Thursday, February 15, 2018

Starman - Sparking the Exploration Imagination

What a fantastic and inventive way to highlight the launch of new space hardware! A red Tesla and a Starman going where no sports car has gone before! Epic! Whimsical! Totally fun! Way to go SpaceX!

When was the last time you got to use those adjectives when talking or writing about the U.S. Space program? A VERY long time I'll wager. 

I worked at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX for 13 years at the beginning of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. It was super interesting and we made history nearly every day, albeit incrementally. 

The senior scientists and engineers said it was not as exciting as the "good old days" of Gemini and Apollo when we knew very little about space and were exploring it with primitive and limited data processing capabilities. 

Now a forward thinking, early-adopter, inventor, billionaire has sparked our collective imagination with a visual we will never forget. The generations to come will have a positive benchmark in their push to the stars. Go science!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

NASA Remembers

Today NASA remembers the 17 daring and courageous  astronauts who lost their lives during America's space program. Several NASA centers including Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida are holding observances for employees, family, and the public. 

Strangely, the loss of NASA personnel all happened days apart in the winter of different years (e.g., Apollo 1 fire - Jan. 27, 1967; Challenger explosion after liftoff - Jan. 28, 1986; and Columbia breakup upon reentry - Feb. 1, 2003). 

I was working at Johnson Space Center during the Challenger explosion and knew well several of the crew. Ron McNair's children went to the same preschool as mine and we chatted often when dropping off and picking up. Others, I worked with on mission planning. As everyone involved in the space program can agree, these deaths were personal losses. We shopped with, went to church with, commuted with, and served with these NASA heroes. I was still living in Clear Lake, TX when the ill-fated Columbia spacecraft and crew were lost. Grief revisited - for me and the nation.

Unfortunately, we often forget how dangerous space exploration is, but the rewards are multiplied a hundred fold or more via NASA science, medical, materials, and engineering spin offs. To me, these lost colleagues lived extraordinary lives and deserve our thankful remembrance. Go science!