Archive | December, 2016

Rendezvous with an Asteroid

6 Dec

Over the past year or so, I’ve had an incredible experience thanks to a friend, Mike Paul Hughes.  Mike was an engineer for Lockheed Martin outside of Denver, Colorado.  He has recently moved to Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  When I met Mike, he was working on a project called Osiris-Rex.  This is a spacecraft that will be visiting an asteroid, collecting samples, and bringing them back to Earth.

One time, I mentioned to Mike that it would be really cool to go tour his lab.  He said that if I could make it to Colorado, he could show me around.  My parents figured out a way to get us there and last October, we flew to Colorado.  Next thing I knew, I was gearing up for a clean room and standing next to a spacecraft!

osirisrex

That’s Osiris in the back, Mike Hughes on the right, and my mom and dad on either side of me.

Fast forward to September, 2016.  Mike invited us out to Florida to see the launch!  Once before, I flew to Florida to see a space shuttle launch, but Hurricane Ernesto put an end to that.  I was going to get to see a launch!  At Cape Canaveral, launches happen on one side of a river and I was sitting on the other side, about as close as you can get without working for NASA.  The launch was beautiful!  It was much brighter than I had expected.  The picture below doesn’t do it justice.

osirisrexlaunch

While I was at Kennedy Space Center, look who I met.

osirisbill

In the year 2023, Osiris-Rex will return with the samples and parachute down safely in the Utah desert.  So far the mission is going perfectly and I hope that it stays that way until the end.  Many thanks to Mike Paul Hughes, pictured below, for making all of this happen.  I hope to work for you some day after I complete my degrees.  Mike has a great story about persistence and grit if you ever get to see him speak on a local college campus.  I’d very highly recommend it.  He’s also a very talented musician.  Is there anything he cannot do?