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

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Retired Space Center Legend Natalie Anderson Pens a Post on Her Life as an Author and Her Books. This Week's Imaginarium Theater

Hello Troops,

I've known Natalie for many many years. She was the third in a line of Andersons who walked the Space Center's halls and found meaningful and profound ways to shape the program for the better.

Natalie recently retired from active starfleet service to focus on her next best love, writing books; and she has written more than one as you'll read in her post below.  I tried writing a book once and got as far as a few pages and gave up. I created too many characters to keep track of, there were too many plot holes I didn't have the patience to fill, and far too many words needed to be written - so my hat is off to Natalie.

Aleta Clegg (Micah Clegg's mother) is another retired Space Center legend and author.  She uses the name Jaleta Clegg for her writing. A quick search of her name on Amazon will bring up her books.  I mention this to illustrate the fact that the Space Center is the nesting ground for many great storytellers.  

Aleta with one of her Summer Camp Kitchen Creations

And now, without further ado, may I invite you to enjoy Natalie's post on her life as an author writing exclusively for The Troubadour in traditional style. 

Mr. Williamson 

Hello Friends,

Like the myriad of NASA launches that have been delayed for one reason or another, this post too has been put off. Perhaps it is because I feel strange writing about my own work. Or I fell into a pit of procrastination. But if I’m telling the truth, I forgot where I put my pass to get on the train back to the Imaginarium. A travesty, I know.

The train in question. The conductor is very particular about train passes. Not sure why they don’t use tickets. At least then I could lose them without consequences after the ride. I used to keep extra passes on my person at all times, in case I lost one or I needed to bring a guest or something like that. Unfortunately, my extra passes were lost the last time my reactivation clause beacon was activated. I won’t go into the details, but if anyone finds a bit of blue luggage floating around the peak of Olympus Mons, please let me know.

A picture of the lost luggage just days before the tragic accident. If found, please give it some cookies and send it back to me. The cookies are to help it recover from the shock. Definitely not for me.

In any case, I have since found my pass, thank goodness. Otherwise, I’d have to hitchhike all the way to the secret post box on Wondrium Avenue to get this mailed to the Imaginarium Chief of News and other Fiddly Things.

It has a habit of moving between alleyways making it quite difficult to find. It’s only red when it wants to be red, and that’s usually only when it knows for certain that you’re looking directly at it. If your eyes skip past it, you’ll never find it. Be confident and stare at every brick and eventually it’ll work for you.

What? You think we just email him? Psh. Never.

Now onto the actual news: I wrote a book! Actually, I’ve written several, but when my first books came out, I was still looking for my train pass. I suppose I’ll tell you about them too! My first series is called Constantine Capers and is a historical mystery about a detective with short term memory loss. Every day he wakes up and can’t remember the day before. I wrote much of the first one, The Pennington Perplexity while I was on sabbatical in England, France, Rome, and apparently, Mars.

This is the cover for the first book. My publisher’s cover designer did such a good job!

The second one, Flashes of Memory, I wrote once I was called back into service of Starfleet. And the third one (There Comes a Midnight Hour) I’ve been working on since I’ve entered my real retirement. This book is not done yet but give it a week or two. (Will there be a fourth? Probably. Don’t ask me about the fifth.)

And here’s book two. It’s my mom’s favorite. I think my favorite is the one I’m writing. But that’s only until the writer’s block kicks in.

The first two were finalists for the Whitney Awards, (if you know what that award is, we can be friends. If not, we still can be friends).

My second series makes a lot more sense when you consider that I was practically raised at the Space Center. The series is called The Thirteenth Zodiac and the first book is called Keepers of the Zodiac. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy series that could be described in this way: Take Avatar the Last Airbender, smush it into Star Wars, and then sprinkle in some Indiana Jones for good measure.

Here’s the cover for that book. Ain’t it pretty? Since I self-published this book, I actually designed this one and I’m really proud of it.

Another description could be: “What would happen if falling stars gave you magic powers?” But perhaps the best description is the one I wrote for the back cover:

Within the white marbled halls of the Zodiac Palace, the Great Dragon waits. At the dark chaotic maw of the abyss, the Divine Augury watches.

And on the top of the cascade in nowhere Nevada, the next Keeper of the Zodiac wishes. Serena Morelli had plans. Good ones. Finish the semester, become an astronaut, and watch another meteor shower.

In no particular order.

Now she has a fallen star in her pocket, lightning at her fingertips, and a man named Pharos Everleigh on her doorstep. 

Thrown headlong into an interstellar realm of mystery, magic, and tyranny, can Serena find her place in the Universe before she needs to save it?

Or for you more visual people, here’s a short trailer for it:

Pretty good, huh? I like it in any case. So, last month I decided to publish it. And what better place to showcase a science fiction novel launch than in the Planetarium at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center? James Porter was very kind in letting me rent the planetarium for the evening and we had a pretty good turnout. Talked about the book, showed a teaser for it on the big dome, and then finished it off with a good, old-fashioned planetarium show. My mother was instrumental for distributing hot chocolate outside afterwards whilst the snow made it impossible to see the brightest meteor shower of the year.

A pretty good turnout indeed! Pictures courtesy of my mother.

Something about the dome distorts photography. I promise that’s me.

I’d never done a book launch in person before, and it was an absolute blast! Honestly, even with some things not going entirely according to plan, I couldn’t have planned it better. I’m hoping to do five books for this series, so maybe if I keep a hold of my train pass, I’ll announce the next launch before it even happens!

I’m really excited to be officially announcing my books to the loyal Troubadour readers! If you want more information on my books and what I’m up to, I have a website at In fact, if you scroll down on the first page, you can access some short stories you can read for free! (The Ferengi would be so mad at me).

At the end of the day, I doubt I’d be writing books if it wasn’t for my time at the Space Center. That intoxicating feeling that comes from storytelling using the discipline of wonder is not something that quickly leaves the system. And I’d not have it any other way!

Anywho, I’d best finish this up so I can catch that train and get to the post box. I just hope it hasn’t moved. Again.


Natalie (Brianne) Anderson

Emeritus Set Director of the Odyssey

Flight Director Extraordinaire

Voice Actress in the Order of the Silver Microphone

And Apparently an Author. Who Knew?

Imaginarium Theater

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

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Tabitha Long Ricks Gently Closes the Door to Her Position as Outreach Coordinator. Brylee Perry Appointed Set Director. Imaginarium Theater


     In August 2018 Mr. James Porter appointed Tabitha Ricks to the position of Space Center Outreach Coordinator. In doing so, he relieved himself from the day to day work of overseeing the Center's volunteer program. That decision has been regarded by most to be the best decision he's made in his career as Space Center Director.  Tabitha took the job and ran with it. 

     Running a volunteer organization isn't easy, and I speak from years of experience, especially during a massive upheaval to an organization. During her reign the Space Center was demolished and a new Center constructed.  With the new Center came six awesome simulators and a planetarium - all of which needed a steady flow of volunteers.  The volunteer core needed to expand, and quickly.  

     In addition to the volunteer organization, Tabitha was tasked with creating new departments to support the Space Center's programs.  The Engineering and Acting Departments were created with a few more in the works.  

     Now, with all that in her "In Basket" Tabitha got married to Matt Ricks, another Space Center legend. The family has grown to three with the arrival of a cute baby girl.  It was then that a little voice in Tabitha's head told her it was time to pass the torch to someone else and devote more time to her family and other interests (Matt does need a bit of extra care :) 

     And so, it is with heavy heart that The Troubadour announces that Tabitha Ricks will be stepping down from her position as Outreach Coordinator.  She is NOT retiring from the Space Center as was previously reported by an inept reported who needs to get his facts straight before posting (honestly, the guy should be fired), she is only trimming back on a few of her duties.  A rest well earned for sure.  

    So we will still see Tabitha at the Center doing an undecided number of things, one of which will be staring uncomfortably over the shoulder of her replacement to ensure the well oiled machine called Outreach continues to run smoothly.  

Brylee Perry Named Planetarium Set Director at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

Brylee with Husband Jordan (Both Certified Space Center Legends)

     The Space Center's Planetarium was placed in the caring hands of Brylee Smith last week.  Mr. James Porter made the announcement was given over the Center's intra communication system and intercepted by The Troubadour's agents at our listening center near Point of the Mountain.  What does "placed in the caring hands" mean?  It means that Brylee is the planetarium's Set Director.  
     Brylee's time at the Space Center is split between the Galileo and the Planetarium.  With this new responsibility, the Galileo will see less of her so Orion will need to learn to cope.  Personally I think it is a brilliant idea to put a flight director in a planetarium management role.    
      We can rest assured that Brylee will lead the upstairs people (planetarium) down to the dark recesses of the Center where the downstairs folk can be found lurking in the shadows in and around the simulators. I feel assured that both groups will find new and creative ways to collaborate.

Imaginarium Theater
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Sunday, January 8, 2023

What a Difference We Can Make! This Week's Imaginarium Theater


Hello Troops,
Below this paragraph is a testimonial and thank you letter I received from a teacher several years back when I was the director. I'm reposted it today as a reminder to everyone in our line of work that what we do can and does make a difference in young people's lives.  

We don't get a lot of feedback from our teachers, students and campers. They cheer and clap after a field trip, private mission or camp and they leave. It is nice when someone takes the time to send an email telling us they appreciated the experience and how it affected them. Letters like this energized us and make us want to work harder to created the best field trip and camp possible with our limited resources. After all, what are we after? World domination of course........Is that too much to ask?

Mr. W.

And Now the Teacher's Letter:

Dear Space Center,
It is has been 7-8 years since I took a classroom to Space Camp. Of course, I haven't been teaching all that time. As a matter of fact, I have just gotten back into the field. I teach seventh grade homeroom at a conservative private school in American Fork. I am looking into the possibility of taking both seventh grades next year and was excited to hear that the curriculum would be the same as it was the last time I went.

Because I had recently heard about Space Camp, I decided to see if it would fit the curriculum of the private school I worked for back in 1999. The principal was excited about it, so I sent off for information. We were thrilled that the book I had chosen for my sixth grade that year was The Diary of Anne Frank and that the Camp curriculum was going to cover that same book. I set up a date for us to go in November of that same year. Our principal decided that the small seventh and eighth grade would accompany us.

I worked with that teacher to set up the curriculum to include Science, Math, Language Arts, Music, Art, Literature, Spelling, Orthography/Penmanship, Speech/Oratory, Social Studies, Leadership and "Followership" Skills and PE. We started the day school started preparing our students for this experience. Although we used different student books and manuals, we were able to adjust the curriculum.

The students were not easy to handle, as many of them had been with each other for several years, some for seven years! We and they kept notebooks of our work. When the day came, we did our culminating activity and went to "after-school Space Camp."

It was fascinating to watch the class become a team during the two and one-half hour mission. However, what was phenomenal were the next days, the next weeks, the next months. These students had been somewhat surly in their approach to each other and me during the first several months of school. The next day, students who had had hard feelings, negative reactions to each other and to me, had been "re-born" because of this two and one-half hour experience. They were much more positive towards others in class and out. The looked for ways to help each other have positive experiences with learning.

They had a strong desire to learn, to be a part of a team, to look for ways to help me and they wanted to do their best. They were not little angels all the time, but they recognized that they could change and that it was a better change for them. I had
"new" students the rest of the year in more ways than one. Whenever a student came in who was new to seventh grade, my other students looked for ways to help them acclimate. They all gathered round those who had difficult or hard times during the rest of the year. It was a joy to behold!

Since this experience, I have had both parents and students of that seventh grade write to me expressing that this experience was a turning point in lives. Many of these
same students are now full-ride scholarship students at great universities, working on Doctorates. Others greet me on the street, telling me that that is one of the greatest experiences they have had in their lives, that they remind those with whom they come in contact with about this experience and are now "missionaries" for Space Camp, just like me!!!

What more can I say except what I have already said? I have said this in such a hurry that I hope that I have not been too incoherent!!!

ENGAGE!!!!! (as Commander Pickard used to say)

Mrs. Sharon S.

Imaginarium Theater

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