VP Pence — Pool report #4

From: "Parker, Ashley"
Date: June 7, 2017 at 3:36:15 PM
Subject: VP Pence — Pool report #4

At approximately 2:30 p.m. local, Vice President arrived at the Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. Mission Control Center, for a tour of mission control. As your pool entered the building, we noticed a tweet alerting the fact that apparently Pence had just cancelled a scheduled interview with the News Hour. We asked Marc Lotter, the VP’s spokesman, about why Pence had cancelled, and he replied, “We were running behind.”

Shortly thereafter, the VP entered mission control, but your print pooler was escorted to a holding deck behind a clear wall, looking down on the room, which seemed to be filled with Johnson Space Center employees. Your pooler was told there would be audio, but there was, in fact, no audio, and your pooler could hear nothing. Rebeccah Propp is working on getting audio from the room, and your pooler will send if and when we get it.

In the meantime, some purely visual observations: Pence was clad in a royal blue astronaut flight jacket, and a large screen in the front of the room greeted the VP, offering, “Welcome to mission Control,” complete with a large, smiling photo of Pence between an American flag and the NASA logo. Perhaps sensing your pooler’s frustration, the Johnson Space Center’s protocol officer began verbally annotating what seemed to be occurring on the floor below. She explained that, at some point, the control room would likely clap, and then cut a cake for Pence’s birthday.

When the VP began shaking hands with some of the employees, she noted she hadn’t expected a handshake opportunity but dubbed it “fantastic.” “Wasn’t part of the plan, so good news,” she said.

The VP and the pool then moved to the former, historic mission control, which is no longer operational and features pale, toothpaste green work stations. This room was used to fly all of the Apollo missions, your pool was informed. Pence was again accompanied by the trio of Texas lawmakers, with Senator Ted Cruz asking several questions — How the equipment in the historic mission control compares to the equipment in the current mission control (quite different); what was the last operational mission in the historic room (sometime in 1992); and if the screens were in the historic room were original or newer (newer).

Pence stood behind the former “flight director” seat in the historic control room, with his arms folded across his chest. He stayed largely quiet, taking in the various facts about the room and the earlier iterations of the space program. “So much of the computer technology we have today was born of necessity of the space program,” he said.

After about an eight-minute tour, Pence rendered a final verdict: “This is a place of history,” he said. “It was very inspiring to be in here.”

We are now wheels up, back to JBA.


Ashley Parker

The Washington Post

Cell: (301) xxx-xxx-xxxx

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