Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

New Flight Directors and Supervisors at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. Video: We Have Too Much Fun in Our Ships! Imaginarium Theater

     Tis the season of promotions at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove.  Several of the Center's top volunteers worked hard to earn their Blue and Navy over the last several months. Yes friends, it is all in the color. Volunteers wear traditional black. From black, a volunteer can enter the CMSC's Staff Training Academy and work their way to Supervisor Blue and / or Flight Director Navy.  

     Let's take a moment to congratulation our newest inductees into the Supervisors and Flight Director's Guilds.  


      Jackson and Kaleen (Cassini)

Nan (Cassini) and Rylan (Magellan)

     I work with Jackson, Kaleen, and Nan on the Starship Cassini.  Their promotions are well deserved. They were trained under the watchful eye of Jon Parker, Cassini Set Director.  Helping them along their journey to Supervisor Blue was Ellie, Hyrum, and JJ.  
     Jackson is our long distance supervisor. He lives in the north country and travels to the Space Center first by stagecoach, then train, and bus.  The final 1/2 mile or so is done on foot.  That's roughly a 2 hour journey give or take. That's dedication.  Jackson has a great sense of humor. He kindly laughs at most of my jokes. I appreciate that. 
     Kaleen spends summers at her family's home in PG and attends school in Cedar City.  I know Kaleen to be a perfectionist.  She expects the best from her performance and never disappoints.  She also enjoys a quick bowl of cereal for an energy pick up on those early A.M. missions :) 
     Nan lives locally and is full of energy.  She is willing to take on any assignment. Nan loves being around the campers and works hard to ensure our Cassini crews have a successful mission.  "Is their anything I can do better," she asks her flight directors regularly during missions. That's the trademark of someone striving to be the best.      
     I've not had the pleasure of working with Rylan considering he is a Magellanite.  That being said, I know Connor and Mr. Porter wouldn't present the Supervisor Blue without it being well deserved.  Rylan has one other thing going for him - his dad is Jade Hansen, a long time Space Center volunteer who started in the 1990's.  Today Jade is a computer programmer by profession and a Cassini Supervisor as a side hobby. It gives him a chance to share something in common with his two teenage children who both work at the Center.


Ellie Clark (Cassini)

     I've sat through a few of Ellie's practice missions as she trained on the Cassini.  She is talented and one heck of a Thorium problem solver.  Her voice has the power to ring through soundproof walls when she wants it so. My favorite of her characters is Starbase Williamson's docking control lady. You're in good hands when you see Ellie greet you as your Cassini Flight Director.

    Mitch Foote (Odyssey)

     I don't know Mitch very well. I've spoken with him a few times. He is another of the Space Center's professionals (he works at Adobe).  The Odyssey is lucky to have him. Soon Natalie and Lindsey will be leaving.     

JJ Madigan (Falcon)

     JJ has been flying the Falcon most of the summer so his receiving this Flight Director Navy is more a formality.  JJ and I work together in the Cassini on occasion. He's got a creative mind and consistently looks for ways to improve both his performance and the professionalism of the Space Center simulator experience as a whole.  When you hear JJ say "I've got an idea," you'd better stop what you're doing and listen because it's going to be good.    

Hayden Senske (Phoenix)

     Hayden is the Phoenix's newest flight director. He trained with Silver (Phoenix Set Director) and Scott.  When he's not flying the Phoenix, you'll find him supervising in the Magellan. I only see him when he pops into the Cassini Control Room to chat with our staff.  I haven't watched him fly, but I have spent time in the Phoenix control room watching Silver and Scott. They are both top notch and consistently earn high marks from our summer campers.  If they've given him the Navy Blue thumbs up then you know he has the gift.  In his spare time Hayden is the master of mission tacticals. 

We Have Too Much Fun in our Simulators
Featuring the Magellan (Jon Parker and Hayden) and the Voyager (Bracken and staff)

Imaginarium Theater
The Week's Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Nearly 30 Year Old Mission Canada Returns to the Space Center this Summer. Livy Charles Retires from the Starship Voyager at The Space Place. Imaginarium Theater

 Jon Parker (right) at the FD Station.  Kaleen at IIFX, and a control room
full of volunteers and staff in costume ready to splash on the Cassini's Bridge 
bringing a new season of Canada to the Space Center

     The USS Canada has returned to the Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  Why is that post worthy you ask? Because the USS Canada was the first overnight mission I wrote specifically for the new Starship Voyager back in 1990-91.  Bill Schuler did the video tape for the mission and played his beloved character Admiral Schuler for the first time. 

Let the mayhem behind 

     USS Canada was told on a semi-regular basis from 1991 to 2012 in the Voyager and then retired from the mission library - until now.  Jon Parker, set director for the Starship Cassini at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, pulled the mission from obscurity and restored its binder to the Cassini's shelf of active missions.  Jon tells the story on this summer's Officer Camps. I'm telling it on the Space Center's Day Camps. 

 The landing party scene on the Zeewakowski. A survivor is on the floor behind the table. The plant was put there for a reason. When the Cassini crew scanned the Zeewakowski for survivors one appeared on the sensor screen. "One life form on that ship," the sensors officer said.  "It better not be a plant!" the captain responded.  So we added a plant to the scene just for that young captain. 

     You old Space Center veteran campers, staff, and volunteers will remember the Canada.  It, lost with the exploration ship Zeewakowski, on the other side of the galaxy reachable only through a wormhole near the Klingon border.  Remember the nebula and what happened to the ship when it entered the nebula searching for the missing ships?  Remember the fun you had playing the hallucinations?  Well, you'll be happy to see a new generation of volunteers and staff doing what you did and thrilling a new set of summer campers with a great story told by talented people.  Welcome back Canada!  

Livy Charles Retires from The Space Place      

Livy in the Voyager Control Room
The Space Place at Renaissance Academy

     All of us at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place are sad to see our good friend and co-worker, Livy Charles, move away to North Carolina.  She was Bracken Funk's co-pilot, working the IIFX station for most of The Space Place's Young Astronaut Club and summer camp missions.  She was training to be a flight director and flew all of the junior camps while Bracken played the roll of Captain on the bridge for the younglings. Besides being a very talented member of staff, Livy will be most remembered for her can do, extremely positive attitude.  I don't recall ever seeing her in a down mood.  Her friends at Evermore will also miss Livy. She was a regular member of their entertainment staff for the last couple years.  
     Goodbye Livy and good luck in North Carolina.    

Imaginarium Theater

This Week's Best Videos from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Fortuna, Goddess of Fortune and MisFortune, has Found the USS Cassini. Her Antics are the Best They've Ever Been. (Why Won't She Just Go Away?!) More of the Great Staff of Yesteryear's Space Center. Imaginarium Theater.

     Fortuna, great goddess of fortune and misfortune, rose in majesty and glory this month at the Space Center. The CMSC is familiar territory to her mischievous antics. Over the last 30 years her appearances brought moments of consternation and programming chaos to the staff. This blog is littered with such posts (easily found by using the search feature in the right sidebar) for your enjoyment - if seeing staff scratching their heads and throwing up their arms in exhaustion brings you joy.


Jon Parker and James Porter working on finding Fortuna's villainous work
within Thorium's programming 

     Over the last couple week's the USS Cassini's Thorium software began resetting during the missions.  The resets happened regularly during the flight.  They tended to occur more frequently during the five hour long programs.  
     Jon was seen to pound his fit on the counter and kick the control room's utility closet metal door during one reset occurring at the climatic end to the Canada mission. As the controls reset, a few impressionable volunteers heard a faint sinister chuckle from some dark, faraway place; Fortuna was heard once again within our walls.    
     Jon did everything he knew to persuade her to find enjoyment at some other space center, or at least another ship at the Space Center. The incense and incantations failed.  His calls to local mystics were promising until he heard their quotes to perform the necessary appeasements and sacrifice.
Where would he find an unblemished goat?  The task fell upon himself and James Porter, Space Center Director, to find the source of the issue at hand.     

Jon Parker and James Porter purging the system, reloading 
the software, and rebuilding the mission timelines 

      Last week we thought their labors did the trick.  Jon started a 6 hour long Officer's Camp in the Cassini, telling the mission Canada.  Two and a half hours into the mission the crew vacated the ship for a lengthy landing party.  Jon and I spoke about this and that in the Control Room. During the conversation it dawned on me that the controls hadn't reset once.  "Luck is with us, the controls haven't reset once," I innocently remarked, not knowing that Jon and I were not alone in the room.  Fortuna hovered overhead waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  
     Jon turned in his chair toward the flight computer and said the words which brought her to action:  "I think Fortuna has forgotten us."  At that exact moment the controls reset!  Let it never be said that the goddess hasn't got a sense of ironic humor.
     Fortuna has now spread the joy to other simulators. Over the last couple of days the Phoenix, Odyssey, and Falcon have experience a reset or two. A line has been drawn in the sand and Fortuna crossed it. All are dedicated to returning her to that place from which she sprung.
      Oh Fortuna, Goddess of Fortune, hear the words of mere mortals who in earnest are fed up to the brow with your bullying at our expense. We are sure the Gods of Olympus have business to tend to more interesting than the misfortune you've delivered to the innocent of the Space Center.  Perhaps you've not noticed the hundreds of cyclists on the Murdock Trail who venture out daily dreading a possible flat tire or untimely spill into the gravel.  See to their needs and not ours. 
     Your lesson has been taught and we have learned.  Now, dear lady, Move On!  
     Computers have been swapped and timelines rebuilt over the last few days.  Monday will tell the tale whether those remedies and potions have healed the patient.  I will be the flight director.  I'm bringing my lucky coin, rabbit's foot, garlic, cross, and bundled sage from the prairies of South Dakota to guarantee an uneventful mission. Wish me luck.  

Those Great Faces from Yesteryear

     Another installment in this series highlighting yesteryear's great staff and volunteers from the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center last 30 years.   

    Several of these photos have been posted before but many of our current readers haven't had the pleasure of meeting the people who helped make the Space Center a unique and pioneering learning institution. Over the next several weeks The Troubadour will introduce them to you to them.    

     Of course there is my memory problem.  Some names I remember and some I don't.  Please help if I've forgotten a name or two by sending an email or a comment to the Facebook post.  
     Top left:  I forgot the doctor's name but remember him very well. Great volunteer from the early 2000's.  
     Top Right:  Landon, Soren, Charlie, Bryson, Brady, Matt, Bryce, and Randy outside of the Odyssey.
     Bottom Left and Right:  Josh at the Voyager's IIFX Station with Scott in red observing. Scott was one of our hypercard programmers. He married Vicki Carter's daughter (Vicki was a principal of Central School and is currently a district administrator).  

    Tanner is under the Galileo.  That is how you turned the main viewer on.  

     Top Left:  Bryce volunteering in the Galileo for an overnight camp.  
     Top Right:  Josh cleaning the black plastic on the Voyager's Bridge.
     Bottom Left:  Josh dead tired at the end of an overnight camp.
     Bottom Right:  Randy wearing a Magellan uniform checking out the new raspberry iMacs just installed in the Magellan. 

     Left:  It was the usually overnight Friday camp. The campers just turned in for the night. The staff always got together for a treat before bed at 11:00 P.M. We celebrated Ryan's birthday on that particular camp. 
     Top Right:  Bill Schuler (green shirt) and myself (left) saying a few words before the commander of the USS Salt Lake City (one of the country's submarines) cut the red ribbon to officially open the Odyssey simulator.  
     Bottom Right:  Dustin, Chase, James, Rio, Metta, and Ryan at the Odyssey entrance.   

Imaginarium Theater

The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Mr. Cool Air Conditioner Films a Commercial at Utah County's Space EdVenture Centers. A Special Hello to the Former Volunteers and Staff from the Space Centers. Meet Some of the Best From 20 Years Ago. Imaginarium Theater

I'm sure you've seen many Mr. Cool air conditioner commercials on YouTube and TicTok, but have you seen the commercial filmed at Utah's Space EdVenture Centers?  Below is the commercial for those you haven't had the pleasure.  You'll notice the following sets in the video:

The commercial starts at "Mars Mission Control" aka. the bridge of the Starship Voyager at The Space Place at Renaissance Academy in Lehi (above).  

The commercial switches to the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove where we find the astronauts in the Magellan's hallway (Mars Base) above.   

The next set piece is the hallway leading to the Cassini, Phoenix, Magellan, Odyssey, and Galileo above.  I'm sure the Mr. Cool air conditioner pictured on the wall above the astronauts is good, but the CMSC doesn't need it. Believe me, the Space Center's air conditioner is powerful enough (if the contractors can only get the bugs worked out in its air distribution flow).

Hello To All Our Former Staff and Volunteers From Your Friends at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center and The Space Place. You Are Remembered Fondly. 


     We are well into the summer space camp season at The Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove, and The Space Place in Lehi.  
     Before, after, and between flights, the staff and volunteers gather in the control rooms, hallways, or staff rooms to talk about the camps. Often the conversation will lead to the good old days of yesteryear.  The older staff will tell stories of former camp seasons from years ago.  Many former volunteer and staff names are mentioned and a flood of awesome memories come flooding out.  
     So, to all of you former summer camp volunteers, supervisors, and flight directors we all say hello and give you our best wishes wherever you're at.  Take a minute now and recall some of those good times you spent at the centers.  Be sure to come by when you can to say hello or even better, book a private mission and relive those good old days.  To book a mission on the Voyager go to  To book a mission on the Cassini, Magellan, Phoenix, Odyssey, Galileo, or Falcon go to  

Hello from Bracken, Megan and Staff on the Voyager
at The Space Place

Hello from Jon and Staff on the Cassini at the CMSC

Hello from Brylee and Staff on the Galileo at the CMSC

Hello from James and Staff on the Falcon at the CMSC

Hello from Scott and Staff on the Phoenix at the CMSC

Hello from Natalie and Staff on the Odyssey at the CMSC

Hello from the Magellan Staff and Volunteers at the CMSC

Meet Some of Those Early Volunteers and Staff From Many Years Ago

     These are pictures from our Honor's Night at the end of a summer camp season from about 20 years ago.  Who do you recognize?  Where are they now?
     Well, one of them lives in Texas with a large family of boys, and is the co-founder of InfiniD.  One is the director of the Discovery Space Center at American Heritage School in American Fork, another lives in Washington but has a son who volunteers at the CMSC currently, another is a space center director, another is a son-in-law to one of Central's former principals and a current Alpine District administrator, another is a former CMSEC director and a current member of staff at The Space Place, and finally another is a semi-professional wrestler who goes by the name "Sterling Silvers".  It's amazing to see where all of them have landed as they've grown.    

Imaginarium Theater

The Week's Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Summer Space EdVenture Camps Update: It's Busy at The Space Place and The Christa McAuliffe Space Center. A Tour of the Starship Voyager While the Campers Deal With Multiple Problems :) The Phototron from the Old Voyager Appears! Imaginarium Theater

Kade and Canon man the Operations Station on the Starship Voyager

It is a busy summer at Utah's Space EdVenture Centers.  The Space Place at Renaissance Academy and the Christa McAuliffe Space Center at Central Elementary are either at capacity or nearly there.  I'm enjoying my time at both locations.  I'm a flight director on the Starship Cassini at the CMSC. I help wherever Bracken needs me when I'm at The Space Place. 

The Voyager's Brig holds a couple galactic 
troublemakers waiting to be questioned

                 The Voyager's Defense Station with Maintenance at the back

Last week I spent some time on the Starship Voyager to take a few pictures and video of the crew at work. Seeing these young campers in this immersive environment, working together to solve the multiple problems a 5 hour long mission throws at them, is impressive.  

The Starship Voyager may be the largest starship simulator in the Space EdVenture's Utah Fleet when you take into account its bridge, hallways, brig, engineering room, and sickbay.  Just to show you, I made a walk through video of the ship while the campers were in a 5 hour long mission. 


What Happened to the Phototron from the Original Starship Voyager?  

The Phototron on the original Starship Voyager's Bridge

The Phototron was donated to the Christa McAuliffe Space Center when it first opened in 1990.  It sat in the small room adjoining the ship's bridge.  The Phototron is a small greenhouse.  The small room off the bridge was a science bay when the ship first opened and yes, I had plants growing in the Phototron.  Soon it became impractical to continue the science bay once the CMSEC focused on district wide field trips.  At that point I moved the Phototron to the bridge where it sat at the top of the bridge stairway.  It was a set decoration with a cool red light on the interior.  

The Phototron disappeared after the 2012 remodeling closure and I hadn't seen it sense (or at least I don't remember seeing it) UNTIL this last week.  I walked up to the Voyager's Bridge and what did my wandering eyes behold - the Phototron back where it belongs on the bridge of the Voyager II.  


There it sits in all its glory, right off the bridge near the Operations Station.  Welcome back Phototron!  All you need is your red light and you'll be back to business.  

Imaginarium Theater

This Week's Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience