to a transporter!

Dave appears frustrated. These programming issues have haunted the ship for some time. Just the other day the Phoenix's computers hiccuped as the crew battled with the dread Orion Pirates over the Olive Moon of Panthea.

"Fire Phasers!" the Captain shouted. The Tactical officer hit the 'fire' button. Straight flames of pure plasmatic energy were expected. Instead, the life pods jettisoned - empty of course. You can imagine how hard a crew will fight to stay alive and win a battle when they see their life pods drifting away into the darkness of space! The captain's next words, while entirely fitting for the occasion, are not printable in this post.

Then there was the time a young 7th grade crewman ordered a nice sausage lasagna from the food replicators. Instead he got a meatloaf surprise made of shredded slime devil liver, topped with marshmallow and finished with sprinkles of ground chicken talons. It ended up on the cafeteria wall.

Have no fear, the Phoenix will be right as rain in a day or two. Lt. Ricks is pretty good at spotting a temperamental line of code and coddling it into something readable.

While Dave and Megan worked on the Phoenix, Jon Parker was on the Magellan, two bays down along the Starbase's docking ring. I caught Jon sipping a 52 ounce Dr. Pepper. I asked him if he was aware of the mountain of sugar he was consuming.

"Sugar doesn't bother me," Jon answered. "My pancreas churns out insulin faster than your average human's. It's all in my superior breeding."

"Superior breeding?" I questioned.

"We Parkers are all soda addicts," Jon bragged unashamedly. "We don't worry because we've got these babies," he tapped the part of his chest covering the pancreas. A moment later something fell from his face. Jon quickly drew his hand over his mouth.

"Great Pancreas, Lousy teeth?" I said while pointing to the white object spotted with black on the carpet.

Jon nodded. "It's a small price to pay to maintain my long relationship with the Dr."

I changed the subject and asked him what he was doing working on the Magellan's armory.
"The phaser rifles don't store correctly. The shelves are to weak," he replied while examining the tooth.

Two weeks ago one of the rifles fell to the floor as Nicole distributed them to the crew. A beam of pure energy shot out of the closet. Nicole jumped out of the way leaving the laser a clear line of shot towards the head of an unsuspecting 5th grader who, like most ten year olds, wasn't paying attention. The hair on the left side of his head was instantly removed.

"It burns, It burns!" He ran screaming out of Discovery towards the school's restrooms leaving a thin contrail of smoke behind him. Nicole followed with one of the school's famous iced sponges in a baggy.

"A bit further down and he'd be minus one ear," she told me later.

The stench of scorched hair hung in the room for the rest of the week. It was nasty.

Take a look at this new addition to the front of the Magellan. This box sits directly under the Main Viewer at the front of the Bridge. Kyle Jones (our maintenance director) did a suburb job. Emily Paxman did the artwork. I gave suggestions, direction, and encouragement; but most importantly, I paid the bill :)

This is Kyle Jones. He stands proudly, awaiting your approval for his newest project - a stand for my laptop, complete with drawers and a cup holder!!!! Kyle you are too good. Who else, I ask you , has a cup holder on his desk? This alone increases my coolness factor by 10.

Be sure to ask me for a cup holder demonstration when you visit the Space Center. After my fascinating demonstration, you'll enjoy a five minute video on its construction. There is a small charge for this demonstration - a 32 ounce drink from Harts. Make it a Diet Dew with one squirt of Cherry; Not a half a squirt and definitely not a quarter of a squirt. Don't be creative, follow directions and make it one full squirt.

Nathan Young completed an Eagle Scout Project at our host school (Central Elementary) a couple weeks ago. I asked him to paint a map of the United States on our playground. Nathan gave Dr. Carter a curriculum to accompany the map afterwords.

This map will be a God send to our teachers who struggle year after year trying to convince our students that Utah is not the center of the United States or the largest and most important State in the Union. I know their pain. I'm a victim of State discrimination having immigrated to Utah thirty two years ago. I have yet to convince my Utah neighbors that the real social, cultural, economic and religious center of the nation is SOUTH DAKOTA.

"Is that in Canada?" I'm asked repeatedly.
"How many states are in the United States?" I answer.
"50," is the usual response.
"Can you name any of them?"
"Utah," is the answer given most often.
"And any others?"
"Nope, Ya only have ta know the most important. Them others don't matter."

You see my dilemma? I'm sure you kind readers who are also transplants to Utah understand.

You did a great job Nathan. Thank you!

And finally, an embarrassed and ashamed Miranda; caught with Rolos in one back pocket, a Babe Ruth in the other and a Sour Patch Kids in her right hand. Her pancreas isn't as efficient as Jon's. She staggers a bit when she's had "one too many" if you know what I mean. There's a reason I keep the candy locker locked. It's to help people like Miranda cope with their disability.

Volunteers are given one candy every time they come in to help with a mission, so I wondered where she got three candies. I walked out into the hall to ask around.

"She was begging," I was told by one of the new 7th grade volunteers who was unaware of our policy not to enable Miranda's addiction. "She got my Rolos and that kid's Babe Ruth and her Sour Patch Kids." He pointed to another new volunteer standing near the fish tank.

She begrudgingly surrendered the candy back to their rightful owners. I escorted her to the Phoenix Control Room.

"Dave, keep an eye on her." Dave nodded and pointed to the 2nd chair. She sat down in a huff and crossed her arms in defiance.

New volunteers, do not feed the wild life at the Space Center. That's an order!

Have a Great Weekend Troops!

Mr. W.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

50 Year Anniversary -Test Launches Continued

Launch of a military Atlas rocket.

From late September to mid October in 1961, there continued a number of tests from the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral as the US Air Force worked to improve our strategic missiles. What an exciting time it must have been for the citizens living along the Florida Coast as launch after launch lifted off from the beaches out over the Atlantic Ocean. Besides the notable large rocket launches, there were also small sounding rockets and scientific payloads being tested.

On October 5, 1961 the USAF fired an Atlas ICBM with a dummy warhead over the Atlantic. Flying over 9,000 miles from its launch pad, a data capsule also loaded on top of the rocket safely landed in the waters and was recovered. Although this was a military launch, every use of an Atlas rocket was carefully analyzed for the impact it might have on the upcoming launch of an astronaut into orbit. Remember, the Atlas did not have too stellar a reputation among the Mercury 7 astronauts who had seen a number of these rockets explode.

On October 6, 1961, the USAF launched a Titan I rocket with the mission to test the Titan II guidance system.

Titan 1a.

This early testing of the Titan ICBM was primarily for development of our strategic rocket forces, but once again, the data gained by these tests would have their impact on the manned space program later in the Gemini Program.

Argo D4. Sounds like a Star Wars Droid to me.

Launches didn't only blast off from Cape Canaveral. From NASA's Wallops island facility, sounding rockets like the Argo lifted scientific experiments to learn the effect that electricity plays in the upper atmosphere.

On October 13th, The USAF launched another in its series of Discoverer secret missions. Discoverer 32 lifted off carrying the Agena stage (used as a satellite or stage to carry experiments). Its mission was to improve the space maneuvering capabilities of the Agena craft, test new materials for radiation shielding, and perform some surveillance experiments.

Agena stage.

Discoverer 32 lifted off from Vandenberg AF Base in California. After placing the Agena craft in space, controllers went through their tests and experiments without mishap. On this trip, the Thor rocket made its 100th successful launch!

Thor-Agena rocket at Vandenberg AF Base.

After one day of orbiting, the Agena spacecraft ejected a 300-pound capsule which re-entered the atmosphere, and was recovered off the coast of Hawaii. As it parachuted to the ground, a specially-prepared cargo plane snatched it in mid-air for a secret trip back to base.


Once safely back at the USAF base, the data from the launch stored in the capsule was carefully examined. Only one thing went wrong on this flight. When the technicians examined the large roll of film used to picture our enemies' secret locations, they discovered that 96% of the pictures had been taken out of focus. And you thought YOU've taken bad pictures before...

Our Short Week.

Hello Troops,
A few items from the Imaginarium to start the last day of school for this week, except of course for our university readers. No Fall Vacation for you.

The Dogs on Business

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playing Dodgeball in Space

Comet Elenin fading. Credit: Michael Mattiazzo

By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator and Flight Director

While we wait for the eventual demise of German satellite ROSSAT between the 20th and the 23rd, Earth managed to avoid destruction from the "Doomsday Comet." According to some conspiracy theorists, Comet Elenin was expected to hit the Earth on Sunday the 16th. Well, it must not have been too many conspiracy theorists, because not even I had heard of this one.

Apparently, some of the conspirators believed that the name of the comet, Elenin, was code for ELE, or Extinction Level Event. This ties into something called the Nibiru or Planet X collision. Believers fear that a large planetary body or comet not currently known by astronomers (but known to the ancient astronomers) will come barreling out of the dark and collide with the Earth, or make a near miss, enough to cause tremendous geological damage and threaten the human species.

In actuality, Comet Elenin was discovered in December 2010 by Russian amateur Leonid Elenin. Already very faint, it was estimated to be a long-period comet of only a diameter of about 3-4 kilometers. After a large solar storm in August, the comet was seen to be breaking up and growing much fainter. As it swept around the Sun on September, the break up was figured to be complete and only a cloud of cometary debris was noted. See the top photo for a reduction in brightness.

So, on last Sunday, the remaining debris swept pass the Earth. Only it wasn't even close. It passed by at about the same distance as from Earth to Venus. Here in the SpaceRubble Bunker we didn't even notice.

And yet, I should make note that on my drive home from SLC Saturday night, I witnessed a small fireball meteor descending westward apparently over the Oquirr mountains. Curious timing, that...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Run! Another satellite is falling!

credit: EPA/Barbara Walton

Well, don't panic just yet.

It is true, however, that another satellite is out of control and exepcted to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on October 22nd or 23rd. This time it's the German satellite ROSAT, which was originally launched into space in 1990. This time, though, the scientists have less assurance about where and when it might come down.

ROSAT satellite, artist concept.
Credit: German Aerospace Center.

Scientists suspect that quite a bit of this object may survive the fall, so the debris might weigh as much as a ton and a half! They have calculated the odds of a person on Earth being struck by ROSAT debris as 1-in-2000. This is a significantly higher risk than we faced from the falling NASA satellite. Still, the odds that YOU are the one who will be hit are incredibly low. Still, better safe than sorry. Carry a camera with you this week and be ready to take pictures of any crash site, wreckage, or havoc. I'll be hiding safely in the Spacerubble Command Bunker, anxiously awaiting word of calamity. Or, I might just do something useful like plot the destruction of evil alien TellyTubbies (have you SEEN them?).

Warning: Do not take this seriously. While the facts in the article may be correct, there is no cause for alarm unless you are actually struck by debris. Remember that debris from the satellite will not be hot, it will cool by the time it may hit you, but it's the weight of some debris that might squish you tragically. The tone of this article is created for entertainment and in no way represents the opinion of anyone of note. If you are alarmed by the warning nature of this post, please calm down and stop watching the news, disaster movies, or listening to conspiracy theorists. If you ARE hit by debris, wow. Nice knowin' ya.

Another Jewel in Humanity's Crown.

Jewish Children in the Warsaw Ghetto

How many millions of people will owe their existence to this Jewel and her comrades in the Zegota? She was a bright flame in Europe's darkest night.

Life offers you two paths. May you take the one less traveled.