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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Space Center News. The New Briefing Room. The Phoenix (What a Mess). The Imaginarium.

Hello Troops,
We've got a lot to get through today.  Time to turn off your cell phones and remove all other distractions so you can focus on the matter at hand - getting through today's Troubadour.

Remembering The Space Shuttle Columbia.

Ten years ago today, we lost Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew. Here, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden looks on, during a wreath laying ceremony held in the crew's memory today at Arlington National Cemetery. A public memorial service was also held at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Yesterday was a day of remembrance. Not just for the Agency, or for America, but for anyone who has ever been inspired by the ongoing quest of space exploration. To Rick Husband, William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Kalpana Chawla, and to all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of that quest, we say thank you. You are not forgotten. And it is in your memory that we continue to dare mighty things.

I'd like to remember the Columbia by reposted my Space Center Journal post from February 2, 2003.

Space Center Journal: February 2, 2003

The Loss of the Orbiter Columbia

Hello Troops,
Today we all mourn the loss of the orbiter Columbia. I want to thank those that called the Center yesterday to tell us of the disaster. The phone rang all morning long. You knew we were involved in an overnight camp and wouldn't be tuned into the news. Thank you all for wanting to get that news to us. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated.

I was informed of the tragedy at 9:55 A.M. as I was handing out Rank Advancement Papers to the 7th Graders from Lakeridge Junior High School. I was standing there calling out names while laying the forms out on the table when I noticed Lorraine and Josh had entered the gym. Not unusual for Josh but very unusual for Lorraine. What made it even "odder" was they both walked right up and stood beside me. I guessed Lorraine had a question for me about something so I finished with the forms and turned to her. She was wearing her somber face so I knew something was wrong. I was bracing inside for news that some camper was hurt or something was broken or damaged in either the Galileo or Falcon.
 "The Columbia blew up over Texas as it was coming in for a landing at Cape Kennedy," she said quietly so the campers couldn't hear. I think she said some other things but they didn't register.
My mind and eyes searched for a smile on Lorraine's face. I knew it had to be a joke. I was wondering who put her up to something like that.  Orbiter's don't blow up as they descend for landing. There is nothing to blow up. They are gliders! No, it had to be a joke. A second or two passed, but to me right then it seemed like minutes waiting for the laugh to come. It didn't. I realized then it was true. Lorraine said something about the campers and should they be told.

I turned to the campers while questions raced around inside my head. I wanted to get to a TV to do what everyone does at a time like this - look for answers. Of course, I had a job to do and so did the staff. Details would have to wait. I turned and walked to the staff to begin calling out their names for votes. Just before I dismissed the students I thought it best to tell them and I did. It went deadly quiet in the gym and the camp was over.

I want to thank the staff for their professionalism at the end of yesterday's camp. Instead of rushing off to watch live TV coverage - or huddling into groups talking, they went about the business of after camp cleaning and prepping for the following school week. All were friendly with the parents and campers. Once the touring stopped I turned on the Briefing Room's TV and turned it to Channel 4. The staff came in, took seats at the tables, and watched as the pictures and
information came in. Over and over the TV showed the orbiter disintegrating into glowing balls of white flame trailing white smoke behind them. For the first time in my memory I didn't read the camp reviews. I tallied the votes while the staff watched the news. When finished I called out their names and announced the amount earned.
The Odyssey's 11:30 A.M. mission arrived at 10:55 A.M. so Chris started early.
I watched for several more minutes before deciding to lower our Space Center flag to half staff. I took the tool, went to the flagpole, and had a heck of a time opening the plate to get to the ropes. Several minutes later, with ropes in hand, I lowered the flag but couldn't find a way to attach the rope so it would stay at half mast. I gave up and raised it back to full staff. I'll look at it more closely on Monday.

The Galileo's mission arrived at 11:10 A.M. Josh was ready to go. I would have canceled our missions but how can I when people book them months in advance?

At noon several staff arrived at the Center for the Voyager Academy. The Academy started by watching President Bush's speech on the Columbia. The President did well, bringing back memories of President Regan's speech after the Challenger. I was moved by his quotes from the Bible and his voice telling the nation that the seven astronauts had returned home.

I went home for a few minutes after the Academy and found a message on
my answering machine from Channel 2 TV. I returned the call and spoke to a news reporter. He wanted to come to the Center with a film crew to get our reaction to the tragedy. He told me that he was aware of our fantastic program and what it does for kids in Utah. He continued by recognizing the Center was named after Christa McAuliffe from the Challenger disaster. He felt all of this was reason enough to rush a crew down from Salt Lake.

I went back to the school. We cleaned the Briefing Room. Luckily there were a few staff left from the 11:30 Missions. The TV crew arrived and set up. Just at the same time the 2:30 P.M. Odyssey flight arrived - A mom with eight loud, excited, bouncing off the wall boys who had been waiting months for their mission.

I was interviewed first followed by Sam Brady, then Megan Warner, and finally Mr. Daymont. The Odyssey crew was ready for boarding during Megan's interview. I was in a bit of a pickle but necessity is the mother of invention. I had Landon load his crew through the nose cone docking port of the Odyssey! (the hatch under the control room's counter). The day quieted down after that.

This has not been a good school year for me and some others here at the Center. We survived the first half still sane. I thought the second half was beginning to look promising but this tragedy has dampened those hopes. What keeps us going? Love of what we do and the friendship we have for each other. There may be other storms to weather before we put 2002-2003 behind us but the hatches are secure, the sails positioned, and the supplies tied down.

We turned the Challenger tragedy into something good through the creation of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. I think we need is a new challenge for the staff and volunteers of the Space Center. I think we should create something to honor the seven astronauts of the Columbia. Let's think about this together and propose ideas.

Mr. Williamson 


On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during take off from the Kennedy Space Center.  Christa McAuliffe was the Teacher in Space aboard the Challenger.  The Space Center was named in her honor.  Also aboard was Astronaut Ron McNair.

I'd like to share the following video on Ron McNair sent to me by Mr. Daymont.  Pay close attention to the influence science fiction had on his life. 

Goodbye Odyssey.  Hello New Briefing Room

Yesterday I stopped by the Space Center to take a few pictures of the new Briefing Room (Space Center Office) to share with you.

Remember, the Odyssey would have been too expensive to bring up to current code.  I recommended the Odyssey be removed so we could renovate the Briefing Room and gain access to the Phoenix.  It was the right decision.  The pictures below show the demolition of the Odyssey and the new Briefing Room which has taken its place.

This is where the bulletin boards hung on the wall.
That's the Voyager's back wall you see through the opening.

The Odyssey's old entrance.

The Odyssey as you entered the room.

The Odyssey's Control Room

The New Briefing Room / Space Center Office
Voyager's low door entrance.

Where my desk once sat

Looking from my desk toward the Phoenix's entrance
and where the Odyssey once was.

The back of the room.

Megan and Connor L. did a quick test of the Phoenix's computer
systems where the Odyssey's bunks once were.

Much of the Phoenix's equipment is waiting to be reinstalled

Looking back toward the front of the old Odyssey and Control Room.

Odyssey's old Federation plaque waiting to be hung in the Phoenix

The Phoenix is still a bit of a disaster as we work to get it
prepared for our reopening for field trips on Feb. 11.

 The Phoenix Control Room.

A bit of fun on the Briefing Room's white board.
A cross between Intolerance and The Children of Perikoi.
"Monies of Perikoi.  We almost have enough to buy Raol."

Megan Warner working in the Phoenix's Control Room.

Connor L. working feverishly on the Phoenix's rope lighting.

Testing the Phoenix's Red Alert lights.
We've got a lot to do in one short week!

The Imaginarium

A Place to exercise your imagination.  Remember to make the ordinary, extraordinary. 

Very symbolic... A young boy following his "shepherd" (the bird) guides him along a path of life and plentifulness. His soul restored by the energy of the land and lake of still waters. In the darkness of valleys and deepest of all sorrows, the young boy becomes lost and scared, however a small glimpse of life appears upon all that appears dead. His shepherd then reappears and guides the boy along the right path to remind the boy that goodness and love will follow him all the days of his life.

Disney Animated Short.  Paperman


Disney Animated Short.  Paperman

Ease into February, the month of loooooove, by watching this adorable animated short film about two strangers whose paths briefly crossed.  

How about a rousing pep talk to give your day a high octane boost? 

The Bend Desk.
Engineers, engineering the future right before your very eyes.

Astronomers recently announced that Earth sits right on the inner edge of what they call the 'Habitable Zone' for life.  Other recently discovered 'Super Earths' are also in their star's habitable zones.  Life is out there.  One day we will find a planet like Earth, and on it - life.

His One Regret

An almost invisible tree house in Sweden.  Mirrors make up its exterior walls.

A Jabba the Hut cupcake.

Rechargeable batteries using a USB port

It saves the injured from retelling the story over and over again.

Poor Facebookers, always looking for people to like them.
Such a lonely group

The old timers get it.
The younglings are totally clueless.
(Look at the last picture in today's Imaginarium)

All homes designed by imagination should have hidden rooms.
Sadly, my home has NO imagination.

Your true Anti Social.
(the license plate).

Apparently not.

This is what we call "An Exaggeration"

Fatal Irony.

What happens in 2015?
Open season on bicyclists?


Imagination: A

Your Anti-protesters.
Imagination: A

Creative art with screws.

Clever hiding places

I share the same feelings towards modern art

Imagination: A

Everyone looks up to someone.

Death and the Speed Limit.

Duck, People.
All pretty much the same 

Barbara had quite the sense of humor!

Creativity: A

The Beatles

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