Why “Space Man Mike”?
I was introduced to the U.S. Space Program in the early 1960’s when I was a Tenderfoot Boy Scout. Our Scout Troop would take field trips to the St. Louis McDonnell Aircraft Plant where we would watch the Mercury and Gemini Capsules being built and tested. We even were privileged to view several of the capsules and meet a few of the Mercury Astronauts—this was before they became famous.
Throughout the years, I followed the various space missions and have accumulated a large collection of space memorabilia, books and magazine articles which are proudly displayed in my office.
In the summer of 2008, I attended one of the adult sessions of NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and experienced, first hand, what the astronauts went through to become space travelers. In addition to viewing one of the most incredible collections of space-related hardware, models, mockups and displays, we were allowed to participate in several mission simulations. This culminated in a shuttle mission where I commanded the orbiter to the International Space Station and back. Needless to say, I was really hooked!
To make a long story short, I returned to Space Camp the following year for another session and I even began wearing my flight suit to meetings and events. Eventually, my friends and colleagues began calling me “Space Man Mike” and the name stuck. I have become a supporter of the Huntsville facility, as well as the Challenger Learning Center in North St. Louis, and conitnue to promote the awesome achievements of our space program through regular trips to these two venues. In 2010, I celebrated my 59th birthday with about 60 of my friends at the first adult Mission to Mars at the Challenger Learning Center. Forgive the pun, but we had a blast.
And the rest is history.