Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I recently received this email. "Would you have a few minutes to meet next week with Astronaut Tom Jones and Andrea Farmer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex? Tom and Andrea will be in New York Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 20 and 21, and hope that you might have time to talk briefly in person. Tom and Andrea would like to provide an update on the latest at Kennedy Space Center and the Visitor Complex including: the new $100-million Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction; KSCVC’s continuing commitment to edutourism and STEM education; upcoming launches and the future of the space program."

It sounded interesting enough but not really up on going into Manhattan lately.  "That's okay. They'll come out to you".  WHAT...come to Queens?  Meet at my home?  A restaurant?  Then I thought of the perhaps place...the New York Hall of Science at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  That place has been around since the 1964 World's Fair and for the same reason.  Lots of renovations since, naturally.  One particular area outside of the building itself is called Rocket Park.  Two actual rockets including one Gemini that went to outer space. 

All set up, I got there early to get a quick tour and figure out where the interviews and photos would take place.  Met with their p.r. person Mary Record to chat then off to see their latest 3-D movie about Monarch butterflies.  Only one at the 11 a.m. showing as the place was packed with school kids checking out all of the hands-on exhibits. I tried really hard to catch a butterfly as they were flying directly in front of me.  No use! Absolutely loved the movie. 

I looked out a window to see these two rockets and something in between.  What are they?  One of the fabulous staff came by to explain. 

Mary and I continued to explore places for later photo ops.  When Tom and Andrea arrived, we went directly into the cafeteria to grab lunch and bring it into a conference room.  After chopping and schmoozing, it was time for some interviewing.  I video-taped both interviews.  The first one was to talk about who Tom is and what he had done. 

Here is the video.

The next part of the interview was about the Kennedy Space Center and both Andrea and Tom gave me the lowdown. 

Onto some of the photo shots before we go outside, Tom changed into his official jacket. 

He absolutely loved looking at this module.

Had to get in this particular sign.

We then went upstairs to where the astronaut photo cut outs were located.

Into the Rocket Park we go.

“What a wonderful welcome we received from our space and science friends in New York,” Andrea  later commented. “It felt like being home in Florida as we saw the might Gemini titan and Mercury Atlas at the entrance. Astronaut Tom Jones and I were impressed with the many interactive displays and exhibits, and the welcoming and knowledgeable staff. It's no wonder so many young people flock there to learn all about science!”

Tom had this to say. “Growing up during the Space Race of the 1960s, I followed each space shot involving our astronauts with intense interest. Coming to the Hall of Science, site of the ’64 World’s Fair, brought me face to face with those icons of the Space Age standing tall in the Rocket Park. Back then, I would have turned over my little brothers to have been able to visit the Rocket Park back then! Fortunately, I didn’t have to trade them in—during my visit. I was able to explore the Mercury-Atlas, the Gemini-Titan II (built two miles from my boyhood home in Baltimore), and the Mercury 1 space capsule display inside the Hall. My pilgrimage to the Hall reminded me of the excitement I felt as a budding scientist and aspiring pilot.  Just as these early spacecraft at the Hall of Science inspired my journey to the stars, young explorers can go to Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex and see the spaceship I flew at the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. The Hall of Science—the Kennedy Space Center—these are places to learn about amazing discoveries, epic achievements, and to inspire our young people to a bright future in space.”

Time for them to depart back the Manhattan.  I even got a signed copy of Tom's book as well as a NASA sweatshirt and a few other goodies.  Now I want to got to the Kennedy Space Center and see it all.

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