| On July 16th, 1993 a
gala was held
at Space Center Houston to commemorate Spaceweek. My
wife Mary and I attended this event. Also
there were our friends Mark Shelton and
This same week Astronaut Guion Bluford was
retiring from NASA. Mark arranged with
Colonel Bluford so that we could meet with him in his office in
Building 4S at
JSC. We drove down to NASA to meet with
Bluford on Friday afternoon.
We arrived at the JSC security office and got
checked in. We received temporary badges
that would grant us access to building 4S. The
Astronaut Office is located on the fifth floor
of that building. Mark, Mary, and I took
the elevator up to
We located Colonel Bluford’s office and
introduced ourselves. He was seated at
behind his gray metal desk. Bluford was
wearing his blue coveralls. Shortly
after we met with him he was headed over to Ellington Field to take his
flight in a T-38.
It was a relaxed day for Bluford and we had a
nice talk. One of the things that I had
him sign was a flown cover from STS-8. We
also asked him to sign a couple of books.
Also in the same office with Bluford was a relatively
new astronaut John Grunsfeld. We
introduced ourselves to Grunsfeld. He is
a physicist by trade and we talked a little bit about astrophysics. Grunsfeld signed a couple of books for us. He was a new guy and it’s always fun to meet
newly selected astronauts.
While we were in the Astronaut Office, we
dropped off a care package for Linda Godwin. We
left her a bottle of wine, a wine glass, and a
compact disk of Jean
Michel Jarre’s Rendezvous album.
The album is a song dedicated to
Astronaut Ron McNair. Ron had planned to
play a musical selection on his saxophone in space. We had told Linda
this music track when we sponsored her for a school visit earlier in
The bottle of wine also had significance from
her visit. It was from the same Cuvaison Winery that we had tried at
with Linda. On Memorial Day weekend Mary
and I were in Napa valley
and we visited the winery. The wine glass
was from the Cuvaison
Winery. We thought the music and wine
might be a good way to relax at home after a stressful day of being an
Another Astronaut that Mark arranged a
meeting for us with was Michael Coats. He
no longer worked at NASA but was now employed at
Loral. His office
was located close to the Johnson
Space Center. We
had a great meeting with him and acquired a few autographs.
On Saturday at Space Center Houston, the
STS-57 crew gave a post flight presentation. The
astronauts who attended and spoke were Ron
Grabe, Brian Duffy, Nancy
Sherlock, Janice Voss, and Jeff Wissoff. They
covered the highlights of their STS-57 mission. After
their presentation they were whisked
away by NASA security. There was no
opportunity to meet them.
Before the Gala, Mark, Mary, and I met
another friend Chris Seaman over at the Outpost Tavern.
Chris had just driven in and we had a few
drinks. The Outpost Tavern is ingrained in the
history of the space program. For a description of this watering
hole follow the Outpost Tavern link.
<>At the Tavern we met Flight
Director Milt Heflin. Milt was an
of Mark’s and we had been introduced to him before.
Milt was selected to be the lead flight
director for the STS-61 Hubble Telescope repair flight. He was at
the Outpost with one of his team
members from the flight.>
We had a great talk with them about the
upcoming STS-61 mission. Not long before
that Astronaut Story Musgrave had suffered frostbite on his hands
during an EVA
training session. We learned from Milt
that they had plans in place to work around the issue. He also
told us that Musgrave’s frostbite
wasn’t too bad.
At the Spaceweek 93 Gala we saw astronauts
Joe Kerwin, Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Bob Overmeyer, John Young, and Dan
Brandenstein. There was not an
opportunity to talk with most of them. Also
attending the Gala was the head of NASA, Dan
Goldin. Actor Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek:
Generation” fame was there.
The gala was a little anticlimactic after
having met Bluford, Grunsfeld, and Coast in their offices.
There just did not seem to be many
opportunities to meet astronauts at the Gala.
Mark talked to one of the woman that he knew
through the Spaceweek organization. She
told him that there were cosmonauts at the Gala, but that they wanted
to go to
a country western bar. She said that
NASA Administrator Dan Goldin personally escorted the cosmonauts to the
bar. She told Mark which bar she thought
it was that they went to.
We had exhausted our signing opportunities at
the gala, so we decided to try and catch up with Goldin and the
cosmonauts. All of us, Mark, Chris, Mary,
and me got in
our cars and drove over to the country western bar.
We parked and headed in to the honky
tonk. Our attire was not country
western. Our sport coasts were in stark
contrast with the western shirts, blue jeans, and Stetsons. Undaunted we paid the cover charge and were
If you have ever been to a place where you
were not wanted, that is the feeling that we got in the bar. The patrons regarded our sport coats with
stark skepticism. In fact, an employee
of the bar followed us around as we searched for Goldin and the
cosmonauts. I sure the employee was
afraid that someone was going to pick a fight with us.
Looking back upon, it, I should have been
After circling around the lower floor, we
found that Goldin and the cosmonauts were no where to be seen. We
went upstairs to see if the Goldin party
was up there. There was another bar up
there and a disk jockey but no sign of Goldin.
The honky tonk employee recommended that we page the party that we were
looking for and have them come to the upstairs bar.
So Mark told the disk jockey who we were
looking for. Over the loud speakers
above the country western music, we heard, “Paging Dan Goldin. Dan Goldin come to the upstairs bar.”
So there we were. We paged the
chief administrator of NASA in a
country western bar. Goldin never did
show up and after a few minutes we embraced a hasty retreat. We all had a good laugh about paging Goldin
in the bar. The bigger joke was probably
that none of us had gotten beaten up.
We said good bye to Chris, and Mark. Chris
had his own vehicle and told me that he
was headed back home. I didn’t think too
much of his departure at that time. I
wished him a safe trip.
The next day after Mary and I got home we got
a call from Chris’s wife Sandra. She
asked me if I knew where Chris was. I
was stunned. I told Sandra that the last
time I had seen Chris; he was getting into his Isuzu Trooper and said
was driving home.
Sandra was panicked and seemed angry with me.
She was sure that something sinister had befallen Chris.
I didn’t know what else I could tell her,
other than where I had last seen him and what he had said.
A couple of days later, I got a call from
Chris. After he left the parking lot he
changed his mind about going home. Instead
he drove to Galveston
and spent the night on the beach.
Mary and I were furious with Chris.
We couldn’t believe that would put his family
and us through that. We thought he was
dead. In 1992 Chris received an autograph from singer Robert
Goulet inscribed the card, “Chris what are
you doing?” After Chris’s mysterious disappearance,
I had to ask the same question.