My Close Encounters With American Astronauts by Phil Konstantin
For most of my life, I have been a space travel enthusiast. As a youngster, I kept
scrapbooks of all of the spaceflights. Even though I was fairly young, I remember
the Mercury flights. My interest increased as I got older. Like most people alive
at the time, I know exactly where I was when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. My
interest in the space program eventually led to me working at NASA in Houston.
For much of that time, I helped to run the computers in the Real Time Computer Complex
(RTCC) (during Apollo 16, 17 & all of the Skylab missions). These were the computers
that ran the flights. I was 19 when I started working there. In fact, I was one of
the youngest people there for a while. I was just a lowly computer operator, but I
would occasionally get to rub elbows with some of the bigwigs because I had to go
into different parts of the operation center to do some minor activities with remote
My ID when I worked at NASA. This was taken in 1972.
After I left NASA in 1975, I met other astronauts as I wrote magazine articles about NASA
and space exploration. In 2005, I started working as a reporter at KUSI-TV in San Diego.
I have met many more astronauts while working there.
Below I have lots of photos and videos of these highly trained and motivated folks.
Shuttle STS-100 astronauts entering their ground transportation van.
The man with the goatee is Umberto Guidoni. Immediately behind him is Kent Rominger. Facing you with
his arm up waving is Scott Parazynski. The head next to Scott's is John L. Phillips. Next to him is Chris Hadfield.
Entering the van are Yuri Lonchakov and Jeffrey Ashby. I took this photo at Cape Canaveral in 2001.
Wally Schirra (Mercury 8, Gemini 6 & Apollo 7) and me
While they were at a golf tournament associated with this event in 2009, I interviewed Charlie Duke, Jack
Lousma, Jim McDivitt, Gene Cernan, and Al Crews for my televsion station. They are all still pretty sharp guys.
The broadcast report is below, along with the raw footage before it was edited.