The NASA shuttle Atlantis will lift-off on July 8, 2011. This is the last mission for quite some time and is the 135th since the fleet began launching into orbit in 1981.
Have you ever given any thought to the preparation necessary for a space mission?
Houston-based voice artist Jim Conlan has served as the prelaunch voice for NASA since 2007. As this era of space exploration for draws to a close, Conlan shares his story and most memorable moments in this interview on VOX Daily.
Jim Conlan Voices 12 Missions for NASA
VOX: When and how did you start voicing for the NASA shuttle pre-launch program?
JIM CONLAN: Space City Films is a production company that contracts with NASA to produce many of their informational videos. In November 2007 Marcus Havican, President of Space City Films, contacted my agent, Pastorini-Bosby Talent, here in Houston. My first session was for STS-122. I have participated in twelve Shuttle launches since then.
VOX: What sort of messaging was it that you recorded and who heard those messages?
JC: The purpose of the videos was to provide an overview of the Shuttle mission, including crew, cargo, procedures, EVAs, and other activities associated with the completion and maintenance of the International Space Station.
The programs were used for several audiences:
a. Before each mission, on NASA TV.
b. During Spaceflight Awareness events in Florida during launch week.
c. During each mission, on NASA TV – various sections of the videos were used as “commentator’s packages,” to aid live commentators in describing aspects of the mission.
VOX: Were you able to record from home or does NASA do production in-house?
JC: All recording was done at Sound Works in Houston, under Marc Havican’s direction.
VOX: What was the most memorable recording you did for this program?
JC: The last two were especially memorable; the STS 134 video was changed at the last moment because Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, was doubtful as commander of Endeavor. When Giffords improved, Kelly was put back in command. The final launch video, for Atlantis (STS 135), was, of course, memorable for its historical significance.¨¨
VOX: Has your voice been part of any other NASA project or documentary?
JC: I have participated in many NASA projects, including historical documentaries and awards-ceremony videos.¨¨
VOX: What was it like knowing that your voice would be heard by those going up into space? Did your voice go to space with them?
JC: Since these are the official pre-mission videos, all of the crews have seen – and heard them. That, by itself, is a special treat. What’s most important to me, though, is knowing that I am able to contribute to this awe-inspiring effort and to share it with others. I remember when JFK first announced his intention to put a man on the moon by 1969. It’s a thrill to contribute to the program that evolved out of that vision.
According to The Telegraph, Atlantis’ sister shuttle, Endeavour completed its final mission last week. NASA will retire its fleet of three shuttles this year to make way for a new exploration program aimed at deep-space missions to Mars.
Atlantis’ crew includes Christopher J. Ferguson (Commander), Douglas G. Hurley (Pilot), Sandra H. Magnus (Mission Specialist) and Rex J. Walheim (Mission Specialist).
Do You Have Any Memories You’d Like To Share?
If you have any fond memories of previous missions, be sure to comment! I’d especially love to hear from people who remember the first moon walk.