posted November 25, 2008 10:08 AM
I was able to attend New England Fan Experience on 11/21 - 23 that was attended by Dr. Jeffery Hoffman and Dr. Story Musgrave. The venue was unusual because it was a combination Science Fiction/Pop Culture/Anime/Science and Technology gathering, so there was a rich tapestry of humanity there to be sure. Dr. Hoffman was only able to attend on Friday evening, and he and Dr. Musgrave spoke back to back that night. Story spoke first, and then stayed around for Dr. Hoffman’s talk which allowed for them to interact and chime in on occasion.
Unfortunately, the venue did not have a digital projector available to show Story’s presentation, but he more than compensated by talking about his experiences in space flight, and his thoughts on what it means to be a 1g creature in a 0g environment. It was fascinating.
Dr. Hoffman gave a great account of what the take-off and re-entry is like on the shuttle and answered questions on the future of human space flight. He also took time to talk with folks in the lobby after his talk and signed autographs.
Story was in attendance for the entire weekend of the event, so I was able to hear two of his talks, and was able to have my picture taken with him. He signed a NASA litho of his STS-6 EVA for me, and drew an arrow to indicate which astronaut was him (my favorite part of the autograph, actually).
I have to say that I was very impressed by Story Musgrave. He was the warmest, nicest person, and took time to speak to everyone. And even though he is ‘scary’ smart he never talked down to anyone, and explained everything in a way that everyone could easily understand (the mark of a truly educated person I believe). He helped me to think about the implications of space flight in new ways, and it was a true privilege and honor to meet and speak to him.
A small anecdote that illustrates what I mean. After Story and Dr. Hoffman’s talk, I was in the lobby of the hotel getting organized and looking at something in my bag. I looked up to see Story Musgrave walking toward me. He shook my hand and said “I enjoyed having you in my talk” or something to that effect (I was a bit dumb-founded). I responded that I enjoyed his talk very much, and that I would see him again during the weekend. It was small gesture, but I think it was a pretty thoughtful thing to do.
One cool thing was that a young boy was there with his mom. He is in 6th grade, and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. He has been to space camp, and came to the event just to see Drs Hoffman and Musgrave. He was asking very intelligent questions about space flight and astronomy. I know that both astronauts went out of their way to encourage this young man, and we may some day see him in space.
I have some photos which I will post in the next day or so.