Science and Exploration

Everest, Apollo, Soyuz, NEEMO, and Space Station Resonances

By Keith Cowing
May 24, 2013
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Everest, Apollo, Soyuz, NEEMO, and Space Station Resonances

Explanation (its complicated): This is my friend and Challenger Center co-conspirator Gwen Griffin at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where the Soyuz rocket in the background will be launched this weekend. On board will be astronaut Suni Williams. Suni is the next door neighbor of Gwen’s boyfriend Al Saylor (skydiver extraordinaire ) in Friendswood, TX. Suni owns a Jack Russell terrier named “Gorbie”.  
When Suni flew to the space station a few years ago she took pictures of Gorbie with her. Other pictures appeared in other NASA projects including NEEMO in the Aquarius underwater habitat.  During an interview with the NEEMO crew (not knowing who Gorbie was) I asked whose dog was in the picture on the habitat’s refrigerator. The next day the NEEMO crew spoke with Suni on the ISS and my name and Gorbie came up. And thus Gorbie became famous.

When my friend, astronaut Scott Parazynski and I went to Nepal in 2009, Suni sent a picture of Gorbie to us.  This picture flew with her on the ISS. That picture of Gorbie plus my old NASA badge from 1990 made it to the summit of Mt. Everest (the picture Gwen is holding) with an Apollo 11 moon rock I carried into Nepal. That moon rock (which Scott carried to the summit of Everest) plus a piece of the summit of Mt. Everest eventually made their way to the ISS via STS-130 shuttle mission. Both rocks now reside in the ISS observation cupola. I am told that a copy of this picture will find its way to the ISS for a reunion with the Everest and Apollo Moon rocks.

Oh yes: the mission patch for STS-130 was based on the Lunar Orbiter 1 Image from 1966 of the Earth that the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (I am the co-lead) restored in 2008. In addition, Al’s other neighbor is astronaut Leroy Chiao with whom I spent 10 days on Devon Island in 2007. But that is another story.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.