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Second Annual Saturn/Apollo Reunion (2005)

The Second Annual Saturn/Apollo Reunion was held August 27, 2005. Activities that day included a book signing by Wally Schirra (who also has his own web site) and Ed Buckbee, who were promoting their recently-released book, The Real Space Cowboys.

I asked Wally to sign my copy of We Seven. Paging through the book before signing it, he asked if any of the other Mercury astronauts had autographed it. I told him that he was the first astronaut whom I'd met, to which he replied with a chuckle, "Well, aren't you lucky!"

Concurrent with the buffet dinner that evening, guests were able to tour, "under the tent," restoration work being done on the Saturn V.

During the reunion program, I had the misfortune of sitting under an air conditioning duct, so the background noise drowned out the program on my voice recorder, and I was unable to transcribe it.

However, Patty Miller and John Pursley of Conservation Solutions gave a report on the restoration work (where I saw many of the pictures currently on the USSRC's "Saturn V Assessment and Restoration" page -- be sure to click "click for more photos" link at the bottom -- for the first time).

Bill Gurley, chairman of the Saturn V Restoration Project, gave an update on the fund raising campaign. At that time, the fundraising goal was $5 million and the Saturn V was to be moved to a temporary building close to the near-by Marriott Hotel upon completion of the restoration work (this was before the Davidsons donated money for the construction of a permanent building).

Wally Schirra was the keynote speaker. Among the stories he told was how he and his Apollo 7 crewmates learned to reset the navigation computer (which he called it the "1960s version of control-alt-delete"): A short distance from the training facility for the navigation system was a nurses' dormitory. The astronauts tried using the navigation system's scanning telescope to "observe" the dormitory, which involved aiming the telescope lower than design specifications and caused the computer to lock up. The technicians had to reset the system.

Wally went on to say that the telescope locked up in a similar fashion during the Apollo 7 mission, just before loss of signal (Mission Control did not have constant communications with spacecraft back then; they were only in contact when the spacecraft flew over a ground station). During LOS, Mission Control prepared a reset procedure to relay to the crew, but when the signal was re-acquired they where surprised to find that the astronauts had already reset the system themselves!

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