Sometimes with hard work we can achieve our dreams; sometimes lasting memories fall into our laps when we don’t go looking for them. -Me
When I was little I never dreamed that Prince Charming would woo me with model rocket launches. Although, I love science and math, and find the research NASA has conducted and the inventions that have come about because of space travel intriguing, I can say without a doubt that as a little girl I never dreamed of marrying a space geek. However, I found that I had fallen in love with a man that had rockets and the love of space travel running through his veins. Once in love with this man all things space became part of my life. Sometimes he gets carried away with minute details that frankly, all I hear is “blah, blah, blah, science, science, science, bigger.” In my lifetime, I have visited planetariums in numerous cities, been to the Kennedy Space Center several times and watched 2 shuttle launches, visited the Houston Space Center, watched a gazillion episodes of Star Trek, watched all the Star Wars movies more times than I can count, watched Apollo 13, October Sky, etc. I am not going to lie when I tell you that I would prefer to have bamboo shoots inserted into my fingernail beds than ever watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again. But I honestly feel that I have expanded my interests and even grown to love learning more about our incredible universe.
When the fantastic opportunity to attend a NASA Social Media Event found me, I was intrigued. A few weeks ago I was randomly reading through Facebook updates, and I noticed a post from NASA. (Yes, I like the NASA page; I just like to keep up on what is happening with our nation’s space travel). This random update was an invitation to apply for a NASA Social Media Event. I clicked through the website and read about the event. If selected I would be able to attend a rocket launch as a member of the press. This had never been a dream of mine, but I was intrigued. After discussing with my husband (because quite frankly that is what married couples do), he encouraged me to apply. The entire time I was typing in the required information I was laughing and thinking, “Yeah right, NASA will never select a mommy blogger.”
Apparently, they did want a mommy blogger. When I received my invitation by email, I was ecstatic. Still not recognizing the full impact of what had occurred, I along with my husband, Dash and Jack-Jack planned for a trip down to Florida. Excited, yet certain I was out of my league, I walked upon the NASA soil at the Press and ID building.
For a period of 2 1/2 days, our group was treated to numerous press briefings, a tour of the Kennedy Space Center complex, including the interior of the Vehicle Assembly Building, visiting the launch site, and ultimately a rocket launch. It was an awesome experience that culminated with the rocket launch from the Press Viewing Site.
We got to hear from Robert Cabana, former NASA astronaut and current Director of the Kennedy Space Center. His vision is to “get boots on Mars.” As he spoke I welled up with a sense of pride for my country that I haven’t felt in years. I always viewed America as the greatest country on earth, but through the years, as I watched test scores drop, and no major achievements coming from our soil, I had become saddened and discouraged. Hearing Bob Cabana speak gave me a renewed hope and energy that we can once again become a great nation forging into the unknown.
In addition to numerous question and answer sessions scattered throughout the KSC complex, the press briefings were fantastic. Listening to Dr. Lenore Rasmussen discuss her synthetic muscle experiments was intriguing. The excitement she exuded was contagious. She discussed her studies and what they hoped to accomplish by further testing that will be conducted on the space station. The plans are to use synthetic muscle for robots to perform tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans. However, these experiments may help advance prosthetics and human-like robotics on Earth. Through the scheduled events I continued to be amazed at how much the people of NASA love what they do. The passion they have regarding their jobs is rarely found in the world today.
That same passion energized our group of 50 social media attendees, and on Monday, April 13, 2015, we boarded a bus to watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch. As we were transported to the Press Site and walked onto the viewing area, I truly grasped the impact of what was occurring. We were participating in an experience that most people just dream of; we were watching a rocket launch from a site less than 3 miles from the launch pad. With less than 3 minutes to lift-off the launch was scrubbed due to weather. We already knew that the next opportunity for launch was the next day. On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, we reboarded the same bus and were driven to the same site. The only difference was there were many in our original group, unable to stay an additional day, that had departed for home the night before. The elation from the day before had waned just a tad. We had already felt the let down of a scrubbed launch, and now it was coupled with a melancholy feeling for those of our group that weren’t with us.
|One of my many photos from the Falcon 9 Launch|
On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 4:10 PM EST, I watched Falcon 9 lift-off the launch pad and head to the International Space Station. The sensations I experienced while watching the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket go beyond mere words. From the meaning of the name of the ship to actually feeling the ground rumble, the mood and atmosphere was charged. The Falcon is named for the Millennium Falcon in the Star Wars movies. Falcon 9 and all of its components were designed, manufactured and tested in the United States of America. The United States Flag is proudly emblazoned on the rocket. Falcon 9 stands at 207.8 feet tall. It is 12 feet in diameter and is designed to transport a crew into space. When American astronauts are transported by the Falcon 9, the United States will no longer have to rely on a foreign country to get our astronauts to and from the International Space Station. And that, my friends, thrills me even more than watching the launch itself. I hope to stand once again on NASA soil on the day that we watch Americans astronauts being carried into space by American rockets.
The events of the 2 1/2 days were truly memorable. From the NASA employees to co-members of my NASA Social Media group, it was an experience that I will cherish. The only thing that would have made the day better is if my husband was by my side.
Science quote taken from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs