WAPAKONETA — A commander of two space shuttle missions said the day is coming when astronauts travel beyond our solar system, thanks to propulsion breakthroughs that have yet to be discovered.“There are two types of astronauts: the ones who fly the shuttle and the really smart ones,” Col. Gregory A. Johnson said Sunday afternoon in Wapakoneta. “I'm the type who does the flying.”Johnson, a recently retired Air Force pilot still working for NASA in Houston, Texas, visited the Armstrong Air and Space Museum on Sunday to help promote Wapakoneta's annual Summer Moon Festival and “Run to the Moon” race. He autographed prizes to be awarded during the July event's 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer runs while chatting with museum visitors and sharing his experiences as a space explorer.“The moment that I lifted off on my first shuttle flight in 2008, that was crazy,” Johnson said. “It was a combination of a deer staring in the headlights, finally getting to do the thing you've been training to do for so long, and sensory overload. The acceleration, the light, sound, vibration. And maybe a little bit of intimidation.”As an Air Force pilot, he said, he'd always felt in control of his plane. “But on the shuttle, it's like, ‘Oh, I hope those guys did their homework. We are going somewhere!'”Johnson's second mission launched exactly a year ago this week. It was the 25th and final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavor, and the next-to-last of all shuttle missions. Both missions docked with the International Space Station.Once in space, astronauts spend a lot of their free time Earth gazing, taking photographs and playing with zero-gravity — a suspended splash of water, for instance, can hold one spellbound for an hour or longer, he said.As it turns out, getting used to gravity when they returned to Earth was as challenging as weightlessness.Johnson told a funny story about the landing that closed out his 2008 mission. He recalled a triumphant moment, hugging his 10-year-old daughter in his left arm and holding a diet Coke in his right hand as then-NASA Administrator Michael Griffin approached to offer congratulations. “I love diet Coke, and you don't get soda pop in space because the bubbles have no idea where to go,” he said. “And the NASA administrator come up and says ‘Box!' That's my call sign. He says, ‘Box! Congratulations! You finally flew in space!' And he holds out his hand. I'm not gonna let go of my daughter, and I'm not gonna shake with my left hand anyway. So I release my diet Coke. It goes crash! My daughter goes, ‘Daddy, why'd you drop your diet Coke?' Well, because I'd thought it would stay there. Your mind is calibrated, and it takes some time to recalibrate for gravity.”Run to the Moon Race Director Amy Kentner said Johnson's visit was an amazing opportunity for area residents to meet an astronaut. And if you missed him Sunday, don't fret. Johnson will return to Wapakoneta in July for the Summer Moon Festival and footrace in the boyhood home of Neil Armstrong — a man he identifies as one of his earliest and most enduring heroes.“This summer, kids who grew up hearing about space travel and Neil Armstrong will get to meet and talk to a real astronaut,” Kentner said. “Ohio is the birthplace of aviation, and we have so many ties to manned flight and space exploration.The annual run is a testament to Wapak's moon ties. Runners get Moon Pies and Tang breakfast drink for refreshments. The course features space-themed music and audio recordings of Apollo and shuttle missions. There are signs bearing “space facts” along the race route, and the museum director, decked out in a space suit, greets every finisher with a high-five at the finish line.Johnson grew up in the Dayton suburb of Fairborn. During his two missions, he completed nearly 500 Earth orbits and traveled more than 12.5 million miles in space.Wapakoneta's Summer Moon Festival is July 19-22. The annual event commemorates the first lunar landing on July 20, 1969, commanded by Armstrong. Other activities at the museum during the festival include space animals, air- and space-themed inflatable bounce houses, vintage base ball games, free showings of “Space Cowboys” and “Planet 51,” and children's activities including LEGO building.