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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

10 Hours in Space: The New USS Voyager's Incredible Saturday and the People Behind It with Video. The Imaginarium.

The New USS Voyager's Control Room on D'Day
     Ten hours in space is exactly right. What happened last Saturday at Renaissance Academy could be classified as a simulator miracle.  The story is simple in the telling yet profound in implications and history. 

Chapter 1  The Warning
     Our incredible story begins in the mind of Isaac Ostler, the new Voyager's student director. Isaac approached me with a request, which at first hearing left me dumbfounded.  "You want to do what?" I asked, thinking I wasn't hearing the words coming out of his mouth correctly. 
     "I want to tell my new 5 hour mission two times on Saturday," he repeated with a questioning look as to the reason for my surprised look. 
     "Yes, two times."
     "No one thought of as sane tells a new 5 hour mission twice in one day," I explained. "Test flights notoriously go wrong. You barely get through one telling in a semi-coherent state."
     "I don't understand."
     "You tell a new mission once. Then you give yourself a few days to rewrite scenes that didn't work, add material, add tactical cards, write more messages, repair plot holes etc. Unless you're pretty sure about your mission, what you're doing is insane."  
     "Well, the groups are invited so it's too late to back out now."
     "OK, but you've been warned." 

Chapter 2  Overstaffed
     A couple days before Saturday's marathon, Isaac put up an online volunteer sign up sheet.  He forgot to limit the number of fields. Saturday rolled around and he discovered the first mission was over staffed.  He needed 8 volunteers; he had fifteen.  We've got awesome members of our Voyager Club all willing to volunteer on any Voyager mission, but the response was more than Isaac bargained for.  I tried to cut the numbers down, but Isaac is a softy and welcomed them all onboard.  

Chapter 3  The Warning Again
     "Isaac, this is a recipe for disaster.  You're telling a 5 hour mission which has never been told before, followed by another telling of the same mission without any time for repair or regrouping AND you're seriously overstaffed.  Young volunteers get into mischief if not kept busy."
     Isaac displayed his best fake smile, but I saw right through it. The young man was panicked.  The only thing anchoring him to reality was his steely confidence in his supervisors and his mission.  

Ben and Jakob. I put them to work sorting and folding the volunteer shirts.

Chapter 4  The Sacrifice
     Feeling for my young padawan, I decided to stay for the duration of the first mission. I kept to my upstairs classroom and worked whenever the Voyagers let me. I kept the room stocked with goodies - keeping the volunteers out of Isaac's hair when they weren't needed.  Occasionally I'd venture into the Voyager's control room to check on the mission.  My visits seemed supportive, in reality I was hunting for evidence that my warnings were correct and should have been heeded. To Isaac and the staff's credit, everything seemed to be going remarkably well.  Isaac was well trained at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. He knew what he was doing.               

Aaron showing great pride in the gluten free chips
Jensen, Trey, Spencer, and Dean getting ready for a bridge attack
Spencer B and Isaac hard at work in the Voyager's Control Room.  A great team. 

 Chapter 5  The Staff
     Our Voyager Club is made up of some of the best young people in Utah County.  Spencer B is an example of that. He's a student at the new Skyridge High School just down the road from Renaissance Academy. He's sharp as a tack, knows programming, can act, works a wicked IIFX station, and has definitely earned a degree in striking a pose.  Having teens like Spencer on our Voyager staff guarantees our missions will be top quality.    

 Chapter 6  The Spirit of the Old Voyager
     Hypercard Lives!  What you're seeing is the original USS Voyager's medical hypercard stack running on an old iMac computer.  Look closely at the bottom of the screen. See anything familiar?  That's the old Voyager's bridge layout. 
     This computer sits in the Voyager's control room. It is paired with another old computer in the Voyager's sickbay. The spirit of the old Voyager resides in the new.
     OK, I'll come clean. There were a significant number of glitches encountered as the staff tried to get the two computer to communicate, but what do you expect from ancient computers running a program written in a dead language?      

Chapter 7  A Successful Mission 
      From any perspective, the two five hour missions were a relative success.  Most of my dire predictions failed to come to pass.  Isaac, Andrew, Connor, Spencer along with the Voyager cadet staff pulled it off!  
     You're wondering how I feel having been proven wrong?  Actually, I'm OK.  We all win. We have a staff with 10 hours of experience that they didn't have before and a new five hour mission. The staff's overall opinion of the mission is a thumbs up.  

Chapter 8  Your Turn
     The new USS Voyager will be opening for school missions the first part of December.  Students in grades three through eight can begin signing up for their Long Duration Missions now by visiting the Farpoint Cadet website:  Priority is given to Renaissance Academy students.  Non-Renaissance Academy students may join with permission.  Contact me by email:  This year's LDM missions will be held after school and early Saturday mornings on the new Voyager .  
     Students in grades 7 to 12 may join the Voyager Club.  Learn more about the Voyager Club by visiting the club's website:  Again, priority is given to current and former Renaissance Academy students. Non-Renaissance Academy students may join after receiving permission.  Contact me by email. 
     The Voyager will be open to the public for private missions the first week of January. Information on private missions will be posted soon at

Mr. Williamson

Video of the Ten Hour Mission Experience

The Imaginarium

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