|One of the few pictures of me sitting at my place in the Voyager's Control Room. It was my roost for 22 years, directing the USS Voyager. Thousands of missions. Hundreds of thousands of students.|
|The Voyager, the way the bridge looked just before the final lights out at 6:45 P.M. on July 31, 2012|
|The rear flight deck of the USS Odyssey as it looked in July 2012|
A sad anniversary came and went last Monday. It was five years ago, 31 July 2012 the original USS Voyager and USS Odyssey flew their last missions before the Space Center closed for what we thought was two weeks. The Space Center reopened seven months later; the Odyssey and Voyager didn't. Thankfully, the next generation Voyager (in 2017) and Odyssey (in 2013) opened to continue the mission of their predecessor simulators.
This post isn't to rehash all the reasons the CMSEC's first two simulators were permanently closed. You can read all about that in upcoming posts as we reach milestone anniversaries in the five-year remembrances of the Space Center' first era 1990-2012. Instead, this post is to celebrate the original Voyager and Odyssey. The first large and small ship's in the ever growing fleet of Voyager inspired simulators.
Over the years the Voyager and Odyssey staff imagined what the ships' last missions would be like. We knew the simulators would eventually be replaced. The day would come when Central Elementary would be torn down and replaced with a new school. The Voyager and Odyssey would be demolished with the school. I remember thinking the Voyager's last mission would be an overnight camp for old time staff and volunteers. The last mission's final Orion Pirate bridge attack would be one for the books. There would be no limits to the damage that last squad of pirates would inflict on the bridge.
Alas, it was not to be. We left the Space Center on the evening of July 31, 2012, unaware it was the last time the two ships were to fly.
I don't remember anything about the Voyager and Odyssey's last missions that day back in 2012; Isaac Ostler does. Isaac was doing his last observation before getting his black shirt and becoming a regular volunteer. Jon Parker was the flight director for the Voyager's last mission, the Children of Perikoi. It was a crew of mostly girls. The mission started at 4:00 P.M. ending at 6:30 P.M.
|Jon Parker and Isaac Ostler Outside of the Voyager, July 31, 2017|
|Jon Parker flying the Voyager on the ship's last summer camp, 2012|
"I remember sitting right behind Jon as he flew," Isaac reminisced. "I crossed my legs and kicked the sound effects keyboard. He told me to scoot down."
Lindsey Hatch remembers working the Odyssey's last mission that day with Michaela Tanne.
|Devon Sudwicks flying one of the Odyssey's last camp missions in July 2012|
|The Odyssey's Engineering Section|
|Engineering Pod. USS Odyssey|
|The Odyssey's Engineering Crawlway. It was dangerous. Lots of blood drawn on that metal over the years.|
|The Original Odyssey's Forward Bridge|
"Have a good vacation," we said to each other. I had work orders out for electrical repairs to the Voyager, Odyssey, and Phoenix so I knew I'd be back to answer the electrician's questions later that week. Jon walked down the long hallway toward the parking lot, stopping to double check the cafeteria doors. With the volunteers and staff gone, I locked the Briefing Room door, checked the Discovery Room and Magellan's doors and walked out the school's front doors.
It wasn't the final mission we imagined for either ship.
Fortuna was to have the last laugh.
The Missions Never Told
Several missions were never told after the Space Center closed that last day in July 2012.
This is what the Center's working schedule showed for upcoming missions once we reopened on August 15th. Every mission had to be canceled. Those were difficult phone calls to make. There were no other centers to redirect people to back then. It was just us.