Climatized, the first novel in the new “Max Ford Thriller” series involves the deaths of a prominent senator and three world-renowned scientists who were killed because of information they possessed regarding the push for climate change policy. Through many twist and turns a powerful organization was deemed responsible for the killings and their motives were revealed. The president was provided with cogent evidence that forced him to make a crucial decision—to expose a diabolical plot—or bring down a multi-trillion-dollar worldwide industry. Either way the world had been “climatized.”

As I weaved my storyline between fiction and fact, I decided to pair my fictional characters with real-life experts. At the time, I had no way of knowing that this novel would propel me into a real-life experience with these prominent men.

On January 18th, I had the distinct honor of meeting many of the members of The Right Climate Stuff research team at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This illustrious group is comprised of astronauts, scientist and engineers from the Apollo Space Missions and is chaired by Dr. Harold Doiron. Dr. Doiron, and members, Tom Wysmuller, and Jim Peacock, are my real-life experts. Following their presentations, I gave my presentation on “The Making of Climatized.” Thanks to the efforts and support of these men, I could end my presentation by saying, “Houston, we have lift off.” [The full presentation will be available for viewing on my website in late February.]

This awesome opportunity didn’t end there. The next day, Joe, my husband and editor, along with David Dunham, my publisher, and I, received a private guided tour of the Space Center led by Jim Peacock and Tom Wysmuller, two savvy Apollo Space veterans.

The Space Center is massive and we started in the International Space Center Museum, where we meandered around artifacts, space hardware and an orbiting laboratory. In the Starship Gallery, we saw the various capsules of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. While asking many questions, from the purpose of the massive number of gears in the capsule’s door to the intricacies of the landing gear, Jim Peacock would modestly reply, “I designed that.” It gave me chills to hear stories from Jim and Tom, two people who experienced firsthand, the activities of our manned-space program.

Later, we took the tram over to the original Mission Control Center, looked down at the enormous training center, and walked into the Shuttle Replica Independence, the one you’ll see in the photo strapped to a 747 airplane. Incredible as it is to imagine, this shuttle flew from the West Coast, having just returned from the real International Space Station, to the East Coast, attached to a 747.  Joe and I had the incredible experience of seeing this spectacle in midair while we were living in San Francisco. We watched as it flew past the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Never could I have imagined that I would one day walk through the plane and see the shuttle from inside.

The entire two-day experience only served to rejuvenate my interest and remind me how important space exploration was then as it is now. Many forget, including me, the number of practical applications and inventions that came from NASA’s research and is used in our everyday life; airplane seating, a “temper foam” used to line the inside of football helmets and a multitude of other uses, anti-corrosive coating used on bridges, pipelines, etc. and medical applications, such as the concept for hearing aids. These are only a few examples of many applications.

I could continue to wax on about our time with these true American heroes, but perhaps these photos are a better testament to their contributions to improve our lives on Earth through their exploration in space. I even beat President Trump to the podium.

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