Outstanding. That’s the only way to describe this year’s Moon Day at Frontiers of Flight.
From not even knowing if there was going to be one this year only three months ago, to what actually transpired, was quite a ride.
It’s hard to get an accurate attendance count, as museum members can just wander on in, and the birthday parties they run in the play area leads to an unknown number of extras. I do know that we surpassed last year’s count by 1pm, and if attendance didn’t get to 1,000 it got real frakin’ close.
The museum director noted that attendance at the Moon U. lectures was up a bit from prior years. The inflatable planetarium from the Museum of Nature & Science was a full house for every show but the very last one, and the presenter, Kyle, was singled out for many kudos. The stomp rockets that the Astronaut Training Center brought along were quite popular and there were foam rockets flying down at that end of the museum all day long.
The art show of Comics in Space was well-received, as was the comet-building exercise in one of the Moon Academy classes. All of the speakers seemed happy, and I even got a last minute addition of a local blogger who was at the last Shuttle launch for the Tweetup. Regular readers may remember that OotC got invited to a launch Tweetup back in 2009, which gave our own Rob an excuse to fly up from New Zealand and do a little space tourism while here. Jason of Lights in the Dark gave our last speech of the day, symbolically linking the last talk of Moon Day 2011 with the last Shuttle launch.
The Lunar Sample Bags were gone by early afternoon, but I saw a few towards the end, so people were making a day of it. We even made the 10 o’clock news on Channel 8. Apparently I was on for close to 15 seconds babbling about the event. The PR guy at work said I did a good job, so I should be happy. I don’t watch TV, haven’t for years, and so I miss out on that sort of thing.
I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from the exhibitors, and everyone wants to come back next year. So planning has begun for next year.
Since I’ve got so much lead time I can think even bigger. You have to, because most of the plans fall through along the way. Crap happens. So the planning has to encompass massive failure while still providing a top-notch end experience. Being the ambitious sort that I am, I’ve started working a few angles.
The big draw that I want for next year is the ISS Trailers. Of course the e-mail to the address at the webpage bounced, so I’m currently waiting on an inquiry to NASA HQ about whom I should contact. Hopefully I won’t have to wait as long as for the rejection letter for the position of NLSI Director (3+ years and counting). I also want to get some of the display panels to put up on the mezzanine to help get people upstairs.
If I can get the ISS trailers that would be a huge draw and definitely newsworthy. It would also give me leverage to get the museum to ask both Richard Garriott and Anousheh Ansari to talk about their ISS experiences in the auditorium. And if I can get Richard at the event, that gives me leverage to push for more corporate participation to sell the space “business” side of things. Something I’m desperate to do.
My view is that we’re at the ‘Air Show’ stage of development of the space industry. The hardware is there and flying, but for the bulk of the population it’s still sci fi. So the companies need to show off their hardware not just to each other at trade shows, but also to the citizenry of the nation where this is happening. Having their goodwill behind the space industry is a very powerful intangible.
So my goal is to get three companies to participate. I’d love to have SpaceX haul an engine up from McGregor (about a 2.5 hour drive) and spend the day explaining to people how it works. It would be great to have AstroTech come up from Austin (~2.5 hours) and show off some of their flight hardware. I’d have unmentionable biological reactions in my unmentionables if Blue Origin were to show off anything.
If I can get corporate exhibitors, then I can put together something like a space business roundtable for Saturday afternoon, and have Rick Tumlinson of the Texas Space Foundation/Alliance lead the discussion. That’s the sort of thing that would let me advertise Moon Day in the Dallas Business Journal and Dallas CEO.
Speaking of advertisements, I also need a web ad. I know just the guy, from Dallas Mars Society who did the triptych cover (Texas frontier/Moon frontier/Mars frontier – Our theme was ‘From Old Frontiers to New’) for our ISDC program book. Gotta note that in the to-do list.
Next year’s art show is going to be space-themed LP covers. I’ve already got a few dozen in the Lunar Library, Moon-themed of course. I anticipate spending six months DITC (that’s Diggin’ in the Crates) around the D/FW metroplex looking for appropriate covers. Remember – my focus is on rockets and astronauts and planets and Moon exploration. So a random Boston cover of a guitar-spaceship hovering over an alien planet would not be appropriate; the cover from ZZ Top’s Afterburner album would be appropriate. And I’m going to throw in Willie Nelson’s beautiful Stardust album cover well, just because. And somewhere I still have a card with his well-wishes that he sent while I was at Harvard Summer School back in high school, so there is a sentimental attachment.
Any comments suggesting ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ will be deleted. However, Easy Star All-Stars ‘Dubber Side of the Moon’ would be an appropriate suggestion. My brother-in-law, a bass player on the side, flipped when he saw Stan Clarke’s ‘Children of Forever’, a very cool cover that is going in the collection. That one’s getting ripped from the USB turntable in the not too distant future.
The goal is 150 covers. Not sure how many I’ll end up with, but I am being liberal and including laser discs so there is some padding there. There was a prior show up in Seattle that had 117 covers, but of course this is Texas, so everything is bigger and better here. I would dearly love to have that Mel Torme ‘Swinging on the Moon’ cover in the collection, but I doubt I’ll be able to find it around here.
“Why not go online?” you might ask. Too easy, and I like to spread the love around and try to keep small businesses going in my local community. As I would rather that folks were employed around here as compared to anywhere else. And weird things turn up. I was dropping off a flyer for the Comics in Space show at one of the local comic book stores where I had gone extensively through their stock as part of my work on this year’s show. I mentioned that I was working on a different show for next year using LP covers. They replied that they had just gotten over a dozen boxes of LPs for the online business they run in the back of the store. I asked for first dibs on any space-themed ones, so as they process the stock they’ll keep an eye out for appropriate covers and put them aside. How cool is that? Sweet as.
So yeah, I’m really excited about that part of next year’s Moon Day.
I got a call this week from the museum, which is just ecstatic about the turnout. That just doesn’t happen on a midsummer weekend unless there’s something special going on. Which there was, thanks in small part to yours truly.
You know, the Director said, the quality of our Moon U. (or Lunar U., as he prefers) talks is of a sufficient quality that we should look into getting Continuing Education (CE) credits for educators who attend. Good point, and exactly along the lines of my thought to get in contact with the Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP) and see about having Moon rock and meteorite Lucite disks certification classes. Yours truly is certified, and I have the certificate framed and hanging above my desk, as well as our local prof from Brookhaven College who does the Moon rock family-friendly classes at Moon Day. I remember when we had those classes at the 2007 ISDC they were packed. I’m also trying to get the resident Moonatic to talk about looking at the Moon with a telescope, and the Astronomical League and American Lunar Society certification programs.
I also want to plant a Moon Tree at one of the upcoming Moon Days. There is one in the metroplex already, at a high school up in Plano, but I think it would be appropriate for the Frontiers of Flight museum to have a Moon Tree. Planting a sapling in the middle of July in Texas is probably a really bad idea. It needs to be nurtured to sufficient strength where it can either be planted at the event, or planted earlier in the year and dedicated at Moon Day. Hmm…there’s a garden center across the street from the museum. I wonder…
As the beginning of August approaches, so does the close of the ballot box for The Moon Society. A fairly decent percentage of the membership voted, which is an encouraging sign. It looks like I’m a lock, unless there is a last minute stuffing of the ballot box with write-ins, which is always the risk I had when I insisted on being elected versus accepting a hand-off to the VP position after getting myself elected to that post. Next year, when I stand for office again under the normal election cycle for President (every other year), I run the risk of another candidate as well as write-in. Ah, the perils of elected office.
As part of the transition I just got an e-mail to TMS about First Step. This is a Space Renaissance International initiative to get folks celebrating July 20th. It seems this sort of thing is in the air, as NSS of North Texas got an e-mail from AIA encouraging us to celebrate National Aerospace Week from September 11-17. It’s doubtful we’ll be doing anything as I already have a speaker for the September meeting and we’re already committed to a Sci-Fact party room at the sci-fi con FenCon on the 24th. We hand out the same kind of space fact info we hand out at our regular outreach events, but with adult beverages and R-rated movies.
International Observe the Moon Night is October 8th. Not sure what we can do there. Last year the event corresponded with FenCon, which worked out well for us.
After that is Astronomy Day at the UTA Planetarium on October 22nd, in conjunction with the Texas Astronomical Society and this year the Fort Worth Astronomical Society as well, an example of the kind of cross-pollination that can occur at something like Moon Day. Another is the Dallas Mars Society partnering with NSS of NT for the FenCon sci-fact hospitality suite. Both events are also opportunities for our Science Fair Scholarship raffle, and this year we’ve got an early box for our Santa Space Toy Drive. This year’s goal is to match last year’s 100 space toys donated to the local Santa’s Helpers community toy drive.
It’s going to be a busy year.