Spirit Sol 54

Since this is the last day I'll have off in this cycle, I decide to sleep in a couple of extra hours, which does me a world of good. I don't go to work until 1PM -- and I might not have gone then, but for the Space Act award ceremony.[1]

It starts late, leaving me time to talk to Brian about Opportunity-land. Ironically, considering he was the lead rover driver on both Pathfinder and MER, he hasn't had a chance to drive the rover yet -- just his luck, all of his shifts so far have been IDDing. He seems more amused by this than anything else, which is a good thing. He'll get his chance.

I tell him how frustrated I was for a while, when it seemed I would never drive, but the megadrive eased the pressure. And it's nice to have set a couple of records, even if they're sure to be broken. When I tell him that I was the one who took us past Sojourner's total-distance record, he grins and says, "Right on!" But his wife, Lynne, perks up then and says, "Well, but you'll never be first." Okay, maybe, but even if we'd all like to be Neil Armstrong, there's no shame in being Buzz Aldrin.[2]

The award ceremony moves more quickly than I expected. They process us in groups, team by team. They read off your names, you go up on stage and smile as the cameraman takes a couple of pictures, and everyone claps as you go back to your seat. But there are a lot of teams getting awards this year (and one guy is in three of the award groups, oddly), so it still takes a while.

I spend a lot of the time chatting, sotto voce, with Carlos[3], whom I haven't seen in a while. He's the same, seeming really nervous around me. I tell him that I got one of these awards when I first worked here, for a project I didn't really have anything to do with -- and then cringe, realizing that he thinks I'm hinting that he doesn't deserve this, even though that's not what I meant at all. Ah, well. I promise to show him around the ops area sometime soon, maybe tomorrow. Even though he and I didn't get along as well as I'd have liked, his code is in there, plugging away, and he wants to see it in action as much as I would.

A lot of the award recipients aren't there, including half of our team. The presenter jokes that they're probably out spending the money, and later announces that next year they'll give out the checks with the awards, so that everyone will be sure to show up. Ordinarily, the Space Act awards are presented by the Lab director, Dr. Elachi, but this year one of the second-tier guys does it instead. So it doesn't bother me as much that I didn't particularly dress up.

I was just going to leave immediately after the ceremony, but I can't help myself. I go up to 264 for a quick fix. As it happens, both rovers had kind of a slow day, so there's not much new anyway. The managers are sitting in the sequencing room with me, discussing personnel reassignments, which deepens my suspicions that Sharon -- and maybe other people -- are moving up. Or, at least, moving around. I don't care anyway, as long as nobody gets my job away from me -- and they can pry it from my cold, dead etc.

[1] We were receiving a NASA award for developing RSVP.

[2] Or, in my case, Dave Scott. I worked out once that, depending on how you count, I was the seventh person ever to drive a Mars rover. The seventh man on the moon: Dave Scott.

[3] Carlos Balacuit worked on RoSE with me for a while.

No comments: