Site ColumnsBy Michelle
December 31, 2004 - 4:34 PM
I have probably confessed to my most serious act of Trekkie geekdom at some point before in this column: back in my youth, when NASA was contemplating names for its new shuttle orbiter, I was one of those fans who wrote and requested that the ship be named Enterprise. (In my defense, I also wrote to Gerald Ford asking why the US was not going to build a Halley's Comet fly-by, and got a nice letter back from someone in his administration assuring me that it wouldn't be necessary, so when the US was the only nation with significant capacity for spaceflight that did not study the comet from space and the newspapers were asking why, I could only harrumph.) Because the Trek fans were successful in this campaign, I have always felt somewhat possessive of the very first space shuttle, the orbiter Enterprise - the same one you can see in the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise - which is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport outside Washington DC.
Because my entire family has been on vacation this week, we decided to go to this newest Smithsonian installation and see the planes and ships on display. My children had been there before, on field trips, but I had not, and they were most entertaining tour guides; they remembered where everything was and some of what they had learned from their previous visits. So I got lots of information about the tiles on the shuttle, many of which have been removed for use on Discovery and Atlantis, and the absence of the front viewports which like most of the internal equipment has been recycled on the later shuttles as well. I know that some fans are sad that Enterprise never saw duty in space, but considering that she's the only of the original three shuttles to survive, I'm not sorry that she will end her days on display rather than in pieces.
There are some wonderful display items, like the "Sounds of Earth" recording that accompanied the two Voyager spacecraft out of the solar system and a prototype of a Soviet Vega module (see, someone was preparing for a Halley mission). I have known for years that I could never have been an astronaut because I'm too claustrophobic to survive in the capsules, and it's worse looking at them up close. Among the more interesting artifacts are astronaut food that looked inedible, and, worse, the waste elimination systems (apparently astronauts nowadays wear Depends during spacewalks in case of emergencies). Still, it's somewhat strange seeing Nippon and US rockets next to one another in the space hangar, then walking into the aviation hangar and seeing the kamikaze planes and the Enola Gay, and realizing that these things were all built within my parents' lifetimes as well as the Concorde and the 747 - the planes and computers that brought the world together, and the ones that nearly tore it apart. To think that Sputnik, the first satellite built by humans, was greeted in the US with terror rather than excitement.
It's hard to think about space exploration right now when there's so much that needs to be done here on Earth - my heart goes out to everyone with friends and loved ones in the parts of the world affected by the tsunami - yet we're at a point where this week the Russians are delivering supplies to an American astronaut as well as a cosmonaut on the International Space Station. The US shuttle fleet, grounded since Columbia's destruction in 2003, is supposed to resume flying next May. 2005 could be a very good year for the slow but steady progress to the stars.
Trek BBS Today
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Trek Two Years Ago
These were some of the major news items from December 2002:
- Positive Trek X Press Across The Pond
In contrast to its less-than-enthusiastic reception by many North American critics, Star Trek Nemesis received high marks from reviewers on the other side of the Atlantic. Starburst, RTE Interactive and others gave the film encouraging reviews.
- 'The Catwalk' Review Roundup
Six online reviewers praised "The Catwalk", the final Enterprise episode for 2002, citing the character interaction and well-developed suspense as reasons they enjoyed it.
- 'Nemesis' Drops Out Of Top 10
Star Trek Nemesis fell out of the top ten films at the domestic box office, buried by The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Catch Me If You Can and Maid in Manhattan along with other holiday blockbusters.The Trek film grossed just over $4 million dollars.
More news can be found in the archives.
Below are the results of the most recent TrekToday poll:
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January 6th is the birthday of Aron Eisenberg, who plays Nog on Deep Space Nine.
Today's Television Listings
Star Trek: Enterprise has been pre-empted tonight for New Year's Eve. New episodes resume in January.