Saturday, January 24, 2009

Houston We Have A P.R. Problem

Yesterday I was privledged to be invited to my favorite Republican's birthday party that included a private four hour VIP tour of NASA. I was embarassed to admit at the beginning of the tour that while living in Houston for 23 years, I had never toured NASA. Yesterday's tour was just incredible. We toured all of the training facilities and actually observed a crew in training for their May 12 trip to repair the Hubble Telescope. The crew was submerged in the pool in a zero gravity environment actually working on a replica of the telescope. A second crew is preparing for their February 12 trip to the space station. It was very encouraging to hear about the significant collaboration going on with numerous countries on the space station progress.

The science at each stop was so impressive. The highlight was sitting in the chairs in the original Mission Control room where those famous words were heard over the desk speaker from Apollo 13, "Hey, we've got a problem here." We sat in the current Mission Control and watched the crew land the shuttle in a simulation in preparation for February 12th's mission.

It became obvious during the tour that our citizens have taken these great accomplishments for granted. I can't say that I've watched a "lift off" in years. Of course, we all remember the tragedies of Columbia and Challenger, but what about the great accomplishments over the past two decades.

Our tour guide said "NASA never has been good about promoting itself. We just focus on getting the job done." Maybe we should blame the media, but really we all should take an interest in it and promote science to our children. Our tour guide stated that a permanent station on the moon with rotating crews is within the next decade. He said that the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, and India are racing to the moon for Helium-3. It is believed to be a potential fuel.

NASA has a new fan and I look forward to our progress.


The next mission in February:

Hubble Telescope news:

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