March 8th, 2002

andromeda

Spacefem In Space! (part II)

Our group leader got in the bus all frazzled because he'd just met Jim Lovell. He couldn't ask him to come on the bus and say hi to us, of course, because NASA didn't want our group pestering every celebrity we saw, but dang, it'd be nice to actually meet one of these guys instead of just seeing them walk buy, which we did when we went out the door of our hotel (what was Jim Lovell doing at the holiday inn?) and out to his car. One of the younger teachers didn't know who Jim Lovell was so we were like, "You know, Tom Hanks in Apollo XIII?" and that got it. She was excited then because it was sorta like seeing Tom Hanks. Sorta.

Jack Bacon, a space station engineer, had spoken to us at a banquet last night, but we saw him again in the morning for more rocket science information. This time he really did get more technical on us and I thought it was great but three of the teachers fell asleep. He's a really great guy and it's nice to meet people who are so high up on the chain of command here. He's honestly passionate about the space station, not only because of what it is but because it's got us working with Russians and Japanese and, hell, even Canadians. It's like a whole new world out there now that we're not just trying to get to space to fire missles onto one another. If aliens found us right now, they'd respect us a whole lot more.

We saw the shuttle simulators and the world's largest indoor pool (Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, whichever) which I'd seen before, then we shipped off to Ellington Field, which is totally the highlight of the trip every year because we get to watch jet planes take off. weee! Got to see T-38s and go inside the cockpit of the Super Guppy, which is such a crazy looking airplane you can't believe it actually flys. Watching a T-38 take off is amazing, it's the sort of thing you have to be there to see or else you get no sense of how fast and loud they are. It's all very cool.

We went back to JSC for more lectures on space suit science, geography and astronaut food. The food lady said that the Russians are known to have brought vodka aboard Mir, but our guys follow the rules and eat their carefully planned diets of dried foods and M&Ms. The last crew requested hamburgers, she said it was funny how really brilliant astronauts still want foods they know won't work in space. There's just no way to bag Wendy's on the way to the space shuttle and have it survive two days in orbit, things could get nasty. I dunno, seems like they could rig something up, we are NASA after all.

In the evening we went to Kemah, this adorable party spot next to some body of water. We ate dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. I spent waaay too much money but had a blast, honestly, I hadn't ever had seafood that incredible and the place was really fun to eat at. I also had two margaritas. oops. We walked down the boardwalk and I ran around in some water fountains, no it wasn't all that hot, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Back at the hotel, all us college kids got together and drank beer and played cards all night. I got to bed around 2 a.m. but slept great.