Tag Archives: NASA

An Exciting Day for Space!

Well I don’t know about you but I think today is an exciting day for space. Today Orbital will launch it’s Antares Rocket with the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft headed for ISS. This will mark the final milestone for Orbital in their development of a craft to help resupply ISS. I find this especially fantastic because it’s not too long ago that the only entities who had the ability to resupply ISS in any way were the Russians and the US. Then we added ATV & HTB from ESA and JAXA and later on Dragon from SpaceX… now here comes Orbital! I think it’s an exciting day when we start seeing the “door to space” open for more entities.

 

I have a personal attachment to this too I must add…. I was fortunate enough to be one of the Flight Controllers for Expedition 3 which was Commanded by Frank Culbertson. I feel lucky to have become friends with Frank because I have to tell you he’s one outstanding guy! Today he will serve as not just the Mission Director but also their press guy! Talk about busy!

So it is personally and for the great development of space that I wish Orbital huge success today! I will be watching from here in Annapolis… oh speaking of which… check out this link for more information as well as some graphics that will help you to find where in the sky to see it if you are in Annapolis, Atlantic City, New York City or DC!

http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/MissionUpdates/Orb-D1/

 

Go Antares! Go Cygnus! Go Orbital Go!!!

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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.

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

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

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Dinner at The House of Blues….

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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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DC Was Fantastic Now onto Houston!

The Space Center student experience has been so busy and so much fun I simply haven’t had time to blog about it and for that I do apologize! The last few days in DC were filled with some incredible experiences such as a tour of Goddard Space Flight Center (including getting to see the James Webb Telescope being built), a tour of the monuments in Washington DC, a wander past the White House (unfortunately they are not doing tours of there currently) a trip to the American History Museum, a tour of the Air & Space Smithsonian that is on the National Mall, a visit to Downtown Annapolis as well as around the US Naval Academy and some more great encounters with some really interesting people including Piers Sellers.ImageImage
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Everyone realized that we could have spent a month in the DC area and still not seen absolutely everything so while we were sad to leave DC we had an incredible time there and are looking forward to our next stop…. Houston and the Johnson Space Center!

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Space Center Experience June 2013

One of the many incredible programs offered by ISSET is the Space Center Experience where students can come and visit the NASA Space Centers in the Washington DC area, Florida and Houston. Trips could include 1, 2 or even all of these options. Additionally it’s possible to create a custom experience as happened recently with a group who wanted to see New York City. 
http://isset.org/NASA_space_centre_visits/

The latest Space Center experience is underway with some UK University students – first stop on the tour… Washington DC!

On the first full day the students started off in a stellar excursion to the National Air & Space Museum UDvar Hazy extension at Dulles Airport where they got to see hundreds of amazing airplanes and perhaps the most majestic sight of all…. Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery. While their they got an incredible tour from a very knowledgable docent who worked as a Chemical Engineer at Cape Canaveral during the Mercury and Gemini programs.Image

Love this picture
http://instagram.com/p/aqc9OGKaaX/

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After the tour the students got to partake in a flight simulator that “took them on a tour” of the International Space Station.

Next stop on the trip was Arlington National Cemetery.  Arlington Cemetery honors those who have fallen in battle fighting for their country. The cemetery was also a memorable location from war film, Saving Private Ryan.

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At Arlington the students got the opportunity to see JFK’s grave with eternal flame, the changing of the guard which is a sacred and honored tradition, Memorials to the Challenger and Columbia Crews as well as a beautiful view of Washington DC.

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But the day wasn’t done after all that! For dinner we had the pleasure of the company of astronaut Ken Ham as well as Meredith Botnick who is an aerospace engineer, Navy pilot and space flight fan. Also joining us was Aaron Botnick a meteorologist and computer scientist. Needless to say it was a great dinner with fantastic conversation!

I’d say Day 1 was a success… Hope you’ll follow along for the rest of the trip!

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STS-124 Launch Memories Part 6

I know you may be thinking “Geez chelle keeps posting all these pictures and memories but none of them are of actual launch and Ken’s time in space yet. Why?!?!” I promise I will get to actual launch and pictures of Ken in space before too long but I wanted to show you guys the other things that go on around launch that you might not have otherwise known about. These events are a part of what makes the launch week so special for all of us family members. Don’t get me wrong – it’s very special that our loved one actually gets to go into space but we don’t get to so it’s great to have so many amazing memories that we got to actively participate in as opposed to just taking a viewer role.

There’s a beach house at the Cape that is (well at least it used to be – I don’t think it is anymore) just reserved for the astronauts. It’s a great house where you can go wander on the beach and relax. Prior to launch while the crew is in Florida this becomes an ideal place for some quality time with “your crew member.” One day we had meal there where each crew member could have 5 people in attendance so myself, our 2 boys and Ken’s parents headed out there for that event. On another day just us spouses got to spend time there. It’s a place where we could all relax without a bunch of people watching over every movement that is made (as is the case in Crew Quarters) during the week leading up to launch.

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I love this picture! All of us spouses arrived a few minutes before the crew so we took a few moments to snap a picture.

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Us with our Boys

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STS-124 Launch Memories Day 5

The day before launch each crew member gets to take 1 person to visit the space shuttle with them. (Generally it’s the spouse.) I have to tell you that amidst all the chaos of launch week it was really nice to get to spend some “quieter” time with Ken not to mention that getting “up close and personal” with the space shuttle on the launchpad is always pretty cool!

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Up at the Top of the Stack

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Walking out of the White Room which is where the crew enters the Orbiter

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Piers was willing to do whatever it took to get good shots of us. (He was one the escorts for us families for the week.)

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Yes I am most definitely a goofball! But then again many of you already knew that!!

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STS-124 Launch Memories Day 4

Upon arrival to KSC one of the things that the Commander and Pilot have to do a few times is practice their shuttle landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) – and they do this fully suited. Gabby and I were able to come and watch them get suited it (it’s no small task to get into these suits!) and then walk out to Shuttle Landing Facility and watch them not just board the plane but also do their flying. I have to admit that we were both kind of silly and when they flew past us the first time we waved at them like we were little kids 🙂

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STS-124 Memories Day 3… Night Viewing

One of the incredible perks of this whole thing was getting to see the space shuttle at night. She looks absolutely majestic all lit up by the Xenon lights… Each astronaut gets to bring a limited number of people to this special viewing the night before launch. While I had seen the shuttle at night from afar this was the first time I’d ever gotten to be “up close and personal” at night. To say it was a beautiful sight is a major understatement. Unfortunately my camera skills were not so good so many of these pictures were out of focus. I decided to share a few with you anyway because let’s face it… they are still pretty cool 🙂

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This is me with my Mom, Grandpa and 2 of my aunts. Everyone was quite happy to stay up rather late to see this!

 

night jeffDSC_0135                                                                                             With my dear friend Jeff. Jeff has known me my entire life!!

 

nightmelDSC_0131                                                      With my best friend Mel. We met at University and have been inseparable since!

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Mel and I hanging out with Wheels (Doug Wheelock) who was our official astronaut escort for the evening. I’ve known Wheels for a lot of years and am happy to call him a good friend.

 

1vickiDSC_0145                                                      Our friends Vicki & Craig came all the way from Australia to experience this!!

 
Then we got a special treat… since the crew’s sleep schedule lined up in such a way that they were still awake they came out for a few minutes to say Hello!
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STS-124 Memories Day 2

Going back to the beginning of launch week…..

The crew spends some days in quarantine at JSC and then they fly down by T-38. The spouses and kiddos flew down about the same time so we could be there to watch them land.

Here are a few great pictures of Ken and Aki heading to and then climbing into the T-38.
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Upon Arrival at KSC they walked by us and Ken opened his arms to give me a hug so of course I walked over to take advantage of that. Little did we know we weren’t really supposed to do that there…. Oops! Oh well!
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(Apparently it was okay when Dottie hugged Aki cuz she’s a fellow Astro.)

Wouldn’t you love to have a T-38 jet as your mode of transportation? I know I sure would!!!

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Upon arrival the crew gave a quick press conference and then they were off to crew quarters!

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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….
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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! 🙂
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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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