Visit to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit and for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Come to the Space Center's 25th Anniversary Celebration. See the Old USS Voyager As it Was in 1990. See the New Voyager Nearly Complete.

At work in the Voyager's Control Room. Winter 1991.
Left to Right: Mark Daymont, Me with the Microphone, Bill Schuler seated.

Come to the Space Center's 25th Anniversary Celebration November 7.  Yes it's been 25 Years. Amazing Isn't It? 

Hello Troops,
     I opened this crazy, way out there on the education spectrum, never been done before, space/sci-fi space education center twenty-five years ago this November 8th.  I wasn't sure it would be accepted by the educational community. The odds were against me but I had the backing of a fantastic principal, Mr. Stan Harward and the Alpine School District. That's all I needed. The rest is history, as they say. 
     I retired from the Alpine District in May 2013, entrusting the Space Center to Megan Warner. Megan did an outstanding job as director for one year, giving school district administration time to consider the Space Center's future. Their decision was to continue the Space Center, simulators and all, just as it had been operated for over two decades. They felt it best to hire a certified teacher as its new director.  Mr. James Porter applied for the position and became the center's third director in August 2014.  
     The Space Center's Silver Anniversary is a few weeks away. Join us at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, Central School, 95 N. 400 E. Pleasant Grove, on November 7th starting with an open house and tours of the Odyssey, Phoenix, Galileo, and Magellan simulators from 3:00-4:30. The open house will be followed by a short presentation to remember all the thousands of memories created in our beloved simulators. There are so many former volunteers, staff, and patrons of the Space Center that we want to see again so please plan on attending and help pass the word to other Space Center fans.  Contact James Porter with questions and suggestions:  Of course you can contact me at

25 Years of Space EdVentures. The Space Center's first Decade in Pictures. 1990-2000

Several of the staff and volunteers in the late 1990's visiting USU's Explorer Simulator built in the Engineering Building by Steve Wall. Do you know any of their names? How about a contest? Can you name everyone in this picture? Four Water Gardens Movie Tickets to the fist person to email a complete list of correct names.

Hello Troops,
     To celebrate the upcoming Space Center 25th anniversary I'm reposting some older Troubadour posts covering the center's history.  We begin with pictures of my first simulator, the mother ship and inspiration of all simulators in the world today - the USS Voyager. We built the Voyager right off Central School's stage and gymnasium. A short doorway was cut through the school's outer wall to connect the simulator to the classroom which I called the Briefing Room. Today's Odyssey and Phoenix sit in the old Briefing Room today. The Voyager's short door is hidden behind a shelf of costumes in the storage room adjacent to the Odyssey.  

     The left wing on the Voyager Bridge as it looked on the first day the Space Center opened for business in November 1990.  We used old black and white Mac Pluses and Mac SE's with six inch screens. The Plusses had separate hard drives stored under the computers on a shelf. The red stools were for the Wing Chiefs. 
     This first incarnation of the Voyager didn't have enough stations for everyone, so one or two students sat on the stools and 'supervised' the others. They repeated the Captain's orders and made sure their 'wing' carried them out. I programmed the first Voyager in Hypercard. The controls were laughable by today's standards but they did the job and got us open. Each Wing had its own set of controls on every computer assigned to that wing. For example, you see the left wing on the picture above.
     "Warp 4," the Captain would order.
     "Warp 4," the Wing Chief would repeat. All four persons on the left wing would have to push the warp 4 button within a second of each other for the ship to respond. It sounds corny today but somehow it worked back then.
     "Everyone on warp 4?" the Chief would ask.
     "Yes Sir," all four would reply when they were ready for the final command.
     "One, Two Three, Push." On "Push" all four would click on the button marked "Warp 4" at the same time. Ah, those were the days.....

     Above is another picture of the Voyager as it looked on opening day in November 1990. The old Record's Station occupied the two stations on the right platform. On the left platform was the two man Security Station. The room in back which many of you remember as the bridge sick bay, was once the Science Station. The funny looking countertop device was a Phototron. During missions,students manned the station doing experiments. The whole thing read great on paper, but didn't work in reality. The kids assigned to science regularly abandoned their station. It was the siren's song of the bridge with all it's action and story that enticed them away from their responsibilities . They felt they were 'stuck' in the boring part of the ship while everyone else got to 'have fun' with the main story line.
     I didn't have enough computers for every station (as seen by the lack of a computer at the Record's Station). I don't remember exactly what I had the students do at that station; most likely they kept written records of the mission for Starfleet Command. 

When the Voyager first opened, the Captain's Station was down where the later Telephone and Long Range Communications Station once was. I moved the captain and first officer after the first few missions to the top level of the bridge. This photo was taken shortly after that move. The Voyager's original captain's chair can be seen in the photo above. The little box on the captain's right was a Radio Shack home intercom system. It was the way we spoke to the captain in those days.

     This was how the Voyager's Control Room looked on opening day. We started with five or six staff to run a mission. Each had their own specific job. For example, the person who sat at the little red black and white TV looked for mission visual shots on the small library of visuals on the VCR tapes. I would tell that person what I needed for the story. He found the scene on the tapes, handed the correct tape to the person working the two VCRs. That person would insert the tape, cue the scene and have it ready to play when needed. It was very cumbersome.
     Those were the days when I made up missions on the fly. Forget detailed scripts and pre-made visuals. I was the only Flight Director. Needless to say, the stress of running missions nearly drove me potty! I worked 12 hour days back then running field trips and nightly private missions to raise extra cash for the Center. Every Friday night we ran a full Overnight Camp. The Overnight Camps were rough on all of us. In those days they started at 5:00 P.M. Friday evenings. We fed them supper (Sound's Easy Pizza). Bedtime was midnight. We woke the campers at 6:30 A.M. The Overnight Camps ended at 11:00 A.M. All of that for $25.00 per person!

Did I bite off more than I could chew? Yep, which is why I'm insane today :)

Now we move ahead in time to the end of the 1990's. Notice the changes to the Bridge? The Federation Emblems are on the wall covering the Voyager's original artwork. Both the Telephone and Long Range Stations have computers. That's an incoming message printer behind the Telephone Station.

The Record's and Science Stations at the end of the 1990's. Notice the Science Room was redesigned and the Phototron moved.

You're looking at the Voyager's Engineering Station at the end of the 1990's (where today's Bridge Sick Bay was located). On the left is the isolinear chip station. On the right are the anti-matter cooling rods. The Engineer slid the cooling rods back and forth a set number of inches every time the ship changed speed.

The Captain's Station before the Voyage was remodeled in 2000. The Captain had a computer of his own. Notice back then the Captain sat at a desk. He could still move around if he wanted, but rarely did for field trips. The First Office did most of the running around back then.

A Field Trip's Captain and First Officer. 1999

Traveling at Warp Speed in the late 1990's. The Front of the Voyager.

The Voyager's Security Station in the late 1990's. Ah, the good ole days. Back then it was so easy for our Orion Pirates to shoot the two Security Guards from the loft. See how they were trapped by the desk. They had one way in and one way out (the opening to the right on the picture). They were forbidden to hop over the desk to make a quick escape. The Voyager's Security Guards quickly learned to keep one person on patrol while one worked both computers. Being the one stuck at the desk was the early Voyager's true expendable Red Shirt :)

Me at Flight Control. November 21, 1995.

The Voyager's Control Room, 1999. (above and below)

The Original Voyager's Last Day Before the 2000 Remodel.

     This picture was taken the last day of July 2000. It was the last day of the last summer camp of 2000. The staff gathered to toast the Grand Old Lady. That very next day everything seen in the picture above was removed. The remodelling started August 1, 2000. The desks many of you remember were installed along with the first generation of multicolor iMacs. Other changes were made bringing the Voyager up to date. 
I truly miss this old Voyager. She was a wonderful ship to fly. 

Mr. Williamson

The New Voyager at Renaissance Academy. 

     The first Voyager was permanently closed in August 2012.  It was felt the high platforms, steep stairs between Decontamination and the Crew Quarters, and spiral stairway were unsafe. The first Voyager was not wheelchair accessible and needed electrical modifications. The cost for remodeling was too great, considering Central School would one day in the near future be demolished and rebuilt. It was sad to say goodbye to the mother simulator; but every dark cloud has a silver lining. 
     As many of you know, a new USS Voyager is nearly complete at Renaissance Academy in Lehi. It is the new ship of dreams, the finest experiential starship simulator in the world today. I thought you'd like to see a set of updated photos.  Yes, the ship appears purple because those are the lights that were on and I didn't take the time to adjust them to something less purple (even though the simulator's lights are capable of a billion or so lighting combinations :)

We start in the Voyager's Briefing Room.  The double door to the right is for storage. We will step into the ship's transition room through the left door.

Two shots of the Transition Room.  It is designed to be everything from a turbo-lift elevator to a transporter room. 

Step out of the Transition Room into this short hallway.  When you get to the end you may go left through a revolving door to engineering and sick bay or you can go right to the bridge.

The revolving door to engineering and the sick bay.

We're going to go right toward the bridge.

We walk down another short hallway and make a left turn.

We see the bridge at the end of this hallway.

We're getting closer.....

And we're there.  

The big screen TV is behind black plastic now.

Standing at the back of the bridge looking forward,  

Standing at the front of the bridge looking toward the back.

 The captain, first officer, and ambassador's chair platforms.  We'll exit the bridge through the front left portal.

We walk down a short hallway ramp and turn left.

To our left is the brig and medical quarantine unit.  A much larger revolving door greets us. 
We'll go through to visit the engineering room and sick bay.

We exit the revolving door and walk down a curved hallway .

Sick Bay is on our right.

The small Bridge Engineering Section is next to the Sick Bay.

And we find ourselves at the end of our tour. This is the first revolving door I mentioned near the entrance hallway.  The Voyager is the dream ship of the fleet.  I hope you're planning to visit us for a mission once we're open.  We still need to purchase several items for the sick bay and engineering rooms. Visit to see how you can help.

Mr. W.  
Post a Comment