Monday, June 27, 2011

Best Day So Far....

   Today started at 5am packing for our big Test Readiness Review at the NASA hanger.  I was very nervous because as team lead, I would be doing most of the talking.  I was fine with talking to groups of people, but this would be around 20 engineers determining if we would be safe to fly or not.  The A teams (or teams that would fly first) were working really hard to put the finishing touches on their experiments inside their glove boxes (large clear boxes to keep the experiment contained and everyone else safe).  We have a very simple experiment so we finished early, but it felt weird because I kept thinking we needed to be doing something.  Of course, we ended up going next to last so I just kept watching everyone and getting more nervous.  Our time came and went and we all did a great job.  Looking back it is getting worked up over nothing because most of them have already looked at and approved our Test Equipment Data Package.  I just hope I get to do this again down the road so I wont be so nervous!
   After the craziness of the morning we had a huge chunk of time to work on our experiment in the afternoon.  However, we have everything done so our AMAZING NASA mentor Sarah Ruiz said that she would take us to mission control for a special tour.  Sarah is not just an amazing mentor, but an amazing person.  She has been so helpful throughout this process and now she continues to volunteer her time for us.  I have seen other mentors that are not very connected to their teams and I seriously doubt that they are giving them behind the scenes tours of places at NASA.  Anyway, she ends up taking us to the Apollo mission control, and we are not behind the glass like the tours.  We are on the floor that all those men stood on as they cheered on the successful Apollo missions and scrambled to keep 13 alive.  It was an amazing feeling to sit in those same chairs and look at those old computers.  From there we went to see the Shuttle Mission Control.  Again, very cool because we were able to see it before the last shuttle mission and a few people trickled in and out.  Finally, we saw the International Space Station mission control.  This one is operated 24/7 so we had to be behind the glass for this one, but it was fun to see everyone at work.  The best part was seeing a sunset in real time from the ISS on their big screen.  It was so fast, but so powerful.
   We then had an amazing opportunity to see the STS-134 debrief ceremony at the JSC visitor center.  It was so cool to see the crew of the mission, hear their bios, watch their videos, and view their pictures.  It was also really neat because Mark Kelly's wife Gabrielle Giffords was there along with Mark's brother.  It was a funny and awe inspiring tale from the space station.  They took a question and answer session at the end and my friend Beth told me to ask Kelly to come up to Flagstaff to talk to our students.  So I did.  I raised my hand, told him where we were from and what we were doing.  I asked if he would come talk to our students (maybe he could help inspire our next generation of astronauts), and he said to email him.  Hmmmm.  Getting an astronauts email is like... finding a needle in a haystack.  I am going to try to contact him in some way to see where it leads, because you never know if you don't try.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's adventure!

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