Astronaut Alvin Drew aboard space shuttle Discovery in 2011. Photo courtesy NASA

Space shuttle reading over the Okanagan?

Astronaut Alvin Drew believes his pilot book reading could “very well” have been over Penticton

Travelling at five miles a second on the space shuttle Discovery in 2011, astronaut Alvin Drew couldn’t pinpoint his exact location over earth when he did his pilot reading for Story Time for Space.

“I think it was same day we left the space station, I’m sure we’d done a complete lap (of the earth) but at that speed there’s no one place on earth you’re going to be but it very well may have been Penticton,” said Drew with a laugh during a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he now works as the NASA liaison to the United States Air Force. “It’s still a very memorable event, my initial plan was to sit in the cupola (observation module) of the space station where they do the readings now, but the time aboard the space station was just too hectic.

“It was only after we had closed the hatches and undocked from the space station I stole a bit of time so that I could go and transform the cockpit of Discovery into a film studio and read a few stories.”

The video of that reading can still be found on YouTube: STS-133 Max Goes to the Moon.

Max is actually a dog in children’s author and astrophysisist Jeffrey Bennett’s series of space books, now orbiting the planet on the space station as part of Story Time from Space.

Drew remembers when he was first approached about the project, of which he eventually became a co-founder.

“Patricia (Tribe) was trying hard to pitch the idea to the education office at Johnson Space centre (Houston, Tx.). There was some disconnect there so, in desperation, she asked if I would do a demo tape,” recalled Drew, who did two space walks during the mission. “Because it was late in our mission planning there was just no way to get that into a timeline as an activity, so I said yeah I would be happy to do a timeline when I could.”

In the video Max Goes to the Moon, Drew reads what he calls “a bedtime story” from a laptop — they eventually decided to use the actual books in the program — reading about the crews’ efforts to get Max into his spacesuit after landing on the moon, including making sure his tail was in the right place.

At that point Drew stops reading, smiles and interjects to the camera: “Sound like my space walk a couple of days ago, except I don’t have a tail.”

About the success of Story Time he said: “Surprised? Yes and no. I mean at one point when Patricia explained the whole idea to me, I think it was eight years ago, it seemed obvious, going into space. What a great idea.

“Then she put it out there and it just took off. I don’t know why we didn’t see this coming and it’s still surprising how much success it’s had.”

This was his second shuttle mission to the space station, the first was in 2007 on board Endeavour, only this time he became only the 200th human to walk in space.

“It was surreal, I remember going out the (shuttle) door and the first thoughts that came to mind were, ‘We’re not in Kansas any more and Through the Looking Glass,” he said.

“It surrounds you, you’re immersed in it, looking through two narrow sheets of plexiglass and the next thing out and beyond you is 13 and a half billion light years away.”

It’s that same sense of wonder and awe he hopes Story Time will inject into young minds.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

 

Astronaut Alvin Drew during one of his two space walks in 2011. Photo courtesy NASA

Just Posted

Premier releases details on Keremeos affordable housing project

The proposed project will be designed to include one-, two- and three-bedroom units

Penticton Vees trade captain Rizzo days after NHL draft

The Penticton Vees announced they traded 2001-born forward Massimo Rizzo

Chance of showers and thunderstorm for Okanagan-Shuswap-Similkameen

Mostly cloudy day for the Okanagan-Shuswap and Similkameen regions

Penticton resident celebrates 105th birthday

Roberta Mabel Graham is a resident at Athens Creek Retirement Lodge

Busy opening week for Block300 Casual Steakhouse

Penticton residents went roughly six months without a resident steakhouse

Ride Don’t Hide Penticton sees record turnout

The seventh year of the event also saw the first Stride Don’t Hide walk

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Disaster relief: four tips for coping with wildfires, smoky skies

Being shrouded in smoke or having to flee from wildfires can cause anxiety, stress, depression

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

Canadian communities responding to climate change

New research highlights state of local adaptation planning in Canada

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

Most Read