| The tenth anniversary of
the first space shuttle mission was commemorated at the Johnson Space
Center in Houston, Texas on April 15, 1991. I attended this event and this my
recollection of that celebration.
girlfriend took her 9 year old son out of
school so that he could attend the event with us. Also attending
were two space enthusiast
friends of mine Andy Sheppard and Mark Shelton. We drove down to
Houston, Texas together.
A panel discussion was held in the Teague Auditorium in Building 2 at
JSC. Astronauts John Young and Joe Engle participated in the
panel discussion. Also there was Christopher Kraft of mission
control fame during the early phases of space exploration. After
the discussion, I was able to meet Mr. Kraft and get him to sign a book
Apollo Race For
The Moon. Mark
tried to get Astronaut Young to sign his lunar globe, but Young
The venue of the celebration then moved to the Gilruth Recreation
Center at JSC. There were buses running to transport people from
Building 2 over to the Gilruth Center.
A stage was set up outside of the building
and people gathered around to listen people say a few words about the
space shuttle and
STS-1. One notable person that spoke at
this time was
STS-1 Commander John Young.
At one point we saw our friend Mark Shelton moving
very fast past and going away from the stage. Following
closely behind him and moving just as fast
were two NASA security
personal. Our initial thought was my
goodness what has Mark done now? Later
we found out that someone had collapsed and needed medical assistance.
leading the NASA security people to the place where the person in need
While we were listening to the
I noticed that Astronaut Dave Walker was just ahead of us.
After the speeches were over my friend Andy
and I approached Mr. Walker for his autograph.
He was very nice and signed for us.
He pointed to a woman about 6 feet in front
of us and said, “What you really want to do is get her autograph.” I looked in the direction that he was
pointing but I did not recognize the woman. I
told Mr. Walker, “I'm sorry, but I don't recognize
her.” He said, “That is Linda Godwin and
got back from space.” Astronaut Godwin
flew on STS-37 and it landed just 4 days before on April 11th,
I went over to Ms. Godwin and introduced
myself. I congratulated her on her
recent flight. Then I asked if she would
mind signing my copy of “Home Planet”. She
looked in the book and saw the signatures of
Neil Armstrong, Alan
Shepard, and Gordon Cooper among others. She
said, “You want my signature??? But all of
these are famous people!” I assured her
that she too was now famous.
She signed the book and I thanked her. I
then went off in search of other
astronauts. Mary happened to stay behind
and struck up a conversation with Ms. Godwin. That
conversation would later lead to a very neat
experience and a
wonderful friendship with Linda Godwin, but that is another story.
Mary told Astronaut Godwin that we had taken
Toby out of school just so that he could attend the event.
Ms. Godwin was intrigued. She
said, “What school does he go to, maybe I
have spoken there.” Mary explained that
she thought it was unlikely because we were not from the Houston
area. We had traveled nearly 5 hours just
to be there. Ms. Godwin was impressed that
travel that far just to be at the anniversary celebration.
While Mary was talking with Astronaut Godwin,
I spotted Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar. She
was impeccably dressed. In fact ever
time that I have ever seen her, she was always one of the best dressed
astronauts. I introduced myself to Ms.
Dunbar and added her signature to my “Home Planet” book.
The afternoon was going very well. A
group of four of the newest astronaut
candidates was spotted in casual conversation with each other.
The four were Ken Cockrell, Nancy Sherlock,
Bill Gregory, and Dave Wolf. My friend
Andy got an envelope signed by the four of them and they added their
after there signatures. I had the four
of them sign my “Home Planet” book. In
my book Dave Wolf was the only one to add his nickname and it was
My next encounter with an astronaut at this
reception was with Story Musgrave. He is
one of those kinds of men that seem larger than life.
His list of accomplishments is staggering.
I approached Astronaut Musgrave with my “Home
Planet” book and he signed it. He then
noticed that his signature was upside down in my book and apologized. I told him that it was no big deal since
there is no up or down in space.
At some point Mary rejoined me. We ended
talking to a friend of Dave Wolf. The
friend grew up with Wolf and he was amazed at the attention that Wolf
commanded. He joked with us, that “as a
kid, you would have to tie a stick to Dave just to get a dog to play
him. I thought that was an amazing insight.
boarded a bus to return back to the parking lot where we had left our
car. It was interesting to see that Nancy Sherlock was on
the same bus.