Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…

Okay, okay, fine. I know that “Fly Me to the Moon” is more of an Apollo song. I’ve kind of had Apollo on the mind recently since the odds are pretty good that I’ll be able to go to the 50th Anniversary Reunion program while I’m in Oshkosh, and just being able to set eyes on those guys is pretty dang thrilling to me.

But there’s a reason for my lyrical appropriation. Put your rotten fruit away for a little while and think back twenty years ago. The Internet was still in its nascent stages, when a clean white background and crisp Times New Roman typeface were all that you needed to show that you were a Serious Webpage… though if you wanted to lighten things up a little bit, you might do a paragraph or two in color and throw in some smileys while you were at it. I can’t be too harsh, though, because I committed some of those same sins when I was first dabbling in web design – and let’s face it, the website which JPL set up for their brand-new Mars mission was pretty swish for its time. (Put your way-back goggles on and take a look.) Continue reading “Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…”

Making use of the quiet

Doing public relations work for the aerospace sector has the potential to be glamorous and exciting, especially if you’re a space nerd like me. I’m at the start of my third week of my internship and, even though the early morning start time is still a drag, the experience has yet to lose its luster.

That said, not every day is glamorous and exciting. Today was one of those in-between days. It had a lot to do with the holiday tomorrow and most of my coworkers taking today off so that they could have a long weekend. Being a relatively new intern, I don’t have the PTO accrued in order to do that… so I got to work in an office that was almost sepulchrally quiet. My supervisor had anticipated such an occurrence, though, so I had a nice stack of work to do. The bulk of that work involved updating media lists based on who came to our last big static fire test. Sounds exciting, huh? Well, if you like data entry, then this would be right up your alley. But as tedious as it sounds, I know that this is an absolutely necessary thing that has to get taken care of – and who better to do it than the intern? So I genuinely didn’t mind.

Now, shifting gears for a little bit… I’d mentioned last week that one of my tasks is curating content for a social media account that we work with. I’m having a blast with this job because it’s something that I do in my spare time anyway and now I get paid for it. Well, I just realized today that if someone doesn’t know that’s my job, it looks like I’m just goofing off on the Internet. Awkward. Oh well. They’re more than welcome to ask me, and then they’ll probably be stunned into silence by the beacons-of-Gondor levels of space nerdery which got me this particular assignment in the first place.

There are a couple of big milestones in space exploration coming up soon. I’ll have a post about them tomorrow. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share some cool stuff that I found while I was doing my content curation today…

  • A lot of cool science is happening on board the ISS, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS, for short) wants to tell you all about it. Volume 2, Issue 2 of Upward talks about 3D printing in space, protein crystal experiments, and Tomatosphere. You can read this issue here.
  • If you want to know what’s going on with Orion, the mission team’s got you covered. Orion’s monthly newsletter is chock-full of photos, links, and stories about the crew capsule development process. Their archive is located here.
  • Last but not least, check out Explore Deep Space. Full disclosure: I’m a part-time contributor. I don’t run the account, but I still think you should have a look if you want a great curated feed featuring current news about space exploration, SLS, and Orion.

That’s all from me for now. I’ve got some research to do for tomorrow’s post – time to cue up some Frank Sinatra and get nostalgic.

The Everyday Amazing

I’m trying to keep my posts at least semi-professional in tone… but…

Y’ALL. Today was freakin’ unbelievable!

I didn’t mention today’s exact plans in yesterday’s post because I had a feeling that I’d need some room to wax rhapsodic. So what happened today that was so great? Two of our staff gave an interview for a local podcast today and I got to be a fly on the wall just to see how the whole process goes. The topic was space exploration in general and, more specifically, Orbital ATK’s role in developing the Launch Abort Motor for the Orion crew capsule – and I’ll tell you what, my heart is full.

I won’t go into specific details of what was discussed out of professional courtesy. With that in mind, keep an ear out for the space episode of Out Standing in a Field, the science and environment podcast from Leia Larsen and Benjamin Zack of Ogden’s Standard-Examiner. Hopefully they’ll put this out soon so that all of you can get to hear the same amazing stuff that I did.

You’ll get to hear Erica Sandoval, the team engineer lead for launch abort motor manufacturing, talk about her work. Erica also had some wonderful words of encouragement for anyone wanting to pursue study in a STEM field. Kent Rominger (OATK’s Vice President of Strategic Programs, if memory serves) gave his general perspective about space exploration – which he’s well-qualified to do, having flown on five Space Shuttle missions. He was also the Chief of the Astronaut Office during the Columbia disaster and if I get the chance, I would love to pick his brain on how he was able to handle that. He’s a busy guy, though, so I doubt that’d ever happen.

So yeah. I got to listen to a brilliant engineer talk about rocket motors, and I met an astronaut. No big deal.

Internals and Externals of Corporate PR

I’m almost at the midpoint of my second week. The time is flying by even though I’m working long hours because my bosses have found tasks for me which are both challenging and enjoyable.

It’s worth noting that I’m doing corporate public relations – not as glamorous as other aspects of the field, to be sure, but it’s fulfilling in its own way. The thing about corporate PR is that your fellow employees are just as important as any exterior connection.

Continue reading “Internals and Externals of Corporate PR”

How I Got Here

I’ll admit that I was kind of daunted when I took a look at my degree requirements and saw that an internship was highly recommended. I’d been unemployed for six months after getting out of the military and the impression that I got was that even though I had a wealth of practical experience, I was overqualified for the jobs that didn’t require a degree. It was demoralizing, and I wound up working a dead-end retail job that didn’t pay the bills until a few friends and family members gave me some tough love and told me to get my butt into school. So when it came time to look at internships, I felt that same twinge of fear – what if nobody wanted me? Continue reading “How I Got Here”

Rockets, interns, turkeys, and other desert wildlife

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At the Promontory “rocket garden.” (Credit: Tom Evans/Orbital ATK.)

I got a chance to visit Promontory yesterday. As I’ve mentioned to my friends and family on Facebook, the desert is the perfect place to test out propulsion products that might massively explode if something goes wrong – and Promontory is out in the middle of nowhere, so it’s very well suited for this kind of testing.

Continue reading “Rockets, interns, turkeys, and other desert wildlife”

Week One Recap: Settling in!

This post is going to be a bit longer than I’d originally intended, mainly because this past week has been incredibly busy. Busy in a good way, but there hasn’t been a lot of time until now to catch my breath and write down what’s been going on.

Speaking of catching my breath… just my luck to move to Utah right at the start of a heat wave. I knew that the summer was going to be rough for me – I haven’t had to deal with dry heat since I was a kid living in central California, but even then, it wasn’t like this. It feels like I’m being smacked down onto the asphalt by an angry god each time I go out to my car at the end of work.  But I digress.

I left Spokane about a week ago. The trip was more or less uneventful and I won’t dwell too much on it here except to say that while I-90 eastbound through the Idaho panhandle is beautiful, it would’ve been nicer not to attempt those curves and mountain grades in a fully-packed compact SUV while trying not to hydroplane through all of that rainfall. But I made it safely and in one piece. Utah is stunning in its own way and I will appreciate it more when I’ve acclimatized in another week or two.

Now, on to what you probably want to hear more about… the first week of the internship! I’ll tell the story of how I got this internship in another post because it deserves some space of its own. But now that I’ve been on the job for a week I can say that I’m really happy that I mustered up the courage to apply.

Continue reading “Week One Recap: Settling in!”

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