Category Archives: Astronaut Leadership Program

Last Day of Lake District Astronaut Leadership Experience

It was sad to see the long weekend draw to a close because we so enjoyed all the individuals that decided to come participate on the ALE course but alas all good things must come to an end.

The last day we had planned to go ghyll scrambling (bouldering through a water area) which would have caused us to get fairly wet if we did it “all the way” as planned. However, we woke up to snow that morning and it was pretty darn cold! We all braced for what we thought would be a cold experience but then our guides showed up and said they checked air and water temperatures and that there was no way that we belonged out in the water. I don’t think any of us complained about this assessment. So instead went did a less wet version of ghyll scrambling which was still a whole lot of fun!


After our scramble we had a bite of lunch, some debriefs and then it was time to part ways with promises to keep in touch and hope that perhaps our paths would cross again.

Want to join us on an Astronaut Leadership Experience? We currently have a Kenya trip lined up for the fall and there are several more in work that are going to be exciting as well! Keep checking for more details!

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Day 3 of UK Lake DIstrict Astronaut Leadership Experience – The Via Feratta

If you think the morning of Day 3 sounded exciting from my last blog wait til you hear about the afternoon. To be honest the afternoon of Day 4 was really what the whole thing was building up to…. We headed to The Via Feratta.

This is a unique experience where you can go rock climbing (pretty dang high up!) without needed to be technically knowledgable. Through a series of installed supports and ropes to clip into you too can be a rock climber on the face of a mountain!

So I have to admit even though I was one of the Leadership Leaders on this Experience I was not exactly jumping for joy over the idea of hanging off the side of a mountain! Here’s my thing… I am a TOTAL klutz at times on flat ground and trip and fall… when I get high up I have this fear that I will be a klutz up there and well you can imagine where my mind goes from there! All that said I was bound and determined to challenge myself and take myself out of my comfort zone as well.

As I mentioned in my previous blog about apseiling/rappelling we never push anyone further than they are comfortable so especially on a day like this we supported folks in whatever decision they made. That said all but 1 of the group made their way up to the Via Ferratta (and I have to say that the one person who chose not to go had already pushed way past comfort zone in the morning with the apseiling/rappelling!)

First challenge was to walk across a suspended bridge that was pretty darn high up and swung quite a bit. We all made it across there and started to get a bit acclimated. Then we climbed down a ledge to scale the side of the mountain which was a lot more challenge and required a bit of climbing skills. Not to worry it’s all incredibly safe. We were always clipped in with 2 separate lines and our mountaineer guides made sure to take really great care of us. I will admit that this part was definitely a bit unnerving for me – especially when you looked down! That said once again we all made it through this part of our challenge!! Go Us!!! Oh and I forgot to mention – to add to the challenge it was incredibly windy and cold. The wind actually was enough to push you around a bit and the cold made it challenging because you wanted to wear gloves but they made the clipping in and out more difficult.

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Next came a decision point. There were 3 options: 1 was to go across a single wire with arm holds across the open expanse which was the most challenging (especially for people who don’t love heights), the second was to climb up the side of the mountain to the very top (still very challenging but less so than option 1) and the third was to decide you were done and head back down to the Cafe at the bottom of the mountain (and you didn’t even have to go across the crazy bridge to get there). It ended up being about an even split… but only between the first 2 options! I was so proud of everyone to decide they wanted to keep going in some way. We all enjoyed our journey to the top (even if it was really tough at times) and felt such an enormous sense of accomplishment when we got there.

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Luckily there was a cave at the top which offered us some shelter while we waited for the whole group to regroup because it was really cold, windy and snowy up there! It was beautiful however! We got some pictures at the top and then scurried down to the bottom because we were all ready for hot tea to warm up!

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What an incredible day!

That night we discussed this day in great detail and how it effected all of us. I think it’s safe to say it was a great learning experience for everyone and not just in a climbing realm. We were a bit sad that it was our last night together though so we all hung out and talked until a little later than perhaps we should have 🙂

One more blog to go about the event and I promise it won’t take me as long to post the next one 🙂

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Day 3 Morning – Apseiling (Or Rappelling as we call it in the US)

Hiking on Day 2 had lots of team work challenges and it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other better. The evening of Day 2 everyone was treated to the super awesome space video of Ken’s from STS-132. Gotta love space pictures set to Muse music!

Day 3 was where we would really step outside of peoples’ comfort zones which is entirely the idea. By figuring out how you react in stressful situations you learn a lot about yourself which is key in knowing how you act within a team and as a leader.

First thing in the morning we got a briefing from our Mountain Guides about the day’s events. I have to say that our Mountaineers Chris & Steve were absolutely fantastic! If you are ever in the Lake District and need a guide let me know I will certainly put you in touch with them and you will not be disappointed! We (ISSET/Chris B, Ken the guides & myself) made it very clear that while we want people to challenge themselves but we never want them to go beyond what they feel they can handle. I know some people were concerned about doing things extremely out of their comfort zone but we never pushed anyone to do more than they could handle and never will.

There was a bit of apprehension from some of the folks as we headed out to partake in the apseiling but we always knew we were in great hands with our Mountaineer Guides. While we waited for them to set-up the lines we all got situated in our harnesses which we had become familiar with on the first day while ziplining. We had some eager folks who were happy to go first and some folks who were happier to wait a bit. No matter which end of this spectrum individuals fell on we had some amazing Teamwork with everyone being incredibly helpful to one another in so many ways. There was help with adjusting harnesses, helping our guides with the lines, helping people clip-in as they got to the ridge portion of the face on the way up, helping people clip out when they got to the bottom from apseiling,helping make sure that everyone had all their required pieces and parts and most importantly making sure that everyone who needed some additional moral support had it.

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Everyone did impressive work and absolutely everyone in the group apseiled successfully! Some loved it so much they wanted to do it again (unfortunately we didn’t have quite enough time) and some just loved that they did it and it was done but everyone was happy to have pushed themselves.

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We got some amazing pictures with Chris’s camera too but I don’t have those yet… when I get those I certainly will share!

Oh and we spotted some wildlife while we were out here…



We had an incredibly afternoon as well but I think that is worthy of it’s own blog post so I think I’ll end this here and I promise to get to work on the next post as soon as I can!

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We Have a Winner!! Well 2 Actually!

Yesterday Ken and I got the distinct pleasure of speaking to about 200 people to announce the winners of a contest held by ISSET. The contest was to create a Message to the Moon which was judged and 2 winners were picked to receive free participation in our Astronaut Leadership Experience (ALE) Program in the UK Lake District in March.

It was pretty neat to consider the fact that there Ken and I were across an ocean from them but via the wonders of technology and Skype we were able to deliver the good news that they had won and take some questions. It was a brilliant event and we are excited to meet the 2 winners when they come to the ALE Program in just over a month. We hope to see some of you there too! Check it out at

Here are some pictures I snapped…

  • Our view of Chris Barber (Director and Founder of ISSET) from the beginning of the event
  • Ken and I speaking to the group in the UK
  • Our 2 winners


Many congrats to our winners!!!

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Glasgow was Out of This World!

I just returned to my home in the US from an incredible trip to Glasgow. Why Glasgow you might ask? Well that’s a great question and I am glad you did ask 🙂  While on the Astronaut Leadership Experience in the Gobi Desert recently I was lucky enough to become friends with 2 gals on the trip from Glasgow. I won’t go into the lengthy details but the bottom line is we got along famously and as a result while I was “over the pond” I swung through Glasgow for an amazing evening talking about space and how Glasgow can get involved in Mission Discovery, Astronaut Leadership Experiences & Message to the Moon!

29 Studios put on an amazing event where I was fortunate enough to meet many wonderful people who I suspect are going to help me make this happen in Glasgow! Don’t you want to be part of it too?!?!?!?
Check out the 29 Studios page about the event  (Sorry for some reason Word Press is giving me issues with actually linking this. Grrrrr!!)

The event at 29 Studios picked up so much attention I was asked to be on Scotland Tonight which was live and thus a little nerve wracking but it went well I think!

If you would like to see the video from that check out this link to my personal blog (sorry I can’t upload video here without paying an upgrade fee.)

Grrrrrrr – once again why won’t Word Press work like it’s supposed to? The link button in the editing/writing phase isn’t working. Sorry I guess you will have to copy and paste in the link to your browser.

I am so thankful to 29 Studios (all of whom I now consider dear friends) and my dear dear friends Gillian & Michelle for making it such an awesome trip. I can’t wait to go back to Glasgow!


Kev & Gillian


Michelle & chelle


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What do YOU want to see?

So as I am working on new program ideas all over the world I realized that I am certainly falling down on the job if I don’t ask all of YOU what it is that YOU would be interested in seeing 🙂

Specifically for this I am working on various ALE (Astronaut Leadership Experiences) – Astronomy Meets Adventure Programs.Recently we’ve gone to the Gobi Desert to see the Transit of Venus. Coming up in November we head to Australia!

December information is still getting solidified for another program but if we pull that one together it will be in the Caribbean area…. So where do YOU want to go? What astronomical event do YOU want to see? Tell us! You never know we may add it to our list of trip options 🙂

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