This is it - NASA! We have arrived! The Space Center itself is simply beautiful. Old-style concrete buildings, resistant to hurricanes, which pass by once in awhile, laid out amidst an endless expanse of lawns. The corridors are filled with impressive photos of rockets, spacecraft and astronauts from all sixty exciting years of space exploration.
The reception is highly professional: photos taken, fingerprinting, entry permits and a well-organized, packed timetable to keep us busy from eight in the morning into the afternoon. We exit to Astronaut Building 4S, where we, the crew of AX-1, are allocated a room with a cabinet filled with American snacks, peanut butter and a refrigerator stocked with soft drink cans. They even brought in an espresso machine for the sake of the crew members who happen not to be American. As I walk among the buildings, engulfed in Houston’s stifling humidity, I try to ignore the droppings, which remind me of what the ibex (from the Judean Desert? or have I just exposed an alien they’re hiding here?) leave behind them. But pretty soon it turns out there’s a herd of deer wandering around the grounds carefree. It’s them that are responsible for those highway skittles stuck to my shoe.
here and there are bicycles lying around for anyone to use but they date way back to the days when NASA was in its infancy in 1958 (Oops - I’m that same model year myself...).
What were the trainers’ expectations from the private astronauts?
The courses take place in computer classes and in the large building number 9, where there are life-size models of all the Space Station’s components, of the shuttle and of all the other space vehicles and robots destined for the moon and beyond. The trainers are very well organized, they take care not to miss anything. There are even veteran trainers here that remember the training of the Columbia crew, and Ilan of course. I presume the didn’t quite know what to expect from the private astronauts (PAM – Private Astronaut Mission), but I guess they’re positively impressed by how seriously we’re taking the training and how we’re preparing for all the complicated tasks ahead of us.
Want to get to know my crew mates? Check out my next post