Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Citizens for Space Exploration

I have been actively working with the Florida sector of the Citizens for Space Exploration as the annual Washington D.C trip is approaching at the end of May. The Citizens for Space Exploration is an organization comprised of multi-state taxpayers who support America's investment in space exploration. The organization represents private citizens, small business owners, students, teachers, space and non-space business representatives, and county and municipal officials. Together, our mission is to promote awareness of the benefits of human space exploration and support for NASA and the US Space Exploration Policy. To help out with the trip, I have been gathering the biographies along with the budgeted NASA funding for the 2008 fiscal year. These two pieces of information will be placed in the folders that the groups will take with them to their appointments with the congressional members and staff. I will be sponsored to attend this year by Ensco Inc. and am looking forward to going to the Hill to advocate the importance of supporting the space program.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Discovery rolling out May 3 to Launch Pad 39A!

Discovery rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Saturday, where it was mated with the external tank and two solid rocket boosters. In this picture, Discovery is being lifted in the vertical position inside the VAB's transfer aisle, lowered into a high bay and joined with the tank and boosters atop the mobile launcher platform (MLP). Currently the Space Shuttle assembly is undergoing final checkouts before rolling out to Launch Pad 39A on May 3. I am actually scheduled to work on Saturday so I just might be able to get some good roll out photos.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I've been selected for SpaceTec's Microgravity Training Program

When I was in college I participated in NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. It was an undergraduate team program where a we submitted a proposal to test an experiment in microgravity conditions. For two years in a row, our proposal was accepted and we were selected to perform the experiment in microgravity simulated by the KC-135 aircraft. I have been able to experience a total of 62 parabolas, weightless....AND IT WAS AWESOME!!! It's the closest I've been able to "feel" like an astronaut in space.

So a couple weeks ago, I saw that SpaceTec was accepting applications for their Florida Aerospace Microgravity Training Program. The Microgravity Training Program will include a mix of classroom, web-based, and in-flight training to introduce the selected applicants to the challenges of developing and operating systems in the weightless environment of space. Brevard Community College (BCC), SpaceTEC, a Florida-based national aerospace technical training center and Zero Gravity Corp (Zero-G) will develop and administer the training. I received an acceptance email this week, so expect updates as I receive them!!

Here's a picture of me from my college days in the weightless environment.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tomorrow is Earth Day!!!

Tomorrow is Earth Day and it is intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment. I took the recyclables bin out last night....I recycle paper at work....but I think I am going to start riding my bike around more. Today I started by biking to meet a friend at the park for some basketball instead of driving, but I am going to encourage myself to bike around to other places instead of driving.

The fight for a clean environment continues and you're invited to be a part of this history and a part of Earth Day. Do your part in helping the environment. Recycle! Did you really need that bag for that one item at the grocery store? Do you recycle paper at school or work? Could you ride your bike or walk instead of driving? There are a lot of informative sites to browse through to help you integrate a simple change in your lifestyle with little effort, resulting in a big impact on OUR environment. Here are just a few:

The Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste

How to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day sites for Kids

Eco-friendly Beauty Products

Here are some quotes from some of our own heroes:

"You change because you see your life differently than when you live on the surface everyday. ... We are so involved in our own little lives and our own little concerns and problems. I don't think the average person realizes the global environment that we really live in. I certainly am more aware of how fragile our Earth is, and, frankly, I think that I care more about our Earth because of the experiences I've had traveling in space.'' -- Eileen Collins, first female Space Shuttle commander.

"If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth....'' -- Anousheh Ansari, Iranian-American space tourist who flew to the International Space Station.

"It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water ... It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it.'' -- Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Expedition 16 Returns tomorrow!

Expedition 16 comes to an end tonight. Commander Peggy Whitson, Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and South Korean payload specialist So-Yeon Yi will undock from the International Space Station. They will undock with a Soyuz capsule aiming for an early morning landing in Kazakhstan. On top of the six-month mission, Astronaut Whitson is the first woman ISS commander and has remained in space for 377 days! This beats the record so far of any American in space.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

St. George's Catholic School in Seattle, WA.

On Tuesday, I visited St. George's Catholic School in Seattle, Wa. I first spoke with the preschool and then presented to the Kinder - 4th, and 5th through 8th graders. I was only able to get photos with the preschoolers because I was really pressed for time with the other assemblies. The kids were fascinated with the launch video from the camera mounted on one of the solid rocket boosters. The video I showed was similar to the one at the following link: click here for video. At the end of the presentation, I passed out mission decals and a launch photos which they were so excited about!

Back from Seattle!!

I just returned from Seattle from my niece's first birthday and baptism. Everything went well and I stayed very busy with my family. The last time I saw my niece Haley, she was 3 months old. Her baby fat hasn't stretched out yet so one side of my back still hurts from carrying her around.

I did however manage to break away and go to Crystal Mountain on Monday. The slopes were absolutely AWESOME and playing the snow was so fulfilling for me. Since I went on a Monday and not not during the peak season, it was not very crowded so I felt like I had the mountain all to myself. I took my niece, Ashley, skiing for the first time. For a 4-year old she really enjoyed the snow and did great on the slopes with her "pizza" and "french fry" ski positions. It was great!

The next day, even though my legs were quite sore, I visited St. George's Catholic School for three presentations. I'll post some pictures on my visit to the school in a bit. On the plane ride home, I took this picture. It's a beautiful shot of Mt. Rainier. I miss Seattle and the snow already.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


May 31st is the next targeted launch date for space shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission. We were supposed to launch on May 25th, but due to weather issues delaying the delivery of the External Tank and to prevent having employees to work through Memorial Day weekend. Last week the External Tank was delivered and it is currently in the Vehicle Assembly Building to be mated with the Solid Rocket Boosters.

I am officially a PADI Open Water Diver!

Sunday, my diving group and I went just off the coast of Pompano Beach to complete our last open water dive. We dove down to 60 feet to the Sea Emperor and Turtle Ledge Reef.

The Sea Emperor is a 171-foot barge that rests upside down in 72 feet of water. The Sea Emperor was formerly a hopper barge that was donated as part of a fine levied on a dredging company that destroyed some reef habitat of Palm Beach County. She was filled with large concrete culverts and sunk off Boca Raton. When the barge sank it flipped, scattering the culverts on the sand and landing upside down.

I was able to see a multitude of beautiful fish and got a chance to see a huge Southern Stingray and a Green Moray Eel. Click on this link (link) to see a very awesome video of the resident Eel that we saw named "Baby". Her jaw is offset because there was a hook that got caught in her mouth. The owner of our dive shop told us that she was hand fed for a while by another dive owner until she recovered. She is very welcoming to divers. The second dive was a drift dive to Turtle Ledge Reef. I was able to see a sea turtle sleeping at the bottom!

I think I am really going to LOVE my new hobby. :)