Thursday, April 17, 2014

Always Looking Up: Space Dreams with NASA #SpaceX3 #NASASocial

A few of you have asked me if I cried this past Monday, the few that know me enough to know how life changing seeing, feeling and experiencing a launch is for me. Truth is, I did cry. But I didn't cry when or for the reason you might expect. 
 
Missy's exact words to me, lol!

I was crying before the scrub announcement came. I was sitting on a NASA bus out on the causeway, staring out the window at that rocket, and I started crying
like there was no tomorrow. I was crying because I was thinking about the last time I had the chance to see a launch, with my sisters at my side. I was missing them and thinking how much I wanted them to be there to see this, be a part of this. Because the truth is, the things we are passionate about are made so much better when we have people, people we love, to share them with.
 
So close! Photo Credit: AlloyCode

I knew going into this experience the first time around that it was going to be pretty amazing. Like hanging off the side of a tall ship, fishing net in hand, beating at an ocean full of bioluminescence just so I can watch the reflection of the Milky Way turn neon blue. Or like the time I climbed a cliff to watch the midnight sun dip down in the sky, kiss V├Ąttern and swing back up.  Yeah, that kind of amazing.


Most of the time the things that amaze me are the things I have to work the hardest to get to.  But then there are those things that just fall in your lap, things other people came together to create and invited you along to witness. This was one of those things. 
 
Orion Model and EFT-1 Launch Abort System, Photo Credit: AlloyCode


I found myself walking around NASA's Kennedy Space Center taking a journey through the minds of many. Oh, what beautiful minds! I've always had a thing for NASA, their "let's do this, we're gonna figure out a way" attitude about things. 
 
Gioia Massa speaks about Veggie

For me, my love for all things space started at a space themed Girl Scout camp-- Troop Trek!-- where someone took the time to point their telescope upwards and invited me over to take a look. I remember thinking the moon was the most beautiful, ugly thing I'd ever seen. But now that I'd seen it that way, I wanted to see it that way all the time.  I was hooked. 
Launch Pad 39A, where Apollo, the Space Shuttle and now SpaceX will carry men and women into orbit.
As I learned all about space during that scouting weekend, one thing struck a cord in me. Someone told us that you didn't have to be an astronaut to have a place in space.....and it was something I found myself repeating to my sisters many years later as we watched STS-135 take off for ISS. Sure, a lot of us dream of being astronauts, I sure did, but NASA doesn't just need astronauts, they need the rest of us too. Writers, artists, IT guys, doctors, scientists and even dreamers....
University Research-1 students
If I ever doubted that idea, this trip to cover the third SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 and Dragon Cargo mission proved to me that every STEM student and Girl Scout I talk to, can believe the words coming out of my mouth when I tell them to do what they love and there will be a place for them in space. 
NASA saved a place for me in space!
That beautiful rocket still sits on its launch pad today, three launch scrubs later. But inside the Dragon capsule is the work of so many great minds, and I can't wait to tell you all about that cargo! Work like the robotic legs that are headed up to ISS for Robonaut2, and the idea a little company out in Madison, Wisconsin had to make NASA Veggie possible. Then there is the CASIS sponsored Huntington's disease research and the first collaboration between university student cancer research and the ISS, University Research-1. 
 
Where I left her.

The next launch attempt is scheduled for tomorrow, 4/18 at 3:25 p.m. EDT with a backup date of 4/19 at 3:02 p.m. We can watch it together on NASA TV: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

And when you're done watching the launch, come back and read more about all the awesome payloads, and then a bit about my personal experience (it really was the stuff of dreams, y'all) that I'm going to share here.   
I know, right!