Tag Archives: space

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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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. 

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



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.






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.


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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3 Years Ago…

Three years ago today was the launch of STS-132… in some ways it seems so long ago and yet in others it seems like it was just yesterday!

STS-132 was supposed to be the final flight of Atlantis but the crew all had high hopes that she would fly again so they kept referring to it as “The first last flight” of Atlantis. All of us in attendance were lucky because the flight launched on time just like Ken’s first flight. (I guess that’s what happens when you put 2 Navy guys in the front seats!)

The weeks ahead of the mission would bring lots of smiles and laughs but most importantly some hard work… all of which would lead to an extremely successful mission.


Touring the launch pad the day before launch

DSC_0096Watching Launch from the top of the Launch Control Center. (They only let immediate family up there to do so.)



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Trip to Mars/Moon Part 5 – My Thoughts

Okay so my thoughts on a Trip to the Moon or Mars… Remember these are just my thoughts – I can’t speak for anyone else!

Personally I think it would be wise for us to go back and learn to live on the moon before trying to go to Mars. Yes we’ve been to the Moon but it was really for a short time comparative to the amount of time we will be required to spend on Mars if we travel there. 

Physiologically the biggest concern is radiation. Already have astronauts maxing out on the lifetime “allowable” radiation by safety standards just by a few stay on ISS and ISS is protected by the Van Allen radiation belts. We definitely have our work cut out for us in this arena if we want our Mars space travelers to remain healthy. So far I have yet to hear a plan from anyone who is talking about a trip to Mars detail anything that will adequately mitigate the radiation concern.

As far as the one-way ticket goes… I am quite certain there are lots of people who will willingly sign up for this. I do have to admit though – there is no way I will be one of them and for a wide variety of reasons. It’s not just because of the one-way factor, though admittedly it is part of it because let’s face it if that doesn’t come to play in you decision in some way I wonder how much you’ve really thought about it. The idea of training for 7 years for this mission is not something I would be willing to undertake in the way it’s being set-up. I have NO interest in being part of a reality show. However I know many people would love to be on a reality TV show so I suspect that won’t necessarily be a mitigating factor for many. Given that many people just want their 12 seconds of fame I actually think it’s smart for the company to be charging a fee to submit their application video. 

Ken and I actually talked about the couple traveling to Mars trip and while that sounds like a great adventure I am not sure we’re quite ready to sign up for that one yet either 😉 It’s a very ambitious plan and I am just not sure the date they have listed is realistic given all the obstacles there are to figure out before travel to Mars is possible.

Bottom line though – I am excited to see various companies and lots of people excited about a trip to Mars (and the Moon) and I think it’s an absolutely FANTASTIC thing for people to be getting excited about it. Hopefully with the excitement will come to the will to figure out these engineering challenges of the trip and make it happen! It’s time for us to explore beyond low Earth Orbit!!

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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 2

So in my previous post I posted about a company who is offering a one-way trip to Mars for a reality show… The “opportunity” in the following article is a little different.

Dennis Tito was the first private space tourist. He paid a VERY hefty sum of money to the Russians to take a trip with them on the Soyuz to ISS.  He now wants to send a man and a woman (potentially a married couple) on a roundtrip around Mars in 2018. (Note this vehicle will not land.) Given the ideal line-up of the planets at this time the trip will be a “mere” 501 days and the whole trip will happen regardless of what happens to the inhabitants of the capsule.


Obviously this is very ambitious and will be quite expensive but I love that Tito’s thought on this is ” …I will come out a lot poorer as a result of this mission but my grandchildren will come out a lot richer for the inspiration it will give them.” So much truth in that statement….

Here’s a humorous blog of one man’s thoughts on if it was him and his wife on the Mars journey. (Caution – there is a little but of rough language in here.) I just had to share this one because I literally laughed out loud at it!


Are you wondering what my thoughts are on all of these ideas of going to Mars? Well for right now I want you to come up with your own ideas (I don’t want to taint them!) and then I will give you my thoughts eventually I promise 🙂

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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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A Great Week for Mission Discovery Planning

This past week was a crazy busy one (especially for being home and not on travel working) even by my standards! But it was a great week! I am excited to say that we have a lot of amazing things in work that I am very very excited about.

We are working hard to expand Mission Discovery to many more places so more people have the opportunity to get to attend the program and experience this incredibly unique event. It is official that we will have a Mission Discovery at Valparaiso University July 21-25, 2014. Yes I know that seems a ways away but it’s great because it gives us plenty of time to plan! We are working on the promotional materials for it right now and I will share those with all of you as soon as they are done.

I’m also excited about some more possibilities that I have been working on very actively but I can’t give you any details yet because they have not been confirmed and are still in the “working to make it a definite planned event” stage. What I can tell you is that I am working on potentially 2 different Mission Discovery programs on the East Coast of the US – one of these will be slightly different than the usual 5 day program… But again you will have to wait a bit longer before I can give you more information on those.

I’m also excited about a couple additional prospects for summer of 2013 in the UK. No details yet but some definite real possibilities…

Am I driving you crazy with giving you teasers of information but no solid information? If so I’m sorry about that but I do promise that I will give you all information about all of these things as soon as I can!

Now back to an evening of relaxing for me because hopefully this week will have lots more Mission Discovery planning work in store for me!

Hope you’ve all had a good weekend!

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On This Day in History…

Today is a historic anniversary for space that is honestly celebrated around the world… The beauty of today is that it’s not just 1 anniversary – it’s 2 special space anniversaries. 

On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. This day is celebrated annually with Yuri’s Day and celebrations alla round the world. In Russia it is National Cosmonautics Day
Chris Hadfield had a wonderful message from ISS for Yuri’s Day. Check it out here

I was not alive to witness this first launch of man into space but I was alive to see the second big space milestone of today – the launch of the first space shuttle, STS-1, on April 12, 1981. In fact that was what inspired me to want to work in “the space business” in any way I could.

These events were major milestones in the History of Human Spaceflight and there have been more in between those and along the way. I must admit though the events I most look forward to are the major milestones that have yet to happen in Human Spaceflight that I have the feeling are just over the horizon….


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Everybody Loves an Astronaut

Don’t know if you all have seen these commercials from Axe but we think they are hilarious!! I especially love this one because I was in high school in the area that Bryce Drew was (and my school played his) so I have always been a big fan of his. Obviously he went on to play at Valparaiso University as well and I remember this actual shot very well!

I think this commercial is so timely too for me… We are currently working hard on all the details for a Mission Discovery at Valparaiso University in July of 2014 so stay tuned for those! In the meantime check out the video for a good laugh!

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