Ernie Fretter

Ernie Fretter - 1962Ernie Fretter - 2009

I'm still working full time for NASA as a civil servant (thanks to all the tax payers) at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA (heart of Silicon Valley). Been here since 2001 (was a private consultant before that and also with a small aerospace firm also here in Silicon Valley). So I guess all those years with Walt Disney and Tomorrowland shows, plus Mr. Wizard, JFK and the moon program, got me interested in aerospace.

And in 2001 I was able to get my dream job with NASA - working on testing the thermal protection materials (like the Shuttle tiles or Apollo moon ship heat shields) that must survive temperatures of 5000 F and still keep the astronauts from becoming toast. I guess it is sort of rocket science after all. As long as I am having fun and the upper management doesn't find me out, then I will keep working. Our motto here at Ames is "Proceed until apprehended."

Cmdr Nyota Uhura and Ernie Fretter

January 2010

For those who remember the original Star Trek series of the '60s, Ms. Nichelle Nichols was our guest speaker at the NASA Ames Research Center 70th anniversary party. Being a fan of hers (both from the movies and from her work to inspire young women to pursue science, math, engineering careers to go into space) I just had to get a picture. What a treat! Cmdr Nyota Uhura and I. Later Captain Uhura.

In her speech she did mention she considers herself an astronaut from the 23rd century and was 4th in command of the Starship Enterprise. To quote from, "Her role as Uhura on "Star Trek" (1966) was one of the first times that an African-American actress was portrayed in a non-stereotypical role. Previously, African-American actresses were depicted as maids or housekeepers, and Nichols' role broke the stereotype barrier among African-American actresses. Like Sidney Poitier, whose characters were three-dimensional (e.g., Det. Virgil Tibbs), Nichols portrayed a character that was non-stereotypical."