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August 02, 2009

Talking About Space

At the welcome home for the STS-127 crew at Ellington Field today in Houston, people were not just talking about space—they were talking about talking about space.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) announced that she and Congressman Pete Olsen (R-TX) are co-chairs of a new NASA Action Space Team that will be busy advocating for space. She thanked all the politicians for being present (Houston city and Harris county reps as well as staff members from Ron Paul’s office and the Japanese consul general) and for showing their support of space through visits to DC. She encouraged every aerospace worker there to remind people of the importance of space exploration to our nation and the world. “NASA is a priority for this community.” She recognized each crewmember with a certificate.

After thanking his family for their support, STS-127 Commander Mark Polansky reminded those present “to talk it up,” so the public will know what important work they do here.

The pilot, Douglas Hurley (after thanking his wife Karen, who is also an astronaut) singled out one of those critical people who work in the space business—the lead flight director, Holly Ridings, who was present. Being one of the first women flight controllers 20-some years ago, I couldn’t help but think how her accomplishment is something that many people will not be aware of, and is certainly worth talking about!

Spacewalker Chris Cassidy, who had a carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup in his suit that caused Mission Control to cut one spacewalk short, joked about having a CO2 bubble around him, and that people should approach him with caution. But seriously, solving the problems of carbon dioxide buildup, in space suits, on the station (the American CO2 removal system failed with 13 crewmembers onboard), and in Earth’s atmosphere are important and well worth talking about.

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette emphasized that this flight was a great example of what we (humans) can do when we come together. She said we should stand tall and be proud to tell our friends and families that we “are in the business of space exploration.”

Rookie spacewalker Thomas Marshburn thanked the training team for making it possible for him to be immediately comfortable in his space suit in orbit. NASA has gotten astronaut training down to a fine art. That’s something to talk about.

Spacewalker and former Russian Mir crewmember Dave Wolf echoed the comments of the others. At the autographing afterwards, I heard him ask a young boy, “What do you like about space?” The boy was immediately tongue-tied, and Wolf suggested, “Weightlessness?” to which the boy nodded vigorously. Wolf smiled, and declared him a, “future engineer.” Setting an example for the next generation—that’s certainly worth talking about.

Finally, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who spent more than 4 months on the space station, said it “seemed like a week.” Considering that half of the media present were Japanese, I expect he will be talking about his experience for the rest of his life.

As he should. As we all should.

Talking about space is important! Whatever our connection is to space, whether we are aerospace professionals or armchair enthusiasts, let’s talk it up. Participate in the NSS Blog. Follow NSS on Twitter and connect with NSS space friends on Facebook and LinkedIn and whatever other social or business networking you do. Read some space books. Plan to attend the International Space Development Conference in Chicago in 2010. Go see one of the last Space Shuttle launches. Then share what you’ve learned and why it excites you. Together, we can build a community in space, by enjoying our space community on Earth!

The next Space Shuttle flight is STS-128, currently scheduled for launch at 1:36 a.m. August 25, 2009. I plan to be talking about it—how about you?!

To the stars,

Marianne Dyson

NSS Advisor

Posted by m_dyson at August 2, 2009 12:26 AM



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