I haven’t published in several days. It’s just been crazy. I have a friend who works at Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, JSC, in Houston. She has been suggesting for several months that I bring the kids down to get a behind the scenes tour of the facility. With the shuttle program shutting down, over 6,000 people in Houston and 20,000 nation wide will lose their jobs. My friend is slated to be one of the casualties. That meant it was now or never for the tour. Additionally, this past Thursday was the last chance to get on the full motion shuttle simulator. It’s scheduled to be torn down in a couple of weeks. As a pilot, I just couldn’t pass up a chance to fly to main shuttle simulator. The problem was weather. Pretty it wasn’t. In the end it meant leaving the house at 3:30AM last Wednesday to head to the airport. Headwinds were about 25 kts most of the way. We avoided the storms until right at the end. As I turned onto final for the ILS 35L approach at Ellington I was informed there was rain over the field. NEXRAD showed red over the field and I was about ready to head elsewhere but I was informed it was just heavy rain. When the 500′ callout happened I still couldn’t see the runway. I was thinking this was going to be a missed approach with a diversion. Then my daughter said she could see the runway and indeed I could too. Winds were gusty but manageable. We made it but we did get wet unloading the plane. I am glad I had gone up with an instructor and done five practice approaches just a week earlier. It was great having the DFC-100 autopilot in the plane.
We had arrived about 8:30 AM local time. We were tired but decided to not waste the rest of the day. We filled it up with a trip to Space Center Houston. Among other things there was a simple space shuttle simulator. That meant a chance to practice before trying the real simulator. It was humbling for me since both of my kids, Chris 14 and Michelle 10, pwned me. Here is Chris showing me how it should be done.
On a more general techie note, I was surprised at the use of QR codes. They were all over the Saturn V exhibit. As we were to find out later, not all of NASA is this up-to-date.
That’s a QR code at the bottom of the sign.
Thursday was the simulator. When I get the photos off the camera I will publish another update. Just a “heads up.” It was awesome.