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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Night's Roundup

Hello Troops,
I'm getting ready for bed while reflecting on the week's news. The USS Space Center hit turbulent water on Tuesday. Mrs. Houston fell ill with bronchitis and took to her sick bed. Mrs. Clegg read the sky and disembarked before the storm. She left us for a sci fi conference of some kind. We were left to our own devices to weather the storm.

Tuesday I sent out a email entitled "All Hands on Deck". The email stated quiet emphatically that no one else could take time off. I explained that we were down to the brass tacks and wiggle room wasn't an option. I'm happy to report that the staff and volunteers rallied to the cause. Megan and Christine taught the class sessions while the rest of us manned the rigging and wheel. We all held firmly through the swells, hurricane winds and multiple lightening strikes. It was one of those journey's you're glad to see the back of when all is said and done.

Sunday starts a new week in a new month. Hopefully the seas will be calm. I hope all our staff will be back to their posts - safe, sound and ready to get back to work.

Tonight we are hosting fifth and sixth grade students from Sage Hills Elementary School in Saratoga Shores. They are handling the ships quite well. Overall the consensus is "Good Kids" (although I remind you that the night is still young and there may be mischief afoot).

"How are they?" I asked Jon.
"I already had to chew two boys out. I told them the next time they see me will be in the morning to wake them up or with you (referring to me) to be moved. We will see how they do," Jon replied as he walked past my desk toward the Voyager with blanket in hand.

All five ships are flying on this Overnight Camp. That is a good thing. Five ships means more money and more money means we survive another week with enough cash to meet our needs and perhaps a bit more for upkeep and maintenance.

I was told the school district's maintenance department will be in on Monday to start building a permanent wall between the sixth grade hallway and the commons area where we inflate our portable planetarium for our field trip star shows. This new wall will be a Godsend. Our sixth graders are a noisy mob between classes and when they are released from their lessons for recess. Their boisterousness makes it nearly impossible to conduct our planetarium Starlab shows. The new wall will insulate our Starlab from the hustle and bustle. It will hopefully cocoon us in beautiful quiet. Needless to say, our Space Center teachers are 'over the Moon' about this development. When they are happy, we are all happy.

Mrs. Houston is off tonight. Metta and Nicole are chaperoning the girls. Metta made a brief stop at my desk to ask me to turn on the gym's air conditioning. Last week they were asking for heat. It is Springtime in Utah.

I almost hesitate to say this for fear of Fortuna's wrath, but our simulators have been cordial this past week. Even the Phoenix has been cooperating with her flight directors. We've learned to really enjoy the good times when everything works as per its design, for we know all too well that dark times lurk round every corner.

It's 12:15 A.M. It's quiet. Not a peep from the ships.
And I spoke too soon. One young man just passed my desk.
"I don't feel too good," he said clutching his stomach. "I think I need to use the bathroom."
"Do you need the Happy Bucket?" I asked.
"I don't think so," he replied.
"Famous last words," I mumbled under my breath.

He's back and feeling better. Water, the miracle cure for all ailments.

I'm off to bed. It will be another busy Saturday with all ships flying.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Space Center News. To Stay Informed, the Reason is.

"If I Only Had a Brain"

The Space Center's Starship Phoenix was diagnoses with early onset dementia several months ago. The ship forgot it was a Starship, thinking instead it was a pinball machine. This crisis of identity has been the cause of much frustration on the part of the Dave Daymont, Megan Warner and the small cadre of professional flight directors who call the Phoenix their "Home".

"Right in the middle of a mission the weirdest things would happen," said Megan Warner, Phoenix Flight Director and the one most annoyed by the Phoenix's inability to recall even the simplest of tasks, like raising shields or providing oxygen to its crew. Megan continued with an example, "The captain would say, 'fire torpedoes!' and all the ship's toilets would flush at once! I ask how any self respecting Flight Director could put up with that?"

Megan and Dave brought the matter to the attention of Mr. Williamson, Space Center Director Extraordinare and Resident Know it All. Mr. Williamson listened to their plight, seemingly uninterested. It is difficult for Mr. Williamson to understand the plight some of his flight directors live in the simulators. You see, Mr. Williamson exclusively flight directs the Voyager, the ship all agree is the most reliable simulator at the Center. The Voyager is a ship that knows its a ship. It may have the Center's oldest computers (some are rumored to contain original Apple computer boards shipped straight from Steve Jobs garage), but they operate well, despite their age and lack of spare parts.

\The Original Apple Sticker on the back of each Voyager Computer.
You see, there is no exaggeration. Some say the Voyager Computer's mother boards
were assembled by Methuselah himself at the time giants walked the Earth

The operating manuals for the Voyager's computers

Mr. Williamson realized the seriousness of the Phoenix's situation when Megan Warner refused to leave the student desk which sits directly in front of his desk. Mr. Williamson finally gave in to her demands and authorized the expenditure of Space Center funds for a new Phoenix brain after several hours of her self imposed 'sit in' accompanied by a 'Hunger Strike' - she skipped lunch.

"What could I do?" Mr. Williamson explained. "She was right there breathing my air...... and those staring eyes put a very hateful chill in the air."

Matt Long, Programming Guild Master, was summoned from Central Elementary's Fallout shelter - long rumored to be the place where Mr. Williamson keeps the Space Center's programmers. Matt was given a pair of Sun Glasses before coming up the long staircase leading from the school's basements. The light of day has been known to cause temporary blindness in those who dwell down in that place rarely spoken about and even more rarely seen.

"Matt, the Phoenix needs a new brain," Mr. Williamson spoke slowly and deliberately. Matt seemed confused by the vibrant blue of his Space Center button down shirt. "Matt, focus on me now. Look at my mouth and focus." Matt looked at Mr. Williamson's yellowing teeth. "The Phoenix needs a new brain and you and your programmers must do it quickly before the ship degrades beyond the point of no return."

Matt fell to the floor and curled into a fetal position. "No Master. No," he begged. His voice was rasp and sounded aged far beyond his years.

"I'll double your daily rations of Twinkies and Doritos and return your Monty Python videos." Mr. Williamson's voice was soft and comforting. Matt looked up from the floor. Matt loved his Monty Python videos. The videos were taken away several months ago by Galileo Set Director Stacy for having delivered a few glitched Galileo computer programs. He fixed the glitches straight away. Stacy refused to surrender the videos, claiming that time lost in entertainment was not time well spent.

"Fun is for the weak minded," she was overheard saying to a new volunteer. He was on the receiving end of her sharp tongue for talking about a movie he'd recently seen during one of her missions.

Matt held out his hand. Mr Williamson shook it. The deal was done. Megan was out the door and down the road toward Taco Bell before Mr. Williamson could look up and pass along the good news.

The programmers took on the job of reprogramming the Phoenix nearly two months ago. Last night they installed and tested the new controls. Megan was on hand to record the event on film. Forgive the pictures' poor quality. The camera's flash couldn't be used out of respect for the programmer's fear of bright lights.

Someone unidentified, Matt and Justin ponder a problem
in the Phoenix Control Room. They are wiping Twinkie crumbs away from their
mouths. It is our way of keeping them focused.

In the Dark of the Phoenix. Justin, Dillon, and John

Matt in the terrible throws of Code.
Not a pretty place to be.

Ryan and Stacy. Galileo Set Director Stacy was on hand to deliver the Monty Python
videos should the testing of the new controls prove satisfactory.

John and Matt discussing which videos would be watched after the installation was complete.

A screen shot of the new controls in the Phoenix Control Room.

Our final fuzzy picture is of Megan Warner, the driving force behind the new Phoenix starship controls. Megan deserves a strong and hearty pat on the back for her work in overseeing the look and feel of the controls.

Another special THANK YOU to the Space Center's programmers who went above the call of duty to do this extraordinary task in just six weeks! It is amazing how quickly they pulled this off.

The Space Center is the working home to very special people who look at their work as a calling and not a job. Well Done!

Wyatt Lenhart to Play Chekov

The Space Center's very own Wyatt Lenhart (Odyssey Flight Director) is to play the role of Mr. Chekov in an upcoming series of Star Trek episodes. Read all about Wyatt's amazing opportunity below.


New Webseries, Star Trek Continues, Announces Cast

Taking Star Trek Fan Films to the Final Frontier

Contact: John Broughton, 202.375.4911

WASHINGTON, DC, March 23, 2012 — Farragut Films, the film group that produces the Starship Farragut webseries, and Dracogen Strategic Investments, announced today the cast for the new webseries, Star Trek Continues. Led by Vic Mignogna, one of Farragut Films’ principals, this new webseries showcases Classic Trek with prominent and professional actors:

Captain Kirk
Vic Mignogna

Mr. Spock
Todd Haberkorn

Doctor McCoy
Chuck Huber

Mr. Scott
Chris Doohan

Mr. Sulu
Grant Imahara

Lieutenant Uhura
Kim Stinger

Ensign Chekov
Wyatt Lenart

"A great deal of thought and consideration went into assembling the best cast possible. Every one of them is an accomplished and skilled professional who brings so much to the production. From the beginning, we committed to having experienced actors who would bring deep and endearing performances, and that's exactly what we have,” said Vic Mignogna. “I hope the avid admirers of Star Trek will enjoy this cast's work as much as we are going to enjoy making it!" In the upcoming weeks, additional information will be released on the other characters with biographical details regarding their acting and industry credentials.

Filming of several vignettes will take place in May at Farragut Films Studio in Kingsland,Ga. At nearly 10,000 square feet, the studio is the largest facility of Trek sets in the world. Conveniently located off Interstate 95 near the Florida border and only 35 miles north of the Jacksonville International Airport, the studio has numerous amenities such as hotels, restaurants, and stores. A SAG signatory entity, Farragut Films has partnered with Hollywood professionals, as well as local businesses to help promote Kingsland and bridge the West Coast to East Coast for film projects.

About Farragut Films, a film group headquartered in Washington D.C, produces Starship Farragut, an award-winning webseries based on The Original Series of Star Trek. Farragut Films has completed four live action films, two animated episodes, and one comic book. Farragut Films is in post production of their latest episode, "The Price of Anything" slated for an August 2012 release and are in pre-production of a new webseries entitled, Star Trek Continues. Farragut Films is a non-profit entity within the State of Maryland. For more information, please visit

About Dracogen Strategic Investments. Dracogen Strategic Investments is the creation of Steven Dengler – entrepreneur, pilot, co-founder of Inc., and all-round geek. Dracogen is committed to making awesome things happen whenever it can. Besides backing some pretty amazing tech companies, it also supports fun creative projects and has a particular affinity for Child's Play Charity. Learn more about Dracogen at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

50 Years Ago Today - Astronaut Selection Changes in 1962

The Mercury 7 astronauts with model of Mercury-Atlas.

With the success of Mercury-Atlas 6 and John Glenn orbiting the Earth in his capsule Freedom 7, NASA continued preparations for the next mission. However, there was an unexpected change in mission assignments. DUring the continuous medical examinations of the astronauts, NASA doctors detected an "erratic heart rate" in astronaut Deke Slayton (second from left front in picture above). The Air Force medical board and the assigned civilian cardiologists recommended that he be disqualified for assignment as an astronaut. In his place would go astronaut Scott Carpenter.

Scott Carpenter in the "White Room" inspecting the bulkhead of his capsule, which he nicknamed "Aurora 7."

Scott Carpenter was a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. After WW2 he learned aeronautical engineering, and during the Korean War he flew anti-submarine patrols in Navy patrol planes. He became a test pilot for the Navy, and eventually was selected as an astronaut. He served as backup pilot for John Glenn on the MA-6 mission. Now, he was moved to be the prime pilot for MA-7.

Astronaut Deke Slayton in Mercury spacesuit during tests.

Donald "Deke" Slayton was trained by the US Air Force as a B-25 bomber pilot and flew 56 combat missions in Europe during World War 2. Later he flew the A-26 attack bomber in the Pacific against the Japanese for 7 missions before the war ended. After the war, he studied aeronautical engineering and became a test pilot, eventually flying such famous planes as the F-101, F-102, F-105, and F-106 jet fighters. No doubt he was deeply disappointed by the medical decision to cut him from assignments. In fact, there were many pilots and astronauts who sided with Deke against this decision but could not change NASA management's decision.

With his assignment changed, Deke decided to stay in the program for the time being and continue helping to test and prepare missions for the Mercury Program.

By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How the World Might End? A Beginner's Guide.

Hello Troops,
Before we get into the day's post, I'd like to announce our next Open Mission scheduled for March 29, 6:15 to 8:45 P.M. Please visit our web site's Parties page for more information on Open Missions. Beware, you'll have to work for the information Scrolling down the page will be required. You could work up quite an appetite.

Norman Rockwell was kind enough to illustrate with canvas and oils how news and gossip spreads around the Space Center when the staff and volunteers are too lazy to obtain information from the Space Center's most trusted news source, The Troubadour!

If you seek enlightenment, if you want to know Space Center truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I suggest you go to the horse's mouth. Let The Troubadour be your light in the dark world of misinformation, useless information, and down right viral gossip which hasn't a footing in reality.

Things to Worry You into Sleeplessness

The end of mankind has been preached from every pulpit for centuries and taken as gospel by Christians, Jews and Muslims. Knowing it is inevitable, the question we should ask "Will our demise be by fire or ice?". Or will our extinction come from a source not expected.

Perhaps one day I'll wake up, step outside to pick up the morning paper and see a biplane circling overhead trailing a long banner reading, "This is the last thing you are going to see". Then BANG, everything around me will decay into computer code. And for one brief instance before oblivion, I'll know that someone, somewhere just hit the delete button......

What does science say about humanity's boogie man? What are the facts? Let's take a moment and look at the nasty things out there that might be the cause of the worst day of your life.

We start with the Catastrophometer Ratings

OK, here comes your first nightmare....

Ouch. Nasty. I must admit that sliding into a tear in Space Time might be the best way to go - the ultimate roller coaster.

What's next. Hit me.

A Super Volcano several hundred miles from Pleasant Grove?! I have earthquake insurance on my home, but I don't recall Allied Insurance offering Super Volcano insurance. I don't fancy meeting eternity under several tons of volcanic ash. Pompeii did that - so going out this way isn't original or creative. I think I'll pass on this one.


This one may be the one that gets us if this past winter is any indication of what the summer will be like. I'm anticipating July temperatures hitting 130 degrees. Talk about road rage! Imagine getting stuck in a traffic jam on I15 when its 120 plus outside (150 on the pavement) and your cars overheats.

Next, something we can understand at the Space Center.

We prepare for this every day at the Space Center. I suggest you seek safety at the Space Center if you wake up one morning and a find large alien mother ship hovering over your local high school. We have five starships equipped with photon torpedoes, phasers, and warp speed in case our attackers overwhelm our defenses.

The Space Center also has the only reliable star maps showing where the nearest inhabited worlds are located.

Again, the Space Center has an edge on this. Remember, we have intelligent, benevolent, compassionate and human friendly computers in our Starships. We will unleash the almighty Apple ARU 3000 Artificial Intelligent Unit on any super computer that attempts a coup on humanity.

Deadly asteroids can make for a very bad day, just ask the dinasours. Again we have our starships.

Now we have a problem. The Space Center has advanced medicine we dispense during every mission (the magic of M&Ms). While filled with comforting chocolate, I doubt they could stand against a super bug. I'm ordering a few gallons of hand sanitizer and reconsidering the number of times per week I have contact with other humans after reading about this potential game changer.

A Supernova is something we deal with every week at the Space Center. Let's not forget that Dr. Jenkins is on our side. A Supernova may fry the Romulans (they have Dr. Marcus), but I feel confident Dr. Jenkins will provide plenty of warning.

But wait, even if he warns us, who do we protect ourselves from a Supernova explosion? I feel a gloom growing in my gut.

I don't get this one at all. I don't want to be turned into a ball of 'grey goo'.
Down with Nanites.

Let's remember to enjoy life and live everyday as if it were your last. It just might be!

Mr. W

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What you may have missed on Friday's Overnight Camp

A Secret Revealed and Blackmail Hemmed with
Bribery Caught on Camera!

Mr. Williamson caught in the act of blackmail

"Mr. Williamson?" Marissa interrupted me at my desk.
"Yes Marissa?" I responded.
"I know."
"You know what?" I wondered what it was she knew.
"You know what I know, and I know you do."
"No Marissa, I don't know what you know. How am I suppose to know what you know. Now run along and bother someone else." There was an awkward pause. She didn't budge.
She half whispered. "I know about your addiction."
"Addiction? Marissa, I'm a well respected teacher, a registered Star Trek Fan and life long supported of Tibet's Freedom from Chinese control. How could I have an addiction? Who told you I had an addiction problem?"
"Let's just say a little bird told me from my window sill." Marissa smiled and tapped the side of her nose with her index finger, the universal sign for the Universal Society of Secret Knowers.
"My patience is quickly evaporating. If you have a point to make, then I suggest you MAKE IT?"

Marissa was holding something behind her back throughout our short conversation. My challenge forced her to play her hand. She produced a box of Girl Scout cookies - Thin Mints to be exact.
My face went white. I knew the proverbial cat was out of the bag. If she knew about my addiction to Thin Mints, then who else might know? Marissa examined my reaction with pleasure.

"I see your breathing harder, and is that sweat building on your forehead?" She pointed to the top of my head.
"Curse you Marissa!" I spat.
"Oh, plenty of time for that." She held the box out for me to take. "I see by your reaction to this last available box of Girl Scout Thin Mints for the 2012 selling season that you're in a world of hurt. I hear withdrawal from Thin Mints can be uncomfortable - to say the least. An experience you'd want to avoid at all costs."
"What do you want?" I spoke in a hushed tone, knowing anyone could walk by the desk.
"I'll let this lovely box of Heaven's Joy go for...... Let's see - how about you give me one of those nearly impossible to get Magellan staff positions for tonight's Overnight Camp. Your generous act might convince me to let you adopt this little box of decadence."
"Do you know how many people want to work in the Magellan?! Am I to ignore them and give you a spot just because you have a box of cook....coo....cookie......cookies in your hand?" I stammered with drool.
"Got that in one. Good job Mr. Williamson. Now let's finish this little transaction so we can both walk away happy. I get the Magellan and you get to sulk away to the school's boiler room to feed your nasty little habit."
"You know about the boiler room?"
"My source tells me that last September school district plumbers found sixteen empty boxes of Thin Mints from last year's selling season in the school's basement boiler room? Nobody knew what to make of it - but I knew where they came from. Now, do we have a deal?"
"I'm better than this." I protested in embarrassment that my one true weakness had been discovered.
"No you're not." Marissa was not one to confuse kindness with plain speaking. "Do we have a deal?"
What choice did I have. "Deal."

I took the box. Marissa smacked her lips in victory, half curtsied and walked away to the Magellan. A moment later I was in my cement corner of Central's basement.

Megan's Act of Selflessness, Caught on Camera

Megan Warner is a perfect example of selflessness. Here we see her directing a Phoenix mission. Behind her sits Andrew - an observer. Yes, you read correctly. Andrew is an observer.

Look closely at the photo. I know it's difficult to see, but notice that Megan is sitting on a hard wooden stool. Notice that Andrew is sitting on the over cushioned and decadently stuffed Phoenix Flight Director's chair. I took my camera and snapped the photo to share with our righteously intelligent Troubadour readers.

If you need a car, ask Megan.
If you need money, ask Megan.
If you need advice, ask Megan.
If you need a shoulder to cry on, ask Megan.

I exaggerate to a fault in an effort to make my point, but what I'm absolutely sure of is this; If you come to the Space Center hungry and see Megan with her bag of Malt O Meal cereal, milk, bowl and spoon - ask for some. She'll had hers right over. Yes, she'll give you the cereal right out of her mouth; that's how generous this modern saint is.

Colton Risks Life and Limb for our Campers

This is Colton. Colton gets the Extra Mile Award for this weekend's Overnight Camp In this photo you see Colton spelunking into the mysterious depths under Central Elementary School's stage.

The Westfield Elementary students had just been assigned to their ships when I called the staff to the gym to set up the sleeping cots. We keep our cots in pull out carriers. The carriers slide in and out from under the school's stage. One of the carriers got stuck and wouldn't come out far enough to get the cots. My first thought was to call for Pleasant Grove's Fire Brigade.

"Not so fast!" Colton jumped into the carrier and went down flat to his belly. "Let an army man take care of this."

"I urge caution," I cautioned Colton. "
Nobody knows what lives down there." Colton shrugged and started forward.

"Stop, at least let me send someone to fetch one of my mother's canaries. Coal miners used canaries deep in the mines to test the air. You got out of their fast if your canary snuffed it."
"You got an air mask?" Colton countered.
"Then I'm going in. Live dangerously I always say!"

Colton disappeared under the stage.
"Anyone know his next of kin?" I asked the gathered staff and volunteers. They shrugged a no.
"Who's going in after him if he doesn't come out?" Nabil's voice shook with fear knowing he was the smallest and therefore my answer would be him.

We heard a voice from the dark. "Pull!" We pulled on Colton's command. The carrier slid out holding a dirty Colton and several of the Center's sleeping cots.

Colton earned the Federation's Extra Mile Service Award for courage in the face of UnderSchoolStageCreepyCrawlees. He tread where few go lightly. It is a well deserved honor.

An Attempt on Mr. Williamson's Pride.
The Miscreant Caught. Bail Posted. Beware.

I asked Scott Warner to set up my table for Overnight Camper Sign Ins. This was the result. Please pay close attention to the two legs. See anything suspicious? The legs were not extended properly, nor were they locked into place. This table would have collapsed on me during signing in. I would have leaned forward and Bang, the table and I would have ended on the floor. The injuries to my pride could have been fatal.

I could tell by Scott's reaction to my taking the picture that he knew, I knew it was no accident. I called for Voyager Security. The Voyager's two unsuspecting Security boys were pulled from their birthday party mission and brought into the gym. I ordered them to arrest Scott and put him in the Voyager's brig until I could decide what to do with him.

I'm open to your suggestions. Email them. Until then, Scott is to be considered dangerous and armed with a better than average intelligence. He is out on bail at the moment.

Aliah Earns A Phoenix Pin.

A Phoenix Pass Pin was awarded to Aliah E. on Saturday morning during our "We Survived Another Overnight Camp" post camp meeting. Megan Warner awarded the pin due to the fact that the Phoenix's Set Director wasn't in attendance. Dave and his wife were up late Friday night attending a Relationship Seminar for Couples sponsored by his local LDS ward.

"Don't ask," was Dave's response to my question about the seminar when he arrived for the Saturday private missions. My hat is off to the brethren of that ward who attended with their wives.

Aliah is one of the Center's top volunteers. Congratulations Aliah on earning the pin and getting Megan to smile while giving it to you. Megan guards the Phoenix Pins with her life and finds having her teeth drilled without the benefit of Novocain and parting with a Phoenix Pin both in the same category of discomfort.

SpaceX Makes Progress on Manned Capsule

Sure looks like 7 astronauts could fit in there!

SpaceX, creator of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon rocket systems, continues to engineer a manned version of their Dragon cargo spacecraft. In the photo above, courtesy SpaceX, seven NASA engineers, astronauts, and SpaceX engineers worked out crew space requirements in an engineering model of the future Dragon Capsule. This crew trial is one of two important crew tests in the development of SpaceX's entry in the Commercial Crew Development race. Other companies competing to send astronauts to the ISS include Boeing, ATK, Lockheed (NASA Orion capsule) and several others.

What the Dragon cargo module will look like approaching the ISS. The Dragon crewed vehicle will look very similar.

SpaceX is preparing to launch their first official mission carrying cargo to the ISS in late April. With the hopeful success of that mission, SpaceX will begin contracted work to regularly deliver essential supplies and experiments to the ISS, and return valuable equipment to the Earth (which is not capable of any other current cargo craft).

NASA's own crewed capsule, Orion is currently in testing but is scheduled for a crewed launch in 2021, which seems a long ways from today. Will SpaceX beat NASA in their own game? Let's see how they do with their cargo mission next month, but I'm putting my money on SpaceX.

You can read more about SpaceX's crew testing on their site:

Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Friday Night's Ramblings Round and Round the Mulburry Bush.

Hello Troops,
Its Friday night. That means the Space Education Center's starships are out on patrol someone within 400 light years of Earth.

Tonight four ships left Starbase. Reports coming in through the military subspace network tell tales of herosim and valor. The crews manning the ships hail from Westfield Elementary. They do their school proud.

The Voyager is in space dock being deloused. Last week the Voyager picked up a colony of ugly little beasties shed from the matted hair of a Klingon family found stranded on the Olive Moon of Panthea. They were accidently transported onto the Voyager by Ensign Jake Hirschi. Ensign Hirschi neglected to activate the proper transport biofilters during the 'beaming up' - a common rookie mistake. Security was the first to notice the squirming insects in the adult female Klingon's hair as they approached her on the transporter pad to escort them to sick bay. The alarm was sounded and the containment force field sparked into action. Unfortunately not before several of the lice like vermin had fallen to the floor and crawled into the ship's air circulation system.

Ensign Hirschi spent the rest of the week fumigating various sections of the ship. His efforts, though well intentioned, were fruitless. Not even an Ensign facing disciplinary action could stay ahead of the these rapidly reproducing insects.

The Captain ordered the ship back to Starbase for fumigation when several of the creepy crawlies were found in his morning bowl of Froot Loops. Everyone knows there are two things the Captain will not tolerate, insubordination and an unsatisfactory bowl of Froot Loops.

It's 10:44 P.M. Colton McKay is talking 'military' with Metta Smith to my left. Colton is in the Army. Metta is in the Air Force.

Megan is celebrating her Favorite Crew of the Week? She gave them death time. Instead of sitting quietly through Megan's music of choice, they danced - without making a sound. Everyone knows that Death Time is extended if the crew talks during Death Time. Megan was impressed. Its not easy to impress Megan. She purposely goes out of her way not to be impressed.

It's 10:47 P.M. and time for me to stop typing this post. I need to put out the ice cream sandwiches and snicker doodles. Mrs. Houston will be arriving any minute to chaperon the girls.

I'll be back soon.....

It's 11:56 P.M. and all is quiet. The Westfield boys are in the Voyager. The girls are in the gym. There isn't a peep coming from the Odyssey. The staff are either out cold or tuned out with ear buds blasting. I found our little dinasourlite emerging from the seat of my chair. It gave me a fraction of a moment's concern. You'll find it poking its head out of my file cabinet now.

Matt Long, Megan Warner and Ryan Pendleton are in the school's computer lab thrashing out the bugs in the Phoenix simulator's new Cocoa Starship controls. Revolution Code has powered the Phoenix ever since its launching six years or so ago. For some reason, our Revolution Code is exhibiting the same symptoms of dementia commonly found in humans over 80. At times, the Phoenix forgets its a Starship. I think it was a tractor in a previous life.

"Its amazing," Matt Ricks said last week, "how the Revolution programming degrades with use. I fix a bug, it works for awhile, then the same problem resurfaces."

"The ship hates me," Megan chimed in with disgust. "The Phoenix doesn't give Dave or Zac the problems it gives me. It hates me and that's a fact."

To accuse a ship of hating one of its flight directors is a serious allegation. I investigate every reported incident of one of my ships striking back at one of my flight directors. Our ships must learn the basic rule of the Space Center. They are here to serve US, not the other way around. Action will be taken if I feel the Phoenix is to blame for these problems that keep cropping up. That action could be anything from a severe scolding to a exorcism (as was done on the Voyager a year or two back to rid it of a network loop that nobody took responsibility for. The loop was either the work of a disgruntled spirit or a ship that was too big for its britches).

OK, enough of this. I need some sleep if I'm going to be of any use tomorrow.

Wait, what was that? I felt something in my hair............ I knew I shouldn't have gone into the Voyager for that Diet Dew kept in the ship's fridge.

Mr. Williamson

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

International Space Station Update: Robotic Refueling Experiments Look Good

Dextre robotic controls (on right) work on the RRM module.

Dextre is a robotic Instrument that works on the outside of the International Space Station. Built by the Canadian Space Agency, Dextre includes manipulator hands and tools that astronauts use to grasp satellites and experiments, move them around, and operate exterior controls. The RRM (Robotic Refueling Mission) is NASA's program to practice combining human and robotic skills to refuel and repair satellites in space.

The RRM module assists the NASA engineers in designing procedure steps and astronaut skills to perform tasks that would normally be done by an astronaut in a spacesuit making a dangerous EVA (spacewalk). The success of these experiments will help ISS astronauts and ground mission controllers to service space vehicles while in orbit of Earth.

The refueling aspect of the mission is very intriguing. NASA is making plans to save launch weight and launch costs by preparing "fuel depots" in orbit. When a space craft reaches orbit, the Refueling robots can then fuel up the space craft''s engines prior to launching outward to other planets or destinations. Refueling would also extend the life of satellites whose station-keeping thrusters have run out of propellant. Extending the serviceable life of satellites will save millions of dollars.

For long-duration flights, it would be possible to send fuel to distant locations and then fuel up a spacecraft for a return home. This new capability opens up new possibilities for exploring the solar system.

During March 7-9, astronauts on the ISS and NASA mission controllers were able to successfully pass many of the tests that will be needed to master before working on real satellites. One test included working Dextre's precision cutting tools to slip under two small wires, and cut them with only a few millimeters of room to spare. This type of precision will be absolutely necessary in making future repairs to spacecraft, such as servicing Hubble.

By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Time Space Portal Opened at the Space Center (and other things).

Hello Troops,
A portal in space time opened sometime during last weekend's Overnight Camp. My best guest would place the other end of the portal squarely in the Jurassic Period. This poor creature happened upon the portal and was stepping through just when the portal closed, trapping it between the Jurassic plains and Central Elementary School 2012.

I came upon the creature Friday night when I stepped out of the office to stretch my legs.

"What the heck!" I believe I said. I approached carefully - fearful of the beast's imminent release from the portal. If I had common sense I would have gone back to my desk to fetch the baseball bat I keep on hand just for things like this, but I didn't. I moved toward it cautiously, one step at a time.

The hallway was strangely quiet for a Friday Overnight Camp. I wondered where my staff and volunteers had gone? My heart raced when the thought that a gaggle of these dinobeasties might have successfully escaped the portal into our time, leaving this poor unfortunate behind, stuck dead when the portal closed on him. I had a vision of my poor staff and volunteers turned into Dinochow at the mercy of this pride of dinosaur lites. I looked for blood splatters on the floor and walls. There were none. That was a good sign.

I took a few extra steps toward the beastie. It looked dead - frozen in time. There were sounds of explosions and yelling. The Magellan was still flying! My blood pressure returned to normal. All was well at the Space Center. My staff and volunteers were alive and unaware of the mystery in the hallway.

What to do with the creature? The closing portal sliced the beast in half with surgical precision. Half a beast might prove entertaining if used on a mission at just the right time and place. The Cosmos had been kind to us.

Don't be startled then if you seen this little throw back to a nastier time in Earth's history suddenly appear on one of your next missions at the Space Center.

And for Something Completely Different......

This is James S. James is shaking hands with overly exuberant Christine. Christine is happy to give James his Odyssey pin. Her enthusiasm is contagious as seen in James' face. Christine spreads joy and happiness where ever she goes.

Did you know that Christine recently received an LDS mission call to Japan? Imagine what her personality will do to help them in their recovery efforts.

Mr. W.

Friday, March 9, 2012

This Week's Overnighter and Wyatt Lenhart's Great News.

Wyatt all Decked out. A Star is Born.

Hello Troops,
We've survived the solar storm. The news said the worst sailed right by Earth. The Earth's magnetic field deflected much of it. I still believe the static electricity in my home was stronger than normal because of it. I got a good shock opening the bathroom door. And more than once I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. So, it was either the solar storm or I may have an unwanted poltergeist who has taken up lodgings in my humble abode.

Tonight we host the 6th grade class from Cedar Ridge Elementary School. They are great, well behaved kids. All the ships are flying.

Phoenix. Dave: Supernova
Voyager. Jon: Event Horizon
Galileo. Ben: Crisis
Magellan. Mark: Vortex
Odyssey. Christine: Outlaws

Its 11:45 P.M. I'm at my desk. Jon and Ben are in the Voyager explaining the Center's safety procedures. The boys are peppering their speech with the usual amount of giggling, laughing and the occasional flatulence. You can't have an Overnight Camp without a traditional belly busting belch. I'm waiting to see if I can hear it. Regardless, I WILL hear the the roar of laughter which inevitably follows. Jon must then put on his "I'm not a happy camper" face and threaten the mighty wrath of the awful and dreadful Mr. Williamson upon them.

Tonight I'm going to post something written by the Space Center's very own Wyatt Lenhart. Wyatt has been selected to play the role of Chekov from the original Star Trek series in a new online Star Trek series. He flew to Los Angeles yesterday to have his uniform fitted for filming. Way to go Wyatt!!
I went to a convention in Vegas a few years ago that had no real ties to star trek. It was an anime convention, and so all the people there were ANIME nerds and not star trek nerds. In the opening ceremony, while introducing the main guest, (Vic Mignogna) he announced that he would be having a Star Trek the original series trivia. Now, at an anime convention you might find a few really like anime AND star trek the ORIGINAL series (or TOS for short). Keep in mind this was the biggest guest at the whole gig, this guy was most well known. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Are you kidding me? The original series? I know that stuff better than anyone on this planet! I practically LIVED on it as a child." SO I MADE A PUBLIC CHALLENGE! being the arrogant teenager I am, I thought of the most challenging and obscure question I could think of. searching my brain furiously for a question worthy of this challenge.

suddenly it came to me! as my friends were gathered around me (Ben and Hayley) I asked the question that I didnt know the answer to. He was stumped! confused that someone of my intellect could come up with such a surprising question! He of course welcomed the challenge and asked if I knew the answer...(sweating at this point) I told him he would have to wait until the trivia panel. Where I would roast him alive! He smiled and walked away with confidence, as though he knew the answer all along. With my head pounding and hands shaking I walked away screaming! "I'VE GOT TO FIND THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION!" Hayley and Ben both looked at me with eyes WIDE open as though to say, "you mean you didn't know the answer?" I guess I had played to cool and confident that no one had noticed :D. so I researched the question further only to find that AN ANSWER DIDN'T EXIST!!!!! I had gotten my episodes mixed up and asked an inconsistent question! I was terrified! now I had to show up to the panel and be expected to ask that question in front of everyone who was present. I think me exact words were "hey I'm gonna kick your but at that trivia panel!" so when I arrived I saw toward the front, but not in costume. I was hoping that through the thousands of faces he saw in a day. Hopefully, he would forget that I had even challenged him, and I could go on with life and forgo the shame of asking the question (if you asked it then you HAVE to know the answer) so I blended into the crowd and hope that he would forget...

then the moment of the panel comes, and HE SHOWS UP IN FULLY AUTHENTIC STAR TREK UNIFORM!

and this is what happened.

So, basically I got destroyed at that panel. He had a phaser that was also a water gun. Every time he would answer a question correctly (and he got EVERY one) he would turn to me and ask a more obscure question from that same episode, and if I didn't know it he would squirt me in the face with this water gun. It was fun, although I hated it and loved it at the same time. Yes, I was getting squirted in the face, but it was fun and we all talked about how cool it was later..

so we left the convention and then went on with our normal lives. Yes! It was cool! but i didn't think much of it.

I DID email him trivia questions from time to time until he answered to many in a row it seemed pointless to keep asking.

so a year or so went by and we were off to our next convention! off to Colorado! We arrive, and I'm dressed in my Captain kirk attire.

The convention was great! we arrived for opening ceremonies and then RIGHT after was his Q and A panel. (this convention was much bigger, there were probably 10,000 people at this one. 6,000 of them in the room at the time) we were toward the front because he was again, the biggest guest at this convention (and really the biggest voice actor in the anime world). The Q and A session started and it was seemingly normal for the most part. people who had never been to a convention before asked their annoying questions and the creepy fan girls made him do lines as a character for him, but it was everything I had seen before.....until he saw me. He began to start, what some would describe as, freaking out. then he started talking about his STAR Trek career, and how he met William Shatner. Then he kinda had to stop and be like, okay, we should probably start talking about anime, since that's what were here for.


all the other voice actors were given a room and a specific amount of line room. Vic, however, was given a whole floor, and the line was ENORMOUS!! The average wait was something like 3 to 5 hours. When you arrived in the room, you were allowed ONE item to be signed, and you could have a cd or a headshot signed if you decided to buy one also. They had security guards standing by in case you even THOUGHT about asking an extra question or signing an extra item. We were indeed afraid.

So we get to the room...and our little group walks in. Sparing the details of conversation, we were in there for 20 minutes!!! SECURITY WAS FURIOUS! in fact, they removed the rest of my party from the room! During our conversation, he told me about the star trek series he was doing, and he said, "We've GOT to get you doing a small cameo or something!" I was like YEAH! THAT'D BE SO COOL! then he paused and was like. Can you do a Russian accent? being EXTREMELY comfortable with a Russian accent because of all my practice at the space center. I busted out my Computer Specialist accent without hesitation. Then he said, well, Would you like to be Chekov? inside I was like YEAAAAAAAHH! but outside I was like YES! that would be so cool! and that was when security was said "take him down!". so I left the room and was completely blown away by what just happened. This is like what fans DREAM about, and I had just stumbled onto it by challenging someone to a star trek trivia panel.

A few weeks later he emailed me asking for my information, He called me and we talked about an audition video. I sent in my video, and I got the part!

I leave March 8th to get fitted for my costume in LA.

May 3 I leave to film the first few Vignettes and do a TON of publicity photo's

and then October we film the first episode!!!!

Its going to be great!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Solar Storm Attacks Earth!

False Color image of Solar Eruption.

Well, yes, it's a solar storm, and yes, it is hitting the Earth, so I call it an attack just for the effect. But the fact is, this Solar Flare that is hitting the Earth and causing fantastic Polar Lights could just as well cause interference in satellite communications. These disruptions could affect GPS navigation systems, high-flying aircraft travel, power grid transmission lines, and radio signals. Listen to news updates for anything serious though.

This all stems from what's called a CME, or "Coronal Mass Ejection" that occurred on the Sun yesterday and has begun hitting the Earth's magnetic field.

Shields Up!

You can get detailed information on the best site I know for tracking this storm, SpaceWeather, at:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Delays in Resupply to ISS

Falcon 9 and Dragon under preparation.

It will not launch earlier than late April, but SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon resupply capsule are making progress towards their flight. The soon-to-be-historic flight will accomplish two major milestones for SpaceX. The mission combines its next objective, that of a rendezvous near the station, with its next objective, which is actual docking. By achieving the two goals in one flight, SpaceX will leap forward in their progress and save money as well. If successful, it ill be the first commercial resupply of the ISS (outside of Space Agencies). Last week, the Falcon 9 rocket seen in the picture above made a successful testing on the pad of its fueling and simulated launch.

ATV-2 on approach to ISS.

Meanwhile. on Friday March 2, European Space Agency directors announced a delay in the launching of the next cargo resupply to the ISS. Workers will need to re-enter the cargo area of the craft, designated ATV-3 (Automated Transfer Vehicle 3) to retighten cargo straps and prevent load shifting during the launch. This delay will move the launch to March 23. The ATV-3, officially nicknamed Edualdo Amaldi (after an Italian physics scientist), will carry 7 tons of fuel, water, air, and supplies to keep operations going on the ISS. The ATV is to be launched on top the Arianne 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in South America.

By Mark Daymont
Space Center Eductor

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Imaginarium's Morning Cafe

Hello Troops,
A moment at the Imaginarium's Morning Cafe for a Sweet Sticky Bun, a hot cocoa, a gaze out the window at the rising sun and a moment to once again ponder the power of human imagination.

Pull up a chair.

One of my favorite commercials of the year.
Imagination's Highest Award for this one.

I always do. Don't You?
Never travel Solo. Take a Wookiee.
At least you'll be OK to drive in the HOV lane on the freeway.

There comes a time when you just can't take it anymore. People stand up and say "Enough is Enough." A lesson Rush Limbaugh is only now learning.

Every family seems to have one.
Are you the one in your family?

Drink finished with only a few drops down the front of my shirt (hey this may turn out to be a good day). Taking a moment to lick the sugar off my fingers and then its out the door of the Morning Cafe and down the street to the Space Center.

See you in the trenches.

Mr. W.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Making the Most of a Perilous Occupation: A Wedding Proposal on the Magellan

Hello Troops,

I want to thank Nicole for writing this post. Strange things indeed happen at the Space Center, not the least of which - a marriage proposal. I met the bride to be on Sunday at my niece's home. Family and friends of my niece were gathered for the obligatory feast following a baby blessing when I overhead a young woman talking about her wedding proposal at "that space place". Autumn brought her right over and introduced me to her. She showed me the ring. We both agreed it was a proposal never to be forgotten.

And now Nicole's account of the proposal itself.

It started off as an unusual mission, but not unusual in a bad sense. The Magellan crew had decided to throw a surprise party for their grandfather, a self-proclaimed Trekkie. We often have surprise parties for younger crews, but not usually for an older crew. The crew consisted of all age ranges as members of the family came together to celebrate the grandfather’s birthday. The mission itself was fairly normal; the crew and the staff both did an excellent job. At the end of the flight, the crew asked Zac and me to take some group pictures of them as they celebrated their victory.

After taking multiple group pictures with three different cameras, the birthday grandfather, who had been the admiral, left the group to talk with Zac and me. “Get the cameras ready,” he whispered with a gleam in his eye. “We are about to have a real proposal.”

Zac and I looked at each other with obvious delight; nothing like this had happened to us at the Space Center before. The admiral walked back down the stairs to join his crew.

“As the admiral of a starship, it is my privilege to marry people,” he stated. After some bantering between the crew members, one man stepped forward and asked if he could get married. The admiral nodded his approval and the man turned to his girlfriend. He got down on one knee and with victory music playing in the background, he asked her the question; while cameras flashed, she smilingly held out her hand and told him that she would marry him. Cheers broke out from the crew. The man slipped a diamond ring onto her finger.

Zac and I grinned as we continued to snap pictures while the crew celebrated. In my humble opinion, I believe that the man must have realized how short life can be when you are in the perilous occupation of flying a space station and, during the course of the mission, must have decided to finally marry the woman he loves. That, of course, is my own opinion, and you can see the situation as you wish. Zac and I were excited to have been able to take part in such a rare event at the Space Center, and we join with everyone as we wish the couple a wonderful future together.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Great Fish, Shipwreaked in Matrimony Cove (And Other News).

Kyle (The Fish) Herring and Michelle Hinman,
his soon to be Better Half (and I'm not kidding)

Hello Troops,
Our news begins with the shocking revelation that confirmed bachelor, gentleman, scholar and resident Space Center political analyst has been lured by Siren song into the rocks of Sirenuse. Evidence of his bewitching is apparent on the ring finger of his fiancee, Michelle . Word has it Michelle is taking physical therapy to repair muscle damage to her arm and shoulder caused by the weight of the stone.

Yes friends, the Great Fish has been hooked! No one could be more pleased than Kyle Herring's mother.
"Finally!" she was overheard saying during a telephone call to Kyle's grandmother.
"Remember dear, with marriage comes the possibility of children," the kindly grandmother reminded her of the many family discussions held on the topic over the years.
"Oh, I forgot about that." Kyle's mother hung up and went for a long walk to consider the consequences of potential offspring.

"How did you manage to get her to give you the time of day?" one of Kyle's best friends asked after the news of the engagement was announced on Facebook.

"How could she resist me?" Kyle answered. "Look at this perfect specimen of Olympic grandeur." It is a well known fact that Kyle has always taken pride in his appearance.

His friend would have none of that. "No seriously, how did you get HER to give YOU the time of day??!!" He asked again while pondering the posted engagement photo.

OK, all teasing aside - all of us at the Space Center want to congratulate Kyle and Michelle on the occasion of their engagement. May they live long and prosper. The couple plan on making Orem their home. I tried to talk them into Pleasant Grove. After a ten minute fit of laughter they both said Orem has a much better zip code for someone of Kyle's up and coming status in the Republican party. After all, we all know Pleasant Grove is inhabited by a race of blue collar potato eaters :)

And now moving on.............

A TenYearer Captured and Honored!

Something as rare as a full solar eclipse on April Fool's Day occurred at the Space Center a week ago. A TenYearer was spotted, captured and honored at a short and simple ceremony held after last week's Overnight Camp. Matt Long received his Ten Year Gold Pin from Director Williamson. Director Williamson was quite please with himself for capturing this illusive TenYearer (as shown in his quite smug photo). Matt was found lurking about in the Computer Lab. Everyone knew he was there because computer programs kept appearing on the Center's computers in the middle of the night when no one was around. Matt was captured using a trap baited with a nice home cooked meal and a clean Space Center shirt.

"We know there could be more TenYearer's out there," Mr. Williamson said. "Finding them is the problem. Some have been spotted by the Center's volunteers and staff, although the evidence gathered is highly suspicious - grainy photographs or out of focus video tape. Still, the search continues."

Matt was released back into the wild after the award and thunderous applause by all those gathered. Before running out the door he waved, jumped into the air, clicked his heals and disappeared. Perhaps we will see him again in another ten years.

Can These People's Awesomeness Be Believed?

Jacob (above) and Caitlynn (middle) and Ashleigh (below) were recently inducted into the Space Center's Hall of Awesomeness last week with the awarding of Year Pins. Mr. Williamson is pleased and always happy to award Year Pins.

"Anyone who has stomached us for one year and still volunteers is truly Awesome!" Mr. Williamson exclaimed after pinning the pin on their lanyards. In fact, Mr. Williamson was so overcome by emotion he broke down in tears. The tears were accompanied by copious amount of nasal discharge (a problem he has lived with for years) requiring a change of shirts before he could continue with Ashleigh's award.

Nathan Y. (above) was recently awarded his Galileo Pin for valiant service to the Galileo and its master, Stacy. Stacy shook his hand while Nathan smiled uncontrollably during the pinning, and has continued to smile ever since. The ceremony ended over two hours ago and Nathan still smiles while working the Super Saturday.

"If he is still smiling at 4:00 P.M. we will take him to the Instacare," Mr. Williamson said. Everyone is concerned about Nathan's blood pressure. The joy of receiving a Galileo Pin can bring so much joy that one's blood pressure could spike - resulting in a stroke (we offer Ben as an example- his speech and overall appearance - a tragedy).

The staff are doing what they can to calm Nathan by reminding him of his most embarrassing moments at the Space Center. They hope this will bring on a rapid depression. So far nothing has worked.

Please excuse Mr. Williamson. One of the programmers tole him Apple Computer's new Siri program could speak AND read minds if the user were able to focus a concentrated thought at the Apple device for a sustained period of time.

He is sorry to report that after one hour of staring at his computer, he couldn't get the cursor to move, no not one millimeter.

This is Jon preparing to punch Mason in the face after giving him his Voyager Pin. Jon gets upset when someone earns their Voyager pin in less time than it took him.

"It ain't right, no it ain't!" Jon shouted after several young volunteers jumped up from the front row and stopped the punch from landing. One young volunteer took the brunt of the blow to the nose causing a twenty minute nose bleed.

"I am the best. Ain't nobody gonna tell me different," Jon was heard cursing as he was lead away to the school's basement Fallout Shelter. The stale air and fifty year old emergency biscuits have a calming influence on him. After an hour or so he is ready to return to work. Mason was shaken up a bit but quickly recovered. He kindly has decided not to press charges for mental distress against Jon.

Finally, proof positive of the abuse new young volunteers receive from older staff. In this exclusive The Troubadour photograph, we see young camper and volunteer Kimball helplessly wrestle with the Space Center's backpack vacuum cleaner while two older and much more experience volunteers (Caitlynn and Eric) stand by and watch.

"Its a disgrace," one member of the ACLU wrote after seeing the photograph. The United Nations Council on Human Rights has agreed to look into the problem. Caitlynn and Eric have been interrogated. Both have denied wrong doing.

"I saw him, who didn't?" Caitlynn spoke in a sourly sarcastic tone while chewing a stick of gum. "What was I suppose to do, Help?" Caitlynn laughed and turned to Eric who sat opposite her at the table.

"Like, No Way Man," Eric chimed in while inserting another stick of gum into his already full mouth.

Caitlynn and Eric have both been told to be nice and lead by example. Both have agreed to "try". Although we are not sure they understood the lecture. Both were texting at the time.

Have a Great Weekend Troops,
Mr. Williamson