Space Shuttle Discovery - Rocket Ship

In a curious twist this past week we find ourselves as house guests, my host is a rocket scientist. I mean really! a rocket scientist. My wife and I are just outside of Washington D.C. & realize that every major player in the technology world is represented in this city.

This fellow worked with developing the NASA Space Station during its inception and throughout much of its history, he then went on to private enterprise.

The plane door opens and we deplane, We’re met by this gentleman. He explains that we have lots to see & do while we are in Washington D.C and that he hopes to accommodate to the best of his abilities.

I have no doubt that he is going to be quite hospitable and yet he pauses….and states “ I have been working on a project for the past three or four years that is coming to fruition. I need to return to my office when we get home.” “I need two or three more hours of office time.”

I let him know that we are quite self reliant and can find our way about.

The following morning he explains his work. He designs satellites that help other satellites. Satellites are solar powered and even though they use the sun as an energy source they also have to store that energy in batteries. After ten or fifteen years those batteries start to lose their effectiveness and the satellite companies send up new ones.

My friend and his company have designed a space craft that has a battery source for the aging satellites. This is big stuff and big technology. It means that you don’t have to launch another satellite, you just send up a new battery that is smart enough to connect itself to the existing satellite. My friend gets out a pen and paper and starts to sketch a drawing of the new craft and how it connects to the “mothership” ie; the old satellite.

As simple as this sounds recognize that this satellite isn’t in low orbit. It is a geo-synchronous satellite, which means it isn’t orbiting the earth. It is a satellite that is way out there! The location is not a few hundred miles above earth, but twenty two thousand two hundred and twenty six miles. Because of this the satellite is stationary.

Let’s go find it and replace its battery!

The following morning he explains that all of the international contracts were signed. His customers want a new battery pack for their satellites. With this knowledge and commitment, He gets permission to buy a rocket ship perhaps many rocket ships. (since this was written they have purchased many)

His part of the project was to buy a rocket that makes sure the satellites can get to Geo-synchronous orbit.

As you might suspect I have dreadfully little in common with this fellow and know little about outer space.  I struggle to make polite conversation and I recall my friends at Bedford Industry. I live in a small town in South Western Minnesota. Bedford Industries is a major employer in my community and I relay the following. “I have friends that go to the moon and back perhaps seven times every year.”

He puzzles and says “really?” I smile and state, “My friends make twist ties throughout all heathendom and Christendom. I have traveled to the far corners of the earth and most everywhere I’ve traveled I have found their products. I have found twist ties in the deep rain forests of Central America and I have found them on the mountain tops of the Altiplano in Peru. They are the ties that bind, the ties that seal your bread bag.

I reach over on his countertop and point out the Starbucks coffee bag and how the closure is also a bread tie. I’m beaming! They make enough bread ties to go to the moon and back seven times each year! I raise my eyebrows and lean forward and tell him the latest news…they have a new product called Elasti-Tag and its growing bigger than their bread ties.

Well done Bedford Industries!

Bill Keitel

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