Flat Stanley in space, well, maybe not!

Published 1:22 am Sunday, December 16, 2007

This Thursday, I got to do something very special. The Picayune Item took me to Stennis Space Center to visit with the crew of Space Shuttle Mission STS-120.
Currently, the crew is on a second mission — saying thank you to all the different NASA facilities that helped make their journey in space so successful.
The Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi played a very important role. They are responsible for testing the rocket engines that get the astronauts to space and safely back home again.
I got to meet six members of the crew on my visit, Commander Pamela Melroy, Pilot George D. Zamka, and Mission Specialists Scott E. Parazynski, M.D., Douglas H. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson, and Paolo Nespoli.
Pamela Melroy, the crew’s Commander, took the time to speak with me.
I asked her what that moment was like for as they were strapping her into the cockpit. She explained that this was her third trip. The first time she was anxious, and surprised by many of the events and procedures that take place during the launch. The second time was still all about how she was feeling, and how she hoped she could be an asset to the team. The third time she watched the rookies. She knew when they would react and be surprised. She experienced the thrill of the first time again through their eyes.
I also took the time to do a quick interview with news reporter Al Showers of WLOX channel 13. He questioned me about my stay in Picayune, my home town of Decatur, Tenn., and of course, my flatness.
Again, my outfit for the day, the cool space suit, was tailored for me by the amazing Kathy Smyth of the Picayune Item.
Special thanks goes to Shannon Simpson in Media Services at Stennis for showing me around StenniSphere and especially for a day I will never forget.
_Stanley