The next chapter in Patricia Tribe’s interrupted Story Time from Space reading program will be on a Cape Canaveral launch pad Wednesday.
The Penticton educator, who previously worked for NASA in Houston, Tex., plans to go to Florida for the scheduled lift off of the Orbital 4 rocket along with some of the authors of the seven books that will be on board for the voyage to the International Space Station.
The books are copies of the ones which were destroyed, along with $70,000 of mostly one-of-a-kind hardware for the program, when the unmanned SpaceX CRS – 7 rocket exploded just after take off in June.
That incident threatened to end the entire project she had been working on for more than four years.
“We’re crossing our fingers that everything is going to go all right and so far the launch is still planned for Dec. 3,” said Tribe, who has been working closely with the space community in Canada and the United States to make her vision a reality.
Part of that was enlisting the help of former Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason to design the nine unique experiments and demonstrations that were also lost in June.
Fortunately she was able to recruit support from a number of sponsors and the material was replaced.
“Relaunching books is not a huge deal but in March (2016) we’re on Space X 9 and that’s where all our rebuilt equipment is going to be,” said Tribe.
Story Time From Space involves astronauts being video taped reading books on board the space station as well as doing the demonstrations which the public can then access.
The concept is to promote interest in science and reading especially among children.
A number of books have already been read in space and she expects, if everything goes OK, to have all of the material back on earth in about a year.
It was Tribe’s good friend Col. Alvin Drew, who has visited Penticton numerous times and spoke at the Trade and Convention Centre, who first got things started during the final flight of the Discovery space shuttle in 2011.
Authors of the books going up on the upcoming missions include former astronaut Mark Kelly whose twin brother Scott is currently on a year-long stay on space station and is also reading for the program.
Another writer is LeVar Burton who has been hosting the Reading Rainbow children’s educational show encouraging kids to read. Burton is probably best known for his role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“He’s (Burton) really excited about it,” said Tribe who went to Los Angeles earlier to meet with his team about the project.
In the meantime Story Time from Space is continuing to generate worldwide interest and last week received the STEM (Science, Technology, Education Math) Education award at the SpaceCom (Space Commerce Conference and Exposition) in Houston.
Associated Press (AP) also did a story recently about the program which wound up on the White House News Highlights of the Day and a video congratulation from Kelly on the space station.
“That’s cool,” said Tribe with a smile. “Now we just hope everything goes well with the launch.”