Report from GN Conference in Huntsville,
From: Dave Webb
April 7 - 9 2017
Membership Meeting & One Last
Story - April 9
During our last day in Huntsville, Alabama (Sunday, April 9) we had a brief
membership meeting of the Global Network to review some organizational issues
such as an evaluation of the conference, a new board appointment and where we
would hold our annual space conference in 2018. We met just outside the hotel
around a fire pit and when we were going around doing introductions a man
introduced himself as a US Air Force officer who was staying at the hotel and
wanted to see what our group of "interesting people" was talking about. (Many
in our circle were wearing Veterans For Peace shirts/hats.) So he sat and
listened to some of our meeting.
My conversation with the Air Force Reserve Officer who listened in on part of our meeting:
I think it was interesting that the officer wanted to stick his head into our
circle and we were glad he did. It was good that John spoke with him afterward
to make the human connection. And their parting words were important as well as
they reaffirmed for me that not everyone inside the military is anxious to blow
up our planet.
Visit to Aerospace
Park and Space & Rocket Center Museum
- Sunday, April 9
At the museum we found that, being a Sunday, there were a number of visitors - many families with young people excited by the exhibits describing the adventure of space travel. However, included in all this was a not so subtle mix of military rocket and missile technology. As Bruce remarked in his blog:
There were also a few exhibits on Wernher von Braun, first director of the Marshall Space Flight Centre - but no mention of the illegal extraction of him and his team of scientists from Germany at the end of WW2 through a secret operation codenamed "Paperclip", nor of the fact that the V2 rockets were manufactured at Mittelwerk - a series of tunnels dug out of Kohnstein Hill - towards the end of the war the factory used forced labour from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Some 20,000 people died at Mittelbau-Dora or soon after (including1300 -1500 killed by British bombs); 350 were hanged (including 200 for sabotaging the rockets) and many others died from exhaustion, cold, malnutrition or disease - others were murdered by guards. It is estimated that the V2 rockets killed some 2,541 & injured approximately 5,923 people.
The technology involved in some of the civilian/scientific exhibits was certainly very impressive - especially the Saturn V that eventually took Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon and back in 1969. The Saturn V was designed at the Marshall Space Flight Centre and based on the Jupiter series of rockets, which were based on the Redstone Rocket, which was itself based on the original V-2 rocket.
With the Apollo spacecraft on top, it stood 363 feet (111 m) tall, and without fins, it was 33 feet (10 m) in diameter. The Saturn V weighed 6.5 million pounds (2,950 metric tons) including fuel and was designed to send at least 90,000 pounds (41,000 kg) to the Moon.
After this visit, many people left to make their way home. Some stayed on a little longer and a car load of us went for a drive through Gate 9 of Redstone where we had lined up with our banners just two days before. One of us was an ex-army officer and we were allowed to drive through the checkpoint on the gate without any problems.
Things were very quiet in the base (it was a Sunday after all) and no-one bothered us as we drove around. We visited the Redstone Test Site (a National Historic Landmark):
The Rocket Park (which apparently was taken off-limits to public after 9-11):
At our Global Network meeting held early that morning it was generally agreed that the conference had been a great success. There had been so much information exchanged that some time will be needed to digest it all. We will try to get as much as possible available from the web site.
It was also agreed that we should add Will Griffin to the GN Board and that next year we will meet in the UK - either in Yorkshire (close to Menwith Hill and Fylingdales or somewhere close to Croughton (near Oxford) - all important US bases. Lindis and Dave will follow this up and provide more details in the near future.
And so, until then ....