1. I got to listen to a real astronaut today, as part of the ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology Educators)(aste.org) Conference in Anchorage. We were supposed to get Bill Oefelein, as he’s an Anchorage West High grad….in fact they had a bunch of plans up here for him to do educational promo work, but he is, umm….taking care of some personal issues at the moment. The damndest things can mess up your plans.

    Bill Readdy stepped in and showed a video that was made from the most recent mission Oefelein was on, with a “tour” of the shuttle and the space station. What can I say, it was all neat, narrated by a guy that had been there. You can get a feel for how much they get boost from what they do.

    A couple of summers ago, I happened to be in the right place at the right moment (principals office) when the phone rang, and got to be one of the two from my school to fly out to the carrier Stennis in the Gulf of Alaska for a tour that made us feel way more important that I’m used to. One of the things you notice is that even people that come and go to the carriers quite often get really jazzed about “today” when it includes a carrier trip. It’s just fun, you can tell.

    What the heck does a trip to the space station do for you?

    Readdy mentioned one of the jobs of the flight captian is make sure everybody sleeps when they should. “It’s all so beautiful, there stuff going on all the time…..there’s a sunrise or sunset every 20 minutes….. if you don’t make some people stop they just keep going until they’re exhausted.”

    We might argue over whether we’ve got the money to spend, but the truth is, space exploration is one thing this country does that’s hard to throw a stick at. It’s something we do for all mankind…..and it would be even if it were just Americans in USA-only hardware. That it’s not that way, that bunches of nations are in it, just makes it that much more cool.

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