Monday, December 31, 2007

"THE" Re-Union : Day Seven

24 Decmber 2002:
College Station, TX: The last day of our planned trip in the "Lone Star State". We had initially decided to visit the NASA space center. Just then a sort of an alarm rang "Houston, we have a problem". We had all gotten up pretty late as we were all busy chatting the previous day after returning from SanAntonio. It was nearly 12 or past 12, when we came to know that the last trip (viewing tour) starts at 3pm. TAMU room-mates mentioned that it was a drive which generally took more than two and a half hours or so. By the time we ready to roll it was past 1pm and the overall picture looked bleak.

On-Road-To-NASA, TX: We started driving and more news hit us when we came to know that NASA was actually even further down south of Houston, more closer closer to Galveston. But with some Shumachresque driving from Atul (and exquiste Navigation by "who else but me" ;) )and zigzagging like crazy through Downtown Houston we barely reached the NASA gate. Unfortunately the last shuttle and ride was already full and we had missed our chance. But "lady luck" smiled her brightest then, and we received the news that to accomodate the other turned up visitors during Holiday season, they would conjure another ride. We being among the first were very sure to make it and received preferred seating.

NASA, TX: The previous day was quite warm, barring the thunderstorm that lashed late evening. This day was the exact opposite as winds wailed and the cold breeze was almost cutting through skin. Luckily all of us had some kind of jumpers put on which helped us survive ?? the wintry ride. The open air carriage did not help much and it was really some great relief when we were inside the main building. On the walls were pictures of the many missions NASA had undertaken, space walks, moon trips and the like. (There is in fact a Flag for every mission that is carried out as well) There were some rock samples kept in vaccumized glass bottles kept for display behind closed Glass Walls.

Control Room, NASA, TX: This was the place where it all happens (happened), the heart and soul of any mission, manned or un-manned. This was the place where the words first were heard from the moon "The eagle has landed" (though this may have different meanings with changing contexts). There was a huge screen where all the parameters were displayed and the tracking for the shuttle performed. This was the haven which ensured that "Apollo 13" came back safely to earth !! The only difference the tour-guide mentioned was that previously it was a smoking facility which has now been converted to a non-smoking one. From a viewing point of view, the Control Room was open for public viewing prior to 9/11, now it was only visible from behind closed glass doors.

NASA, TX: The day had started to wane and so had the available warmth from the surroundings. On our way back to the NASA gallery it was even worse than when we had reached there. We spent the next hour or so viewing the different models on display from full-size command modules to a cock-pit of a jumbo. Then, it was time to turn back to College Station. We had to leave for Auburn, quite early the next day and it was truly sad that the wonderful trip was coming to a close.

Houston, TX: We had dinner at some restaurant but the Ok types food did not help much in overcoming the impending gloom. I dont know whether it was only me or others felt the same but never-the-less, none of expressed the obvious.

College Station, TX: It was not too late when we came back to pack our belongings and gear-up ourselves to a long, arduos and at-times treacherous journey. We were always hammering Nikhil that he HAD to come with us to Clemson and spent the remaining of his vacation with all of us. After much deliberation and slight use of physical and mental force, we managed to convince of making the trip back. We had a great clicking session which went way into the night and also reminiscing our last 5 wonderful days.



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