Sunday, November 30, 2014

I'm on Board for Orion's Exploration Flight Test

My name is on board Orion's first exploration flight test (EFT-1) scheduled for launch from Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 4. If you missed the Oct. 31 deadline (or didn't even know about this chance) to send your name into space, you can still submit your e-mail to NASA to be notified about future opportunities.

If you aren't sure what Orion is or why this test flight is important, check out this article about the "Five Things We'll Learn From Orion's First Test Flight."

I won't be in Florida to see the launch of EFT-1, but I was selected to attend a NASA Social on Dec. 3-4 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It will be my first time visiting this facility, and I'm excited for all the activities planned for the days that I'll be there.

Here's the two-day agenda:
Marshall Space Flight Center NASA Social for Orion’s First Flight Test
December 3 - U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Davidson Center for Space Exploration  
8:15 AM Board Bus to Marshall Space Flight Center
Redstone Rocket Test Stand (I'm second from the right)
8:30 AM Arrive at Gate 9 Redstone Arsenal  
8:45 AM Marshall Contributions to Orion’s First Flight Overview
Tour of the facility where the spacecraft adapter to mate Orion to the Delta IV and that will also be used to mate Orion to the Space Launch System was designed and built  
9:15 AM Advanced Manufacturing & 3D Printing
Learn about the Marshall Center’s contributions to the 1st 3D printer recently installed on the International Space Station  UPDATE: Check out this video I took of the 3D printer in action!
10 AM Propulsion Research & Development Laboratory.
Visit the Space Launch System Avionics and Software Lab where the SLS core stage avionics system is being developed and tested  
10:30 AM Nuclear Thermal Rocket Element Environment Simulator & iSAT tour
Learn about research the Marshall Center is doing on nuclear propulsion and with iSAT 
11:30 AM BOARD BUS  
11:45 AM Arrive at TV studio  
12 PM – 2 PM Live KSC NASA Social/NASA TV Interactive Broadcast
This will be a live broadcast between Kennedy Space Center and all the NASA centers participating in the Orion NASA Social. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions from the panel of experts being broadcast live from KSC.  
2:30 PM ISS Payload Operations & Integration Center & Laboratory Training
Complex. See where technicians, engineers, and scientists work around the clock
supporting the experiments onboard the International Space Station.  
3:45 PM SLS Scale Model Acoustic Testing Demonstration at East Test Stand
Scale model acoustic testing is done on a scaled model of the Space Launch System to see how much water will be needed to dilute the massive sounds made by the rocket. You will get to see the model that is being used for the testing and also speak with experts who describe the process.  
5 PM Arrive at USSRC  
December 4 - U.S. Space & Rocket Center
5:30 AM Arrive at USSRC Davidson Center
6 AM Live Broadcast of EFT-1 Launch 
7 AM – 10 AM USSRC activities – Orion simulation, MAT, etc. 
10 AM Live broadcast of splashdown  
I'll be posting on Twitter during my adventures at Marshall Space Flight Center. Also, check out my husband, Scott on Twitter. He was also invited to a NASA Social, but he's going to the one at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Happens to a Dream Deferred?

"I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." - Henry David Thoreau

I'm sure you can't tell it from my lack of posting here...but I've been thinking a lot this past year about what to do with this blog. With this post, I've decided to bring it back to life. I still probably won't have time to post very often, but I'll try to post whenever something awesome is going on in my life. I'll continue to chronicle any future trips to NASA and other interesting places. I may also broaden my future post topics to discuss my work life and professional experiences in Higher Ed. And I continue to write fiction and look for an agent, so I'll probably be using this blog as a place to share (and occasionally vent about) the highs and lows of that journey too!

Unlike my introvert compatriot from another era quoted above, I sure haven't spent my last year in a physical "Walden" isolated from society. But in some ways, working in a distant city that requires me to live during the week in an apartment that's far away from my house, husband, family, and most of my friends has felt a bit like an exile to the woods. Some days the distance and isolation have given me time to think. Other times it has only given me worry and stress, especially those moments when I can't physically be there for the people that I love and that love me.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation."
Part of me yearns to go off into the woods (or a quiet beach house overlooking the ocean) and just write... But then there's that pesky thing about paying bills, and I can't be like Peter Gibbons in Office Space and just not pay them anymore...but I digress...

Thoreau spent only two years in the woods, but he spent much longer on writing and editing the manuscript of Walden which wasn't written in the seclusion of those woods. Most of the years Thoreau wrote his book were spent living with Emerson and paying back debts. It took about eight drafts and ten years before his social experiment book was finally published in 1854.
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
People often ask me why I work so far away. They can't imagine doing it. First, my job does pay the bills...but more importantly, I really enjoy where work, what I do, and the people I work with at Rose-Hulman. My first year in this new job has been a good one with lots of successful projects that I'm very proud to have led and many more to come. If I had to make the choice again knowing what I know now, I'd still seize this new now and make the move from Ball State. I've also gone to two great Higher Education conferences this year -- EduWeb which was in Baltimore, Maryland and HighEdWeb in Portland, Oregon -- my first time at these. I've wanted to attend these for years, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten these opportunities for professional development had I stayed at my previous employer.

Perhaps one day I'll be in a place in my life where I can just write my novels while looking out over a peaceful pond, lake, or ocean. Until then, I continue to write/edit my science fiction WIP in any spare moments I have in my life...which aren't nearly enough. I also don't have an agent yet. The NY agent I met at the Midwest Writers conference read my partial, and she provided me these words of encouragement (frustration?): "I loved Mark and the premise and writing, but ultimately I felt like the pacing was off. It seemed to drag in some places and then felt abrupt and rushed in others." So, now I'm tweaking and re-working before I send out to any other agents. I won't let this be a dream deferred. I'm keeping at it. I'll query more agents. I'm not going to stop pursuing the dream of being a published author (with or without a day job.) Life is short. Keep dreaming. I'll keep you posted...