Ad Astra

I wouldn’t wish this feeling upon anyone.

I feel like I’m leaving part of my life.

Today was my last day at Johnson Space Center, and I turn in my badge tomorrow. It’s been so amazing. I’ve had such a wonderful time.

I’ve grown to be much more confident. I’ve met so many amazing people. I’ve had opportunities to work on amazing projects.

There will be a longer post later. I just needed to ramble for a moment.

But I promise, NASA, you haven’t seen the last of me. I will be back.

~E.

Intern Space Program

We just so happen to all be interns in Houston, Texas.

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Yesterday, five of us made our way to Paige, Texas to launch a beautiful rocket that interns had been working on since the Summer tour. The orange tube with a glider on top of it was our Monday evening for almost the entire time we have been here so far.

From avionics work, to soldering, and even coding on the three hour drive there: the ever-dwindling group of interns I worked with on this was in love with this rocket.

On the day of the launch, it was pretty cold but we were excited. We wanted to test our fins, because we thought those were our weakest point on this rocket.

glider flip

Approximately two seconds into launch, the glider slipped off the top of the rocket, and the shock cord zippered the airframe.

The glider’s tail ripped off, and we recovered it in two large pieces on the ground near the launch pad.

The rocket kept going up, and we lost it in the sky for several breathtaking seconds.

Someone spotted the rocket, but no parachute had deployed. People screamed “heads up!”, while others scrambled to find the rocket. It landed about three feet away from four cars, and came down with a whistle and a loud thud. When we turned around, we saw the state of our beautiful orange rocket…

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Crushed and broken into two pieces, the parachute never deployed. However, by some miracle, our fins stayed in tact. The indentation in the ground was rather large, and we had to pull about six inches of dirt out of the rocket once we dug it out of the ground.

We weren’t going to let one unsuccessful launch deter us from another launch- we still had avionics sensors to test!

Using one of our interns’ level 2 certification rocket, we strapped in some avionics equipment and hoped for a successful launch. On our launch card, we named the rocket “Shame”.

Perhaps “Lawn Dart” would have been a better name.

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The ejection charge never happened, and the rocket came right back down in a beautiful parabola.

While the rocket most definitely did not survive (it was dug at least 8 inches into the ground), every electronic component that cost more than a dollar did. _EKB0695

We were actually able to recover data, so for our purposes… that was a successful launch.

That poor rocket, though.

We all had such a fun time though, and went to dinner at Bastop Roadhouse after. I’ll have to say, their Sourdough Bun was phenomenal.

All in all, we all learned so much… learned so much. I’d always been interested in rocketry since completing Civil Air Patrol’s model rocketry program, and this was definitely a HUGE step up from that.

I’m so excited I was able to be a part of the Intern Space Program. 

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drinking from a fire hose

All my life, I’ve been told things that most people struggle with are like “drinking from a fire hose”. What a beautiful analogy for trying to process a lot of new information at once. Things like starting college, filing taxes, and getting a job. Things I did not struggle with.

jsc sign

Working for NASA as an intern is no small feat, I’ve known that from the start. I did, however, finally experience what drinking from a fire hose tastes like. I’m still finding out. I just completed my first week at NASA, and almost everything feels over my head. It truly is an incredibly humbling experience, though. It really took one of my co-workers to sit me down and tell me that if I learn nothing else from him, let it be that no one is going to care if I ask questions. That no one will think I’m not smart. I really had to break out of my shell, and swallow whatever pride I thought I had.

I’m surrounded by a wonderful group of peers and mentors that absolutely love what they do, and I am so fortunate to be able to learn from them. All the other interns are incredibly friendly, too. There’s about four others from Ohio, which is really cool. I guess in my mind I pictured that everyone would be from Texas, but that’s actually not the case at all! One girl I befriended at orientation had spent a lot of time at Kennedy Space Center, and another guy had just finished working for Lockheed Martin.

nasa goals

I also decided it was time for me to finally try out the bullet journal thing, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. I’ve set a few internship-long goals, such as obtaining my amateur radio license and a scuba certification. One of my favorite goals, however, is to learn a new thing every day. At the bottom of every day’s page, I’ve written what I’ve learned. It’s such a beautiful, creative, and fun way to keep track of things.

Some things are not quantitative goals, like being more confident, making new friends, or being less picky. I love the challenge though, and I’m having a blast.

When it comes to food and my picky-ness, Texas is a wonderful place to attempt to overcome this. As long as I can continue to stay away from seafood, life is good. I’ve been packing my lunch most days for work, which is really good for my attempts to avoid getting a lot of fast food (and blowing my entire paycheck at the Chick Fil A across NASA Parkway).

My mentor and his wife took me out for lunch at Noon Mirch on Thursday. Noon Mirch is an Indian buffet-style restaurant about five minutes down the road from NASA. I ate a lot of new foods that I never would have tried before. I had a variety of lentil-based dishes, and I even had a breaded jalapeno.

noon mirchMy favorite, by far, was the creamed spinach (known as Saag). The Naan (a flatbread-like bread) was good, too. There were chicken meatballs, and rice, and more breaded veggies.

For dessert, I tried some rice pudding with a cookie. It was an interesting dish.

On Friday, I went out to eat with a different group of co-workers to Ritter’s, a burger and hot dog place that serves frozen custard. I got a burger there, and it was pretty good. I mention this since I mentioned trying to not be picky- the burger had “Ritter’s Sauce” on it, and I have no idea what it was.  Five points for me. Yay.

rocket park

Here’s a view of Rocket Park, where I ended up because I needed to use the restroom while waiting for my badging appointment (and their restroom didn’t work). It was super cool to see. I’ll definitely have to go again and take the time to look around inside the giant hangar- there’s a Saturn V rocket in there.

On Friday evening, I participated in Critical Mass with the family I’m staying with. Critical Mass Houston is a GIANT bike ride through Houston. Like, there were probably around 2,000 people there. It was super cool. The event began as a social protest to bring awareness to how un-bike friendly cities are, and I think that’s a great point.

critical mass

We ended up riding almost 25 miles, which was an incredible feat for me since I haven’t really rode a bike since being in the Netherlands in May. I felt incredibly accomplished when I finished all 25 miles. I met a bunch of really nice people (almost everyone in Texas is super nice) and I had a blast. My legs didn’t even hurt that bad the next day. I should do this more often. It was also a phenomenal way to see Houston. It’s such a beautiful city- especially in the dark. It also has a lot of one-way streets… And I thought Ohio was bad! 

saltgrass steakhouse

Yesterday, M and I drove down to Galveston for dinner. We went to Saltgrass Steakhouse, and yes, I got double potatoes. YOLO, right? (Please never let me say that again)

The fries were phenomenal. AND I WAS, AT ONE POINT, PROBABLY 30 FEET FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO. That was incredibly epic. It’s nothing like Lake Erie (whoa, who would have guessed).

Texas is super cool, and NASA is amazing. It’s a little weird to not be in classes right now (*glances at the two online classes I’m taking*), but it’s such an amazing experience. I’m so happy I took the internship. I’m so happy I got this opportunity. Right now, it’s like drinking from a fire hose- but soon, I’ll learn. One co-worker I met that I got lunch with Friday said that it’s still like drinking from a fire hose, but she just found a way to redirect it to a pool first. Maybe I’ll find my own pool soon, too.

Last, everything is genuinely bigger in Texas. I always thought it was a joke, but it definitely is not a joke. A movie theater we went to to see “Crazy Rich Asians” had over 25 theaters. It was crazy huge. Oh, and I said y’all. Once.

Alright, I think it’s time for me to keep convincing myself I’m being productive by staring at my philosophy class and not actually doing anything. Wish me luck!

I looked up “space quotes” to be cute and end this in a NASA-esque fashion but this is what I got and I thought it was cute anyway… so here goes.

“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.”

~E.🌎