Tour Bus Diaries: BEST. DAY. EVER.

By Adam Savage

Adam has an epic best day ever when the tour rolls into Huntsville. Two words: space camp.

OK, this was, like, a crazy amazing day. I barely know where to begin. Barely. But here goes.

Last night, as I was going to bed, I decided to see what kind of fun things there were to do with the gang while in Huntsville. I knew that Huntsville had a significant role in the American space program, so I looked up museums and found pay dirt: Space Camp! It's in Huntsville. I checked their hours and planned to bring the boys to the Space Camp museum when we all got up. Awesome.

I had no idea how awesome things were about to get.

At 9 a.m. Kelsey, one of our crew, knocks on the door. Turns out that Kelsey had been through Huntsville six years before and had been offered something really cool to do by one of the local crew, but she couldn’t do it then. He’d told her that the next time she came to Huntsville, she should look him up.

So she did. He remembered. What was his offer? To scuba dive in the astronaut tank at SPACE CAMP! And they were willing to take me and the boys. What? In the words of Keanu: "Woah!"

So we drove over there, and everyone at Space Camp couldn’t have been nicer. The tank we were to dive in was ideal: 95 degrees, 30 feet in diameter and 25 feet deep, with basically an underwater jungle gym inside.

The purpose of the tank is to give the kids at Space Camp a feeling of what it’s like to be an astronaut in 0-G. We spent about an hour underwater doing all sorts of great fun stuff like playing basketball with bowling balls, assembling some complex structures underwater, and generally swimming around and having a blast. The boys did great their first time SCUBA diving. They now are dying to get certified AND to come back to Space Camp next summer.

It gets better.

After we were out and dried off (mostly), they asked if we’d like a tour of the museum. YES! I was then asked what in particular I would love to see, if I had my druthers, and I answered that I’m a bit of a space-suit nut. Their response?

To offer a tour of the climate-controlled archive of NASA hardware and suits! Their curator, Edward Stewart, was amazing in his hospitality. I took nearly 300 pictures of what I found in there. The boys asked a ton of questions, many of which I actually knew the answer to.

Man, it’s amazing to see real Apollo hardware up close. It’s all so… handmade. In the best way. It’s hard to convey, but the personal brilliance of the engineers and machinists and seamstresses that all contributed to the space program is on parade. Here are a few of my favorite pictures:

Some suit connectors.

The guidance computer from a V-2 rocket! Designed by Wernher von Braun, who did his research for NASA in Huntsville.

An Apollo guidance computer, just like the one they used in Apollo 13!

Every aisle in the archives looked like this.

Gemini and Apollo survival knives.

A prototype suit.

I made one of these PSI suit meters for my AL-7 suit, but I got the size so freaking wrong. So great to see one in person. I’ll be remaking this when I get back.

A glimpse of the inside of a spacesuit. All geared to keep the volume of air inside the suit constant when the astronaut moved.

A bubble helmet! I’ve always wanted to see one of these.

A bunny communication hood.

Looking at the liner of a helmet. We wore white gloves so that we wouldn’t tarnish anything.

That’s a silver Apollo suit! I didn’t even know one had been made. So beautiful.

A space glove. Man, I learned so much looking at this puppy up close. That gray fabric is actually a metal mesh!

Helmet. I think from the Gemini era or slightly later.

Ah. A row of only helmets. You can understand my excitement, right?

And it gets even better than that.

Some local makers and hackerspaces set up some wares in the lobby of the theater where we were performing, the Von Braun Concert Hall. Among them were two projects I actually was quite familiar with. One was this gentleman’s homemade spacesuit.

I’d been following his progress on the Replica Prop Forum, and he’d only recently finished. It was a great surprise to see his great work up close.

It gets better even still.

Another project that had been set up there was one I’d been following for over a year. A full-sized MILLENNIUM FALCON COCKPIT!

They brought it to the theater and set it up in the LOBBY.

They’ve been doing great work on it.

Me: very happy camper. The show was also great. Actually one of the best audiences of the tour.

Here’s what happened when Jamie tried to sing again.


While on tour for the Behind the Myths stage show, Adam is blogging about his adventures and exploration of each city he visits. Here are his previous entries: