By Tim Cash SU #984-S/LM#12
I have been working at The Boeing Company at Kennedy Space Center since September as a communications engineer for the construction and renovation of the existing Saturn Launch Complex 37 to become the new launch complex for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Delta-4 vehicle family. I made plans to attend the STS-95 launch and any space related events in the area.
There was such a high demand for passes with the contractors and NASA that I was unable to obtain a car pass for the launch through the company lottery. I found out about a book signing by Alan Bean, the Lunar Module pilot from Apollo-12 and Commander of Skylab 2 and Andrew Chaikin, Author of A Man in the Moon. The book signing took place on October 28 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center and only a few blocks from the building in which I work. The title of their book is "APOLLO, An Eyewitness Account By Astronaut/Explorer Artist/Moonwalker Alan Bean with Andrew Chaikin". The book is filled with accounts of the various lunar landings accompanied by the artists paintings and the actual photographs that inspired the paintings. A must for any Alan Bean fan. The book is available in a signed limited edition that is clothbound and inside a slipcase from The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., P.O. Box 875, Shelton, CT 06484-9861 Tel 800 577-0666. I purchased the book ($45.00 + Tax) and Alan Bean signed it to me adding a personal comment "To Tim, we need more dreamers like you…Ad Astra par Aspra…Alan Bean Apollo 12". I requested Alan to add that Latin phrase, when translated it means "To the Stars through Hard Work". Is there any other way ? Andrew Chaikin also added "Best Wishes…Andrew Chaikin". After the book was signed, *I exited the building and immediately noticed the three Mercury Astronauts : Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, and Gordon Cooper delivering a speech at a table set up in the parking lot. I took my book to my car and retrieved my Mercury cover and photo album for signature opportunities. I followed the Astronauts into the building after the speech was over and awaited them as they had their photos taken with kids from Space Camp. Gordon Cooper signed a MA-9 launch cover for me, so I waited for Carpenter and Schirra to exit the building, but they would not sign anything. Carpenter said "Don’t worry, I will return tomorrow". RIGHT. I left the Hall of Fame for my Apartment in Cocoa Beach. When I arrived, there were Fireworks going on. I thought to myself "It sure is nice for Brevard County to go out of their way to entertain me like this !" The Fireworks was sponsored by Ron-Jon’s Surf Shop, the other famous attraction in the Cape area. On Saturday, I heard that Wally Schirra attended a book signing of his own on October 28 at the KSC Visitors Center. I missed seeing him earlier that day because I was at work.
The next day (October 29) was launch day. I work in a four story building, and we have a fourth floor balcony to view the launches from. At 1:30 PM, there were pilots skywriting "GOD SPEED JOHN GLEN" and another group of pilots advertising some tourist spot in Ft. Lauderdale. There were several pilot/tourists that intruded into the air space above the Space Center, and they were promptly escorted out by Huey helicopters. Due to them, the launch was delayed some nineteen minutes. The launch was spectacular !! The sky was a crystal clear blue, probably THE most beautiful launch I have seen to date (Apollos-16, 17, Skylab Workshop, STS-1, 57, 65, 91, and 95). That evening, I attended a National Space Society function and heard a speech by Dr. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Dr. Aldrin related he was in the process of getting the various space advocacy groups, such as NSS to agree on a common political platform to achieve further goals in space. He also related that he did want to argue with other space companies about whether Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) or Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) is a better concept for the next generation manned space vehicle. Dr. Aldrin has a company, Starcraft Enterprises proposing a TSTO concept with fly-back reusable boosters for space tourism. After the lecture, I met a gentleman from the Center for Space Research in Austin, Texas who related to me what he heard about the X-33 and Lockheed-Martin Venture Star SSTO vehicles. Apparently, the decision has already been made at high levels to keep these vehicles unmanned, thus leaving the Space Shuttle flying for another 15-20 years as our only manned vehicle to orbit. If true, this leaves quite an opportunity for the several start up rocket companies (such as Starcraft Enterprises) to come up with a feasible idea for a earth orbital manned system. My first impression is that this is a mistake, but perhaps not. If a smaller, leaner company develops a vehicle that is more efficient but not as reusable, then new markets such as space tourism can be opened up by greatly lowering the cost to orbit. So, watch for the Starcraft Enterprises, Kelly, Roton, Kistler, Pioneer Spaceplane, etc. of the world. Their time is near !
I met Russ and Wanda Smith (Titusville Moonport Stamp Club) that week and purchased several covers from them to fill holes in my collection (I stopped collecting for several years). They told me about the FLOREX stamp show in Orlando that weekend, so I attended. I picked up a great Glen STS-95 pictorial cancel and FLOREX show cancel on a large format post card showing the Mercury 7 in space suits, as well as a smaller post card with both cancels. I also purchased some Swanson space covers for the Saturn Pegasus launches for Russ Smith to sign. He worked on that program. Wanda Smith had told me that the Florida Today newspaper said that Gordon Cooper would be at the local Target store signing autographs on Saturday October 30. After spending 2 hours at FLOREX, I drove back to the Target store to see Cooper. I waited in a long line and finally had my photo taken with Gordo shaking his hand. I gave him the above mentioned large post card for his collection and he signed and personalized a photo to me taken of him in his Mercury space suit. I am starting a new policy of presenting a present to every astronaut I request an autograph from. That way, maybe we won’t have Carpenter’s getting $25. Per autograph, some even more, others not signing anything philatelic, others not at all. Let’s not ruin it for future collectors. By the way, the smaller post card went to my daughter for her stamp collection. I started her off a few years ago, and she is keeping it up. This is how we keep our hobby alive. I also met a fellow space cover collector at the show, and we traded Tel # and addresses. We plan on getting together for a space cover and autograph trading session soon. This hobby is fun, and you meet new people !!
http://www.nss.org/askastro/Aldrin/weblinks.html) History of Dr. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
(http://ftp.csr.utexas.edu/rs/) Center for Space Research, Austin, Texas