Tag Archives: astronauts

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 http://isset.org/astronaut_leadership_experience/lake_district.php

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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Who are your heros?

In life we go through many phases and along the way we have heros who we aspire to be like, who shape our goals and in the end help us to become the people we become. So who are your heros? 

I must admit I have many heros from a wide variety of walks of life. Some of them are personal life heros, some are charitable heros, some of the are overall business heros and of course some of them are space and explorer heros. 

While I was in Los Angeles last week I was very excited to get to see the Apollo Command Module from Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Deke Slayton has always been one of my absolute heroes for many reasons including his “I won’t give up” attitude at getting assigned to a spaceflight. He was an amazing man and I just wish I’d gotten to meet him!



Imagen, APImage

So who are your heros and why? Think about it a little bit – it will tell you a lot about yourself!

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Astronauts Everywhere They Turned…

In case you haven’t noticed the Military has some really cool traditions. One of them is a Dining Out.

The “official” definition of this event is 
Dining in is a formal military ceremony for members of a company or other unit, which includes a dinner, drinking, and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps.
You’ll notice that definition is called a Dining In… there’s just 1 difference between a Dining In & Dining Out – In means no spouses/dates and Out means these people are allowed. (So you can see why I personally am a bigger fan of the Out 🙂
Wikipedia Definition

Ken and I made it our mission about a year ago to bring the Dining Out tradition back to NASA at the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). Upon arriving here at the US Naval Academy we realized that this place was in need of a REAL Dining Out as well! We had to determine how to scope it and wether we would actually be allowed to do it. Luckily it worked out that we could do it and we held a Dining Out for the Aerospace Engineering Department & VTNA (Flying team) Class of 2013. It was a seniors only event with all the wonderful traditions of a Dining Out such as the Parading of the Beef, grog, Mr. Vice, Mr President (Ken), levying of “fines” etc.

So why do you as space fans care about this? Well let me tell you – many astronauts who have flown in space have been military (not that you have to be there are lots of civilians too!) and there have been quite a few who attended the Naval Academy. We decided for this Dining Out we wanted to bring as many really interesting people as we could to attend and just engage with the students (and adults!) who were attending the event. As it turns out – almost everyone who was asked if they wanted to attend as a special guest said YES right away. (We even had folks fly in from out of town.) So it was a great privilege for everyone to get to share their Dining Out with not only 5 different astronauts but also more than a dozen incredibly talented pilots as well. It made for a great evening of story-telling and inspiration!
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USNA Astronaut Convocation

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.

ImageIn 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!


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ISSET Student Trips Get Ready to Travel to DC area!

I had such a wonderful time touring about the students groups from the UK who traveled to Houston in the Spring to learn more about space and STEM in general. It was such a joy to get to really interact with and get to know so many great kids who have such interest in not just space but in learning in general.

If you’ve been keeping up with my crazy life I have moved out of Houston to the East Coast so I wasn’t sure if I would get the opportunity to work with ISSET on these student trips anymore which was a very sad thought for me to have! Turns out we came up with an even more exciting solution…. Student trips to Washington DC!!!! We always strive to bring the very best space related and STEM experiences to all involved and we realized that there is so much that DC has to offer so we designed a whole trip about it!!!

I am excited to get to bring the students to the Air & Space Museum and the Udvar Hazy (the huge hangar that is an extended portion of the Air & Space Museum but it is located out at Dulles Airport). It will be especially exciting for me to go to the Udvar Hazy because it will be the first time that I will get to see Discovery in her new home. (Some of you may have seen my personal blog – An Homage to  Endeavour) Given that Discovery carried Ken into space on his first flight I also have some amazing memories of her so I can’t wait to see her again up close and person. (Who knows maybe I’ll be writing another homage after that too!) We will also be touring many of the iconic sites of Washington DC such as Arlington, the various monuments and The Capitol. In keeping with our space theme there will also be a visit to Goddard Space Center a well as the US Naval Academy which has a rich tradition of graduating astronauts. Along the way there will be lots of information & excitement shared, people inspired and even a few astronauts met!

Sound interesting to you? Make sure to keep checking the ISSET page to find out about future events you can be part of!!

And check out the specifics about the October Trip as well!

Below are a few photos from the Spring Trips to Houston

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