Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Cape

Because there is never enough incompetence to go around, I'm volunteering as an educator at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Space and Missile Museum, which means that for the first time in oh, about four years now, I'm "badged to the Cape" again.

I crossed the river to the Kennedy Space Center to visit Nick the NASA Poobah, and on our way across the complex we ran into Sammy Gemar (I call him "Sammy," because we are BFF's like that) a mission specialist who has flown on Atlantis, Discovery, and Columbia.

"This is Mary Beth," said Nick. Mary Beth proceeded to drop her sunglasses on the famous astronaut's foot.

These things happen, at the Cape.

We went to see the recently raised Mercury capsule, Gus Grissom's formerly lost Liberty Bell 7, which sat in low light and high majesty. The restorers did a magnificent job, positioning the capsule so that viewers can still see the white crack workers painted on the side. Nick and I walked around and around the display, whispering--it was the type of place where you whispered. For a while he hung back quietly and... just... looked at it. I do believe he and Gus were having a conversation.

I dined with G-Force at the employee cafeteria at the Space Station Processing Facility, largely because of how the receipt prints out:

"Where'd you go for lunch?"

"Oh, the Space Station. It's Sub Day!"

You'd think the dining hall at a place called the Space Station Processing Facility would be this modern, exotic wonder with people teleporting in and out of the food pellet line, but no. It has limp salads and ketchup packets angry bowls of cole slaw just like everywhere else.

People ask me why I don't work for NASA anymore. Here's why:

I parked at the Operations and Checkout Building, which is where the astronauts live when they come to town, and I like walking in and out of the same doors they use when heading to the launchpad. This is because I am very, very lame. It's the best way I know of to feel important by proximity.

The thing about the O&C is, (I call it "the O&C," because we are BFF's like that) it's a government building constructed in the 1960's, and like all government buildings constructed in the 1960's, it bears the Stamp of the Age of Public Ugly, and is identical and boring in all directions.

So when you park your car on one end of the building, it's very, very easy to wander around the parking lot at the other end of the building wondering if the Space Cops have towed your car.


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Scott the Taller said...

I'm jealous.......badged, and in Central Florida, AND you get to network with astronauts. The Museum out here is a lot different, not really open to volunteering opportunities.......there is one public tour a week and the museum staff consists of one person. Go figure.

Oh, and enjoy the shuttle launch for me, as I doubt I can use it as an excuse to skip class. Maybe I can hijack a TV for the occassion........

MB said...

I should HOPE that a shuttle launce is an acceptable excuse for missing Space 100!

Good to hear from you, Scott the Taller :)

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