Motorcycles, JFK, Elvis, Steve McQueen and My Father

Growing up around motorcycles can teach you a thing or two about life.

Our father was a motorcycle cop in the San Antonio Police Department when my mother checked me out of my third grade class on November 21, 1963.

The night before, Dad had taken us to see “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” at the Trail Drive in Theater on S.W. Military Drive. Today, we were going back to Military Drive towards Kelly and Lackland Air Force Bases.

JFK motorcade in San Antonio

“We’re going to see Daddy and the President,” she announced. “He’s escorting him today.”

While we drove to the corner of  Military Drive and Zarzamora, President Kennedy was dedicating the new Aerospace Health Center at Brooks AFB. It would be his final official act.

For three years JFK spoke about a New Frontier. Addressing Governor John Connally, senators, congressional leaders and others, he emphasized “This is not a partisan term, and it is not the exclusive property of Republicans or Democrats. It refers, instead, to this Nation’s place in history, to the fact that we do stand on the edge of a great new era, filled with both crisis and opportunity, an era to be characterized by achievement and by challenge.”

“It is an era which calls for action and for the best efforts of all those who would test the unknown and the uncertain in every phase of human endeavor,” he said. “It is a time for pathfinders and pioneers.”

Although honored to see President Kennedy (his hair was more red than I imagined from photos) and First Lady Jacqueline (white dress, matching hat and red roses), I was more excited about Dad waving to me from his motorcycle next to them in the motorcade.

That afternoon, I reflected on seeing JFK while watching my favorite television show, “Supercar.”

This episode was entitled “Mitch For Space,” appropriately titled to support Kennedy’s space program. The shows protagonist was launched into the stratosphere in a space capsule like the Mercury rockets from NASA.

The next day, Gillette Elementary Principal Willis Raines announced on the public address speakers Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

My father had a shop during my teenage years at his car lot and later on our property on the Southside of San Antonio is the 1970s. But in the 60s it was common for our family to all ride on Dad’s ’59 Royal Enfield Indian cycle.

Sister Bobbi would set just behind the handlebars in front of him. Mom followed, with me bringing up the rear.

Dad looked forward to trailoring motorcycles to the Daytona 200 in Florida with other policemen, including Leroy Ferry and Doyle Soden. He enjoyed being on the pit crew for Ferry who raced several times in the late 1960s-early 70s. Founded in 1937, the 200 mile race was on the beach until 1961, when it moved to a paved closed circuit.

Being an Indian man, Dad was particularly proud when it was announced in 1967 that 68-year old Burt Munro made motorcycle history by setting a new official land speed record of 184.087 mph (with unofficial top speed of 205.67 mph) when he raced his heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout Streamliner across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Burt Munro

He loved motorcycles so much that he and Soden hired a mechanic and opened up for repairs at their used car lot in 1969. Later, Dad built a larger 30′ × 60′ shop at our property on Petaluma.

It was common to see policemen, some stopping by in their patrol cars or motorcycles, alongside bikers sharing technical or philosophical wisdom in the shop. Their shared passion was a uniting force.

“I like my women like my Harleys,” one old timer, Leon, who looked like he should have been a ZZ Top member before the band discovered beards, once grinned “About 20 years old with lots of problems.”

Mechanic extraordinaire and electrician Archie Maybry, was full of one-liners:

“Sometimes it takes a winding, crooked road to get your head straight.”

“I can tell the difference between people who come in here just toying around as a hobby. The hobby cats buy a new motorcycle and pretend. Real passion are those that are dovoted to keeping their old rides running.”

Dad took us to the Trail Drive In Theater almost every Wednesday, because police officers were discounted. We were always there to see every Elvis Presley movie. One of our favorites was Roustabout in 1964. Elvis played a motorcyclist who joined a circus.

In 1972, Dad was part of the protection and motorcycle escort team for Elvis from the San Antonio International Airport to the Hilton Palacio Del Rio for his April concert at the Hemisfair Arena. He also did the same at Presley’s August 1976 concert.

One of the most iconic motorcycles to ever appear on the silver screen, was the 650cc Triump R6R (disguised as a BMW 75) that Steve McQueen road in The Great Escape, one of Dad’s favorites.

By the Spring of 1972, Dad was a Detective-Investigator and had a special assignment he would always cherish: providing security for Steve McQueen during the making of The Getaway. Some of it was filmed at the old Sunset Train Station and the River Walk.

“By the time they finished filming in Huntsville (at the Penitentiary), he had already made his moves on Ali McGraw…and she fell for him big time–hook, line and sinker,” Dad said. “Well, she was married to a movie big shot, Robert Evans and it was important to him that we keep people away because they were at it hot and heavy.”

“Evans hired a private investigator and even flew to Texas himself because he knew something was wrong,” he continued. “But he (McQueen) didn’t give a flip about it.”

In San Antonio, McQueen and McGraw stayed at the Holiday Inn on Durango Street near IH-35.  The actor had one of his many motorcycles brought in so he could “ride it around and around the basement” of the hotel.

“I guess he was trying to work off some steam,” Dad said. It was apparent they both had motorcycles in common. After his shift one night, he had a couple of beers with McQueen.

“There is no doubt he was smitten by Ali McGraw,” Dad revealed. “He told me they were originally going to sign on Cybil Sheppard, and then Stella Stevens. There was a lot of problems between studios, producers, directors until finally everything was in place. He was real happy they hired her (McGraw).”

“There was an actor who played in The Godfather (Al Lettieri), that you could tell he wasn’t getting along with either.”

“One night we took them to a small party nearby downtown,” he said. “He was drinking pretty heavily and I thought they (McQueen and McGraw) were going to get into a fight. Right in front of her he started coming on to these two women–they were good looking women.”

“She didn’t say a thing. I could tell she didn’t like it one bit, but he kept on. It was obvious he was making a play for them. We finally took them back to the hotel. They had rooms upstairs next to each other, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t see those two women come into that hotel and go right on up to his room.”

“I heard later after they were gone the next morning, he had Ali come over and cook him some breakfast.”

“He needed to ride that motorcycle,” Dad noticed. “She had her young son, a toddler with her and I guess this was his escape. He was riding and drinking down there to stay out of trouble and work off tension. Yes, he was in love big time and later they married.”

Director Sam Peckinpah later talked about an incident on the first day of rehearsal in San Marcos: “Steve and I had been discussing some point on which we disagreed, so he picked up this bottle of champagne and threw it at me. I saw it coming and ducked. And Steve just laughed.”

Dad said they also talked about guns and he shared a couple of true police stories with him.

“He asked about robberies, guns, and how we approached and handled robbers and shootouts,” Dad recalled.

Packinpah talked about McQueen’s knack with props, especially the weapons he used in the film.

“You can see Steve’s military training in his films,” the director remembered. “He was so brisk and confident in the way he handled the guns.”

It was McQueen’s idea to have his character, “Doc McCoy” shoot and blow up a squad car in the scene where he holds two police officers at gunpoint.

His love for motorcycles and racing spawned two notable quotes from McQueen:

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And the one with McQueen’s picture with his motorcycle in The Great Escape. hanging up next to Dad’s tool room door: “I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”

Other words of wisdom seen or heard over the years included:

“Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.”

“Life might begin at 30, but it doesn’t get real interesting until you reach over 100 on the highway.”

“I believe in treating others with respect, but first you have to get their attention.”

Dad sat on a motorcycle his last time on a trip my sons Jack, Brady and I took to Dallas-Fort Worth from San Antonio on an Amtrak train the summer of 2012. At a wax museum in Arlington, there was a Harley-Davidson set up in the lobby-retail area. He couldn’t resist! It’s a smile I’ll always remember.

Walter “Corky” Dennis died the following December.

Rest In Peace Daddy.








World’s Most Powerful Telescope Under Construction Will Allow Detailed Views Deeper Into Space

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a next-generation optical/infrared telescope being developed in northern Chile that will yield important discoveries on topics such as galaxies in the early universe and Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars.

The University of Texas at Austin’s $110.3 million investment in the GMT, allows an accelerated construction of the world’s most powerful telescope

Calling it an impressive “commitment toward building the telescope and its instrumentation, propelling the telescope closer to first light,”  Taft Armandroff, director of the university’s McDonald Observatory and vice chair of the GMT Organization board said, “GMT will provide transformational observing capabilities to our faculty, students and researchers.”

The funds are being used to manufacture the 12-story telescope structure at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Illinois, continue progress on the telescope’s seven primary mirrors at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Arizona, and build one of the most advanced scientific instruments, led by UT Austin, called the GMT Near Infrared Spectrograph (GMTNIRS).

“We are honored to receive this investment in our future,” said GMT President Robert Shelton. “The funding is truly a collaborative effort from our founders. It will result in the fabrication of the world’s largest mirrors, the giant telescope mount that holds and aligns them, and a science instrument that will allow us to study the chemical evolution of stars and planets like never before.”

GMT is under construction at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and will allow astronomers to see farther into space with more detail than any other optical telescope before.

It will have 10 times the light collecting area and four times the spatial resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and will be up to 200 times as powerful as existing research telescopes.

This unprecedented angular resolution, combined with revolutionary spectrographs and high-contrast cameras, will work in direct synergy with JWST to empower new scientific discoveries.

GMT will be the next step in studying the physics and chemistry of the faintest light sources in space that JWST will identify. This includes searching the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets for life, studying the first galaxies that formed in the universe, and finding clues that will unravel the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy, black holes and the formation of the universe.

“We are working with some of the brightest engineers and scientists at the leading research institutions around the globe,” said Walter Massey, GMT board chair and former director of the National Science Foundation and chairman of Bank of America. “The recent contributions from our investing partners in the Giant Magellan Telescope are collectively pushing the boundaries of astronomy, making the future a reality and allowing us to answer some key science goals, including ‘Are we alone in the universe?”

The telescope has already achieved significant construction progress during the past few years. Six of seven primary mirror segments have been cast in Tucson, Arizona.

The third primary mirror segment has completed its two-year polishing phase and is undergoing final testing.

Construction of a 40,000-square-foot facility in Rockford, Illinois, to manufacture the telescope structure is complete.

The production of the telescope’s first adaptive secondary mirror is well underway in France and Italy, and the site in Chile is being primed for the next stage of construction and for pouring of the foundation.

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Proof President Trump Accomplished Most in History

President Donald J. Trump accomplished more to support America in four years than Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Bill and Hillary Clinton in their lifetimes.


🔹Violent crime fell every year Tump was in office after rising during the two years before he was elected. Under Biden, crime has drastically increased.

🔹Trump removed over 8,200 government employees from their Deep State positions and had planned to remove at least 20,000 more.


🔹Under Trump’s leadership, in 2018 the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil. Biden destroyed that.


🔹 Trump signed a law ending the gag orders on Pharmacists that prevented them from sharing money-saving information. 


🔹Trump signed the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA), which includes the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (SESTA) which both give law enforcement and victims new tools to fight sex trafficking. 


🔹Trump signed a bill to require airports to provide spaces for breastfeeding Moms. 


🔹The 25% lowest-paid Americans enjoyed a 4.5% income boost in November 2019, which outpaced a 2.9% gain in earnings for the country’s highest-paid workers. 

🔹Trump signed 3 bills to benefit Native people. One gives compensation to the Spokane tribe for loss of their lands in the mid-1900s, one funds Native language programs, and the third gives federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana. 


🔹Trump finalized the creation of Space Force as our 6th Military branch. 


🔹Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences. 


🔹Low-wage workers benefitted from higher minimum wages and from corporations that were increasing entry-level pay. 


🔹Trump signed the biggest wilderness protection & conservation bill in a decade and designated 375,000 acres as protected land. 


🔹Trump signed the Save our Seas Act which funds $10 million per year to clean tons of plastic & garbage from the ocean. 


🔹He signed a bill allowing some drug imports from Canada so that prescription prices would go down. 


🔹Trump signed an executive order forcing all healthcare providers to disclose the cost of their services so that Americans could comparison shop and know how much fewer providers charge insurance companies. 


🔹When signing that bill he said no American should be blindsided by bills for medical services they never agreed to in advance. 


🔹Trump’s EPA gave $100 million to fix the water infrastructure problem in Flint, Michigan. 


🔹Hospitals became required to post their standard charges for services, which include the discounted price a hospital is willing to accept. 


🔹In the eight years prior to President Trump’s inauguration, prescription drug prices increased by an average of 3.6% per year. Under Trump, drug prices year-over-year declined. Under Biden, they have increased.


🔹Trump created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans. 


🔹VA employees were being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 Deep State VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended.


🔹Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life. 


🔹Because of a bill signed and championed by Trump, in 2020, most federal employees saw their pay increase by an average of 3.1% — the largest raise in more than 10 years. 


🔹Trump signed into law up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for millions of federal workers. 


🔹Trump administration provided HIV prevention drugs for free to 200,000 uninsured patients per year for 11 years. 


🔹Prior to the year of the fake news and Democrat pandemic scheme, there was an all-time record sales during the 2019 holidays. 


🔹 Trump signed an order allowing small businesses to group together when buying insurance to get a better price.

FOCUS ON BLACK AMERICANS


🔹President Trump signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act to provide funding for states to develop maternal mortality reviews to better understand maternal complications and identify solutions & largely focuses on reducing the higher mortality rates for Black Americans. 


🔹 In 2018, President Trump signed the groundbreaking First Step Act, a criminal justice bill that enacted reforms that make our justice system fairer and help former inmates successfully return to society. 


🔹The First Step Act’s reforms addressed inequities in sentencing laws that disproportionately harmed Black Americans and reformed mandatory minimums that created unfair outcomes. 


🔹The First Step Act expanded judicial discretion in the sentencing of non-violent crimes. 


🔹Over 90% of those benefitting from the retroactive sentencing reductions in the First Step Act are Black Americans. 


🔹The First Step Act provides rehabilitative programs to inmates, helping them successfully rejoin society and not return to crime. 


🔹 Trump increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by more than 14%.


🔹Trump signed legislation forgiving Hurricane Katrina debt that threatened HBCUs. 

🔹New single-family home sales increases up 31.6% in October 2019 compared to just the year prior. 


🔹 Made HBCUs a priority by creating the position of executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs. 

🔹Trump received the Bipartisan Justice Award at a historically black college for his criminal justice reform accomplishments. 

POVERTY DOWN EMPLOYMENT UP


🔹 The poverty rate fell to an 18-year low of 11.1% under the Trump administration as a result of a jobs-rich environment. 


🔹Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans reached their lowest levels since the U.S. began collecting such data. 


🔹President Trump signed a bill to create five national monuments, expand several national parks, add 1.3 million acres of wilderness, and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water, Conservation Fund. Biden’s Executive Order cancelled this.


🔹 Trump’s USDA committed $124 Million to rebuild rural water infrastructure. 


🔹Consumer Confidence and Small Business Confidence reached an all-time high. Under Biden, historical lows.

🔹More than 7.6 million jobs were created under Trump.  


🔹More Americans were employed under Trump than ever recorded before in our history. 


🔹Almost 500,000 manufacturing jobs were created. 

FIERCELY FOUGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING WITH RECORD RESULTS


🔹 Through Trump’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) initiative, Federal law enforcement more than doubled convictions of human traffickers and increased the number of defendants charged by 75% in ACTeam districts. 


🔹Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) dismantled an organization that was the internet’s leading source of prostitution-related advertisements resulting in sex trafficking. 


🔹 Trump’s OMB published new anti-trafficking guidance for government procurement officials to more effectively combat human trafficking.


🔹 Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested over 1,588 criminals associated with Human Trafficking. 


🔹Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services provided funding to support the National Human Trafficking Hotline to identify perpetrators and give victims the help they need. 


🔹The hotline identified 17,805 potential human trafficking cases. 


🔹Trump’s DOJ provided grants to organizations that support human trafficking victims – serving over 10,000 cases from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019. 


🔹The Department of Homeland Security hired more victim assistance specialists, helping victims get resources and support. 


🔹President Trump called on Congress to pass school choice legislation so that no child is trapped in a failing school because of his or her zip code.

🔹He signed funding legislation in September 2018 that increased funding for school choice by $42 million. 

🔹The tax cuts signed into law by President Trump promoted school choice by allowing families to use 529 college savings plans for elementary and secondary education. 


🔹Under his leadership, ISIS lost its territory and was dismantled. They are back with Biden in charge.

🔹 ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed. Biden can’t bring him back.


🔹Signed the first Perkins CTE reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs. 


🔹Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers. 


🔹Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting the U.S. government from discriminating against Christians or punishing expressions of faith. 


🔹 President Trump ordered a halt to U.S. tax money going to international organizations that fund or perform abortions. 


🔹Trump imposed sanctions on the socialists in Venezuela who have killed their citizens. 


🔹 Finalized new trade agreement with South Korea. 


🔹Made a deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe. 

🔹Withdrew the U.S. from the job-killing TPP deal. Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam. Okay’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation. 


🔹Had over 20 US hostages freed, including those Obama could not get freed. 


🔹Trump signed the Music Modernization Act, the biggest change to copyright law in decades. 

🔹Despite Nancy Pelosi’s resistance, Trump secured billions to fund building of the wall at our southern border. 


* President Trump’s historic tax cut legislation included new Opportunity Zone Incentives to promote investment in low-income communities across the country. 
8,764 communities across the country were designated as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones spurred nearly $100 billion in long-term private capital investment in economically distressed communities across the country. 

🔹Trump directed the Education Secretary to end Common Core. 


🔹Trump signed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund into law. 


🔹Trump signed measure funding prevention programs for Veteran suicide. 


🔹Companies brought back over a TRILLION dollars from overseas because of the TCJA bill that Trump signed. 


🔹Manufacturing jobs grew at the fastest rate in more than 30 years while the Stock Market reached record highs. Median household income hit the highest level ever recorded. 

LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT EVER


🔹 African-American unemployment was at an all-time low. 
🔹 Hispanic-American unemployment was at an all-time low. 
🔹 Asian-American unemployment was at an all-time low. 
🔹Women’s unemployment rate was at a 65-year low. 
🔹 Youth unemployment reached a 52-year low. 
🔹We had the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded. 


🔹The Pledge to America’s Workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans. Biden destroyed that.


🔹95 percent of U.S. manufacturers were optimistic about the future— the highest ever. Under Biden, lowest in history.


🔹 Record number of regulations eliminated that hurt small businesses. 


🔹Signed welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults who don’t have children to work or look for work if they’re on welfare. 

FOUGHT BIG PHARMA


🔹Under Trump, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history. 


🔹Reformed Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs—saving seniors 100’s of millions of $$$ this year alone. 


🔹Signed Right-To-Try legislation allowing terminally ill patients to try an experimental treatment that wasn’t allowed before. 


🔹 Secured $6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic. Biden and Pelosi send much to Ukraine for kickbacks.

Frontline Doctors


🔹Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care. 


🔹 U.S. oil production reached an all-time high and we were not dependent on oil from the Middle East. Biden destroyed that.


🔹The U.S. became a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957. Biden destroyed that.


🔹 NATO allies increased their defense spending because of Trump’s pressure campaign. 


🔹Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord in 2017 and that same year the U.S. still led the world by having the largest reduction in carbon emissions. 


🔹Moved U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. 


🔹 Imposed tariffs on China in response to China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices.  

Fought Big Pharma


🔹Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline. 


🔹Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, to advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments. 


🔹 The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by Trump doubled the maximum amount of the child tax credit available to parents and lifted the income limits so more people could claim it. 

🔹 The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) signed into law by Trump provided a tax credit equal to 20-35% of child care expenses, $3,000 per child & $6,000 per family + Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) allow you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax $ to use for child care. 


🔹 In 2019 President Donald Trump signed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (CARES) into law which allocated $1.8 billion in funding over the following five years to help people with autism spectrum disorder and to help their families. 


🔹 In 2019 President Trump signed into law two funding packages providing nearly $19 million in new funding for Lupus specific research and education programs, as well as an additional $41.7 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most Lupus funding EVER.

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Fascinating Space Photos Released by NASA

Mankind has seen the first images from the powerful James Webb Space Telescope. This week, NASA released photos from the observatory, this time pictures from within our own Solar System.

Space billions of years ago

The space agency revealed the telescope’s images of the planet Jupiter, as well as an asteroid, used as reference targets when engineering teams were calibrating the observatory’s instruments.

The images prove that JWST will be able to see relatively faint objects like the rings and moons surrounding particularly bright planets in our outer Solar System, like Jupiter and Saturn.

Here are past images taken from various NASA observatories, telescopes, and cameras.

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Remembering the First Men on the Moon

In 2006, Jack Dennis had the honor of interviewing the second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.

It’s been over half of a century that earth celebrated one of the most historical milestones in history as United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the moon for 21 hours.  Many Baby Boomers and space enthusiasts today recall Armstrong’s first words as his boots touched the lunar surface: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Dr. Aldrin, (now 92 at this writing), was bestowed the nickname “Buzz” from his baby sister who could only say “Buzzer” instead of “brother” in their New Jersey home. 

Little did they know this would evolve into the recognizable inspiration for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear’s name decades later.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. stepped on the moon at 03:15:16 Coordinated Universal Time on July 21, 1969. “Beautiful view,” Aldrin simply uttered the first words to describe what he was experiencing. “Magnificent desolation.”

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin, 2006

New information previously not generally known by the public released by Aldrin recently, combined with the 2006 interview by Dennis, is revealed below: 

When probed about Armstrong and him sighting a UFO on their voyage to the moon, Aldrin beamed. “Yes, we saw something,” he clarified. “But you have to remember the times. We could not blare it out that we saw any UFO because everyone was listening and hanging on to every word we said.”

“Delicately, we asked Houston the location of the SIVB (booster rocket) and they told us something like it was 6,000 miles away,” Aldrin continued. “I remember we talked about it as being L-shaped.”

“Over the years, there have been many suppositions and misrepresentations, but we believe now it was a panel left over from the separation of the spacecraft,” winked Aldrin playfully.

The two were on the lunar surface for 21 hours and returned to earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks and specimens.

Did Aldrin feel any pressure to say or not say anything publicly while he was on the moon?

“Not censorship, if that is what you are implying,” he answered. “We knew what we were doing was unparalleled and extraordinary in human history so we took our choice of words into account as part of our responsibility.”

“Just a few minutes on the moon, I did make a statement of reflection asking everyone to give thanks for the moment,” Aldrin said. “And then, with the radio off, I read from the Scripture. Only Neil (Armstrong) heard me.”

Aldrin took a communion wafer and vial of wine from his minister to the surface of the moon.

“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” wrote Aldrin years after the mission. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.”

“Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing,’” he wrote.

Aldrin continued, “It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin

It is also interesting to note that Aldrin was the first astronaut to earn a doctorate degree. His thesis was the foundation and idea for the docking procedures used in the Gemini and Apollo missions. He was the first astronaut to accomplish a successful spacewalk, while during the Gemini 12 mission of 1966, he was outside the capsule for 5 1/2 hours.

What are Aldrin’s ideas about climate change?

“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it.”

Moon germ worries.

Amid concerns over what germs the astronauts might have brought back with them from the moon, they were kept in quarantine for three weeks after their return to Earth before they could be reunited with their families. The quarantine experience “quickly became oppressive” according to a NASA history of the mission.

The astronauts had to wear “biological isolation garments” before they went into quarantine, where they had to keep themselves entertained with an exercise room, a ping pong table, television, reading material and phone calls to their families. The suits were to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.

“I always found it funny that the rags used to wipe us down that were covered with moon dust were dropped in the ocean,” he tweeted. “So the poor underwater creatures got our moon germs instead.”

Aldrin then suggested that the moon dust in the ocean could be “fodder for a Godzilla movie.”

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The ‘Hello, My Name is Jose Jiminez’ Eye Opener

When William Szathmary died on June 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, millions of fans who knew him, did not know him by his birth name.

Eleven years prior to his death, meeting American comedian Bill Dana was a complete surprise, because I had completely forgotten about the entertainer.

Like many baby boomers growing up in the 1960s, Dana would make America laugh with his signature, “Hello, my name is Jose Jiminez” astronaut routine. It was so popular, another celebrity, a country and western singing star, would adapt his own stage introductions with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever) Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with Bill Dana.

“Okay, José, you’re on your way!”


With those words, radioed to Alan Shepard as he lifted off to become the first American astronaut to fly into space on May 5, 1961, Bill Dana’s role in NASA history was sealed.

Because of his popularity portraying “José Jiménez,” Dana was bestowed the title of being the eighth of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

When he died on that June 15th in 2017, Dana was 92.

“He’ll be missed not only by the astronaut family, but many more around the world,” said Tammy Sudler, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Bill Dana was lovingly known as our honorary Mercury 8 astronaut.”

First created in 1959 for “The Steve Allen Show” and later appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” José Jiménez held several positions, including an elevator operator, a bobsled racer, a Navy submariner and a lion tamer, but it was as the shiny-spacesuited, reluctant astronaut that the Bolivian character became famous (Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry in reality).

“What do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?” asked Ed Sullivan, playing the straight man during one of Dana’s better-known skits.

“To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off,” said Dana.

“The blast-off…” repeated Sullivan.

“I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I would not go near that thing,” Dana quipped as Jiménez.

Dana’s José Jiménez routine was later released on record albums, rising to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, which drew the attention of the real-life Mercury astronauts.

“The astronauts, especially Shepard, absolutely loved the record, and listened to it in the office after intense training sessions,” author Neal Thompson described in “Light This Candle” (Crown, 2004), his biography of the first astronaut. “Shepard even tape recorded the album and during lulls between training exercises or during test launches at the Cape would play the tapes at full volume near the Mission Control loudspeakers.”

The astronaut and comedian first met at a Cocoa Beach night club, where Shepard — from out in the audience and without the prior knowledge of Dana — took on the role of the straight man, setting up Jiménez’s replies. Soon, fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton joined in.

Dana, 3rd from left with Mercury astronauts



“The club was roaring as the three astronauts took turns,” wrote Thompson. After the show, Dana hurried to a phone to call his producer in New York.

“‘They know us. They know every word. And they love us,” exclaimed Dana, as described by Thompson.

Shepard and the other astronauts’ fondness for Dana and his character led to José Jiménez becoming the unofficial mascot of the Mercury program.

In addition to inspiring the 1961 launch call between Slayton (in the blockhouse) and Shepard (on top of a Redstone rocket), Dana performed at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball with Shepard in attendance.

The comedian also inspired a “gotcha” – a practical joke – that Shepard arranged in secret for John Glenn to discover once aboard his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Opening up a pouch while in orbit, Glenn was surprised by a small stuffed mouse floating free, a reference to the “leetle mice” Jiménez would cite as fellow test subjects in his routine.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Meets Archie Bunker

One of the most celebrated televised episodes of the classic and controversial All in the Family aired in 1972. It’s the tale about the time entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. stopped by to visit the Bunkers.

It begins with a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab and ends with the kiss of infamy. Very few people are aware that the writer of this episode was Bill Dana.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS



🔹Born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana served as a gunner and mortarman in the U.S. Army during World War II.

🔹He began his career in comedy as a page and a writer for other comedians’ stand-up routines.

🔹Dana was also a screenwriter for television and movies, writing the Emmy-Award-winning “All in the Family” episode, “Sammy Davis Visits Archie Bunker” (1972), penning jokes for the “Donny and Marie” show (1977-1978), and co-writing the script for the “Get Smart” film “The Nude Bomb” (1980).

Dana also showed up as José Jiménez in a number of TV cameos, including as part of a 1966 episode of “Batman,” appearing alongside the late Adam West and Burt Ward.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Expert Observations About Our Moon

Always fascinated by the Moon—perhaps because being a Baby Boomer, tales from my Chickasaw-Choctaw great grandmother Margaret Ralph-Morgan and being around during the early days of manned American space exploration–were influences.

We never took the Moon for granted. Not much in my experiences matched the 1969 landing on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Meeting and interviewing Aldrin was definitely a highlight years later.

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin

Here is a collection of interesting quotes from scientists, authors, researchers, NASA insiders and star-gazers relating to the enigmatic and often inexplicable nature of the moon:

Isaac Asimov,
American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University and Science Fiction writer. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time.

“We cannot help but come to the conclusion that the Moon by rights ought not to be there. The fact that it is, is one of the strokes of luck almost too good to accept… Small planets, such as Earth, with weak gravitational fields, might well lack satellites… … In general then, when a planet does have satellites, those satellites are much smaller than the planet itself. Therefore, even if the Earth has a satellite, there would be every reason to suspect… that at best it would be a tiny world, perhaps 30 miles in diameter. But that is not so. Earth not only has a satellite, but it is a giant satellite, 2160 miles in diameter. How is it then, that tiny Earth has one? Amazing.”

“The Moon, which has no atmosphere and no magnetic field, is basically a freak of nature”

Irwin Shapiro,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

“The best possible explanation for the Moon is observational error – the Moon doesn’t exist.’

“The Moon is bigger than it should be, apparently older than it should be and much lighter in mass than it should be. It occupies an unlikely orbit and is so extraordinary that all existing explanations for its presence are fraught with difficulties are none of them could be considered remotely watertight.”

Christopher Knight and Alan Bulter
Book: Who Built the Moon?

The Moon has astonishing synchronicity with the Sun. When the Sun is at its lowest and weakest in mid-winter, the Moon is at its highest and brightest, and the reverse occurs in mid-summer. Both set at the same point on the horizon at the equinoxes and at the opposite point at the solstices. What are the chances that the Moon would naturally find an orbit so perfect that it would cover the Sun at an eclipse and appear from Earth to be the same size? What are chances that the alignments would be so perfect at the equinoxes and solstices?

Farouk El Baz,
NASA

“If water vapour is coming from the Moon’s interior is this serious. It means that there is a drastic distinction between the different phases of the lunar interior – that the interior is quite different from what we have seen on the surface.”

Mikhail Vasin, Alexander Shcherbakov,
Societ Academy of Sciences, 1970.

“Is the moon a creation of an alien intelligence?”

Dr Harold Urey,
Nobel Prize for Chemistry

“I’m terribly puzzled by the rocks from the Moon and in particular of their titanium content.”

Dr S Ross Taylor,
Geochemist of lunar chemical analysis,

Said the problem was that maria plains the size of Texas had to be covered with melted rock containing fluid titanium. He said you would not expect titanium ever to be hot enough to do that, even on Earth, and no one has ever suggested that the Moon was hotter than the Earth.

“What could distribute titanium in this way? Highly advanced technology developed and operated by entities that are immensely more technologically advance than humans.”

Dr. Gordon MacDonald,
NASA

“it would seem that the Moon is more like a hollow than a homogenous sphere’. He surmised that the data must have been wrong – but it wasn’t.”

Carl Sagan,
Cosmologist,

“A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.”

Dr. Sean C Solomon,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The Lunar Orbiter experiments had vastly improved knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field and indicated the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”

University of Arizona Lon Hood
“We knew that the Moon’s core was small, but we didn’t know it was this small… This really does add weight to the idea that the Moon’s origin is unique, unlike any other terrestrial body.”

NASA scientists
The Apollo 12 mission to the Moon in November 1969 set up seismometers and then intentionally crashed the Lunar Module causing an impact equivalent to one ton of TNT. The shockwaves built up for eight minutes, and NASA scientists said the Moon ‘rang like a bell.

Maurice Ewing,
American geophysicist and oceanographer

“As for the meaning of it, I’d rather not make an interpretation right now, but it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church, a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.”

Ken Johnson,
Supervisor of the Data and Photo Control department during the Apollo missions

“The Moon not only rang like a bell, but the whole Moon wobbled in such a precise way that it was almost as though it had gigantic hydraulic damper struts inside it.”

Moon rocks have been found to contain processed metals, including brass and mica, and the elements Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 that have never been found to occur naturally.

Dr. D L Anderson,
Professor of geophysics and director of the seismological laboratory,
California Institute of Technology


“The Moon is made inside out and that its inner and outer compositions should be the other way around.”

Dr. Robin Brett,
NASA Scientist

“It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the moon than its existence.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

11 Famous People Who Are Still Alive

Update: Larry Storch died on July 8, 2022 at age 99.

Here is a salute to longevity and good health. As of April 21, 2022 (1 pm CST) these famous celebrities were known to be alive. I have met those designated with “*”.

Jimmy Carter (98)*

Photo by Jack Dennis

John Astin (91)

Norman Lear (99)

James Earl Jones (91)*

Dick Van Dyke (96)

Barbara Walters (92)

Bob Barker (98)

Tippi Hedren (92)*

Buzz Aldrin (92)*

June Lockhart (97)*

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10 Clever Facts We Learned at WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri

We passed up going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I instantly regretted it after we left.

Driving away toward the Great Smokies National Park, I suddenly remembered a Facebook post from a friend, Janie Buys, a few years ago mentioning the attraction. It seems she had doubts about visiting it with husband Phil and son Phil Jr., but after she went in, it didn’t take her long to enjoy it.

A couple of weeks later into our month long roadtrip, Dodie and I were pleasantly surprised to see a WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri.

Dodie navigating through a kaleidoscope tunnel.

Dodie, a retired nurse, has always enjoyed science and the attraction bills itself as “a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages.”

The building is enticing enough to spur anyone’s interest. It looks like a giant four story venue turned upside down. As soon as we walked in, the floor was the ceiling and the ceiling was the floor.

The WonderWorks entrance.

It was fun to experience the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Some chose to make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab.

I enjoyed the NASA Space area but we elected not to get strapped into the Astronaut Training Gyro to “experience zero gravity.” We also passed lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails.

Astronaut Jack.

Here’s the Top 10 Things I Learned at WonderWorks:

1. You can’t see your ears without a mirror.

2. You can’t count your hair.

3. You can’t breath through your nose with your tounge out.

4. You just tried No. 3.

6. When you tried No. 3 you realized that it is possible, but you looked like a dog.

7. You are smiling right now, because you were fooled.

8. You skipped No. 5.

9. You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

10. Share this with your friends so they can have fun too.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Leftist New Mexico Governor Accused of $200 Million Fraud

Accuser: “Forced to resign when I had to choose between keeping my job and committing crimes.”

Grisham is being sued.

Zach DeGriego, Spaceport America’s former Chief Financial Officer, filed a civil complaint last week in First Judicial District Court against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham regarding alleged fraud of $200 million.

“I’ve never spoken about this publicly until now, but the continued retaliation from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her staff has forced me to make this statement to set the record straight,” DeGriego said in a video statement.

“Many of you know I was the former chief financial officer of Spaceport America in New Mexico. I left that position after making multiple whistleblower complaints. I was forced to resign when I had to choose between keeping my job and committing crimes. After the governor and her staff got rid of me they have done everything in their power to retaliate against me and destroy my life to keep me silent.”

“At the same time, they proceeded to violate multiple federal laws. Today, I have filed a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico for violations of the New Mexico whistleblower protection act and malfeasance by the state auditor.”

DeGriego

“The complaint names 21 individuals who participated in a conspiracy including leaders at the highest levels of state government including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Attorney General Hector Balderas, New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón, Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia Keyes, and current managers at Spaceport America.”

New Mexico Spaceport Authority, an agency of the State of New Mexico, is the operator of Spaceport America. It is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range.

News reports surfaced this week alleged:

🔹Grisham political appointee, Alicia Keyes, encouraged DeGriego (who worked for Spaceport American from 2015 to 2020) to falsify an economic impact study. 

🔹Keyes mishandled a bond refinancing for the purpose of defrauding the state.

🔹When DeGriego attempted to report the wrongdoing, he claimed, he was threatened with investigations and a firing.

“The complaint provides evidence of extortion, bribery, illegal drug use, sex discrimination, procurement fraud, securities fraud, and multiple violations of federal law. The complaint describes how after I left, the defendants proceeded to commit over $200 million in fraud when they issued bonds under false pretenses with disclosure documents containing fraudulent information.”

🔹DeGriego resigned from his position at the company in June 2020, shortly after he filed a complaint alleging that Spaceport America Executive Director Daniel Hicks violated several state laws.

🔹In the lawsuit, DeGriego adds that Hicks attempted to break into his email account and accessed emails DeGriego sent to Keyes about Hicks’ involvement in alleged procurement fraud.

In 2020, Hicks was placed on administrative leave in June, and fired in October following an investigation.

Spaceport Authority employees told investigators that Hicks repeatedly referred to the taxpayer-funded New Mexico Spaceport Authority as “my agency” and the budget as “my money.”

Hicks

The review found that Hicks routinely ignored statutes and regulations as he awarded contracts, hired friends for key positions, and traveled around the nation to conferences, meetings and other events. Specifically, the report claims that Hicks:

  • spent more than $60,000 on travel after he was named to run the spaceport in November 2016;
  • failed to get travel authorization from the governor’s office for 33 separate trips that cost $32,404;
  • overspent on hotels, airfares and other travel expenses;
  • submitted falsified and backdated travel documentation;
  • spent $3,100 traveling around the country for a week to attend events marking 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing without any apparent benefit to the spaceport;
  • spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel and other expenses attempting to attract orbital launch services even though the spaceport could not host them for safety reasons;
  • gave himself a substantial raise that had never been approved by the Spaceport Authority’s Board of Directors;
  • considered the Board of Directors a “nuisance” to which he had no obligation to provide contracts or requests for proposals for review;
  • hired friends without going through the required competitive process; and,
  • inappropriately accessed DeGriego’s email after the complaint was filed.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Look Up in the Sky: January 2022

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mars and the Moon Come Together With Venus Nearby

Venus will have an interesting month. Today and tomorrow (January 8-9), it’s going to be closer to Earth than any planet has been in a century.

🔹It’ll be just 0.266 Astronomical Units or 24.7 million miles away, according to Space.com.

🔹It’ll then appear in the pre-dawn sky later in the month, brightening significantly. You’ll be able to see Venus and the crescent moon together in the pre-dawn sky on January 29-30. They won’t be on top of each other, but they should make a nice tableau in conjunction with Mars, which will be even closer to the moon than Venus. 

All Month: Mars is Back

Mars is coming back into view for us earthlings. It passed out of view behind the sun and is just returning. The red planet will continue to get brighter and rise in the sky over the coming months.

The moon will cross the asterism over a series of nights, as it does each month through the winter, providing a great opportunity to watch the movement of the sky across nights.

🔹The winter hexagon will sit high in the southeastern sky.

🔹If you’re under exceptionally dark skies, the Milky Way cuts through the winter hexagon as well.

🔹The moon hits the western side of the hexagon on January 13 and will trek across it until the night of January 16.

January 17: Full Wolf Moon

The full moon alights on January 17. It’s often called the Wolf Moon and its arrival means you’re going to have some light interference if you’re trying to go out stargazing. 

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Thanksgiving Celebrations In Space

Special From NASA

The Thanksgiving holiday typically brings families and friends together in a celebration of common gratitude for all the good things that have happened during the previous year.

People celebrate the holiday in various ways, with parades, football marathons, and attending religious services, but food remains the over-arching theme. For astronauts embarked on long-duration space missions, separation from family and friends is inevitable, and they rely on fellow crew members to share in the tradition and enjoy the culinary traditions as much as possible.

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skylab_4_eating

 
Thanksgiving 1973. Left: Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson,
and William R. Pogue, the first crew to celebrate Thanksgiving in space.
Right: Gibson, left, and Carr demonstrate eating aboard Skylab.

Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue were the first crew to celebrate Thanksgiving in space on Nov. 22, 1973. On that day, their seventh of an 84-day mission, Gibson and Pogue completed a 6-hour, 33-minute spacewalk, while Carr remained in the Multiple Docking Adaptor with no access to food.

All three made up for missing lunch by consuming two meals at dinner time, although neither included special items for Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving 1985. Left: STS-61B payload specialists Charles D. Walker, left, and Rodolfo Neri Vela of Mexico
enjoy the first Thanksgiving aboard a space shuttle in Atlantis’ middeck. Middle: The STS-61B crew
enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner while floating in Atlantis’ middeck. Right: Mexican payload
specialist Neri Vela, who introduced tortillas to space menus.

Twelve years passed before the next orbital Thanksgiving celebration. On Nov. 28, 1985, the seven-member crew of STS-61B, NASA astronauts Brewster H. Shaw, Bryan D. O’Connor, Jerry L. Ross, Mary L. Cleave, and Sherwood C. “Woody” Spring, and payload specialists Charles D. Walker from the United States and Rodolfo Neri Vela from Mexico, feasted on shrimp cocktail, irradiated turkey, and cranberry sauce aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.

Neri Vela introduced tortillas to space menus, and they have remained favorites among astronauts ever since. Unlike regular bread, tortillas do not create crumbs, a potential hazard in weightlessness, and have multiple uses for any meal of the day.

The crew of STS-33, NASA astronauts Frederick D. Gregory, John E. Blaha, Manley L. “Sonny” Carter, F. Story Musgrave, and Kathryn C. Thornton, celebrated Thanksgiving aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1989.

Gregory and Musgrave celebrated their second Thanksgiving in space two years later, joined by fellow STS-44 NASA astronauts Terrence T. “Tom” Henricks, James S. Voss, Mario Runco, and Thomas J. Hennen aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

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Thanksgiving 1996. Left: STS-80 astronauts Tamara E. Jernigan, left, Kent V. Rominger, and
Thomas D. Jones enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Columbia’s middeck. Right: The STS-80
crew during aboard Columbia exchanging Thanksgiving greetings with John E. Blaha
aboard the Mir space station.

In 1996, Blaha celebrated his second Thanksgiving in space with Russian cosmonauts Valeri G. Korzun and Aleksandr Y. Kaleri aboard the space station Mir. Blaha watched the beautiful Earth through the Mir windows rather than his usual viewing fare of football.

The STS-80 crew of NASA astronauts Kenneth D. Cockrell, Kent V. Rominger, Tamara E. Jernigan, Thomas D. Jones, and Musgrave, now on his third turkey day holiday in orbit, celebrated Thanksgiving aboard space shuttle Columbia. Although the eight crew members were in different spacecraft in different orbits, they exchanged holiday greetings via space-to-space radio. This marked the largest number of people in space on Thanksgiving Day up to that time.

One year later, NASA astronaut David A. Wolf celebrated Thanksgiving with his Russian crewmates Anatoli Y. Solovev, who translated the holiday into Russian as den blagodarenia, and Pavel V. Vinogradov aboard Mir. They enjoyed smoked turkey, freeze-dried mashed potatoes, peas, and milk.

Also in orbit at the time was the crew of STS-87, NASA astronauts Kevin R. Kregel, Steven W. Lindsey, Kalpana Chawla, and Winston E. Scott, Takao Doi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Leonid K. Kadenyuk of Ukraine, aboard Columbia. The nine crew members aboard the two spacecraft broke the one-year-old record for the largest number of people in space at one time for Thanksgiving, also setting the record for the most nations represented, four.

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Thanksgiving 2001, Expedition 3 crewmembers enjoying Thanksgiving dinner aboard the space station.
Left: NASA astronaut Frank L. Culbertson, left, and Vladimir N. Dezhurov of Roscosmos.
Middle: Dezhurov, left, and Mikhail V. Tyurin of Roscosmos. Right: Tyurin, left,
and Culbertson.

The Expedition 1 crew of NASA astronaut William M. Shepherd, and Yuri P. Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev of Roscosmos celebrated the first Thanksgiving aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 23, 2000, three weeks after their arrival aboard the facility.

The crew took time out of their busy schedule to enjoy ham and smoked turkey and send words of thanks to the people on the ground who provided excellent support to their flight. Crews have celebrated Thanksgiving in space every November since then.

In 2001, Expedition 3 crew members NASA astronaut Frank L. Culbertson, and Vladimir N. Dezhurov and Mikhail V. Tyurin of Roscosmos enjoyed the first real Thanksgiving aboard the space station, complete with a cardboard turkey as decoration.

The following year’s orbital Thanksgiving celebration included the largest number of people to that time, the combined 10 crewmembers of Expedition 5, STS-113, and Expedition 6. After a busy day that included the first Thanksgiving Day spacewalk aboard the space station, the crews settled down to a dinner of smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans with mushrooms. Blueberry-cherry cobbler rounded out the meal.

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Thanksgiving 2008. Left: The Thanksgiving dinner reheating in space shuttle Endeavour’s
food warmer. Right: The crews of Expedition 18 and STS-126 share a meal in
the space shuttle middeck.

Expedition 18 crew members NASA astronauts E. Michael Fincke and Gregory E. Chamitoff and Yuri V. Lonchakov representing Roscosmos, welcomed the STS-126 crew of NASA astronauts Christopher J. Ferguson, Eric A. Boe, Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Donald R. Pettit, Stephen G. Bowen, R. Shane Kimbrough, and Sandra H. Magnus during Thanksgiving in 2008.

They dined in the space shuttle Endeavour’s middeck on smoked turkey, candied yams, green beans and mushrooms, cornbread dressing and a cranberry-apple dessert. 

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Thanksgiving 2009. Left: Crew members from Expedition 21 and STS-129 share an
early Thanksgiving meal. Right: The Thanksgiving dinner for the Expedition
21 and STS-129 crews.

The following year saw the largest,  internationally diverse group to celebrate Thanksgiving in space. The six Expedition 21 crew members,  astronauts Jeffrey N. Williams and Nicole P. Stott of NASA, Roman Y. Romanenko and Maksim V. Suraev of Roscosmos, Frank L. DeWinne of the European Space Agency, and Robert B. Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency hosted the six members of the STS-129 crew, NASA astronauts Charles O. Hobaugh, Barry E. Wilmore, Michael J. Foreman, Robert L. Satcher, Randolph J. Bresnik, and Leland D. Melvin.

The twelve assembled crew members represented the United States, Russia, Belgium, and Canada. The celebration took place two days early, since the shuttle undocked from the space station on Thanksgiving Day.

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Thanksgiving 2010. Left: Expedition 25 commander and NASA astronaut Scott J. Kelly
awaits his crewmates at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Right: The Expedition 25
crew of Oleg I. Skripochka of Roscosmos, left, Kelly, NASA astronaut Douglas H.
Wheeler, Aleksandr Y. Kaleri and Fyodor N. Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, and NASA
astronaut Shannon Walker sending Thanksgiving greetings to the ground
before digging into their dinner.

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Thanksgiving 2013. Left: Expedition 38 NASA astronauts Michael S. Hopkins, left,
and Richard A. Mastracchio showing off food items destined for the Thanksgiving
Day dinner. Right: Close-up of the Thanksgiving dinner items, including turkey,
ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans and mushrooms, and dressing.

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Thanksgiving 2014. Left: Eager for Thanksgiving, Expedition 42 commander and NASA
astronaut Barry E. “Butch” Wilmore sets out his meal several days in advance.
Right: Expedition 42 crew members Wilmore, left, Samantha Cristoforetti of the
European Space Agency, Aleksandr M. Samokutyayev and Anton N. Shkaplerov of
Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Terry W. Virts, and Elena O. Serova of Roscosmos
enjoy the Thanksgiving Day dinner.

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Thanksgiving 2015. Left: Expedition 45 crew members Mikhail B. Korniyenko, left,
Oleg D. Kononenko, and Sergei A. Volkov of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Kjell N.
Lindgren, Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA
astronaut Scott J. Kelly pose before the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Right: Kelly, left, and Lindgren show off the Thanksgiving dinner items.

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Thanksgiving 2016. Left: Expedition 50 crew members Oleg V. Novitsky, left,
Sergei N. Ryzhikov, and Andrei I. Borisenko of Roscosmos, Thomas G. Pesquet
of the European Space Agency, and NASA astronauts R. Shane Kimbrough and
Peggy A. Whitson pose before the Thanksgiving dinner table. Right: The
Expedition 50 crew tucks into the feast.

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Thanksgiving 2017. Left: The Thanksgiving table is set. Middle: The Expedition 53 crew of Paolo A. Nespoli
of the European Space Agency, left, NASA astronauts Joseph M. Acaba and Mark T. Vande Hei, Sergei N.
Ryazansky and Aleksandr A. Misurkin of Roscosmos, and NASA astronaut Randolph J. Bresnik patiently
awaits the start of the dinner. Right: The Expedition 53 crew digs in.

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Thanksgiving 2019. Left: The turkey is in the oven, or more precisely the smoked turkey
packages are in the Galley Food Warmer. Right: Expedition 61 crew members NASA
astronaut Christina H. Koch, left, Aleksandr A. Skvortsov of Roscosmos, NASA
astronaut Jessica U. Meir, Oleg I. Skripochka of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut
Andrew R. Morgan, and Luca S. Parmitano of the European Space Agency
celebrate Thanksgiving aboard the space station.

thanksgiving_food_prep_rubins_nov_2020
thanksgiving_nov_26_2020

 
Thanksgiving 2020. Left: Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kathleen H. “Kate” Rubins
prepares the Thanksgiving dinner. Right: The Expedition 64 crew of NASA astronaut
Michael S. Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency,
Sergei V. Kud-Sverchkov and Sergei N. Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, and NASA
astronauts K. Meghan McArthur, Victor J. Glover, and Rubins enjoying
the Thanksgiving meal including frozen treats for dessert.

We hope you enjoyed these stories and photographs from Thanksgivings celebrated in orbit. We would like to wish everyone here on the ground and the seven-member crew of Expedition 66 aboard the space station a very happy Thanksgiving!

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