The Few, The Proud, The Fans of Star Trek
Like a lot of the people that inhabit our forums, I was a space nut. I had Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff read from cover to cover by age nine and I can still remember the names of all seven astronauts and the states they hailed from. I even knew what branches of the service they had been selected from. So, it was with great anticipation I unwrapped Pyramid Design’s A-OK! – Wings Of Mercury. It is the brainchild of Joe Nastasi and the first space flight simulator I’ve ever used that didn’t involve photon torpedoes or Captain Kirk trying to find out if the shapely alien really did have three breasts.
I have been fascinated by the Astronaut Corps and what it takes to become a part of it. I have applied to the Teacher Astronaut Program, I did it in a paroxysm of enthusiasm while at a teacher’s conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I have as much chance of getting selected as I do of getting a third arm, and I’d likely soil myself if they ever did pick me. While getting to meet members of the Astronaut Corps was exciting, the first night was spent shooting pool with the astronauts and members of Mission Control at a tiny little honky-tonk off NASA Road One. Oddly enough, it was somewhat of a thrill to lose $20 to Lt. Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Remember the fight scene in Space Cowboys when Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones start a bar brawl? It was filmed in the bar where we were shooting pool. After buying three pitchers of Shiner Bock and rediscovering that I was a social smoker, I couldn’t tell if it was my impairment or he had a laser on the end of his pool cue. Lesson learned. Never shoot pool with guys that put together Erector sets the size of a Winnebago in Low Earth Orbit. They have an understanding of applied physics that makes Steven Hawking look like Bobcat Goldthwait.