As I watch this clip, I can’t help but get chills as I remember the Space Shuttle Program. I see my co-workers, my dreams, the landscape, and even some of my work. During the last couple of years, during the winding down of the program, I’ve paid a lot of attention and have had lots to say but I’ve been mostly quiet.
I spent my childhood dreaming of space in the 80s, and I worked for Morton-Thiokol (which became ATK) starting in late 90s. Being part of the Space Shuttle workforce was more than just a job, it was a bit of a dream come true. Now that Orbiters are getting shuffled around to museums in various cities, I’m excited for the next phase of America’s space program; but, I will never forget the privilege it was to work for the Space Shuttle Program.
I was also able to see Space Shuttle Discovery fly from a perch at the Vehicle Assembly Building on STS-102. The day before, Columbia had just arrived in the VAB after a ride back from an overhaul in Palmdale, and I got to walk right up to her – just like I did with Enterprise at the World’s Fair in 1984 – but this was much more intimate. She looked like a true workhorse. What an experience!
After three long years of balancing academic, professional, and family life, I graduate today with a Master of Computer Science degree from Colorado State University! I’ve concentrated my studies on parallel programming, computer architecture, operating systems, and High Performance Computing. My final class was on Machine Learning in Python, which was both fun and challenging. Now that I have this behind me, I plan to have more time available for more frequent updates, and to share a little of what I’ve been working on.
A couple of years ago, the renowned PBS series Nova presented an episode entitled Astrospies. In the 1960s, the US and Russia were in a race to get spies into space, while disguising their super-secret activities:
These men, 17 in all, were set to make history in space as the first military astronauts, performing covert reconnaissance from orbit. Yet while NASA’s astronauts were gracing magazine covers and signing autographs, the MOL teams were sworn to secrecy; most of the program’s details remain classified even today.
The public knew almost nothing about these programs, and the details have only come to light within recent years. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch this episode, it is definitely worth your time!
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There was an excellent article in the May issue of Wired that really hit home for me, The Lost Tribes of RadioShack: Tinkerers Search for New Spiritual Home. It’s about the re-branding of Radio Shack from a “temple of transistors, parts, and cables”, to a purveyor of all things digital and disposable. Radio Shack has had to make some changes to stay profitable in today’s market.
Here are some of the quotes in the article that brought back some vivid memories of the frequent trips I made to RadioShack as a tinkering youth:
Some people say RadioShack is just a store … But to me it was an idea — a learning and resource center that really shaped people’s lives. Read the rest of this entry »