The misadventures of Commander Merlin and the crew of RV-103
Wednesday September 18th 2013

“Don’t Cry Because it’s Over, Smile Because it Happened.” The “We Made History” Event at KSC

"We Made History" Event at Kennedy Space Center August 2011

A little over a week ago, I attended the “We Made History” event at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.  The event was to celebrate the Space Shuttle Workforce’s accomplishments over the last 30 years.  The turnout was fantastic with over 8,000 former and current KSC employees attending.  Delaware North did a fantastic job hosting the event and my special thanks to ATK, Boeing, United Space Alliance, and the other sponsors for putting on the event.

Larry Tanner and his beloved Rocket Garden at KSC.
Glenn and Rocketman

The highlight of the evening of course was seeing my old co-workers.  Though it was a large crowd, I ran into many of my friends from TPS including Larry, Glenn Hall, Vickie, Tony, Larry T., Al, and many others.  I had not seen these people since I started my RV travels and it was great to sit with them and catch up with each other.  Most of them had been laid off, many the day after the last shuttle landed, and were working hard to find jobs.  One, had already, but most of them had not.  A couple were still at KSC working on preparing the shuttles for the museums and did not know when they would be laid off but knew it would be soon.  It was wonderful to see them all and renew our fellowship.

Mike Leinbach, former Space Shuttle Launch Director

I ran into Mike Leinbach, the shuttle launch director, and thanked him for his kind words and apology on behalf of NASA to the workers just prior to the last launch.  I asked him how much trouble he got into for apologizing, and he said he got chewed out a little bit but was grateful that NASA allowed him to stay on the job and see Endeavour off on the last launch of the program.  Good and courageous man!

Three members of the last Space Shuttle crew attended and did a presentation on their mission.  The interesting thing was, they didn’t sit with NASA administrator Charlie Bolden nor interacted with him while I was there.  I’m not actually surprised by that since they have no true future anymore as an American astronaut due to Mr. Bolden and Obama’s dismantling of our Human Space Flight Program.  They did however, interact fully with the thousands of KSC workers tirelessly shaking hands, posing for pictures, etc.

The astronaut crew doesn't sit with the NASA Administrator. Their choice or was it the pre-planned seating arrangement?

Speaking of Mr. Bolden, I finally got to face him, shake his hand, and tell him of my disappointment at what he was doing with our nation’s HSF.  It was cordial and we did not change each other’s mind in the slightest.  He was polite enough to listen though and I have to give him credit for that.  I introduced myself and gave him my business card.  I told him I had not been “kind” to him on my blog and that I was quite upset about the job he was doing for our nation’s HSF.  I also told him that I did not think we would see an American Astronaut on an American Launch Vehicle for at least 10 years.  He disagreed with me and said that we would be flying American Astronauts on American launch vehicles “within the next 2-5 years.” I expressed that I thought that was impossible since everything was in such disarray right now and that the New Space Boys were not even close yet in accomplishing that task.  Well the clock is ticking and we will find out who is right in time.  There were other people waiting to talk with him, so I moved on.  He promised to check out to see what I had to say about him, but I doubt it will happen.  At least I got to say my two cents.  My former co-workers have told me that prior to their layoffs, they also have expressed their displeasure with him in person.  But it won’t matter.  We, many of the astronauts, and thousands of other HSF employees are now unemployed while Mr. Bolden continues to hold his job along with the rest of the NASA administration.  I’m sure that fact will lend to their deafness when we try to speak.

Rocketman and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden
Where it all started for me and the Gemini Class.

One final thing, while at the KSC Visitor Center, I had the pleasure of once more seeing where my aerospace career all started nearly 11 years ago now.  The Center for Space Education was the site for the first aerospace technician courses offered by Brevard Community College and SpaceTEC.  My Gemini Classmates and I spent two wonderful years there earning our degree, taught by some of the best in the industry.  Thanks to those instructors, I have had opportunities and experiences in life that most people can only dream of.  My thanks to them and my best wishes to Gemini and all the USA people I’ve known in their future endeavors.

We truly did make history both personally and for our nation. ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ ~Dr. Seuss

Godspeed to you all.

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