Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Discoveries in DC

I'm currently in Washington DC for David's retirement in a ceremony at the Pentagon.  (His mandatory  retirement date came up early because he started his career very young.)  As a little side trip, I visited the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum today.  What a motherlode for a SFR writer!

I got to venture inside Skylab to see the mechanics of many things we take for granted on a daily basis are adapted to the space environment.  Like showers, a collapsible tube that is pulled up from the floor, locked to the ceiling and has a hand held sprayer.  Can you imagine the chaos of showering in Zero G?  The dinner table was a four-topper with a funny contraption that reminded me a bit of a pomma-lift from my skiing days.  It had two pararllel horizontal bars attached to the floor with a small vertical post.  The astronaut would slide his or her thighs between them in order to stay in place while they ate their meal, which was contained in plastic bags or containers.  Yeah, chairs would be pretty useless in a weightless environmentl.


I also saw a 3-D IMAX movie on the International Space Station that was nothing short of awesome and gave me some wonderful :head movies" for my current WIP.  This up close and personal look at the origins and construction of the ISS, in addition to actual scenes from inside, outside and "day of a life in"  had my muse doing jumping jacks.  Ah yes, a Skiffy Rommer's idea of heaven.  :)

I also spent a lot of time in the solar system exhibit learning what I could about our neighbors in this little corner of space and the size and composition and other facts about the various planets and moons for my current WIP.

But one of the most pleasant and fascinating surprises I stumbled across was the artwork of astronaut Alan Bean. Bean who was on the second Apollo flight to land on the Moon--Apollo 12.  In later years, his need to expess his experiences emerged through his amazing artwork.  I can't post these remarkable paintings here because due to the copyright notice, but I can link to a just a few of a gallery that had me spellbound.

Is Anybody Out There?
Awe-inspiring.

An American Success Story
A patriotic statement--lunar style.

Mother Earth
You've probably seen the poster Earthrise.  This is Bean's version.

Conquistadors
Being a New Mexican, the title of this one held a special meaning for me.

The Fantasy
This was a fantasy portrait of the three astronauts in Beans team--himself, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon, standing on the surface of a Moon.  It's a fantasy because, of course, Gordon was piloting the command module and never reached the surface of the Moon during the mission.

Now let me call your attention to this one:  Neil Armstrong

This painting clearly shows Bean's texturing process, which is to use the sole of an actual moon boot to add detail to the work.  He also uses a pick axe that was used on the surface of the Moon.

Go to this page for an introduction in Bean's own words and a videos about Alan Bean's artwork.



It was a very fun and edicuational day.  I hope to get back the the Air & Space museum soon.  (Besides, I missed the starship flight simulator!  Must. Go. Back  :))

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