Heinlein Prize Trust's Have Space Suit Will Travel program was well represented at the Museum of Science Fiction's Escape Velocity Conference held on July 1st though the 3rd.
The convention room floor was buzzing with light saber sounds, engine roars from starships and strange alien sounds emanating from a booth run by a blue skinned woman with white hair holding the skull of a Spinosaurus. But there was something else here. A presence I had not felt for a long time in functions like this. The presence of hope. A hope that all the Science Fiction visions around us could soon become science realities. For next to the Star Wars booth and occupying the largest area was the NASA exhibit. There Sci-Fi fans could see and experience many of the dreams first envisioned by Clark, Asimov and Heinlein as science realities and learn just how far away we are from visiting other planets.
And next to the NASA exhibit, our booth. A booth where Science fact and and Science Fiction come together. The Robert A. Heinlein ‘Have Space Suit Will Travel’ experience. From the time the doors opened on July 1 , a steady stream of wide eyed children from all ages lined up to try on a piece of space history. The actual Helmet, gloves and suit worn by former astronaut and NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Also there to touch and examine, the Sokol space suit worn by Astronaut Peggy Whitson.
Astronaut Don Thomas headed up the HSSWT program giving valuable insight to the inner-workings of the LES and Sokol suits. He also shared with fans his personal accounts of his time aboard the International Space Station and what it was like to wear the suit we’ve all come to admire.
Assisting Don was HSSWT crew member Soleil Gignac. Soleil helped attendees get in and out of an actual Sokol space suit and sometimes she would get into the suit herself.and while in the suit she would wonder the convention hall a shake the hands of surprised fans who wondered what sci-fi character she was dressed as. to which her reply was; "I come from the present!"