Thursday, November 17, 2005

Day 16: Johnson Space Center

On the 17th of November, I made my pilgrimage to the Johnson Space Center. I pulled out a flat tire out of Freddy and in my frustration put it back and decided to see if there was a courtesy car available. I came in to the FBO and asked if I could use the car. The receptionist looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, who are you with?" To that I replied, "I flew in yesterday and I'm sleeping in Sleeping Room #3." To that she replied, "Oh YOU'RE the one who asked if you could sleep in your plane." I said yes, and the ice was broken. Try as she might though, she could not arrange a car for me. So she decided to take me herself.

I was dropped off with my bike at the visitor center having put a new tube in the tire and headed in for two IMAX space movies, many displays, the actual Apollo 17 command module, and a tram tour of the rocket garden, a vehicle mock-up facility and historic mission control where many of the Gemini and all of the Apollo mission controls took place. a splendid spot full of history. I did get to meet astronaut Ellen Baker who took me to the mock-up facility - not to the observation deck where the tram tour goes, but to the inside of the shuttle, space station and Soyuz spacecrafts. Splendid were the spacecrafts and it was great to talk to Ellen.


The highlight of the day was a total by chance meeting of flight director Gene Kranz. (Ed Harris was the actor who portrayed him in the movie Apollo 13.) Gene is one of my great role models and I was so honored to meet him. It was after the space center closed and he was giving a talk to the employees - Gene said I could stay for it, but the security guards would not let me. Oh well, it was great to meet him.

Back to Ellington, which seems like a space center in its own right, and had a light dinner of plane food. (The night before, I had given a nod to the Crazy Horse boys and eaten at a All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet and over did it a bit. Sat down with a college student from India who walked into the restaurant at the same time I did.) I checked weather for the next day and to bed I went in my cozy little sleeping room number three.

And I did not see Dex nor Karen that day as the visitor center is very separate from the actual goings on of real astronauts. Oh well. More to come later.
Ben

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