Monthly Archives: February 2013

One Week til I Leave for the UK Lake District

My oh my how 2013 has flown by! It’s nearly March yet it seems like New Years was just yesterday! Okay maybe I can give you that it feels like New Years was last week but certainly not almost 2 months ago!!

A week from today I leave for our latest Astronaut Leadership Experience (ALE) which will be in the UK Lake District. I don’t know about all of you but I am a list maker so I’ve started my list of items that I need to pack. Clearly it’s going to be a wee bit chilly there so I figure that I ought to make sure now that I have everything I need so I can go get anything that I might not have. 

I know it’s going to be an awesome trip and I can’t wait to be part of it! Are you sad you are missing it? Well fret not! There are still some spaces available – you can check out more information at Or if you can’t join us on this one we have one more officially scheduled and are working on some others too! As always I want to know if there is anywhere in particular you’d like to see us host a program or if there’s a specific astronomical experience you’d like to see with us!

After our ALE Program we will be touring about parts of England to talk to various schools. I am always excited to do this as well because we get to meet so many people and often get asked some really great questions! 

Well I know this is a fairly short and not so entertaining blog but I have to get back to my packing list and some very important emails about a wide variety of ISSET programs that are in work… More on those soon!!


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I am not sure how much all of you are following along about Commercial Space Travel (and the word Commercial may not mean EXACTLY what you think it means in this context  but it is sort of that too…) but I have to tell you that I am all for it. I would love to see these private companies do well and be able to take over the Low Earth Orbit stuff so NASA can concentrate on exploration further beyond earth to places such as the Moon and Mars.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit the SpaceX facilities in Florida and California. In fact I saw the Florida facilities with some students from the UK during one of the Space Center experiences that ISSET offers. (Check these experiences out at We got to see their Falcon 9 rocket and even the Dragon capsule.






Recently I got the chance to travel out to LA and see the SpaceX headquarters. I was impressed before that but after seeing their facilities I was absolutely blown away. This is a group that is going to get things done! They are determined and they’ve got their eyes on the goal! Keep you eye on them – I suspect they will be doing big things! Yes I am a SpaceX fan!!!

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the facility so here’s the only picture I got!


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I think there are events in life that are so major and shocking that we will always remember where we were when they happened. For my Mom it was when JFK was killed. For me, unfortunately, I have several events that changed the world I live in and not in good ways. Obviously these events have different impacts to different people but they are impacts nonetheless.

I’ve loved space since I was a very small girl so the Challenger Disaster is a very poignant memory for me. I was in grade school and I was actually home sick that day. I was curled up in my Mom’s bed and she pulled the TV into the room so I could watch the launch. I was so excited but sadly that excitement obviously turned to disbelief and grief. I was devastated and could do nothing but cry for that day. However it did not change my resolve to be part of the space program in any way. I was so emotionally involved that when Return to Flight happened a few years later my mom pulled me out of school so I could watch the launch at home because she wanted to be there with me… just in case…

Now fast forward many years… I have continued to follow my dream and I am working at NASA with the International Space Station Program in Mission Control (I will soon after go to work in the Training Division). I watch Columbia launch and am delighted to see her beautiful launch. This was an incredible time for me in another way too. I was headed to Russia for my first (of many many!) work trips there. It was while there in Russia that I learned of the Columbia disaster. I was in the “apartment” (really think hotel room) that I was staying in and was about to head out the door to see the musical “Chicago” in Russian which I was pretty psyched about. Then the phone rang and everything changed. Co-workers told me to turn on the TV because Columbia was gone…

In the coming hours those of us there in Russia came together as a family to support one another, console one another and wonder “Why did this happen” together. The coming days, weeks and months would bring NASA together as one big family. We all grieved together but knew that all of the lost crewmembers would want us to continue our journey in space.

These are 2 moments in space history which I will never forget – and I hope no one else ever does either. It is by remembering that we can work to prevent instances like this. Space travel will never be without risk and we need to remember that. We also can’t be too overly redundant with safety because then we will never get anywhere – without great risk there is no great reward. But we do need to be smart about it and make good decisions.

Let me clear that I have LOTS of amazing and happy memories that I will never forget about spaceflight too… but for today I just want us all to remember what great sacrifices have been made by some in the spirit of exploration. Remember….

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