Story and Photos by Mary Alys Cherry
In case you have been wondering when we will ever get to Mars, and even back to the moon again, you are not alone. Congressman John Culberson has been, too.
He came down to Clear Lake for a visit with a group of aerospace executives over at Oceaneering’s headquarters on Space Center Boulevard and was quick to let everyone know that all of Washington had their backs.
“Don’t worry about funding,” Culberson said. “The president, vice president and Congress are all behind you. Forget what you see on TV. We all love the space program,” he told the roomful of representatives from various aerospace firms.
Then he looked around the table at Boeing ISS Program Manager Mark Mulqueen, Lockheed Martin Orion Deputy Program Manager Larry Price, Orbital Vice President Brian Duffy and Oceaneering Space Systems Vice President and General Manager Mike Bloomfield, and after expressing his love for the space program, wanted to know what was the holdup. When are we going to go to the moon and on the Mars?
To which the aerospace executives explained the many problems involved in going into deep space, keeping the astronauts safe, the holdups they had faced and how they have been working things out while both NASA headquarters and the Johnson Space Center were going through a change in management
Afterwards, the popular congressman spoke to the aerospace executives, who were joined by all the Oceaneering employees, giving them an update on the NASA budget.
Boeing’s Above and Beyond exhibit here ‘breath taking’
Boeing also was in the spotlight in recent days, inviting aerospace friends to its new groundbreaking Above and Beyond exhibit at Space Center Houston that explores the wonder of flight and the marvels of aerospace innovation, design and technology.
There is only one word to describe it: breath taking.
Boeing said “Above and Beyond is designed to be the most interactive exhibition on aerospace ever to tour, with approximately 5,000 square feet of exhibition space and offering five themed galleries featuring dozens of interactive experiences.”
One eye catching feature was the Space Elevator simulation, which takes one to the edge of the universe.
One person attending said he had been going to Space Center Houston regularly for almost 15 years. By far, this was the most interesting, best “hands on” interactive experience ever hosted at Space Center Houston!
NASA Associate Administrator Jaiwon Shin said, “The tenacity of the human spirit couldn’t be more evident than in its never-ending quest to understand and explore the world around it. This exhibit is a celebration of the innovation that made flight possible during the last century, and serves as an inspiration for the next generation of aviation and space visionaries.”
Above and Beyond opens as Boeing enters its second century of aerospace achievement and will make its worldwide debut at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum Aug. 1. Afterwards, there are stops in Dubai, St. Louis, Charleston, S.C., Riyadh, Seattle, London, Tokyo and Chicago.
Meanwhile, Boeing was preparing for the first flight later this year of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which it is building to fly astronauts to the International Space Station
JSC, Lockheed test Orion escape feature
As the Space Center Houston exhibit was opening, Lockheed Martin was busy over at the Johnson Space Center planning to test a special model of the Orion that it expects to carry astronauts to Mars.
If all goes as planned during the test at Kennedy Space Center in April 2019, the Orion will separate from a booster rocket at 31,000 feet in half a second. If it’s a success, it will mean the eventual crew of astronauts can escape if the rocket should explode. It also will mean a trip to the moon in 2023 and a journey to Mars in 2030 is likely. An uncrewed flight of the Orion is planned for December 2019.
However, because of construction delays with the Space Launch System rocket, that could change.