Astronaut touching down in city

Above and beyond. That’s always been astronaut Col. Alvin Drew’s call of duty in the NASA space program which has included a pair of voyages as a shuttle crew member.

Astronaut Alvin Drew works on some equipment outside of the International Space Station during February’s final flight of the space shuttle Discovery to the orbiting structure.

Above and beyond.

That’s always been astronaut Col. Alvin Drew’s call of duty in the NASA space program which has included a pair of voyages as a shuttle crew member.

At the end of this month the public will get an opportunity to find out exactly what it’s like to feel the power of lift off, floating weightless miles above the earth tethered to the outside of the International Space Station and the fiery re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

The mission specialist on Discovery’s final journey last February will be at the Cleland Theatre Wednesday, Aug. 31 to talk about those events and more during a special engagement organized by the city parks and rec department.

But despite spending several months travelling around the globe — albeit at a much lower altitude — the stop here is one he is especially excited about.

“I always look forward to coming back to Penticton. It’s a good place to visit, the pace of life here is a little bit different than anywhere else in the world,” said Drew, who spoke to a capacity audience here in the spring of 2010. “I really enjoyed my last speaking engagement (in Penticton). It was well received with lots of interesting questions from the audience. There’s a lot of interest in the space program here.”

He also credits the smoothness of his engagements locally for much of the enjoyment of being here.

“Bob Pope (recreation co-ordinator) and the other people over at the community centre do a really good job,” said Drew. “I do lots and lots of these things so I see the whole spectrum from good to bad and he’s (Pope) up there with the best of them in how he does that.

“It takes a lot of stress off me.”

According to Pope, having a speaker of this quality is a plus for the community, especially for the young people.

“What a role model for the kids,” said the rec co-ordinator. “It shows you can go for the dreams because here’s a guy who as a little kid watches the astronaut program on a black-and-white TV and decides that’s what he’s going to be. That’s why he fits in with us, it’s that you-can-do-anything-if-you-set-your-mind-to-it message.

“We’re calling this the Last Astronaut because it’s almost like a part two or a wrap up of the first presentation he did for us.”

During his recent speaking tour, Drew spent time in New Zealand and the United Kingdom where he had an opportunity to meet the prime minister.

Part of his message is that while the space shuttle program has officially come to an end, NASA will continue with the research and exploration end of the space business.

Drew pointed out much of the work involving manned space flight will be now be in the courts of the commercial sector.

He estimated that could become a reality anywhere in  the next five to 15 years.

“There’s no doubt in my mind a good number of them are going to fail, but even if one of them succeeds we’re going to have a revolution in how we work in space,” said the astronaut.

Tickets for the Penticton event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., are available at the Community Centre office and cost $5 for adults and $2 for children. Any remaining tickets will be $10 at the door.


Just Posted

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Rollover closes road

No serious injuries reported in a rollover off South Main in Penticton

Raven story shines light at Children’s Showcase

Season opener of the Children’s Showcase in Penticton

Student leadership conference hits home

Nearly 500 Grade 5 students taking part in leadership conference in Penticton

Penticton dancers headed to Germany for world championship

Penticton dancers representing Canada at World Dance Championships

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Have you heard about Black Press scholarships?

Up to 37 scholarships are awarded each year to students throughout British Columbia

Most Read