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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Where do Old Captain's Chairs Go to Die? News from the Space Centers. Imaginative NASA Travel Posters to Distant Planets. The Imaginarium.

The Bone Yard for Old Captain's Chairs

     Have you ever wondered what happens to the old, worn out, passed their sell by dates captain's chairs from the CMSEC's simulators?   

     In it's glory days, this use to be a captain's chair in one of the simulators.  Back in the day its black vinyl was crisp, clean and unblemished.  It didn't wobble. It didn't squeak or totter.  It did the job it was suppose to do - provide the captain's backside a moment of rest in the heat of mission.   Then, over time, captain after captain picked at the vinyl out of nervousness.  The arms were the first to go followed by the front. It started leaning like the tower of Pisa. It became time to retire this once sturdy chair to the boneyard, the simulator control rooms, where all old captain's chairs go to live out their last few remaining years before the dumpster behind the school takes them.
    This retired command chair is having its last 'Hurrah' in the Phoenix Control Room.  Think of all the captain's who once sat in it. Think of all those missions marked forever in time on the chair's two arms.  It's a fine old chair deserving of your respect.  
     Remember staff and volunteers of all Space Centers.  Be kind to these old warhorses of mission long gone.  Be gentle and think of where they've been. Feel privileged to ride them once more before they roll off into the sunset - gone, but never forgotten.

Mr. Williamson     

Space Center News

     Time for a quick catch up on all Space Centers news.  That's plural Space Centers.  Remember, only The Troubadour covers everyone, everywhere doing programs that can trace their origins and or inspiration back to the USS Voyager at the CMSEC.
     I stopped at both Space Center's on my way home from a movie to catch up on the latest news.  Both centers were doing just what they are suppose to do - flying missions. 

The Discovery Space Center

         The Discovery Space Center's Kendrick was flying the Columbia. A DSC intern (in red) sat beside him learning the ropes of flight directing.  Flight Directors are always in demand at both Space Centers.  Training them can be a long process involving classroom work and on the job experience.  

     Jorden O. was flying a four hour mission with an adult crew on the Endeavor. The DSC's Endeavor Control Room may be the smallest of all control rooms in the Space EdVenture fleet, but that hasn't stopped Jorden from cramming as many people as possible into the room for training purposes.  Here you see Jorden and staff (out of picture is Jorden's second chair assistant).  "We're one big happy family!" Jorden explained.

The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center 
     Two simulators were neck deep in missions when I arrived at 6:00 P.M.   The Odyssey and Phoenix were telling a joint mission - two crews doing the same story.   Joint missions are difficult to pull off. The crews expect to talk to each other and the two flight directors must coordinate every twist and turn in the story.  Nathan and Jordan were impressive to say the least.    
Nathan coordinating the Odyssey's passage through an asteroid field.
 Nathan and Jordan used walkie talkies to communicate.  Shouting back and forth was the fallback method if the action and music drowned out the walkie talkies.  

Jordan flight directing the Phoenix.

I asked Jordan why he was wearing civilian clothes. He said he'd explain when he had a moment. Coordinating two simulators through the same asteroid field needed his undivided attention.  He had another annoying problem, the two TV's on either side of the Phoenix's main viewer lost the control room's computer signal.

The CMSEC assistant director jumped right on the problem. Jon tried everything he could think of to solve the issue short of asking for my advice. "Vic, you always needed me to problem solve the Voyager, remember?" Jon reminded me.  I reluctantly remembered that what he said was true and left him to get on with the job.  

I noticed the lights were on in the cafeteria.  It looked like the staff was preparing for an away mission. Ah, the black drapes, we remember them well - perfect to hid the inconsistencies of the 20th century in a 24th century universe.  Dont forget the red lights. Neither center can successfully pull off a great landing party without red lights and a strobe light or two for the epileptic effect!  The USS Galileo is parked awaiting the call to duty. This away mission also involved the isolinear chip reader seen in the picture above under the cafeteria's sound system box.    

The Galileo's probes / torpedoes sitting in the school's foyer waiting to be used as prop pieces. Imagineering and building them were a real pain for the Galileo's creator Kyle Herring.  

The CMSEC's Magellan Has a New Look

     The USS Magellan's Command Level looks different.  See anything missing?

     The commander's desk was moved behind the admiral and ambassador's chairs.  I like the new arrangement.  It gives the simulator's command an unobstructive view of the bridge. They can respond quicker in an emergency.  It also makes it easier to "stun" them in a phaser battle :)  That makes for more interesting story telling.  Cut the head off the crew and they flounder helplessly against the superior foe which is the CMSEC's staff! 

NASA reveals vintage travel poster designs for real exoplanets

Read all about these fantastic posters advertising futuristic missions to planets orbiting distant stars.  The planets were found with the Kepler telescope. They orbit their stars in the habitable zone - not too hot and not too cold.  Each planet could harbor some kind of life.

 What you see above are the most Earthlike planets found to date by the Kepler space telescope.

The Imaginarium

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