Tag Archives: star trek

Did You Know?—Deep Space Network, Goldstone Antennas, and InSight

Did you know?

I was fascinated yesterday when the InSight successfully landed on Mars. Facebook memes immediately began cropping up. This is my favorite:

Mars landing meme

When I joined the Boy Scouts in 1966 after my wise old grandmother had adopted me, I became fascinated by the stars, the clouds, the sky. Space Boy Scouts Space Exploration merit badgeexploration. The Boy Scouts’ newest merit badge was the Space Exploration merit badge, created in 1965.

I was on it.

To help me along, Gene Roddenberry created “Star Trek, debuting on television on Thursday, September 8, 1966. On Thursday nights, my wise old grandmother forced me to study or practice my violin.

School nights.

Blah.

TV Guide "Star Trek" coverFriday afternoon, though, were daytime repeats of the previous week’s shows, and TV Guide indicated that “Star Trek” would be televised at 3:30.

I was on it.

School let out at 3:00.

I was home by 3:15,
grabbed a loaf of bread,
a butter knife,
a jar of peanut butter,
a jar of jam,
and sat myself in front of the television from 3:30 to 4:30
to watch “Star Trek.”

I was mesmerized.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I have been a “Star Trek” fan my whole life.

A Trekkie.

A Trekker.

Mesmerized by space exploration television shows and movies. Books. Museums. Exhibits. Just cannot get enough of them.

St. Gertrude Catholic Church in Kingsville TexasWhen Apollo 11 landed on the moon, a landing to be televised live, I was the saddest kid in the world because the landing would be at 12:17 p.m. on Sunday. I would be in church with my wise old grandmother. I’m not sure what I did to convince her that the moon landing was more important than church on that day, but we did not go to church. I watched the moon landing, and collected Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston newspapers the next day with their bold headlines and pictures. Sadly, the newspapers got left behind in April 1993 when I escaped Texas and settled in San Diego.

Corpus Christi Caller moon landing paper

When I was in Barstow, California, on July 30 & 31, 2018, the historic Harvey House railroad depot, renovated and re-purposed, had a Goldstone Deep Space Network Visitor Center and a permanent exhibit about the Deep Space Network and the Goldstone Antennas.

I was on it.

Trains at the historic Barstow rail yard took a back seat for an hour.

Deep Space Network

Goldstone Antennas

NASA’s Deep Space Network is a worldwide network of spacecraft communication facilities specificially for United States spacecraft. Russia, China, India, Japan, and the European Space Agency have similar networks. NASA’s is located in Barstow, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia.

Deep Space Network Visitor Center in Barstow, California

Deep Space Network Visitor Center in Barstow, California

Deep Space Network Visitor Center in Barstow, California

Deep Space Network Visitor Center in Barstow, California

Each facility is located in bowl-shaped terrain surrounded by mountains to help shield against radio frequency interference. The facilities provide nearly 120-degree separation, which allows for constant observation of spacecraft as the Earth rotates, thereby making DSN the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world. The Deep Space Operations Center is at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Deep Space Network Visitor Center in Barstow, California

Deep Space is defined as more than two million kilometers from the Earth’s surface, so missions to the Moon do not qualify to use the network. Missions to Mars, however, do.

The antennas are located on government property northeast of Barstow, near Fort Irwin. According to staff at the Visitor Center, they are not visible from any roads since they are in a bowl surrounded by mountains.

Deep Space Network locations

And now, we return you to trains and the historic Barstow rail yard.

Barstow rail yard

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-27-15)—LLAP

Friday Flower Fiesta

A little something different for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta.

Up until September 2004, my name was Russel Ray Kirk, and I was a fanatic about all things “Star Trek.” In fact, put “Star” in the title—e.g., “Star Wars,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” etc.—and you were assured of having at least one die-hard fan.

Throughout my youth and up until I changed my name to Russel Ray, I was also known by a nickname that was first bestowed on me in late 1966, “Captain Kirk.” I was only 11 but I couldn’t quit talking about Captain Kirk. He fascinated me, as did “Star Trek.” I anticipated each week for the next couple of years, and summers were a real bummer for me.

As I got older, my logic earned me another nickname, “Spock.”

The death of Leonard Nimoy today at age 83 takes me back to Friday, June 4, 1982, when I stood in line to be one of the first to see “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” A few hours later, my thinking about “me” and “us” had changed, all because of something “Spock” said in the movie: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Those words spoke to me about why I pay taxes for schools (I have never had a child in school!), roads, police, fire fighters, libraries, and so much more. Today, “us” extends to the Affordable Care Act—The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Life is about more than just me and my needs or wants.

Today, as Jim was in the hospital recovering from minor surgery, the nurse asked us if we had heard about Leonard Nimoy. We had not, but he didn’t have to say anything else.

I never got to watch “Star Trek” on Thursday nights at 8:30 in September 1966. Way too late for an 11 year old with homework. Fortunately, it was shown in our little farming & ranching community on Friday afternoons at 3:30. School got out at 3:00. You know where I was from 3:30 to 4:30.

Leonard Nimoy’s death is one of the three saddest days in my life (I’m lucky, I know), the other two being the murder of John Lennon and the death of my best friend, Ken Lewis, when he was just 32.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy, but may you live on through Spock for millions of future generations. May they live long and prosper.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek, The Bible, & Censorship

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Star Trek” debuted on television on September 8, 1966.

It was a Thursday.

NBC had advertised it heavily as taking the
7:30-8:30 PM time slot on Tuesdays,
well within my grade school television viewing hours.

Unfortunately, by the time it aired,
it was given an 8:30-9:30 PM time slot on Thursdays.

I had to have special permission from
my wise old grandmother
to stay up that late,
especially if all I was going to do
was watch a science fiction television show.

Science fiction wasn’t her thing,
but it was my heart and soul at the time.

All I had to do was
make sure all my homework was done,
wash and dry the supper dishes (child labor, bribery),
and make sure that Bosco (our dog) had food and water.

I think I didn’t quite tell the truth,
the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth
a couple of times concerning having all my homework done….

I have been a fan of “Star Trek” in all its iterations
ever since that fateful Thursday evening in 1966.

Television has always had censors who approved TV shows, plots, and language. If the plot was too heavy on sex, it was not approved. Bad language? Not a chance.

Listen to this 4:37 clip of Gene Roddenberry—”Star Trek” creator and producer—discussing what the censors might say if The Bible were to be produced as a TV series. It’s hilarious.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Star Trek: The Motion PictureThat clip, titled “A Letter From A Network Censor,” was taken from the CD release of the soundtrack from the first Star Trek film, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” The film and original soundtrack on vinyl were released in 1979. The CD was released in 1998, and as with all re-releases, included bonus tracks.

I could not find it on YouTube, so I cut it from my digital file, added “Star Trek” music and Wikipedia pictures using Corel VideoStudio Pro, and uploaded it to YouTube.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos