On Wednesday we started off our day with the breakfast you have to pay for at the Courtyard by Marriott. I do not know how they can call themselves the hotel for business travelers when there is no wireless internet in the rooms, only one wired connection and you have to pay about $10 for their breakfast buffet. But enough ranting about that.
We went to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. I have included a picture of John and I together looking happy. Mostly I eschew having my picture taken but at least in this one I appear happy and help make John look slender.
The first thing we did was see a movie about the Mars Rover. It was very interesting. It had great graphics and a lot of actual pictures of Mars. The scientists who worked on this project are filmed when they first hear back that the Rover has made it to Mars. There is all sorts of cheering and hugging. It made me a bit teary. What an impossible task they completed. They said that the Rover was so complex that no one person could understand the whole thing. And to think that these machines (there were two launched about 7 months apart) traveled through space, landed on Mars and then when about
collecting scientific data is quite awe inspiring.
We then looked around the museum. John feels personally very attached to the Apollo XI launch, the one where Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, because he helped to write the assembler language that allowed other computer jocks to program the lunar module computer. It really shows how computing was in its infancy in 1969 that they employed students from MIT to do some of the programming. He is very proud of his participation.
We saw a great film about Werner vonBraun. He seemed to be a man of great technical skills and lots of charisma. One of the interesting points brought out was that President Eisenhower established NASA to keep the exploration of space out of the hands of the military. I guess as a former general he had a lot of knowledge about the dangers of an overly powerful, agenda-driven military. After the film we walked around outside and looked at the different rockets.
The rest of the day was spent getting to Memphis, TN and eating barbeque.