Every year the US Naval Academy does an Astronaut Convocation – given that there are MANY MANY astronauts who have graduated from USNA they are never at a loss for interested individuals to come back and speak to the students (Midshipmen) here. I say here because I am now fortunate enough to be a resident at the US Naval Academy for the next couple years while Ken works as the Chairman of the Aerospace Engineering Department and the Senior Aviator at USNA. (It’s nice that I can work from anywhere I have an internet connection and a nearby airport!)
The 2013 convocation was held this past Monday and while I know it was a great treat for everyone here it was an especially great treat for me to get to see some friends that quite frankly I don’t get to see often enough due to all our busy schedules.
The actual convocation consisted of
- General Charlie Bolden (NASA Administrator) as the Moderator
- Bob Cabana (Director of Kennedy Space Center)
- Michael “LA” Lopez-Alegria (President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation)
- Steve “Steve-o” Bown (Still at NASA in astronaut office)
- Frank Culbertson (Executive Vice President at Orbital)
Obviously all these folks have flown to space throughout the years though most have moved on to other jobs. They are also all graduates of the Naval Academy. They spoke about the future of Human Spaceflight and it was a riveting talk to say the least. I even learned all sorts of new stuff that I didn’t know about!
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all these guys during my time at NASA. (In fact Frank was the Commander of the first ISS Mission that I was heavily involved in from Mission Control- Expedition 3 & I was a lead instructor LA for his first ISS flight – Expedition 14. I did odds and ends of training for the others too.) So it was also great to catch up with them.
In addition to the actual panel of astronauts there was another half a dozen in the audience – Kay HIre, Ken Reightler, Ken Ham (obviously) as well as a few more. Everywhere you turned there was someone there who had been in space – how inspiring is that?!?!?
The definite theme of the night was that the students they were speaking to ARE the future of space travel… as are all of you who are out there reading this! Here’s to hoping one of you will be who gets to go to Mars!