On the tram ride, there were two buildings that we stopped to tour. This post is about our tour of the
Space Vehicle Mockup facility. We were pretty happy to get there, as we were all pretty cold from the Tram cross-campus trip.

Picture of sign
the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility
This building is one that the astronauts use to train on different space vehicles, mocked up in real life. The tour consisted of walking down a second floor hallway with full glass windows overlooking the facility. I didn’t see any astronauts, but took pictures of some of the other nifty things.

Picture of Soyuz training capsule
Soyuz capsule
The Soyuz capsule is the current way to get to and home from the International Space Center. (At this point I need to make the caveat that the knowledge being shared here is not extensively researched, but is from my memory, so while I believe it to be the case, it may not be strictly true). It is launched on Russian rockets from Kazahkastan, and currently is the primary vehicle to and from the ISS.

Picture of Brock at SCH
future Astronaut Brock
I’m not sure what to say about Brock, other than he and I stuck closely together during the tour.

Picture of SCH facility
Non-cutting edge stuff
Some of the things, particularly the work areas didn’t look really cool. You’d probably never try and sell lockers as “designed and used by NASA”, but I guess to keep costs down, you don’t really need outer-space looking designer lockers, computers, screens or tools.

Picture of sewing machine
NASA approved sewing machine
On one of the tables, were two of these sewing machines. Just image the sales pitch that you could come up with for those… “Singer sewing machines, used by astronauts for holes in their suits, just imagine what they could do for you”.

Picture of vehicle docking training apparatus
Vehicle docking trainer
This particular item was used for training in docking vehicles. Apparently, the docking apparatus has to be pretty versatile, as I guess you don’t want to bounce off it, or dock haphazardly in space. It looks less unwieldy (maybe you could say “it is more wieldy”) than the apparatus seen elsewhere used for docking supply ships to Skylab.

Picture of NASA cool stuff
Robotic prototypes
I didn’t quite catch the tour guide’s talk about these, but I’m thinking that they are different robotic prototypes that were in development at some point, or are really great and will be used going forward.

Picture of weird NASA stuff
Quadtaur? Centquad? Decoy?
Here is a bigger picture of the quad-sort of thing. I’m not sure what use it would be, other than the obvious quad like functionality that it seems to have. Do you talk to the robot front half of the machine? “Let’s go a 2.3 miles southeast, but watch out for barbed wire”. Do you pull on his ears to steer? The seat also looks a bit uncomfortable for bouncing around the lunar landscape.

PIcture of NASA robot
Book reading robot
I also am not sure the functionality of this particular robot is or was. The tour guide talked about how sensitive the touch and movements were in that the robot could turn individual pages of a book. Come to think of it, Brock can do that too!

Picture of NASA Orion capsule
Orion capsule
This one is interesting as it is one of the new Orion capsules, the first of which they just flew on its first test-flight this week. It is supposed to be the next version of NASA space vehicle, likely more functional and comfortable than the old Mercury and Apollo capsules ever were.

Picture of NASA space habitat
Space habitats of the future
These were possible future space habitats, maybe picture them on the surface of the moon or Mars, or the pages of a Popular Science magazine from 30 years ago. I guess if you are going to live on the moon you have to sleep and eat somewhere. They seem like they would feel a little constricting though.

Picture of NASA space buggy
NASA space buggy
This is a possible vehicle for getting around some distant planet, moon or asteroid, maybe while wearing a bulky space suit. The tires and undercarriage seem like massive overkill- they remind me of the wheels and tires that we used to install on cultivators (an oversimplification of my Dad’s business while I was growing up). It would have been fun to have seen someone trying to drive this around, but alas no astronauts were training that day. I guess that astronauts get Saturdays off as well.

That wraps up the first building of the tram tour. Please forgive any mocking tone that you detect while discussing NASA technology. I’ve heard (but need to get this post done without being sidetracked any further, so am not researching this) that the computers in the space shuttles were 386 computers, like the one that I bought in 1990. Given that the last one flew in 2011, that’s pretty old technology.

I didn’t get a picture of this, but one of the strange things about driving around the Johnson Space Center campus were all of the classic-type bicycles (i.e. pre-dating 10 speeds, anyone remember those?) parked around the campus. My take is that people use them to get around the large campus from building to building, or maybe ride them from their cars to their offices. There certainly wasn’t room for any of them to hop on the tram.

Ben

Right after we arrived at Space Center Houston we needed to find bathrooms. Right after the bathrooms, we saw the lineup for the tram ride, which was leaving in just a few minutes. So, we decided that it would be good to go for the tour.

Picture of crowd on the SCH tram
Getting ready for the tram ride
So, this is all 14 of us on the tram. We took up the front 3 rows of one of the cars. Prior to getting on the tram, we had to have our picture taken as a group for security reasons, possibly since we were going on a tour around the Johnson Space Center.

Picture of Dad in the picture
Tram selfie
Ben figures that he should be in on the picture as well.

Picture of kids on SCH tram
Happy campers on the tram
At this point everyone is pretty happy, once we go out into the wide open spaces, and the blowing cold everyone got pretty cold. Being used to Houston weather, I don’t think that any of us were dressed warmly enough.

Picture of Heidi and Kiersten
Heidi and Kiersten
At this point, you are probably wondering if this post is only pictures taken of people on the tram, while they are still happy because they aren’t cold yet. You’re right! More pictures coming up.

Picture of Kayli and Mikaela
Kayli and Mikaela
We (or rather I) hadn’t read the description of the tram tour, or understand that there were actually two different tours (we took the blue tour, but there was also a red tour available). This particular tour made two stops where everyone got off and went into a building for a tour. But those details will be part of future posts, so I won’t cover them now.

Picture of kids on SCH tram
The front row
Huber boys and face-making, I just don’t understand it. Also, did you see Danaya and Daelynn in the background taking a picture of themselves?

Ben

November has been a busy month, and a big hilight was having the Cam & Coralie Koch family visit us.  (By way of explanation, Coralie is my younger sister, Cam is her husband, and they have four children Ellie, Kayli, Kiersten, and Ethan who are good friends and cousins).  They spent a week at our place in early November 2014, and we were able to spend two Saturdays together on outings in the Houston area .

On the first Saturday together, we spent the day at Space Center Houston, the tourist part of the Johnson Space Center.  I have a lot of pictures that I will post (likely spread over 5 blog posts).  Rather than a lot of words of explanation, I am going to attempt to use the Gallery format, and embed a lot of the stories into the “Description” field of each picture. OK (says Ben about a week later – that is not going to work – so it is going to look like a traditional post with inserted pictures). On to Space Center Houston.

Upon arriving at Space Center Houston, the first thing that you see is this large, real Boeing 747 carrying a real Space Shuttle. The technical NASA term for the aircraft is the SCA – Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It (and a sibling) were used to take the Space Shuttles from wherever they landed (typically at an Air Force base in California, although I could be mistaken) back to Florida for the next mission.

Picture of 747 and space shuttle
Space Shuttle and SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft)

And a bit later (on the tram tour which you will hear more about in future posts) we had this view of the Shuttle and the SCA.
Picture of Space Shuttle and SCA
Back view of Shuttle and SCA

The next picture taken in the parking lot was this great picture of Heidi. It was pretty cold that day, so she is sort of bundled up and is possibly shivering.
Picture of Heidi Huber
Heidi

The rest of this first SCH post is just going to be some of the random people pictures (random pictures of people you know rather than pictures of random people – although upon review, there are random people in the background of some of the photos). Most of these were taken waiting in line for a specific theater showing of current happenings in space.
Here is Heidi and Kiersten, good friends.
Picture of Kiersten Koch and Heidi Huber
Kiersten and Heidi waiting in line

Next up are some pictures of Lori, Danaya, and Daelynn.
Picture of Lori and Danaya waiting in line
Lori and Danaya

Picture of Daelynn and Danaya
Matching sweaters again

Picture of Daelynn, Lori, and Danaya Huber
Daelynn, Mom and Danaya waiting patiently

And last up are some pictures of Brock, those are always a hit (with us anyway), and we always end up with quite a bunch of them. He’ll be growing up quickly, so enjoy them while you can.
Picture of Brock Huber
Brock with a smirk

Picture of Brock reading display
Brock reading about the F1 rocket

Picture of Brock in the elevator
Brock in the elevator

And that’s it for this post. The next posts will have a little more detail about the rest of the Space Center Houston visit.

Ben

On October 17th we celebrated Mikaela’s 13th birthday party. Yup, it’s official – she is now a teenager.

Here are a sampling of the better pictures taken at the event.

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Lori always has this deep down feeling that one of the nefarious purposes of photography is to make her look bad (in other words that she is aphotogenic). I think she looks amazing in these pictures taken recently during our trip to Space Center Houston, so they are well worth posting. I’ve also posted one of these into the Hubcrate/About page. I think Daelynn was the photographer in this case, so kudos to her!
Picture of Ben and Lori Huber

Picture of Ben and Lori Huber
Ben and Lori Huber at JSC

Picture of Ben and Lori Huber

One of my favorite song stanzas is from Casting Crowns song “Angel”:

After all the changing seasons
Have turned to years
The crowns are gone
And the suns have faded

I’d still be here
Holding you
When thanking heaven
For my angel

-Ben

I am way, way behind on my Hubcrate posts (I have a bunch to pull together including Mikaela’s birthday, some from the visit of Cam & Coralie Koch & family, and Brock’s birthday). But in the meantime, here are some pictures that I found on the camera.

Picture of Brock Huber in disguise
Picture of Davison Huber in disguise
Picture of Daelynn Huber in disguise

And with a bit of down-time with American Thanksgiving, I’ll try and get some of those other posts queued up.

I was just playing with an Adobe app on my iPad (Adobe Shape CC) which creates vector drawings from pictures taken. So, here is the test – what is going on in the following “inkblot” picture?

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For the past few (18?) years, we have chosen to do a family activity rather than go trick or treating at Halloween.  This year, some of the folks at the culdesac we lived on last year invited us over for their Halloween block party.  Ben, Lori, Davison and Brock headed over to join in the festivities. 

Danaya, Daelynn, Mikaela, and Heidi hosted a Girls’ Night with some friends at our home, which included pizza and ice cream, handing out candy (we’re in a quiet area so not much activity), a fire in the fireplace, and watching a movie.

The boys had fun with their costumes.  Davison wore the armor that Rett made for him Christmas 2012 and toted a plastic sword and shield.  Brock went all out, getting the girls and Mom to help him create a robot costume. 
I didn’t get a picture of Davison in costume, but here are some Brock pictures.  Both boys ended up with a whole lot of read “way too much”) candy.

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Assembling Brock
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The 8-15-C 0165K Brock 7 robot
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Lori and Brock trick or treating

Here are some additional pictures from our volunteer work last week at the Poodle Rescue Society of Houston.

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One of Mikaela’s long standing dreams is to be more involved with dogs. Shortly after we moved to Houston, she began researching Houston organizations that allowed 12 year olds to volunteer. The only one that she was able to find was Poodle Rescue of Houston. After we purchased our Houston home, we discovered that Poodle Rescue of Houston was located very nearby, in fact about 100 yards as the crow flies; slightly longer if you aren’t allowed to climb a fence to get into the back end of the property.

Poodle Rescue of Houston currently has over 140 dogs that they are looking after (in a facility geared toward handling 70 dogs). Last year they adopted out over 500 dogs, pretty much all with a reasonable cost to the adopters, so they are not giving the dogs away, but are trying to ensure they are going to good homes.

A couple of Saturdays ago, Daelynn (who apparently also likes dogs), Mikaela and myself (Ben) attended the monthly volunteer orientation session. It turns out that 12 year olds can volunteer, but need a parent with them until they are 14 years of age, which resulted in me filling out the volunteer form as well. We will probably be going a couple of times a week for volunteer work with the dogs. This consists primarily of taking dogs from their cages to a larger area, letting them run, and then petting and cuddling them for a while.

Here are some pictures from our first volunteer and training visit. (Lori had to go too due to the need for adult supervision).
Mikaela with dog
Lori and DDaely
picture of young lady with dog