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From Space: 1999 to NASA!

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Troy D. Cline is the Director of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) innovation lab at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. A long time Space: 1999 fan, this is the story of his inpiration to seek a career in science!

It’s hard to say when I first became fascinated by our universe. Perhaps it all started when I was 4 years old when my grandmother took me outside, pointed at the moon and told me what it was called. I remember thinking how impossible it seemed that an entire world could simply float quietly above me in a sky anointed with thousands of stars. As I grew, so did my fascination with the nighttime sky and other worlds. What would it be like to live on the moon or Mars? How could we get there? Boxes quickly turned into space stations, while blinking Christmas lights became futuristic computer displays. I can’t imagine the show I must have put on for my poor parents.

Being a curious imaginative little boy in 1975 had it perks. We were at the beginning of the computer revolution which meant that I was being exposed to awesome new devices that included digital watches, calculators, and electric typewriters. In those days getting my little hands on anything with buttons was a plus! Within seconds I would imagine that I was entering code for some type of space mission or dispatching an important communique to Moonbase Alpha.

Needless to say, I was a science fiction junky when it came to shows like Star Trek and Space: 1999. Star Trek certainly had its appeal and vision of a future where countless beings from other worlds wrestled with how to communicate and respect each other’s place in the universe. However, Space: 1999 had an appeal all of its own.  It presented a technology based future that could conceivably happen in my lifetime! Although we didn’t colonize the moon by 1999 or blow ourselves out of orbit, we did match and surpass quite a bit of the technology that the show had imagined. As the characters zoomed though space looking for a new habitable world to call home, viewers gained an even deeper appreciation and respect for the world in which we live: Earth.

Troy and Jamie with his Space:1999 Eagle blueprints at NASA.

Science fiction not only opened my mind to fantastical new worlds but also laid the foundation for how I would interface with my own world and future. Without realizing it, my young mind was being trained to be comfortable with other cultures, belief systems and ways of being that were truly worlds apart from my own. It was those values that eventually brought me to NASA where I eventually became the Director of a new NASA program called the STEM Innovation Lab. This lab provides a collaborative (physical and virtual) space for the exploration and development of new ideas related to infusion of media, culture and educational technology into STEM activities, programs, and approaches. How cool is that?!

To find out more about STEM, read up on them here!

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A freelance Artist and Film-maker based on a not so secret island in the East Atlantic. Grew up up on the Anderson series reruns in the 90s and have always strived to create works that are as interesting and exciting.
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  • Stephen Poulter

    Good afternoon all. I was brought up Gerry Anderson programs. I was born in 1958. And i have helped bring back to life the three new Thunderbird films. The one model used in all of Gerry Anderson`s programs that i always thought would make a real ship or craft was the eagle transporter. We in the UK have the knowledge and know how to build a real version. It could be kept pretty cheap to build as well as most of it is just tubeing. The Space Shuttle had heat tiles all over it. But we in the UK had a guy who could have sprayed it in the same stuff. So by spraying the eagle with the heat sheild covering. It would make itan ideal craft. And if they could apply the thrusters to slow her down. Then that would cut the heat down by a lot. I have often thought that if i had the money. I would have had a go at building a real one. But i do not think i will see one flying in my life time. Shame.

    • David Sobral

      I was born in 1962 and remember staying up for days watching the Apollo 11 moon landing in ’69. I had occasionally watched “Star Trek” since 1966, mainly because my Dad watched it. Still, it was the Apollo Program that launched my strong interest in astronomy, the Moon in particular. My parents bought me my first telescope for Xmas, ’69 & being that it’s so close, viewing the Moon was where I pointed it the most. When “Space:1999” was first advertised on WPIX New York, I was psyched. “Space” was where I got my interest in outer space sci-fi, along with the 1976 film “Logan’s Run”, which sparked my interest in “post-nuclear war” sci-fi. It was at that time that I gradually became a “Star Trek” fan because it usually aired right after “Space:1999”. Then, “Star Wars” hit in 1977 & I was hopelessly infatuated with the genre & have been ever since. My dream was to go into film and/or special effects production but, my father refused to back my interest using the logic that “no one gets jobs in that business so, I’m not sending you to school”. This despite the fact that I had honors and high marks throughout junior high & into my first year of high school, around 1976. When my father dropped that bomb on me, I gave up on school entirely. It was a lousy curriculum anyway & I was stricken with Crohns’ Disease that same year. I was also constantly ridiculed for my love of sci-fi, knowing only one other kid that shared my interest…and, he was 6 years younger than me! (Connecticut is NOT a state that’s big on sci-fi. The people there are mostly into sports & cars, two things that I have little-to-no interest in.)Still, my love of the genre knows no bounds & I owe most of that to “Space:1999”. It’s still my favorite series although, the remake of “Battlestar Galactica” is a close second, with “UFO” hot on its’ heels. At present, I’m reading “Breakaway: 1977” by RW Kozan & I am amazed at the parallels in my life & the authors’. I haven’t finished it yet but, I highly recommend it. It’s basically a transcribed version of the authors’ diary when he was in his mid-teens so, the writing tends to be a tad simplistic but, he & his two friends were/are huge “Space:1999” fans & have surprisingly adult viewpoints on life, death, music & relationships. Again, I highly recommend “Breakaway:1977” as well as the new “1999” novels published by Powys Media. Very cool!

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