Monday, 23 November 2015

Thank you

Thank you all for such a wonderful experience. It was something that few people get to do, and I felt truly blessed to have Mr Blair and Harrison Cook with me for the ride. I doubt I shall ever forget the adventures we had and the people we met. Who knew boot shopping could be so much fun!

Thank you everyone!


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Goodbye America

This trip has been amazing, it is as simple as that. We have seen and done so many things; the trade floor, talks, boot shops and the Houston Space Center.
I would like to say thank you to all involved; Mr Blair, sponsors, the school and the families.

Thank you for giving us all this amazing once in a life time experience.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Saturn V

Today we had one of those adventures you never forget, the Houston Space Centre. We saw so many cool things, but one thing that really stood out to me was the Saturn V rocket.
This display wasn't a mockup it was the real deal, they salvaged all the components from the Apollo missions, cleaned them up and put them on display. The rocket takes up a whole warehouse with information around the sides, the size of it was absolutely amazing. It was so cool to see the rocket that took man to the moon, I will never forget that.

Our Adventure to Houston

A three hour bus trip did not deter us as we set off from Austin bound for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

It was a very early morning but the boys managed to rouse themselves after a very late night.  We took a cab to the Greyhound bus station and hopped on our coach. We were just a few minutes late but late enough that we had to wait 45 minutes for the next connecting bus. This one took us directly to the Space Center though.

We only had a short time at the Center but we were blown away by what we saw. Space suits, moon rocks, tools, capsules, engines and a new attraction outside - a real 747 with a full-size space shuttle replica on its back. They are still building the gantry tower alongside. Soon you'll be able to walk right up to the aircraft and shuttle.

Inside is a mix of authentic and recreated space memorabilia from the past 52 years. One of my personal favourites was the Apollo mission capsule mounted open so you can see how the astronauts were sitting together when they splashed down. You can touch the open door and, get you hand in behind the perspex cover and touch a door handle that has been touched by astronauts.

We hopped the tram tour and went through the working NASA Space Center. First, Mission Control! The room is preserved the way it was in the 1960s. The current Mission Control is located immediately underneath. We sat in the VIP gallery where families of the astronauts, presidents and other very important people have sat.

Next was the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where they house capsules, shuttle cockpits, a full-sized International Space Station mockup, rover vehicles, robotics and zero gravity training equipment. The gear is there for astronaut training but also for engineering and design teams to work together in the planning of new equipment and testing repairs to existing, orbitting equipment.

From there we headed back to Rocket Park where, alongside actual test rockets, engines and rocket gantries, there sits a used Saturn 5 rocket, restored and displayed. I had no idea these things were quite that big!

Like I said, we didn't have enough time at the Center but it is one visit we shall never forget. We arrived back at Greyhound at exactly the right time only to find out our bus home has been delayed at least 45 minutes. Life is just full of adventure...

Houston, we have no problem.

Today we went to Johnson Space Centre in Houston and had a look around and a tour of a few of the buildings. It was amazing to get an up close look at the Saturn 5 rocket that took Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the Moon - it's absolutely massive. We had a look in the room that housed the old Mission Control for most of the missions to space in the 60s and also the Space Vehicle Mock up Facility, where young up-and-coming astronauts train in realistic environments similar to space to prepare themselves for the final frontier.

The journey there included an interesting taxi ride where we talked about supercomputers and code with the driver and a bus trip that definitely didn't make me feel on edge the whole time. The way back as of this post has not yet even begun, because we had to wait for 2 hours extra for the bus.

Moral of the story: Don't go with Greyhound buses. Go with Bluebus!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Authentic Texas Bar-B-Que

Tonight we joined with the teams from QASMT and JMSS for dinner at an authentic Texas Bar-B-Que at the Iron Works. The restaurant has been built in a disused iron works, hence the name.

There were a number of different meats available including beef brisket, pork, chicken and ribs. The Bar-B-Que was enormous and had at least three levels of racks - enormous!

The servings were generous and delicious and the atmosphere laid back and welcoming. You can choose two sides with your plate. I had the pork loin with pinto beans and corn on the cob. Delicious.

Goodies of the trade floor

One major part of SC is the trade floor, and most stalls give out free stuff ranging from pens and USBs to laptops and shirts. So far all of us have accumulated a large number of shirts and pamphlets. We have also got heaps of pens, lanyards and bags. Everyday we come home with bags full of stuff and are quickly fillin' our suitcases ya'll