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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Weekend at the Space Centers. This Week in Technology and Science. The Imaginarium. Stop Crying About Your Lost Weekend. The Troubadour Makes Everything Better.

Megan, Connor and five of our outstanding Farpoint Cadets in the Magellan on Saturday

Hello Space EdVenture Fans!
     Spring Break was a busy time for the Space EdVenture Centers.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center (CMSEC) did test runs of its new summer missions, along with several private missions.  The Discovery Space Center ran private missions and a three day Galaxy Camp which yours truly chaperoned - great camp with great kids.

Clair and Harrison stress test the new Magellan controls

     Matt Long and his programmers installed the USS Magellan's new set of simulator controls.  I've seen them and am impressed.  The Magellan's new controls take the art of Space EdVenture simulations one step higher toward the ultimate goal of perfection.  They look awesome, thanks to the creative genius we call Emily Paxman and her imagineers at Paxman Studios LTD :)  They function beautifully thanks to Matt Long and his dedicated programmers, and their design only increases the look and feel of the Magellan thanks to Megan Warner's architecture.
     Farpoint Cadets Harrison and Claire helped the Magellan staff run a stress test of the new controls on Saturday.  New controls are never bug free when first installed.  Only in running the controls in their simulator setting do we find the bugs.  I'm told the stress test produced few problems.
     Are you thinking it may be time to book a Magellan mission to experience these new controls for yourself?  Call Megan or Jon at 801.785.8713 to book your next mission.  And Farpoint Cadets, time to volunteer in the Magellan to see them for yourself.    

     I got to see something I've waited to see for twenty-three years at the CMSEC on Saturday.  A customer walked into the Space Center's office and paid for their Magellan private mission with a credit card!  That's right folks, you see proof of the transaction above; I photographed it for posterity's sake.
I wanted the ability to take credit card payments ever since I opened the Space Center in 1990.  At first it was always a "No" from the powers that be at the district office.  That "No" changed to a maybe if a way could be found to get the money from the transaction directly into the school accounts without passing first through a credit card management company.  Those problems have since been solved and the CMSEC enters the 21st century with its cool and exotic credit card reading machine complete with iPad.
     I realize the shock of hearing this news may be too much for some of you long time Troubadour readers.  May I suggest you get up, stretch and take a short break away from the computer to compose yourself before continuing.  
      Switching locations to the Discovery Space Center at Stone Gate Center for the Arts, I present a problem Casey Voeks faced on Friday when he got to work.   I followed him across the parking lot toward the building when I noticed he stopped abruptly and looked heavenward.  I didn't want to disturb him, thinking he was asking God for strength before walking into the controlled fray of a Galaxy Camp.  Casey saw me and pointed up to the roof.  Was I going to be included in a heavenly manifestation?  What I saw had nothing to do with the other world.  Casey had found a swarm of bees on the building's old, disused smokestack.
     "We've got a problem," he explained.  "The campers are about to come out for their water balloon fight."
     "Well, we could make things really interesting if we start the fight with a well thrown balloon into the swarm," I brainstormed out-loud.  "It'll be a water fight they'll never forget, just be sure to have an ambulance on standby equipped with a nice assortment of EpiPens."
     The problem was solved by taking the water balloon fight a short distance away to Manila Park.    

     The DSC staff filling the water balloons. The water balloons were the biodegradable kind - friendly for the environment but not very sturdy.  They had a tendency to explode without warning when taken in hand by the unsuspecting camper or staff.

     Connor had the unthankful job of keeping the campers entertained while the activity's ammunition was filled outside.  You see Connor working his way through a box of microwave popcorn.  The English have their cup of tea when things get stressful, the DSC has microwave popcorn; because we all know there is no problem so great that a nice bag of freshly popped popcorn can't solve.  

     There was a minor accident during the transporting of explosives to the water fight battlefield.
The bottom of the plastic bin gave way spilling several of the explosives onto the pavement causing them to explode prematurely.  Casey walked away, not wanted any of us to see him in tears.
     "It's all too much, too much," he was heard between sobs.  "First the bees and now this?  What did I do to deserve this!  Curse you Fortuna!"
     I took the picture, then helped gather the unexploded ordnance.  We did it by the book - carefully and slowly.  I only wish we had taken the time to put on the recommended protective clothing.  A balloon or two exploded during the retrieval.  It was ugly.  Something I'll never forget.  

     The campers gather to take sides.

     The battle began with a game of Capture the Flag, only in this case it was capture the cone. You see a charge taking place above with one casualty down on the field.  His next of kin were notified to come pick up his remains.  

     The opposing team in their brave counter attack.  A fun time was had by all, except me.  I took a hit while covering the war for The Troubadour - shot in the back by the cowardly Connor Larsen.

Mr. Williamson

Space and Science News

By Hashem AL-ghaili
➤ Rapid Smartphone Charger:
➤ Programmable Nanobots:
➤ Shape-shifting Furniture:
➤ Water Tower:
➤ Body-heat Powered Gadgets:
➤ Fuel From Seawater:

This was an AWESOME week!
Science Summary of The Week
By Hashem AL-ghaili
➤ Lab-grown Vaginas:
➤ Regenerated Thymus:
➤ New Form of Matter:
➤ First Exomoon:
➤ Nose Reconstruction:
➤ Ancient Embryos:
➤ Hepatitis C Treatment:
➤ Lunar Eclipse:

50 Years Ago: Gemini-Titan 3 Crew Announced

by Mark Daymont
Farpoint Educator

Gemini-Titan 3 Prime and Backup crews: (L-R) Young, Grissom, Schirra, Stafford.

Fifty years ago, with the excitement of a successful test mission of the GT-1 unmanned vehicle just completed, NASA made official the names of the astronauts who would pilot the first manned mission in Project Gemini. The Prime crew would include veteran astronaut Gus Grissom and new astronaut John Young. The backup crew, who would launch in case of illness or injury to either of the prime crew before the flight, would be veteran astronaut Wally Schirra and new astronaut Tom Stafford.

NASA official portrait of Virgil (Gus) I. Grissom, with model of Gemini spacecraft.

Gus Grissom was the astronaut on board the Mercury space capsule Liberty Bell 7 when in arced over the Atlantic on the second flight in Project Mercury. His 15-minute sub-orbital flight was a success, but his spacecraft experienced a hatch jettison malfunction after landing in the water. With the capsule filling with water, Grissom was able to escape as Navy frogmen struggled to hook the craft to helicopter tow cables. Unfortunately the craft sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. After a review, Grissom was cleared from any mistakes and became one of NASA's top astronauts. He was previously a test pilot, and had flown 100 combat missions during the Korean War. He would be the first American to fly twice into space.

John Young, in Gemini-era spacesuit.

John Young graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He served in the Navy during the Korean War and became a jet pilot afterwards. After tours of duty on aircraft carriers, he became a test pilot and finally joined NASA in Astronaut Group 2, known as the "New Nine." Young would have a very adventurous career with NASA, but his addition to the first Gemini flight came about because the original planned commander was Alan Shepherd, the first American in space, had suddenly come down with an ear and balance ailment which grounded him from flight. Tom Stafford had been planned as pilot, but with Shepherd's removal, the backup crew moved forward leaving Grissom as Commander and Young as Pilot. Wally Schirra then became the new backup crew commander working with Tom Stafford. Such is the life of a NASA astronaut.

Grissom, center, and Young, just to the right, during a spacecraft review meeting at NASA in 1964.
The Imaginarium
Where the best go to recharge their creative batteries.  

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