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/