Copyright ©2016 TravelXena.com | All Rights Reserved
Copyright ©2016 TravelXena.com | All rights Reserved.
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OSIRIS-Rex Atlas V launch from Kennedy Cape Canaveral Part 2
Part 1 — #ToBennuAndBack #NASASocial
The day of the launch! On this day we had a later start of 10:30am so I used the extra time to get a rested night’s sleep and thereby woke up excited and eager to see the rocket launch. Rockets and Shuttle launches were something I’d seen on television as a kid and on the internet as an adult but never imagined that I’d see one in person and certainly not up as close as I had the opportunity to do.
Imagine my surprise that the first stop after the buses pulled out was to see OSIRIS-REx much closer than I’d ever dreamed. Check it out!
On top of that Tory Bruno and Dan Collins the CEO and COO of United Launch Alliance were there to answer questions and take photos with us, including one great group photo of everyone invited to this #NASASocial event.
The wonderful Social Media team with Jason Townsend in the middle (Black shirt holding a camera). You can tell that they all love what they do!
From there they headed to the southeast of the very large Vehicle Assembly Building and visited the Launch Control Center where Apollo missions and all since were managed from! It’s even on the National Register of Historic Places. Once inside we were given a history of NASA and then taken up to Firing Room 1, which was the first of the firing rooms to support a mission in the Apollo era! I felt truly amazed at every step of this journey but being in this building felt like literally touching American Space History…and when you think about it, I did.
I’d visited Kennedy Visitors Center twice before when on cruises that stopped in Port Canaveral and I’d see from there a building that I wanted to go into each time the VAB…Vehicle Assembly Building! For as large as it looked from afar it seemed even more monumental up close.
The vastness of this building is amazing, there are very few structures that you can step into where you can look up 526 feet (160 meters) and see from floor to ceiling. The sides of it actually slide fully open from top to bottom in order to move the Space Shuttles out (before the program ended) onto the shuttle mover that rolls on Tennessee river rock that goes down 6 feet (1.8 meters). This rock can withstand the weight of the mover with the shuttle on it, unlike concrete, asphalt et cetera, and even the Tennessee river rock becomes ground down to sand after a while, and top ups are needed.
Once again I love the enthusiasm of those that work at NASA, it is rather like Starfleet in its very early stages, and with companies like SpaceX and Boeing working in a similar space in the area, it also has a Federation feel. 🙂
This Orion capsule is a model used to test weight of an in use Orion space craft.
A ballast filled with water.
This wall titled the Space Shuttle Program Tribute was signed many people who contributed to the success of the program. (More photos in the gallery below.)
On some of the tours were people that worked at NASA. After all there are ten centers in the U.S. and just because you work there doesn’t mean you get to see areas that you don’t work in. One of the people I met doing this was a Systems Engineer who runs a team of specialists named “Jo”. She agreed to do an interview with TravelXena.com about women in the STEMS. I intend to add these interviews because asking questions is the start of exploration and travel and hopefully the interviews that I plan on showcasing here will encourage people to ask more, learn more and engage more in the world around them and the space above. Look out for that interview! #WomenInSTEM
As if all of the experiences had so far weren’t amazing enough we head back to the lunch area and had guest speakers we had met the day before come in to answer more questions people like Dr. Michelle Thaller, Dr. Alex Young, Dr. Ellen Stofan and more culminating with the head of NASA himself, NASA administrator and astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden!
Exciting indeed! He spoke of many things but one of the things that stuck with me was him really encouraging minorities to focus on the sciences and don’t let a mind set stop them, because sometimes the biggest obstacle to achieving things that we never thought possible can be ourselves.
Not sure what I was saying here. I think we were talking about our links to South Carolina he had family from Columbia, SC and my family are Sea Islanders (Gullah) on my Dad’s side.
To finish off the day the buses now head over to the causeway area where the group would watch the launch.
Here is the NASA Video of the launch — I decided to take the suggestion of Mr. Bolden and to just absorb and enjoy the launch and put my camera down. NASA has the best footage and photos to be found of the launch so I figured I’d soak in the experience. I did point my camera in the general direction but since I wasn’t looking through the lens or viewer I didn’t get much footage. I did however have the chance to be interviewed on video for NASA Goddard TV right before the launch Thanks for the opportunity Katrina! •ᴗ•
NASA video of the launch of OSIRIS-REx
It was the end of a beautiful, memorable day however there was another surprise to be had. There was to be a press conference at 9:00pm and Jason invited those that were interested in staying to view it either in the Press Building or next door in the room of the actual press conference itself. I was one of about 8 (out of the 100) people that decided to stay longer and experience this too. I’m very glad that I did. There was space in the press room and I had the opportunity to be there during the live taping of the Q&A of experts from this successful launch and historic mission.
Planetary Scientist and Deputy Mission Lead Christina Richey #WomenInScience #WomenInSTEM
Below video Courtesy of NASA TV – #ToBennuAndBack
Well my travel loving and explorer friends that was the end to my amazing and historic trip. I’ll never forget it, and it even has me thinking about what I can persue educationally in the near future. In the mean time I’ve become a citizen scientist able to help NASA Scientists out with research, if you’re interesting in participating in a NASASocial event or becoming a citizen scientist or learning more about NASA check out the links below and in this post. 🙂
Day 1 – Offered a chance to sit in on a panel of experts who are leading In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). I didn’t have all of the names of those present but thanks for fellow NASASocialite Brian Hart @vr_bhart there is video of nearly the entire session. Thanks Brian!
The Panelists were as follows (Noted in the order of introduction) :
Professor of Astronomy at the University of Central Florida
Physical and Surface Processes of Asteroids and Mars
Dr. Jacqueline Quinn
Inducted into the FL Inventors Hall of Fame for her work in Environmental Radiation
Project Manager for Resolve – searches for resources on the moon in the near future
Dr. James Mantovani
Physicist and Lead Scientist in KSC Swampworks in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Research lab
Working on R&D for ISRU for the Moon, Mars and Asteroids
Investigating the mechanics of soil and categorizing Lunar and Martian soil simulants.
Dr. Gioia Massa
Researching the Right Nutrient Blend for Growing Plants in Martian Soil
Researching Using Methane from Mars in a Rocket Engine
Spent 4 months in a Maritian Isolation Simulation Environment
Hands on Environment for Innovation and Cost Effective Exploration Solutions
A HUGE Thank you for Jason Townsend and Emily Furfaro and team!
And another BIG thank you to all of the cool people that took photos of me when I asked for them to. There are so many images that wouldn’t be here if not for their willingness. An especially LARGE thank you to the gentleman that took so many photos of Administrator Bolden and myself on my DSLR and Smartphone. Thanks so much!
So now I bet you’re wondering, “How can I be invited to one of these cool NASA Social events and meet these amazing Engineers, Scientists and Astronauts and see an awe inspiring rocket launch?”
If you’re active on social media, have an interest in space, science and are interested in attending a future NASA Social event find more information here: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/index.html
Do you want to help NASA? Become a citizen scientist, you can start today!
Interested in becoming a solar system ambassador? Apply today!
Download cool NASA Mars posters – Explorers wanted!
Except where noted all photos, videos and written material Copyright © TravelXena.com 2016
For great NASA photos of this launch visit:
More Travel Xena videos of my visit
To top off an awesome Star Trek Missions weekend I applied for and was invited to a NASA Social event to see Osiris-REx on the Atlas V, ULA rocket take off to the Asteroid Bennu. As you can imagine it was a privilege to be among the 100 people picked to see this launch.
On the Tuesday after Labor Day I packed up my suitcase head flew to Orlando picked up my rental car and went to my hotel. The next day I could be there no later than 6:45 and as I don’t know my way around Florida I decided to get there by 6:00.
After picking up my pass I befriended a Science teacher named Maria whom I hit it off with, we started chatting and then made our way to the buses that were to take us onto NASA/Cap Canaveral property. The first stop was to a large tent near the Vehicle Assembly Building & OsirisRex countdown clock.
After being introduced to the staff who would be escorting us, everyone took turns introducing themselves to the rest of the group. The diversity of occupational backgrounds was interesting from budding scientists, to Doctors, Artists and Marketers with a love of code like myself, it was great to see so many join in their love of space, technology and our future as humans.
Next up was a large mound with a view of the housed OSIRIS-REx on top of the Atlas V rocket moving to the launch pad. Seeing such an advanced pieces of technology make their way towards getting ready for an ultimate journey was punctuated by the beautiful natural surroundings of the mound that had the beautiful Atlantic ocean on the other side.
The dichotomy of those two worlds coming together in such a way hit me like a stiff wind. Nature & Technology, so many times people feel that they’re at odds with each other. Our future is here, we’re moving ahead as humans and it’s up to us to make these two things work in harmony with each other whenever possible.
After heading back to the tent for lunch we were escorted over to a NASA TV recording of a panel of science experts to be able to ask questions about the OSIRIS-REx mission. With a panel from NASA as well as their technology partners there wasn’t an aspect about the mission that could not have been answered and these was a chance to hold and take photos of Bennu and Tagsam (Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism) replicas.
Doctors Ellen Stofan (Chief Scientist at NASA) and Michelle Thaller (Astrophysicist) #WomenInScience #WomenInSTEM
Dr. Dante Lauretta Planetary Scientist and OSIRIS-REx Mission Lead and Dr. Christina Richey Planeyary Scientist and Astrophysicist Deputy Mission Lead #WomenInScience #WomenInSTEM
The next stop was to another panel of experts that told the group of NASA’s efforts to take humans to Mars and how we’ll create fuels from regolith (space dirt/soil found on terrains in space), Astromining, growing food on Mars and more. I had a chance to meet my favorite scientist Dr. Phillip Metzger and speak to people like Physicist Dr. James Mantovani who specializes in surface physics, and Dr. Gioia Massa a Project Scientist who focuses on growing food in space.
More on this panel here.
Did you know the below?
“Trash to Gas – 10lbs of space trash can turn into 7lbs of rocket fuel” #TrashToGas
Last but not least the buses took us out to an area with very large radar dishes, I wondered why we had stopped in what seemed like the middle of nowhere but realized that we were fortunate to hear Dr. Barry Geldzahler speak on the Ka-BOOM project. Have you ever wondered who we could defend ourselves from NEO (Near Earth Objects) that are large enough to destroy large swaths of the earth? Well that’s what Ka-BOOM is about and what Dr. Geldzahler specializes in, tracking NEOs. These radar systems are so advanced currently have the ability to see “radar imaging using Ka band frequencies to see features as small as 5 cm.”
After nearly 12 amazing hours the buses took the group back to the parking lot and I drove back to my hotel close to the airport. The next day would be the actual launch of OSIRIS-REx but who knew that so much more was in store in addition to the launch. Day 2 is next up on TravelXena – Part 2
For more information see the links below.
In-Situ Resource Utilization – Dust to Thrust
Images and text Copyright TravelXena.com 2016
Part 2: https://travelxena.com/osiris-rex-atlas-v-launch-from-kennedy-cape-canaveral-part-2-tobennuandback-nasasocial/