Timestream Post: A Note from 10.7.2010

12 12 2010

10/07/2010; 09:04am

It’s October 7th, and in a few moments I’m heading out to the National Archives in Chicago in search of NERVA (the joint NASA-Atomic Energy Commission program to develop nuclear thermal rockets) material and program files.

As this is another of my digital time-travel experiment messages, I’m sending this far enough out to encompass a time-span necessary to answer my questions…  (As I see it, anyway.  My Nuclear Rocket Program term paper is due in early December.)

What will I find?  Archivists tell me I’m the first to have seriously requested access to these records in nearly three decades.

I’m terribly excited! – the anticipation!

Will I find the photos of phoebus reactors I’m looking for?  Do I unearth management information for my space studies class term paper?  Any surprises in store?

I can’t wait!  =)



3 responses

13 12 2010

Well, from the other side, things didn’t go exactly as planned. That’s not to say the trip was fruitless – far from it. Life just has a way of keeping things dynamic.

While you’ll find that there are indeed many NERVA documents at the archive, the archivists were unable to find any photographs. However, take heart. There was a trove of NERVA project management documents – so many that I haven’t yet had a chance to get through them all. You do manage to finish the term paper, though the topic you had in mind ends up being very difficult to stretch out to the length requirement (you don’t quite make it… We’ll see how that turns out.)

However, excitingly, you’ll find that you’ll be unexpectedly encouraged to apply for a residency fellowship at the regional archive. If awarded, it would mean $3,000 toward return visits to the archive to make a complete survey of the records and turn them into an article. …I even floated a “virtual heritage” project in the fellowship proposal to reconstruct some of the facilities online.

I find out about whether or not we win in a couple of months. Bated breath.

So, dive in. You’ll barely have time to absorb what you’re doing while you’re scrambling through thousands of pages to find the info you’re looking for, but it’s a blast. You get to touch pages last touched by the hands of legends while forging nuclear rockets out of raw determination.

It’s awesome.

15 12 2010

While slightly campy, your comment has measurably lightened my face, Ben.
I hope the fellowship works out for you.

Might there be another source for those photos? If you’re truly following the trail, why not look for the engineers and designers themselves? I bet they’d at least be interested to hear what you’re doing, which means they might be interested in sharing their own treasures.

15 12 2010

Well, I fear the “camp” is built in to the fabric of the “time post” project…. *grin* But I’m not breaking character. I’m really writing back to myself. (Maybe this will get cooler as the time between “sending” and “replying” gets broader…) I’m glad it could provide a little levity, anyway. =)

I’m taking your comment to heart… I’ve managed to find some pretty obscure photos by talking to a few original participants (that are still around) … But I’ve yet to even approach drying that well up. -And thanks for the fellowship well-wishes. Who knows where these things might lead… ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: