| In the second half of
there was an exhibit of space artifacts from the Soviet Union. To
exhibit a black tie gala was
held on June, 1991.
The main reason that I
wanted to attend the gala is that two cosmonauts were supposed to be
honor there. Those cosmonauts were
Feoktistov, and Svetlana Savitskaya. The
price for the gala was a little steep. It
cost $250 per person and I almost didn't go.
Even with the steep price, I
figured that it didn't hurt to find out more information about the
called up the woman who was organizing the gala to find out more about
it. She said that there were going to be
Soviet Space dignitaries in attendance.
She went on to tell me that
if I wanted to go, she would make sure I got to sit at the table with
the dignitaries. Now that was a tempting
offer. I could possibly have dinner with
the person in charge of engine technology, or chief of the space suit
Since I already owned a
tuxedo, my expense to attend was limited to the $250. I accepted her
invitation. It was exciting to be going
to this gala, but it was also lonely. None
of my space friends were going. I also couldn't
$250 ticket in order to be able to take my girl friend.
The gala was really well
organized. At the start, you were given
a passport in which you could get your photo affixed.
The passport was red which fit in with the
Soviet theme of the exhibit.
When I arrived, there were
many people were milling about. This was
obviously the social event of the year for the upper crust of Fort Worth. Everybody seemed to know everybody,
except for me.
I kept my watchful eye out
for Cosmonaut Feoktistov. Earlier I had
learned that Cosmonaut Savitskaya was not able to attend. That was a
but the chance to meet the only surviving member of the Voskhod I crew
I had brought along a couple
of books to get autographed and a picture. There
was an opening ceremony were the dignitaries
were announced. That helped a lot, because
sometimes it is
difficult to recognize what the astronauts cosmonauts look like many
after they have left the program.
The Fort Worth Symphony then
played the national anthems of both the United States and the Soviet Union. When the
anthems were finished people headed
into the exhibit.
I headed in the opposite
direction because I knew that is were Dr. Feoktistov was.
The dignitaries would be the last in because
of the way that things were arranged.
I approached Dr. Feoktistov
and he was gracious enough to sign my books and photo for me. The pressure was off now! It was time to
enjoy the banquet. The banquet tables
were intermingled with the exhibit. Instead of one large banquet hall
small intimate rooms of no more than five or ten tables.
The tables were covered with
black velvet as were the chairs. Truly, it was
a beautiful setting. I grabbed a
glass of Scotch from the bar and wandered around the exhibit. I was hoping to find a way to strike up a
conversation with someone.
I stopped over by the
Lunokhod exhibit. There one of the
Soviet Technicians, associated with the exhibit, was speaking to a
woman. The lady obviously had no concept
exploration but was trying to conduct a conversation anyway. The technician's command of the English
Slowly, I worked my way into
the conversation. I had a marvelous
discussion with the technician. He worked on the software for the
also on the Phobos spacecraft.
One thing that I was curious
about was how long it took them to develop their space probes. He said that it took about two years to
most of them. That seemed remarkably short to me.
He explained that most of
their probes are built off of one common platform. That way it isn't
to change the experiments from one probe to another, from Venera to
Phobos. I thought that was superb idea. I knew how long it had taken the United States to develop some of its space
probes like Galileo. I wondered why we did not use the same time and