And all this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week …And I think it’s gonna be a long long time. ‘Till touch down brings me round again to find. I’m not the man they think I am at home. Oh no no no I’m a rocket man.

—   Rocket Man, Elton John

This week, I had an experience of a lifetime with a behind- the-scenes visit to the Kennedy Space Center. There was a big celebration of the arrival of the European Service Module for the Orion Spacecraft. Orion is the exploration vehicle that will take astronauts farther than we’ve every gone before – back to the moon and then beyond to Mars. It was interesting in a NASA video played at the event, it made the point of saying we’re going for more than just a flag and footsteps on the moon. WOW!  Do you remember where you were when Neil Armstrong first stepped out on the moon and they planted the American flag on July 20, 1969? I do…

My new company – Jacobs – is NASA’s largest professional and technical services provider. While I was visiting, I learned that we are responsible for the development and operations of flight vehicle components of the Exploration Ground Systems including integration, processing, testing, launch and recovery. Who knew?

Before starting the trip though, I had to make a photo of where I parked at DFW Airport. I can’t even imagine space exploration when I could barely find Port Canaveral, and my GPS took me on the most round about voyage know to mankind. But I finally made it about an hour longer than was needed.

A small group of my colleagues and I had an up close view of the Vehicle Assembly Building and advanced research happening at the International Space Station Processing Facility as well as several other Jacobs’ efforts at NASA like thermal protection support. It was truly amazing for an English major and a girl from Garland, Texas to be so close to such state-of-the-art technology and innovation.

An interesting story I learned was about the NASA Launch Control Center. There are four launch control rooms at Kennedy, and each one has these wooden plaques for each mission all across the walls of the room. The plaques have the two little white bars hanging down with the day of the launch and the day of the landing/return. Except in Launch Room 3, which is where both the Challenger and the Columbia launched … on those plaques there is only one white tag hanging. I have to say that was a very emotional part of the tour.

I did get to catch an amazing sunrise from my hotel room before the main event – the celebration of the European Service Module. I actually had a nice reunion with an old colleague from Raytheon who now works at AirBus, a major player in the delivery of the service model.

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

This was a special bonus to the visit, totally unplanned and unexpected. I had the opportunity to see the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This was totally random, but great timing. Again, something I never dreamed I would witness in my lifetime.

 

With all the wonderful experiences in Florida – except for my Florida hair that grows x 3 its normal volume – it is always good to be headed home.

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Sunset over Dallas from the airplane.

What did Dorothy say, “There is no place like home!”

XOXO

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