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  9/4-5: Race to the Moon +40 Years

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Author Topic:   9/4-5: Race to the Moon +40 Years
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-21-2009 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The San Diego Air & Space Museum and USS Midway
Join two of the finest museums in our nation for a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and honor our country's space legends -- the astronauts of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. There is no other, or finer team of men who represented our nation during a time of national challenge... the Cold War. Their accomplishment was in direct response to President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 challenge to reach the moon within the decade. They succeeded against all odds and in 2009 alone we celebrate the anniversary of Apollo 9, 10, 11 and 12. But it was the entire body of work, those three primary space programs, which accomplished so much and that we honor.
  • Friday, September 4, 2009
    "Meet the Space Legends"
    A spectacular reception on Friday evening at the San Diego Air & Space Museum-guests joining to honor and meet the space legends in a visually historic setting... personal, intimate, respectful.

  • Saturday, September 5, 2009
    "Moonlight on the Bay"
    On the flight deck of the USS Midway under a full moon, a gala dinner and American Patriot Award presentation ceremony, commensurate with the honoring tone of the entire weekend.

Richard Easton
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From: Winnetka, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2006

posted 05-23-2009 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Easton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there a list of which astronauts will be there?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-23-2009 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No specific astronauts have been announced as of yet; when they are they will be posted here on Sightings.

AJ
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From: Plattsburgh, NY, United States
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 05-23-2009 09:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will the event be open to the public or will membership in the museum be required? (not that I mind joining, it's a great museum)

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 05-23-2009 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The list of invitees has not been announced yet (and keeps growing) but so far includes Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab astronauts.

The event is open to the public - in fact, if you follow the link at the top of this thread, tickets are already on sale.

Signing up for the Museum E-Newsletter is one way to receive updates on this and other events such as the forthcoming Sally Ride talk and book signing.

AJ
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From: Plattsburgh, NY, United States
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posted 05-23-2009 11:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Mr. French. In my hysterical over-excitement I neglected to notice the link. Thanks again.

Anyway, this sounds like a GREAT event, particularly the evening on the USS Midway, which I am sure will be a beautiful and memorable evening. Time to get out the calendar and start planning!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-10-2009 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The initial list of astronaut attendees has been announced.

Astronauts from the Apollo 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17 missions are now confirmed, with more to come.

FFrench
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posted 07-23-2009 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred Haise has now been added to the online list of confirmed astronaut attendees. This now means that astronauts from every Apollo mission (ASTP included) other than Apollo 14 have confirmed. I am told that more confirmations are in the works.

After all the Apollo 11 anniversary hoopla, I am looking forward to this event where we can relax and honor the entire sweep of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs and astronauts. Should be fun!

stsmithva
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From: Centreville, VA, USA
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posted 07-23-2009 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As happy as I am to live so close to Washington, DC, with its space program-related museums and events, I am astonished by the events and exhibits I have read about at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. They must have some amazingly talented and dedicated folks (who apparently have the affection and respect of many astronauts) there.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 08-04-2009 04:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim McDivitt has also been added to the list of online confirmed astronaut attendees. That is two of the three Apollo 9 astronauts now confirmed, extra special for us considering the museum has the Apollo 9 command module on display.

quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
I am astonished by the events and exhibits I have read about at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. They must have some amazingly talented and dedicated folks (who apparently have the affection and respect of many astronauts) there.

Thank you so much for sharing those kind words, which I am passing on to the team who work on this and other events here at the museum.

andrewcli
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From: La Jolla, CA, USA
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posted 09-01-2009 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With the Race to the Moon event coming up in the next few days in San Diego, I was wondering how many cS'ers will be attending?

I was talking to Rob at Novaspace regarding any word on a future signing with Dr. Schmitt and he said that there are no plans due to his busy schedule. Rob suggested that if some of us can approach him and perhaps others who normally don't sign and ask if they would do a signing event, maybe they would consider it?

Shalene
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From: San Diego, California
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posted 09-01-2009 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shalene     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I’ve heard that there are very few tickets left for this event, and the last can be purchased only by phone by contacting Tammy Fort at 619.398.8280.

I'm sure Robert would love it if you said you heard about it on collectSPACE when you call!

Last-minute additions to the lineup, I am told, include Gemini and Apollo flight director Glynn Lunney, and former NASA astronaut / new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. Bill Shepherd, museum board member, should be there too. We're looking forward to seeing them all again!

AstroAutos
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From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 09-01-2009 05:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by andrewcli:
He suggested that if some of us can approach him and perhaps others who normally don't sign and ask if they would do a signing event, maybe they would consider it?
Great idea, Andrew!

I am desperately hoping for Schmitt to do a signing with Novaspace sometime in the near future, and if you guys get a chance then by all means ask him for those of us who can't attend - and remember what Jurgen Esders says... "Be polite, polite and polite!" - maybe there's hope yet.

Spacepsycho
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posted 09-06-2009 03:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was lucky to sneak in the back door of this event at the San Diego Air and Space Museum on Friday and it was a great time.

Unfortunately there were five no shows, Dick Gordon, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Jim Lovell didn't make it, which was disappointing.

Regardless, it's always exciting to see truly humble and great men like Charlie Duke, Bill Anders, Rusty Schweickart, Fred Haise, Jim McDivitt (one of my favorite guys to chat with), Al Bean, Walt Cunningham, Al Worden and Glynn Lunney.

All of the attendees were asked questions by the emcee, some good, some of the usual, for those who don't know much about these gentlemen's achievements and they all handled it with charm and grace.

Charlie Duke, who's always a class act, discussed his role as Apollo 11 capcom and riding the lunar roving vehicle on Apollo 16 and was a joy to listen to. Charlie disputed Gene Cernan's claim of hitting 17 mph in the LRV and he said it was more like 17 kph or 11 mph.

Jim McDivitt was enjoyable to hear his experiences on Gemini 4 and Apollo 9, both from the podium and on a one to one. I asked the General why he never flew after Apollo 9 and he said that his wife sort of yelled at him for not going to the moon. I said, after putting in all that time, doing all of the preliminary flight testing for Apollo and being on the ground floor of developing the procedures for the lunar program, why didn't he stick around to walk on the moon? He said he could do more good running the lunar program and he said with his expertise, he helped save a few missions. I'm also a huge fan of Ed White, so we spoke about him for a few minutes and then it was time for him to leave.

A very funny story came up about Gene Cernan watching a National Geographic show dealing with his Gemini 9 spacewalk a couple of years ago. While watching the TV show, Cernan saw Tom Stafford say, in the event of an emergency during Gene's spacewalk, he was prepared to cut Gene loose and return alone.

Apparently nobody told this plan to Gene, who 40+ years later, was astounded to find out this news. The story told by one of the other astronauts on the podium. He said Gene called up Tom and asked if he was really prepared to cut him loose and Tom said he was. Gene couldn't get over the fact that he learned this on TV so many years after the mission.

Then McDivitt said that he was prepared to do the same thing with Ed White, during their GT-4 spacewalk. McDivitt said they had some problems closing the hatch in St. Louis and talked about ways to secure the hatches after their EVA. I don't think there's anyway that McDivitt would have left Ed White in space, unless it was a completely lost cause.

I also spoke with Bill Anders (I'm loaning his museum some flown pieces from my collection), Fred Haise (we met in the 70's at Edwards during the Enterprise ALT flights) and Al Bean about his prolific art talent.

I asked Fred why he didn't fly a shuttle mission after working so hard and long on the ALT program. Shockingly he didn't remember me from the 70's, but I didn't take it personally... NOT! He said the missions he wanted weren't available and that he didn't want to just ride around in low Earth orbit, testing the thermal protection system. Still, I think most agree that if we did all the work that Engle, Truly, Mattingly and Haise put in to getting the shuttle ready to fly, we'd want to get in at least one to two flights in space.

While in line to get a drink, I noticed a gentleman who looked familiar and when I saw his name tag, I was so excited. Charlie Bolden was standing in front of me and we chatted for a good 10 to 15 minutes. He was incredibly nice, we spoke at length about the plans for the shuttle retirement, the Russian flights that NASA has already purchased until Constellation is ready to fly and if a decision into Ares had been finalized. We also spoke about his focus on getting private companies into developing cargo and human rated spacecraft to fill in some holes and it sounds like he's going to push hard in that direction. I congratulated him on his appointment and told him that I was a big fan of Mike Griffin, but that I was equally excited to have someone with his knowledge running NASA. We also spoke about how he helped recruit Rick Searfoss, who I also greatly admire and have had long talks with at Burbank 2004, San Antonio 2006, the three SpaceShipOne flights at Mojave and at Spacefest. Rick is an incredible human being and is tops on everyone's list.

As the night was winding down, I was able to meet Glynn Lunney, who I didn't meet at the Apollo 8 reunion and he was another amazing and very gracious guy. We spoke about what it was like during Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Apollo 13 and other flights. He had some extremely interesting things to say about his teams experiences during the Apollo 13 mission. We also exchanged some jokes, but then his car arrived and he had to leave.

At the end of the evening as everyone was starting to leave, I ran out to my truck, grabbed my Lunar Orbiter satellite and brought it to the front of the museum door.

I never ask for autographs at these events and each guest had an escort to make sure no autographs were asked for. I completely agree with the no autograph policy during the event, which makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere.

HOWEVER... once the event was over, I was outside the museum trying to get a few additions on my baby, since I don't take it anywhere that I don't drive to.

Charlie Bolden's escort refused to allow him to sign and she was pretty rude about it. But Fred Haise was great and he happily signed it, as did Glynn Lunney, who thought it was a great artifact of the race to the moon. I still need Armstrong, Lovell, Schmitt and Young. I think the U.S. will be back on the moon before I get them to sign it.

Kudos go out to Francis French for organizing an excellent event that went off without a hitch, at least to the untrained observer. The staff at the museum is always top notch and if you haven't been there in awhile, there are some great additions to the facility. For you local guys, I highly suggest you see the DaVinci exhibit before it closes and it's well worth the time and money.

SpaceSteve
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From: San Antonio TX, USA
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posted 09-06-2009 05:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great report Ray... thanks!

Here's a news story of the event, in the San Diego Union.

garymilgrom
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posted 09-06-2009 06:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for this excellent write-up. You mention Bill Anders' museum - any details on this, which I've never heard of?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-06-2009 12:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Anders' family founded Heritage Flight Museum in Bellingham, Washington in 1996.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-06-2009 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacepsycho:
Unfortunately there were five no shows, Dick Gordon, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Jim Lovell didn't make it, which was disappointing.
It pays to check Sightings frequently...

Some of the astronauts you have listed (e.g. Jim Lovell) were never identified by the museum or Sightings as planning to attend. For others, the attendees list was updated over a week ago on the museum website and on cS when personal reasons meant they could not attend, and new guests were also added such as Lunney, Bolden and Shepherd.

andrewcli
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From: La Jolla, CA, USA
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posted 09-06-2009 02:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, despite Ray's phone call that night to get me there, I could not attend.

Sounds like you had a great time and thanks for sharing your stories!

Lou Chinal
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posted 09-06-2009 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ray, good report, sounds like you had a great time!

Stafford has been telling the story about cutting Gene Cernan loose from Gemini 9 for twenty years now. It's always good for a laugh.

I'm sure it was a grand evening, wish I could have been there!

AstroAutos
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posted 09-07-2009 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a great video on YouTube showing Stafford and Cernan together talking about this very topic (I think it's hilarious the way they talk about it!)

Richard Easton
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From: Winnetka, IL USA
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posted 09-07-2009 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Easton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Ray for your report. I enjoyed both evenings but Friday night was better in my opinion since the crowd was smaller and it was easier to talk with the astronauts. I spoke with Francis French, Jim McDivitt, Al Bean, Glynn Lunney and Charlie Bolden. I want to thank Francis and the many other folks who arranged this wonderful event. Aldrin couldn't be there but had a video in which he pushed an ambitious exploration plan to visit the moon and Mars. McDivitt was very eloquent in pointing out technical barriers to Aldrin's plan including radiation problems. Both Al Bean and Charlie Bolden are delightful people. Glynn Lunney was amused by my story about Viking 8's accidental launch and recounted Mercury's similar problem with the escape tower.

Shalene
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From: San Diego, California
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posted 09-08-2009 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shalene     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Moderated Forum at the Air & Space Museum on Friday night.

Front row: Moderator Mark Larson (leaning in), Alan Bean, Rusty Schweickart, Bill Anders, Walt Cunningham, Jim McDivitt

Back row: Glynn Lunney, Charlie Duke, Al Worden, Fred Haise.

It was Francis' job to escort NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden for two days. Here he is with Charlie Bolden, his wife and daughter-in-law about to take them about the USS Midway aircraft carrier.
Each of the astronauts and flight controllers received the American Patriot award on stage aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier, with medals being placed around their necks. Francis was responsible for escorting the astronauts on stage to receive their medals. After they were all lined up, I saw Rusty Schweickart lean back and invite Francis to come up and join the line (being a Brit, he could not!).

Left to right: Glynn Lunney, Rusty Schweickart, Fred Haise, Francis French, Alan Bean, Bill Anders, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Jim McDivitt, Al Worden

At the end of the evening, Francis and Charlie Bolden, the NASA
Administrator, posed for one final picture.

Bernasconi
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posted 09-10-2009 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bernasconi   Click Here to Email Bernasconi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last weekend I had the honor of escorting Al Worden (Apollo 15) and his beautiful wife Jill during the two Race to the Moon events. During the portions of the evenings when I did not have to do my escort duties I took some footage with my Flip camera. You can watch the video I made with that footage below:

I have also posted a personal blog post on the San Diego Space Society blog, you can read it here: Race to the Moon - Friday Night

I am still writing another blog post on Saturday night. I will post that as soon as it is finished.

spaceman1953
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posted 09-10-2009 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ray, I got to pile on and thank you for an incredibly personal perspective on your evening. Thank you very much for it!

Boy, with your time with Administrator Bolden, I would have thought he would have pushed that "aide" aside and done anything for you that you wanted!

Saw Gene Cernan in the early 1970's at the dedication of the Wilbur Wright Memorial Birthplace in Millville, Indiana... he stood at the back door, surrounded by school kids, signed someones little white plastic astronaut and held it up high for all to see with a big, ear-to-ear grin on his face.

Thanks again for the "report".

spaceman1953
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posted 09-10-2009 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Frenchy", that pic of you and Admin. Bolden has got to be one high on your wall! Congratulations to you and your colleagues for putting on another great event. "Wish I was there!"

Shalene
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From: San Diego, California
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-11-2009 04:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shalene     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders attended the events and made a proclamation declaring September 4th-5th, 2009 to be "Race to the Moon Weekend, A Celebration With Space Legends":

FFrench
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posted 09-11-2009 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Richard, it was a great pleasure to meet you in person at long last. I am so glad you had such a good time.

It certainly was an incredible couple of days of events. I enjoyed working on the questions and subject areas for the moderated forum, which brought out some fascinating stories from the participants.

For example, many of us are used to hearing the Kranz-and-Lovell version of the Apollo 13 story, so to hear it from the perspective of Glynn Lunney and Fred Haise, who many consider the most important duo when it came to ensuring the crew's survival, was very special. As was the sparring amongst the Apollo 8 and 9 crew members over who stole who's lunar module. It demonstrated how the pilots largely coveted 9 as the plum mission, not 8.

Some wonderful personal (and new-to-me) stories were told about the Apollo 1 crew. Al Worden also gave perhaps the funniest response to the "loneliness of the solo lunar-orbiting CMP" query that I can recall. We were lucky to have a great mix of some of the wittiest and chattiest astronauts, along with some we rarely hear from at all. We plan to place the forum online as the production company gets it to us, at which time we'll link it here.

I greatly enjoyed the next night too aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier, and escorting the astronauts up on stage to receive their medals. It was meticulously choreographed, with lighting, curtain and music cues along with special spots for each astronaut to stand, and I enjoyed my small part in it. Standing on stage with those guys is always a little surreal - one of those "if you had told me when I was fifteen that..." moments...

The astronauts were lifted to the stage by one of the enormous carrier deck elevators, normally used to lift aircraft, while the Marine band played and fireworks went off. You can see some of that on the video already posted on this thread. Hell of an entrance.

We were alerted by Bill Shepherd that the ISS and attached shuttle (commanded by San Diegan Rick Sturckow) was about to fly over the bay, and it was a special moment to watch this extremely bright light shoot over towards the rising full moon - perfect symbolism for the evening.

One of my primary duties, as others mentioned, was escorting Charlie Bolden and his delightful family for the weekend. Always a pleasure, as those of you who know Charlie can attest. He gave a great speech about his new role at NASA, and the challenges ahead.

I think this was probably my favorite photo I personally took - Bolden waiting to go on stage - one of those "weight of the decisions ahead" kind of shots.

Despite the (very kind) outside impressions given above in some postings, I should clarify that our department was just one of a large and dedicated collaborative team at two different museums. We were just lucky that we got to do most of the fun stuff! We're looking forward to doing more events like this. After the Apollo 8 40th events, the Spacefest evening reception, and now this, it has been a great year for large-scale space events here.

Bernasconi
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posted 09-14-2009 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bernasconi   Click Here to Email Bernasconi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can now read the Museum's official blog post on the Race to the moon event here. You can also check out pictures of the event on our Flickr Page.

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