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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

50 Years Ago Today: Enos the Chimp Goes to Space.

MA-5 lifts off from Cape Canaveral.

Fifty years ago, NASA launched its last test of a Mercury-Atlas rocket before placing a human in orbit. MA-5 blasted off from Launch Complex 14 at 8 am MST on November 29, 1961. Engineers had been preparing this flight for 40 weeks. It seems that as new technology continued to improve, the mission of MA-5 kept changing. Finally it was decided to test the capsule with a live occupant. But instead of an astronaut, a chimpanzee was placed aboard.

Enos in his space couch.

Until the flight of MA-5, the most famous space chimp was Sam, who had flown in a test of the Mercury-Redstone rocket before Alan Shepard flew his mission. This time the task fell to Enos, which means "man" in the Hebrew language. Five hours before liftoff, Enos was secured into his spacesuit-couch and placed in the capsule. The launch went well and Enos was placed into orbit.

However, once in orbit, things "went south". The attitude control system malfunctioned. The auto correction thrusters were engaged 9 times to keep the craft in proper attitude before retrofire. The environmental control system also malfunctioned, and the capsule began heating up inside. Enos' body temperature reached 100.5 degrees F and mission controllers worried about the health of the chimp. Then the environmental system corrected itself and normal temperature was restored. Because the thruster problem was using up fuel, it was determined to bring back the capsule after the 2nd orbit. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific off the coast of California. After search planes spotted the craft bobbing on the waters, the destroyer USS Stormes retrieved the capsule and extracted Enos the Space Chimp.

With the success of MA-5, the qualifications had been met for the launch of humans aboard the Atlas rocket, and preparations began for the launch of the first American to orbit the Earth. As for Enos, the brave animal passed away about a year later after contracting a form of dysentery.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Open Phoenix Mission for Wednesday

Hello All,
The Phoenix will run a 2.5 hour Private Mission on Wednesday, November 30th. You can sign up to attend individually or with a friend or two. Call the Space Center for a reservation. 801.785.8713. The cost is $13.00 per person. Money is collected at the door Wednesday night. This is open to anyone between the ages of 10 and 16.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foreign Affairs: Russian Curse vs. Chinese Success

Phobos-Grunt being prepared for launch.

Russia continues to suffer under a curse. The Phobos-Grunt satellite, launched on November 9, remains in Earth orbit suffering a profound silence. The Zenit rocket carrying Phobos-Grunt had placed the exploration robot in a temporary orbit before heading out towards Mars and the Martian moon Phobos. However, the necessary signals to send the craft outward from Earth did not ignite the engines and the craft went silent. Russian and international scientists have struggled intensely to repair communications in the last couple of weeks. Suddenly, a signal got through a few days before Thanksgiving, and there was some hope communications could be restored as telemetry got through on our holiday. Thanks should be given to technicians at the European Space Agency station near Perth in Australia. Sadly, this success was not repeated and the robotic explorer remains silent now.

Phobos-Grunt launches on a Zenit rocket.

Recently Russia has had some mishaps with the Soyuz rocket series, prompting a temporary grounding of spaceflights to the ISS while engineers worked to solve the problem. With the success of recent launches to ISS, the problem seemed solved, but now the Phobos- Grunt satellite remains stranded in orbit, with the fear that it could crash back to Earth with a significant supply of toxic fuel on board.

This was Russia's 4th attempt to reach Mars. It had not launched an interplanetary probe in 15 years. The other three launches to Mars also met with failure. In 1988, Russia sent Phobos 1 and Phobos 2 to reach the planet. Phobos 1 failed soon after launch. Phobos 2 reached MArtian orbit, only to go suddenly silent and was never heard from again. In 1996, the launch of a Mars probe went wrong and the satellite crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Are the Russians cursed when it comes to reaching Mars? Actually it goes to prove how difficult an interplanetary probe mission really is, and how amazing the American results have been.

Meanwhile, China keeps launching satellites with uneventful regularity.

Long March 2D blasts off from China.

So far this year, China has made 15 satellite launches, and only one was a failure. China usually uses the Long March 2D rocket. Years ago China would have suffered more failures, but since their "acquisition" of American rocket and satellite technology from Loreal and other American space firms, they have had a much higher success rate. While some of the technology was improperly transfered to China as a result of Clinton administration "deals", some has been determined to be lost to China as a result of Chinese computer hacking and corporate spying.

This week China launched 2 satellites from the Jinquan Satellite Launch Center, testing new technologies and observing environmental situations in China.

Posted by Mark Daymont


MSL On its Way to Mars!

Atlas V liftoff from Launch Complex 41.

At 8:02 a.m. MST, NASA ignited the engines of the Atlas V rocket carrying the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) on its way to Mars. The launch has proceeded very well so far, with the separation of the nose cone fairings. The second stage Centaur rocket is expected to fire at about 8:45 a.m. (Update: Stage firing and spacecraft separation confirmed - MSL is on its way to MARS!).

MSL rover in the lab with scientists.

The MSL rover (named Curiosity) is the largest that has been sent to Mars. Its wide variety of sensors and controls will enable it to explore terrain unaccessible to prior rovers such as Spirit, Opportunity and Pathfinder. Scheduled to land on Mars in August 2012, Curiosity is expected to run a mission length of 23-24 months. Those of you who have been watching Mars rovers so far understand that the craft may last MUCH longer than that.

You can download a PDF fact sheet from NASA at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Child Who Survived

Hello Troops,
Strange not to be at the Space Center on a Saturday. I feel like I should be doing something or talking to someone. The room is too quiet. There are no explosions or sirens or children laughing, screaming or applauding. I'm not surrounded by scores of young people moving to and from the simulators, some taking a moment or two to talk while others ask for the M and M drawer as they fill their prescription bottles. It's 4:23 P.M. according to the clock I should be wandering through the school dispensing Meadow Gold Ice Cream Sandwiches. The halls should echo with Rogers automatic floor cleaner, the one that resembles an ice rink's Zamboni. Twenty one years of conditioning brings an uneasiness when routine is disrupted.

Don't worry about me. I'll weather this disturbance in the Force. My chores are never done. It's all part of being an adult, even in a land of Imagination where kids reign supreme.

Canyon Lake Elementary School. Rapid City South Dakota

Childhood goes by so quickly. Wasn't it just a couple long years ago I was a fifth grader at Canyon Lake Elementary School? We moved mid year from South Canyon to Canyon Lake. It was tough changing schools, but I had a talent for making friends quickly. It was that year I went on my favorite elementary school field trip to KOTA, Rapid City's local television station. Instead of Alice's looking glass, I had stepped through the television screen and met the people whose black and white pixels lit my small living room every evening. I saw the large cameras and the wooden sets used for the news and the children's Saturday morning shows. That simple rural TV studio was magic for a ten year old.

There I am, Top Row. 1968.
I like to think I Survived.

A kindly woman with heavily lacquered hair called us over to a large table next to a room filled with panels of dials, switches and knobs. A couple dozen 8 by 10 black and white photographs of KOTA's Saturday morning cartoon characters covered the table top. She told us we could take one photograph of our favorite cartoon character.

"How nice, let's all say thank you to the nice lady." My teacher spoke perfect Teacher Talk .

Teacher Talk notwithstanding, we didn't hear a word she said. It was our Walmart Black Friday moment, circa 1968. We rushed forward, ignoring the teacher's shouting for order. Everyone pushed and shoved to get to the table first, none more so than me. There at the center of the table lay a picture of my cartoon hero, Johnny Quest. I pushed Derek Leonard down. Tom Patnoe shoved and I shoved back with all the shove a ten year old could muster. Five empty hands strained toward the prize. Only one came back fulfilled. Johnny Quest was mine.

I have many fond school memories from my childhood. For most children today, the Space Education Center is their best remembered field trip. We bring magic into their lives. It is a responsibility we take seriously. It is a duty that motivates me, and I hope everyone on our staff, to go above and beyond. We will continue to honor a commitment to quality and do our part to ensure more children will survive into adulthood.

Mr. Williamson

Many have asked about the title pictures seen on this blog. Many of them come from my collection of old black and white pictures of kids, adults and seniors living in times gone by. I organized a few of my favorites showing kids from times passed. Today they are either in the winter of life or gone. It is a reminder of how quickly life passes. Enjoy your childhood. Cherish the memories and let your childhood survive into adulthood.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Here's Hoping All Had a Great Thanksgiving

Hello Troops,
The day after Thanksgiving and all was quiet in the house, except for the sound of rumbling stomachs and the gurgling sound of Mr. Williamson guzzling a bottle of Pepto Bismol. It was quite the feast at my niece's home, attended by family far and near. A full detailed description of my Thanksgiving Day can read on my Genealogy blog by clicking these words.
(Before reading, know that exaggeration is my one true weakness :)

I stopped by the Space Center to put out the working list for next week. I was amazed at what Jon Parker and Megan Warner accomplished on Wednesday. They repainted the Voyager's Captain's Quarters. Before they could paint, they had to do extensive sheet rock repairs. The loft looks brand new. This is going above and beyond the call of duty and so typical of what our Space Center staff do for the students and teachers that attend every day.

Not wanting the Phoenix to feel left out, Megan turned her attention to repainting the Phoenix's doors and desks. She put the finishing touches to the door just as Miranda's test mission arrived this morning at 10:00 A.M.

Just when I thought I couldn't be more amazed, I found Stacy, Rachel, Ben and Matt in Discovery enjoying a delicious breakfast while working on the Galileo's new summer mission!

These people surely make me look good. They are all awesome.

Now, how about an update from Mark Daymont's Space Rubble Blog?

50 Year Anniversary: Ranger 2 flubs, USAF tests Titan

Atlas-Agena launch.

Fifty years ago, launches continued from the Cape Canaveral pads. NASA launched Ranger 2 on an Atlas-Agena rocket combination on November 18, 1961. Ranger's 2 mission was to test the electronics of experiments that would later be sent to study other planets, and to also send back information on space radiation and magnetic fields. Scientists hoped to discover clues about a possible trail of hydrogen gas following behind the Earth as it orbited the Sun.

Ranger 2 at NASA Glen Research Center.

The Atlas rocket successfully placed Ranger 2 in orbit around the Earth, but disaster followed. The Agena second stage failed to ignite, due to a malfunctioning gyro. Ranger 2 was unable to be placed in the orbit necessary for the tests, and after separation it was stranded in an orbit that brought it closer and closer to Earth's atmosphere. It burned up two days later.

Titan 1 ICBM launch.

On November 21, 1961, a Titan 1a ICBM missile test was conducted by the USAF from its Canaveral site. This missile launched a special nose cone that would later be used in anti-missile missile tests with the Nike-Zeus system.

The next day, the military launched a mysterious satellite from Point Arguello in California. The rocket used was the Atlas-Agena combo. I still have not found out anything about this mysterious launch. It is recorded as the first "unannounced" rocket launch of a satellite.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Expedition 29 Lands Safely and The New Mobile Launcher

Commander Mike Fossum happy to be on the ground. Not used to gravity after 5 months in Zero-G!

After 167 days in orbit and on the ISS, US astronaut Mike Fossum, Japanese astronaut Satosji Furukawa and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov returned to Earth in their Soyuz capsule. They landed in a snowy field in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The landing site. Auto headlights illuminate the landing area. Dark splash on right is where the Soyuz touched down, and the capsule is a bit to the left of that spot.

The giant Crawler takes the ML out to Pad 39B.

In a scene reminiscent of the glory days of the Saturn V launches to the Moon, a giant launch tower is again seen moving to the pads. NASA engineers have moved the huge 355 foot tall tower to Launch Complex 39B to test how the new structure responds to the stresses of moving on the large Transport Crawler.

The ML tower was originally constructed for use with the Aries 1 rocket, which was cancelled three years ago by the Obama administration. Three years after its cancellation, the project is again alive thanks to Congressional intervention. During the last year, Congress has passed laws requiring NASA to design and build a new heavy-lift rocket to replace the lifting capacity of the cancelled Space Shuttle program. The new rocket is designated (for now) as the SLS, standing for Space Launch System. There's a creative, catchy name for you, eh? Despite my sarcastic response to the name, the new system will provide the United States with a rocket capable of lifting large satellites and spacecraft into orbit and beyond to the Moon and the asteroids.

Currently the ML tower stands at a total height or 400 feet while on the tremendous transporter. The trip from the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) to Pad 39B takes about 14 hours and travels 4.2 miles. The tower weighs in at a wopping 6.5 million pounds. It currently does not yet have the swinging arm bridges that will allow engineers to access parts of future rockets along its length.

Pad 39B is also going through changes. The old towers that serviced many shuttle flights have been torn down, and new structures are building in its stead in preparation for the new ML series of towers. In fact, the base of the ML will need enlargement for exhaust, as it was originally designed to work with the thinner Aries rocket. The new SLS will be wider at the base and include side-mounted Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs, like the shuttle had).

My hope is that the shuttle towers will be broken into small pieces for sale to space collectors like myself. I currently own a piece of the gantry from Launch Complex 26, from which the historic Explorer 1 satellite (America's first successful space satellite) launched atop a Jupiter rocket in 1958. I would love to add a remnant of the space shuttle era to my collection.

Launch of Ares 1-x in 2008. This was the test rocket for the cancelled Ares series of rockets, launched from Pad 39B to test the marriage of the SRB as a first stage with a second stage test structure. The temporary tower used at the pad will be replaced with the ML Tower structures.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, the First Day of a Short Week and Our Weekend Staff Celebration

Hello Troops,
The older staff got together at my home Saturday night for ham, rolls, Lorraine's best potato casserole, cupcakes and cookies. The ham came with the compliments of the Space Center's T Shirt supplier. Adam hustled Metta and Megan at pool, walking away with a substantial amount of money and IOU's, Lorraine, Mark, Dave, Melissa and I sat in the living room talking old people's talk. The conversation included such riveting topics as aches, pains, taxes, medicare, weather, laxatives, politics and the Space Center of course. Wyatt (The Red Blemish) made the ultimate sacrifice and walked away from the kitchen table where the cool older teen staff were and joined us in the living room to save us from the mire of self pity. Wyatt is unashamedly a KnowItAll when it comes to Classic Star Trek. Moments after his arrival we were in a rousing discussion of which episode was the best. There were obnoxiously loud interruptions of laughter from the kitchen. One vocal blast from Rachel (whose tone filled the higher notes on the scale) and Ben (who's vocal tones filled the lower notes on the scale) rattled the windows. Years of ceiling dust came fluttering down into our hair, food and clothing. I'm told Aleta was the cause of our partial hearing loss. She was tossing innuendo's like hotcakes.

My ringing ears, paired with serious fatigue caused by little sleep during the Overnight Camp, brought the event celebrating the Center's 21st birthday and the awarding of ten year service pins to Megan and Stacy to a close at 9:00 P.M. Ben volunteered to take the leftovers. I agreed. Moments later I caught him rifling through the refrigerator and pantry looking for anything else he thought could use a good home in a good stomach.

I'm sure a few of my curiously disturbed neighbors - you know the kind who only leave their front windows to use the restroom - were wondering if those odd South Dakota Williamsons were sponsoring an Occupy Pleasant Grove gathering based on the laughter and shouting coming from my driveway. It's good the outside
After Party only lingered another 20 minutes or so. I was just about to go outside in full riot gear (rain coat and bicycle helmet) to disperse the gathering with my garden hose and small canister of pepper spray kept in my car for emergencies. I think everyone got too cold, jumped in their cars, and drove to Wendy's for the unlimited child's sized Frosties.

Yes, it is a short week. Thanksgiving is a few days away and that means football, turkey and copious amounts of pie served with a house full of insane family (South Dakota certified insane. They don't come any insaner). The Space Center will be running at full steam - closing at 9:00 P.M. Tuesday night.

I'm thinking about offer special half price Black Friday missions starting at midnight Friday. Any staff willing to come in? (joking).

How about a few interesting items to start the week off right?

Mr. W.

Remember me always saying, "Real American Money, None of that Phony Canadian Stuff."?
Well, our northern friends have been busy imagining and produced something worthy of our imagineering respect. Here we are folks with Canada's plastic money.....

What's Christmas without a few awesome feats of Imagination on film? A British
Christmas ad worthy of applause. Imaginarium TV at its best.

Make way for Belgium's Goose Army. Again I say, What Imagination!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Roundup Of Interesting Tidbits.

    Is The End of this World Close at Hand?

    Sun storm

    An exceptionally strong magnetic storm would have deadly effects

    "We don't know how the Earth (or humanity) might meet its end or when that will happen. Pondering and predicting the event has usually been a job for the world's great religions: all of them have some idea about how humans will meet their maker.."
    Read the Entire Article

    Nigel Farage. You Gotta Admire His Style

    Moving on. May I share with you a video of one of my favorite persons in the world? His name is Nigel Farage. He is a member of the European Parliament from Great Britain and no lover of the European Union. Listen to his remarks made in Parliament on November 16th.
    I've always said, "Stand up, stand out and be counted." Well Nigel is a good example of that.

    Flying Time Lapse, Flying Over the Earth From Space

    Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

    Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by Ron Garan, Satoshi Furukawa and the crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km.

    Shooting locations in order of appearance:

    1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
    2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
    3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
    4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
    5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
    6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
    7. Halfway around the World
    8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
    9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
    10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
    11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
    12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
    13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
    14. Views of the Mideast at Night
    15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
    16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
    17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
    18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

    Reforming Education. Why Schools Must Change

    "We're Going to Be Friends" The White Strips. Kids Signing. Tremendous. A Good Way to end this post.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two Space Station Updates

Soyuz rocket blasting off in snowstorm.

Two international dockings this week made the news. Our first story is the return of human spaceflight to Russian space Operations, as a successful Soyuz launch was made to the ISS. On board the TMA-22 Soyuz spacecraft were two cosmonauts and an astronaut of Expedition 29. Even though the launch occurred during a snowstorm, the spacecraft successfully made it to the ISS and docked to the Russian Poisk module on Wednesday.

Expedition 29 all together now.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and astronaut Dan Burbank join the rest of the Expedition 29 team for a six month stay aboard the station. Burbank is in the middle of the front crewmembers in the photo. Station Commander Mike Fossum (middle in back row), astronaut Satoshi Furukawa (left back row) and cosmonaut Sergei Volkov (right back row) will return to Earth next week. Another group of three astronauts will launch to the station in December.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have been continuing their tests with their Tiangong-1 space module which acts as a remote-control station for practice purposes.

Tiangon-1 (left) and Shenzou-8 (right)

Chinese ground controllers have been practicing undocking and redocking the Shenzou-8 spacecraft. No Taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) are on either craft. Notice the Shenzou-8 (right side of picture) looks remarkably like a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Why start from scratch when you can borrow (?) from something that has worked well for decades. The Chinese are actually doing very well and making good progress in their goal to establish an inhabited space station and then press on to the Moon. Certainly they have benefited from the American and Russian technology. Sure would be nice if they paid for the use of those patents, though.

Recovering the landed Shenzou-8.

Like the Russian Soyuz, the Chinese Shenzou spacecraft land in an open wilderness for recovery. In this case, Inner Mongolia. It had undocked from Tiangong-1 on Wednesday and returned to Earth on Wednesday. It is expected that Taikonauts will be on either the next flight to the station or for certain the third flight up.

Mark Daymont,
Space Center Educator

Friday, November 18, 2011

HopeKids and the Space Center

Hello Troops,
The following is an email received recently from a parent of one of the Hopekids who attended the special missions we ran for them two weeks ago.

I want to thank the staff and volunteers who made the evening a success. Honestly, do you know of any place on Earth where so much human awesomeness exists in such a concentrated space? The astronauts in the International Space Station must see this place glowing on pure 100% creative fuel when all the ships are running as they orbit the Earth.

I'm proud to be associated with such fine people past and present.

Mr. W.

Dear Space Center,
Hi! I just wanted to send you a little note to thank you for letting my son and Hopekids come enjoy space camp. My 10 year old son, Austin, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which is 100% fatal with no treatment or cure. He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. He absolutely loved coming to this activity and has talked about it for days. Hopekids is a really special organization to us, especially since Austin stopped walking 1 year ago. He can no longer go to friends homes to play and finds himself trying to keep up with friends. Hopekids gives us the gift of being together and participating in activities that Austin can participate in and gets him out of the house. We love Hopekids and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us. Our live are definitely enriched through everyday angels like you!

Thanks again,
(Austin's Mom)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rough Seas Ahead

Hello Troops,
This is day two of two busy days at the Space Center. Double field trips yesterday and today mean four classes will keep us engaged until 6:00 P.M. Private missions start after the last school bus leaves. Some of us will emerge from the this grueling herculean task unscathed. Others, chained to their stations until the last bus disappears into the dark of night, will leave the Center bruised, unwashed, dishevelled and smelling heavily of human child and musty Voyager uniforms.

Our school's principal spent time and effort scrubbing the school's faculty room for today's principal's meeting with the Alpine School District's Superintendent. She left this note on the Space Center's white board: "NO ONE GOES INTO THE FACULTY ROOM FOR ANY REASON. I CLEANED IT FOR A MEETING". Knowing I suffer from selective memory syndrome, she told the night custodian to find me after my last mission and tell me not to let anyone use the faculty room.

Thirty minutes later....... The bus driver for the 2:00 P.M. field trip walked into the office.
"Do you have a microwave. I'm starving."

It was 5:30 P.M. She had another thirty minutes to wait before our field trip ended, then a 45 minute drive taking the students back to their school in Salt Lake City. The microwave was in the faculty room. I hesitated, remembering the principal's note on the white board behind me.

"Sure," I replied. I wasn't going to say no. How could using the microwave mess up the faculty room?

She didn't cook a Lean Cuisine or a Hot Pocket. She burned a bag of popcorn! The faculty room stunk to high heaven of burned popcorn. The school's hallways smelled of burned popcorn. We went into disaster clean up mode. I set up fans and left instructions for our night custodian to wash the tables and walls with the strongest disinfectant legally sold.

Now I get to return to school and smell the results. My fingers are crossed. If that smell isn't gone I'll be in deep trouble. Yes, even Mr. Williamson has a boss and I think I'm in for it today. I'll be cleaning toilets and raking leaves for the next two weeks.

Perhaps its time for a few things from the Imaginarium:

The Berlin Subway? If not, it should be.

Who says you can't improve on an existing design. The Rocking Chair reinvented.

Live Live Differently.

I know the feeling. We deal with small humans daily.

Again, Imagination and perfection in design.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Space Center Twenty One Years Ago.

Hello Troops,
Last week marked the 21st birthday of our Space Education Center. To commemorate the event I'm posting pictures taken a week before the Space Center opened on November 8, 1990.

We start with the Space Center's Office, also known to us old timers as its original name "The Briefing Room".

This is looking toward the front of the room. Principal Stan Harward is standing in the room's doorway. On the right are the original classroom coat hangers and cubbies for student's belongings (the Phoenix sits there today). The cubbies were removed a few years later and staff bunks were built in their place. The big screen TV is roughly where the Phoenix's main viewer sits today. You can see the white board, still on the wall in its exact same place after 21 years. The tables and chairs are used today in Discovery. The Briefing Room was first used for the classroom session of the field trip.

The Staff Board was at the front of the Briefing Room. We had nine volunteers when the Center opened in 1990. I was the only person on the payroll. The first picture is of Jeff Schoonover. Today Jeff is the principal of Provo High School. His children attend Central School. Kyle Sanderson's pictures comes next. He is a math teacher and Asst. Football Coach at Pleasant Grove High. Jake Mattson is next. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and four children. Burke Craghead is next followed by Tony Grover. Tony is a lawyer in Salt Lake City with two children. I can't make out or remember who the person is at the end.

Recognize the sink? Its not there anymore. How about the drawers? Yep, this is the where the Odyssey's Control Room sits today. The Gift Shop used to sit right here.

The Briefing Room looking toward the Voyager's entrance.

The back of the Briefing Room before the Odyssey. My desk is next to the filing cabinets. The mural was done on butcher paper by our Young Astronaut Club. To the far left you'll see the doorway to the library, today's home of you know who! Notice my less than comfy desk chair.

This was the bulletin board behind my desk at the back of the room. That bulletin board covered the hole in the wall that today leads to the Odyssey's Engineering Section.

And now, we move on into the Voyager Mission Simulator (as it was called then).

The short doorway was still a hazard as it is today. Notice there is no Captain's Loft. That was added a few years later.

Now a turn into the unfinished Voyager Control Room.

Then down to the Crew Quarters. Same red counter top

And up the spiral staircase to the Voyager's Bridge. This is the original furniture. We opened without raised platforms for the Captain's, Security and Record's stations. They were added only after I discovered the students sitting at those positions couldn't see the Tactical Screen. The box in the picture sits where today's Engineering Station is located. The box was the home of the original Robotic Arm (an idea I tried to import from the Challenger Centers).

In this photograph you see the Captain's desk in the distance. In the foreground right is Security. Foreground left is Records. You'll also easily find the left and right wings.

This is the front of the Bridge before the main viewer and TV were installed. The original two emblems of the Space Center are still there today, hidden by the two large black and gold Federation Emblems.

We descend down from the Bridge looking back at the Security Station.

And finally a right turn will take us back to the Briefing Room.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Few Items of Space Center News and Commentary.

Before we get started with today's post, I'd like to draw your attention to a gift left on my desk Friday morning from my union. My life at a glance!

Hello Troops,

Yesterday's warmth is making a speedy easterly exit up and over the mountains, leaving us venerable to the whims of an approaching cold front. I'm glad I wore my jacket as I made the outside rounds checking for unlocked doors.

Earlier Friday evening our conscientious neighbors fouled the air with backyard leaf burning Druid ritual fires. Their chanting doesn't bother us, nor their peculiar robes. What is bothersome is the smoke from their fires, drawn into the school through our air conditioner's air handlers. I'm seriously tempted to call in the Christian Brothers to squash the heretics.

The school's air conditioners stop compressing air to conserve electricity when the outside temperature drops below 54 degrees. Dampeners automatically open, drawing cold outside air into the school for cooling. We breath our neighborhood's sooty mixture all day. There is no escape. I'm consistently asked if I just returned from a camping trip when people smell my clothes. I understand the logic behind this cooling system, but cooling by bringing in outside air is a poor system for places like Pleasant Grove where half our homes are heated by buffalo chips and high sulfur coal.

We had a few reasons to shake hands and celebrate over the past few weeks.

I'm shaking Nathan's hand and congratulating him for receiving his One Year Pin. Nathan was unaware of significance of the Honor, hence the look of confusion.
"You've been with us one year!" I explained.
"Have I?" Nathan queried.
"You have," I answered.
"Have I?"
"Yes, you have."
"Have I really?"
"Nathan, you've been here one year so stand still so I can pin this on."
"What is it?"
"Its your Year Pin."
"Is it?"
"Yes it is."
"Oh is it?"
"Yes Nathan. IT is!"

Good Grief.

I'm shaking Christine Grosland's hand after successfully pinning a 5 Year Pin on her collar.

"Any words of wisdom you'd like to share with everyone?" I asked. Christine looked confused. Then a calmness overcame her as she pulled something from the very essence of her consciousness.

"Do not touch the sides of the door because you might be electrocuted. And, ah.... we're out of left thumbs in our box of spare parts. I think we have plenty of right thumbs........"

"You're good Christine. Sit down."

This is me pinning Rachel's 5 Year Service Pin onto her collar. We were both so overcome with emotion that a bit of something unpleasant escaped. Such things are a common occurrence for me whenever I climb stairs or stand up quickly. I attribute it to my advanced age.

It is difficult to identify the culprit. Of course I was blamed, but now that I examine the picture I'm starting to wonder. Let's just say it was the shortest pinning in Space Center history.
(Sorry Rachel, the pictures was just too good. Rachel is an awesome sport. I hope..)

This is Stacy receiving her 10 Year Service Pin. People tell me I have an electric personality. I've never believed them, until now. I think it was the combination of a thunder storm, my hand in contact with a metal pin in close proximity to Stacy's collar bone and a sudden lightening strike that generated the voltage.

Stacy has nearly recovered. She still slurs a few words, but other than that, she's 80% of her former self.

I'm offering my hand to Megan after awarding her 10 Year Service Pin. My gesture was immediately refused.

"How long have you owned that hand?" she asked.

"53 years," I answered.

"Have you sanitized recently?"

"It's been an hour or so."

"OH THE HUMANITY!" Jorden shouted from the back of the room where he stood with his back firmly planted against the wall. Everyone at the Space Center gives Jorden a wide berth, knowing his fear of germs and viruses. Jorden unzipped his black fanny pack and pulled out his face mask and hand sanitizer. In seconds he successfully removed his can of Lysol spray from a custom made holster and sterilized the air around him.

Megan smiled, waved me off, took a bow and returned to her seat.

Megan and Stacy wanted a picture together celebrating 10 Years at the Space Center.

Megan and Stacy started at the Space Center when they were very young. They loved playing aliens and perfected the 'alien face' our volunteers still use to this day.

This is Dave Daymont shaking Nathan's hand. Nathan recently completed his Phoenix passes.
"Did I?" Nathan asked.
"Yes you did." Dave responded.
"Did I really?"
"Yes, Nathan. You really got your Phoenix pin?"
"Oh did I?"
"You did."
"When did I do that?"
"Today, during the camp."
"Did I?"
"Yes you did."
"Did I really."

This is Dave Daymont shaking Nicole's hand. Nicole was awarded a Phoenix Pin. Nicole has the strongest grip of anyone working at the Space Center, and only releases after the first bone breaks.

Dave knew her award day was coming. In anticipation of the event, Dave spent the last few evenings studying the proper technique for administering the Vulcan Death Grip. He planed on administering the shoulder pinch right before the pain from her grip became unbearable. This picture was taken just before Nicole bore down. Dave applied the grip. Nicole loosened the tourniquet. The stand off lasted more than five minutes before I called it a draw.

This is Devin congratulating Logan for earning his Odyssey Pin. That is not a look of joy in Logan's eyes.
Devin is standing right next to him.
Devin looks a bit off center, if you know what I mean.
Devin has his hand on Logan's lanyard. The lanyard hangs around Logan's neck.
Devin chases loose chickens around Alpine.
Enough said.

Finally, I'm giving Jack his year pin. Jack is afraid of pins and needles. I believe it stems from a horrible accident involving a pet cat and a pair of knitting needles.

I successfully attached his pin to his lanyard only after taking him through a series of breathing exercises. Just before I reached for his lanyard I ordered him to shut his eyes. This picture was snapped shortly before he passed out.