Tag Archives: astronauts

July 2014!

The title of this blog may be incredibly simple but I thought it says it all (for me at least)… I am excited to announce that as of now July of 2014 is going to be the biggest month (at least so far) for Mission Discovery EVER!


I am very excited to announce that the month of July 2014 is completely full of scheduled Mission Discovery events!!! WOW!

Officially scheduled so far are the following Mission Discovery Events:

  • Kings College Mission Discovery (London, England) 7-11 July 2014
  • Mission Discovery Renfrewshire (Scotland)  14-18 July 2014
  • Mission Discovery Valparaiso University (in Indiana an hour from Chicago)  21-25 July 2014
  • Mission Discovery St John’s College (Annapolis, Maryland) 28 July – 1 August 2014

Additionally we are working on a few others but as you can see dates are filling up fast on our schedule!

I know the information for these events is not out at  http://isset.org/mission_discovery/  yet but I can promise you it’s coming so keep checking back!

And don’t worry – if your area is interested in hosting a Mission Discovery we can still work with you to find a date that it will fit in.

More details via the website, this blog and social media regarding specifics of the camps (as we have the materials to promote them finished) as well a

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Space Center Experience In Florida

While the students had an absolutely amazing time in both the DC area as well as Houston they were especially excited to see Kennedy Space Center in Florida where all of the manned US launches have occurred from.

We settled in on the first day and enjoyed just a little bit of downtime at the beach. When in the Cocoa Beach area you really must check out the beach there – it’s beautiful. We knew the next several days would be full of exciting things to see so we took advantage of some time to catch up on a bit of relaxation.

Before heading to KSC the students first went to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge to learn more about the environment and the animals that live there. Ned was the docent who spent some quality time with the students and it is clear that he is passionate about the refuge because he was fantastic at imparting knowledge.

Then it was off to the Kennedy Space Center for the next 2.5 days…. so much to tell you about there but I will just give you the highlights… Cape Then & Now Tour, VAB Tour, Fantastic Space IMAX movies and more!

The timing just happened to work out for a rare treat for the students who were participating… they got to partake in the Atlantis Opening Celebration with myself, Ken and about 50 astronauts! Truly the chance of a lifetime!

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Last event in Florida was a stop at Sea World where I was happy to see a great message of Conservation. Many astronauts frequently say that we would all be kinder to the planet if we could all see it in the way that they have from space.

Obviously this is just a very high level overview of the trip… I could probably write dozens of “pages” about the trip but I think if a picture is worth a thousand words then an experience is worth a thousand pictures so I think you should all consider joining us on one of our experiences!


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Space Center Experience in Houston continued…

The trip has drawn to a close but since I didn’t get a chance to blog while it was going on I figured I’d catch up now that I am back home… sorry for the delay! This one will have lots of pictures because as they say a picture is worth a thousand words!

The students got a chance to visit many astronauts in Houston and even attend a Medical Briefing with a variety of NASA folks – the briefing was about Acute Mountain Sickness and discussed how some of the things parallel space sickness. It was fascinating for all of us. 

We visited a retired airplane that NASA has used to create weightlessness 30 seconds at a time – The Weightless Wonder also “affectionately” known as The Vomit Comet.


We got a tour of the Nanotechnology labs at Rice University…. 


More dinners, lunches and coffees with some astronauts and other incredible NASA people… (Pictured below is Astronaut Dr. Stan Love)….


Dinner at The House of Blues….


And of course an in-depth tour of Johnson Space Center! 

Alas when it was time to leave Houston we had to say good-bye to Kim who had to go back to the UK. We were sad that she couldn’t join us for the last part of our adventure…. But we all know we will see our friend again somewhere in the world!

Next stop Florida!

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5 Years Ago… Some STS-124 Launch Memories

Well I had planned to write this yesterday so it would have been exactly 5 years ago but then the day got away from me so I am writing this 1 day late but better a day late than never right?!

5 Years ago (yesterday) Ken launched on STS-124. This was Ken’s first launch and thus my very first launch as a spouse. I didn’t think it would be so incredibly different given that I had seen lots of launches of friends, people I trained etc. but boy was I wrong. Having Ken on that flight made such an incredible difference. Not just because there were so many events surrounding launch that went with it but the emotions were incredibly different too. Funny thing is Ken thought he had a perfect idea of what spaceflight was going to be since he’d been in the astronaut office so long and heard all the stories… he too was wrong. He said it was so much better than all the stories combined 🙂

I have so many great memories of STS-124 that I couldn’t possibly blog about them all. I think what I will do is handpick a few memories over the next 2 weeks and share those with you along with some pictures. I’ll share some more pictures by Twitter as well so follow me by my handle there @spacechelle for more. I can’t say that my memories or photos will all be chronological so don’t count on that but hopefully they will be entertaining!

I thought of doing this just recently otherwise I would have done it for STS-132 as well… perhaps I’ll have to wait for the 5 year “anniversary” of that flight…

One of the things that an astronaut flying for the first time has the option of doing is having their individual crew photo retaken. Given that Ken’s initial photo was taken a fair bit before I convinced him (against his will) to go ahead and get his photo redone in the Orange Launch & Entry Suit. (Ken really hates having his pictures taken in general so it took a little convincing.) One of the nice things was they offered to do some photos of Ken and I together as well so we took them up on this. The photo of Ken is the one that he still uses today when at events….

The other photo session they do is for the crew photo. This photo was actually shot on a plain background and then the background was added in after the fact. It was quite a time consuming process in the scheme of things. I went along and tried to make myself useful by attempting to entertain them to keep them smiling! 🙂

These photo shoot memories may seem insignificant in the scheme of so many emotional memories that go with a launch but given that the photos taken at these shoots are forever lasting icons they really are significant.

Stay tuned… not sure what tomorrow’s “Memory of STS-124 Blog will be” because I have so many…

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Happy BIrthday Purdue!

Happy BIrthday Purdue!

Yes of course I have an affinity for Purdue University (Located in West Lafayette, IN) because I am a Boilermaker! (I attended Purdue University before finishing up my undergrad at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and I will always consider myself a Boilermaker!) So it should come as no surprise that I want to wish Purdue University a Happy Anniversary! Purdue was founded 144 years ago today. Why is this notable to all of you space enthusiasts? Purdue is in the top handful of schools as far as number of astronauts who have attended there. There are many notable astronauts but perhaps the most notable fact is that the first and the last men to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, are both graduates of Purdue. (Click the link that says Happy BIrthday Purdue to get a list of astronauts who have attended Purdue.)


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Trip to Mars/Moon… Part 4

So this is the last installment that is pretty much strictly general stuff about an article in regards to a private trip to the Moon or Mars… The next blog will give you some of my thoughts too I promise! Why am I doing it this way? Well because I want you guys to think about what it means to each of YOU without my thoughts to bias you – I know you all have some amazing thoughts and would love for you to explore those!

There’s a private firm, Golden Spike Company, who is planning trip to the moon by 2020. This one is a bit pricey though… the pricetag is about 1.5 billion dollars for 2 people. There are a lot of details that they have not figured out but it sounds like they are going to capitalize on a booster that has already been created by another commercial company.


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Trip to Mars/Moon… Part 3

Okay so I know this started off as a Trip to Mars series but I thought I would expand it slightly because lets face it… most of us have never been to space and the idea of going to The Moon is perhaps just as enticing as to Mars (perhaps even more enticing depending on who you are)…

Bigelow Aerospace has for years been working on the idea of a Lunar Base. NASA is strapped with this whole asteroid idea so they can’t put any effort into a Moon Base but it looks like commercial may be the way to go with this anyway.

As of now I don’t think Bigelow has announced any plans to send private citizens to the moon but who knows… maybe they will jump on the idea as so many others are of making this more mainstream… 

If they did – would you go to live in a Lunar Colony?



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Trip to Mars? Part 1….

Lately several different ventures have popped up that are soliciting folks who are interested in traveling to Mars. Each of these are a bit different and interesting in their own way. I’ll do my best to explore these a bit one by one on this blog as I find them.

Check out this article about Mars One


Reality TV certainly has become a big moneymaker these days so perhaps this group is really onto a unique way to fund this. I suspect lots of people will submit an application video in spite of the fact that there is a fee to do so.

Going to Mars would certainly be an incredible adventure…. Would you be willing to take a 1 way ticket to do so?

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Astronauts Return to USNA

Astronauts Return to USNA

Wonder what some astronauts do after they aren’t flying in space anymore? Check out this article originally from the Baltimore Sun (also ran in the Houston Chronicle a week later) about a few Navy guys….

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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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