'Rocket City Rednecks' blasts off at U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. (with pictures!)

Today's cuppa: strong coffee

Rocket-City-Rednecks.jpgOn Monday, I flew from Los Angeles to Huntsville, Ala., to attend the premiere party for National Geographic Channel's new series "Rocket City Rednecks" -- click here for a news story -- premiering tonight with a two-hour block of four of the 20 half-hour episodes. On Tuesday, I came back.

Click here for my syndicated story on the show. Because of our packed network-TV premiere schedule this week, it doesn't come out in print until Sunday, but y'all get it early. And there'll be another story later, based on interviews I did with the Rednecks after the premiere showing.

Now that I've had some sleep and caffeine, I've put together a slideshow of some of the pix I took. I'd love to return to the Center when the lights are up and I have time to read all the displays, but hope you enjoy a quick look.

On a personal note, the fact that I attended this premiere so soon after the demise of the shuttle program (and with it, all our current plans for manned space flight) was a little sad.

Following the crash of a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station, the realization that Russia is our only way to take people and equipment to the ISS hit home.

Although the Russians say they've figured out the problem and will keep missions going to the ISS, the driver who picked me up a the airport in Huntsville -- who ferries a lot of space types -- thinks one of our space shuttles may be pulled back out of mothballs.

You never know ...