Sunday, March 28, 2010

Surprises at an Airplane Museum

Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
Pueblo is a town in Colorado of a little over 100,000 people, incorporated 135 years ago. It was one of our stops on a recent road trip to Taos, New Mexico. We went to the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum based on a flier at the hotel, not knowing exactly what's there. Apart from airplanes, the museum held a few space related surprises for us.

We arrived and were greeted by two veteran pilots, one of which took us on a private tour. It was great to get a tour from a person who actually flew many of the types of planes on display rather than the usual tour guide, hired, trained and synthetic. The museum is placed in a small airport which used to be a central U.S. Air-Force base in Word War II. He told us about each plane and about other artifacts on display - various American uniforms, Russian uniforms and even a huge Nazi flag in pristine condition captured in 1945, which as a Jewish person who had parents that were lucky enough to survive made me clench.

Peachy nose-art
B-29 at the Pueblo Aircraft Museum
At the center of the exhibit hall is the "Peachy" B-29, the same kind of airplane which dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is an impressive four-engine airplane from the time airplane nose-art was common, with anything from cartoons to nudity, as immortalized in this web site, created specifically for that purpose.

One of the surprises was in the form of NASA rockets in a nice cabinet. The reason it's there is for a rocket building club hosted at the museum. I think the connection and continuity between old aircrafts, some dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, to rocketry and space, is important, as for some reason, many realize the global scale changes airplanes have made in our daily lives, but still don't fully grasp how much space technologies improve our lives now and will continue to do so in the future.

Gene Rodenberry's uniform
The biggest space related surprise was the U.S. Army Air Force uniform as worn by Captain Eugene Wesley Rodenberry, known to anyone with an ounce of space enthusiasm in them as Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek.

Mr. Rodenberry visited the museum himself and donated the uniform, which is now on display as a memorial.

We enjoyed visiting the museum and recommend it to anyone passing through Colorado, if only to get a glimpse of aviation history, be reminded of the low points of the human race in the last century as well as the victories enabling and protecting our future.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dr. Love at the Southwest Research Institute

Lunch with SwRI and Dr. Stanley Love (sipping tea)
On March 18th 2010 I visited the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to see the facility here in Boulder and attend a talk by Dr. Stanley G. Love - a NASA astronaut that flew on STS-122. Founded in 1947, employing over 3,000 people in several states, SwRI is a very prolific multi-disciplinary institute, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas (for more information about the SwRI, visit its facts page). SwRI has a fairly large office (about a hundred people) in downtown Boulder Colorado. If you live, work or ever visited Boulder you'd appreciate the prime location, close to many of the restaurants and atmosphere unique to Boulder.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Prolific Blogger Award from a Friend I Have Never Met

Prolific Blogger Award
Heather Archuletta from Pillow Astronaut, a person I can call a friend who I never met, one of the people whose blogs and openness to the world and to me provided some of the inspiration to start my own blog and put my spacepirations into writing, has conferred the Prolific Blogger Award on me, listing Spacepirations alongside Miles O'Brian, who's been reporting about space for about two decades.

Passion without anyone to share it with remains bottled up and diminished. Space, as they say about a lot of things, is not what it used to be, and at least in my close proximity at work it is not a widely shared interest. Though aspirations should not be directly affected by the people that surround oneself, humans have a general tendency to fit in. I can't say I've been particularly good at that ever since I was a child, and that may come hand in hand with thinking outside the box. But I digress...

Livescribe Measure App

Welcome Measure owners or future owners. If you have a Livescribe smart pen, you will benefit greatly from the Measure application. If you don't yet have a Livescribe pen, check it out!

Watch this short video to see how Measure and the Livescribe Pulse pen work together:

With the Measure application, you can quickly measure anything you place on the Livescribe dot paper. Just double tap on the Livescribe notebook to set the anchor, then tap anywhere else on the notebook to get the distance between those two points instantly on the Pulse smart-pen screen in inches and centimeters. Double tap again to set a new anchor point.

You can also use Measure to mark points on paper in preparation to drawing a perfect square, circle, etc. Use it to prepare for drawing graphs or plans in scale.

Operation is extremely simple - no menus or commands to remember, just launch Measure and start tapping.

For customer support, please contact

Vote for Measure

Measure - Click! Vote! Every Day!
Livescribe, manufacturer of the Pulse smart pen is conducting an application competition which I am participating in.

My entry is an application that's extremely simple to use called Measure. As the name implies, you can measure with it anything smaller than your Livescribe notebook (a case in study: a space shuttle) - just double tap to set the anchor on paper, then tap to measure the distance from that anchor point and get the measured distance on screen in centimeters and inches. You can double tap again to set a new anchor point.

Here's the link to Measure on the competition web site:

Voting will take place until the end of the month and you can vote once per day. So remember to vote again every day.

When you play the video, you'll see it still relates to my spacepirations. Also, when I win, the reward will fund my strides closer to space, from this blog to attending space conferences to NASTAR suborbital training (more about this soon).

To summarize:
1. Go here.
2. Click on the thumbs-up icon.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 every day until 4/1/2010.

Lastly, this is a game of numbers. It would be great if you sent a link to your friends, family, acquaintances, enemies, BFFs, mail-man, senator, congressman, kids preschool and even tell that weird guy that you see running in flip-flops every day at 6am.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spacepirations is Growing Up

A little over five months ago I started to write this blog, inspired by other blogs of space enthusiasts and astronaut hopefuls and by a vacation that entailed a visit to Kennedy Space Center. My life has been greatly enriched, both by the enjoyment I get from telling my story and perspective, and by the numerous people I have come to know during this short time.

It's time for Spacepirations to grow up a little. From my alien brain to a name of a blog to over 1400 results on Google, now it is also a domain name - Those of you who have been following probably have noticed the look and feel tweaks, all meant to make it more pleasant to read and easier to share and comment.

What I learned along the way was that I'm writing less for myself and more for everyone else who has space-aspirations themselves or just intrigued by a Joe-regular that decided to look up and expand his life to where no Govrin has gone before. It is amazing to see I have readers in countries I haven't visited and can't really visit holding an Israeli passport. And yet, the Internet has almost no boundaries and word of a single person can reach places half across the globe without being a media mogul or getting picked up by the old-school media of TV, radio and print.

I hope that my presence on this virtual world will continue to unfold like a river delta expanding and diverging as I make more steps in the real world towards my dream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NSRC - The Press Conference

NSRC press conference panel. Left to right: Mark S, Pete W, Michael M, Alan S, Jeff G, Stephen A
On the first day of NSRC (2/18/2010) at 12:00 there was a lunch and a press conference. After hearing about several of the vehicles that will take scientists (and hopefully me) up to near-space, possibly several times a day, it was time to hear a few announcements and ask questions.

I sat next to a table close to the speaker panel with David Masten - CEO of Masten Space Systems, John Gedmark and Matthew Isakowitz from Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Pete Worden from NASA and others. An impromptu discussion between David, Pete, John and Matt over lunch about the fresh NASA budget announcement and its outcomes was cut short by the press conference itself, where Pete was a member of the panel.

The panel was composed of a variety of people representing NASA, commercial suborbital space and research: Mark Sirangelo - Executive Vice President of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Chairman of the Board of Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Pete Worden - NASA Ames Center Director, Michael Mealling - Vice President of Business Development of Masten Space Systems, Alan Stern - Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute, Jeff Greason - President of XCOR and Stephen Attenborough - Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sick in Space

USS-Enterprise Sick Bay
A few weeks ago I was sick. Nothing dramatic or life threatening, just the common cold. After three days I still felt weak. After six days, I finally stopped taking over the counter medications that help with the symptoms, but my nose still needed almost-constant draining. It took about two weeks for me to become my normal self again and get rid of this nuisance.

Having the common cold on Earth is nothing to write about. But NASA takes no chances. Every effort is made to avoid astronauts getting sick in space. Astronauts are mostly in isolation several days before launch, as any impairment could jeopardize the mission and crew safety. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were also in isolation after coming back from the moon to be on the safe side in case some germs unique to the moon got a ride to Earth. Ken Mattingly was supposed to be on Apollo 13, the US space flight probably most known for its mishaps yet successful outcome (no human life lost), but got grounded for being exposed to measles. Mattingly didn't get sick but Fred Haise did and vomited due to an infection and lack of water, a lot messier and risky at micro-gravity on the way to the moon in a crippled vessel.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Buzz Outstepping Neil?

Buzz Aldrin (the dancer?)
It may have been "one small step" 40 years ago for Neil, but Buzz Aldrin is trying to one-up by making many more steps in season 10 of Dancing with the Stars. Among the fairly usual casting of a football player, singer, Olympian, a starlet and the original octo-mom, our favorite-to-win Buzz will do his best to show that the accomplishment of walking on the moon after 40 years of age can be matched with one after 40 more years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

NSRC - Fascinating Stories over Lunch

One of the unexpected delights I had at the NSRC was lunch on Friday. Most of the attendees went to the hotel restaurant and formed a line. I ended up sharing a table with three men - Jin Kang, Gil Moore and Conrad Wall. If you know any one of them you now realize how lucky I was to be grouped with such interesting people.