posted July 18, 2005 11:22 AM
I have posted two group photos to Recent Sightings from the two Oklahoma events. I will have a similar photo from the Florida event to share soon.
The ASF evening dinner was very enjoyable. Before it began, a press conference with the two astronauts, two cosmonauts and John Travolta was held, during which the actor said he had begun plans for his own space flight (quite seriously). Space Adventures was a sponsor for the evening's dinner, so read into that what you may. Travolta and the reunion will be featured on tonight's "Extra" TV show (check your local listings).
For those with VIP tickets, the dinner began with a chance to have your photo taken with the five guests (which later led Travolta to joke, "I think I can honestly say that I have starred in a picture with everyone in this room.") That was a followed by a cocktail and hors deuves hour, that allowed plenty of time to mingle. Notable among those in attendance were Charlie Walker, Bob Crippen, Al Worden, Bill Parsons, Jim Kennedy and Jim Rathmann. I had heard that Guenter Wendt was there too but did not see him.
From our own circle of friends, I saw Leon Ford, Al Hallonquist, Bill and Vicki O'Donnell, Vicki Campbell, Debbie Wreyford and Ken Winans, Ken Havekotte, among a few others (whom I am undoubtedly forgetting now).
Travolta took to the stage during the dinner to formally introduce Stafford, Brand, Leonov, Kubasov and Bobbie Slayton (who received a standing ovation). An ASF scholar, working on a new type of aircraft, spoke about the importance of the Foundation, inspiring Travolta to pledge $10,000 of his own money to their cause.
A panel discussion with the four space heroes was moderated by CNN's Miles O'Brien. What ensued was both engaging and humorous. One question posed to Valery Kubasov, about which spacecraft was better - Soyuz or Apollo - inspired a reply comparing a one room vs. two room flat (apartment). Another question about the relative smoothness of the ASTP docking led to a great deal of laughter as Leonov hedged his words to avoid embarassing his U.S. crew mates. Valery was also asked about the symbolic nature of the flight, which led to a description of the memorabilia carried onboard.
Stafford and Brand were both asked to describe their working and personal relationships with Deke, and their replies were very touching. As Slayton and Stafford were both Brand's bosses before being assigned to the flight, Vance spoke about how neither gave that impression during the mission and they were truly a crew of equals.
There's more, but I'll leave that to some of the others to chime in. All in all, a very nice evening for a great cause.