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Christine's STS-93 Adventure
by Christine Christine
Apparently there was a rumor circulating that Lisa ('02) and I were actually going to be in the space shuttle that launched on September 8. This rumor may conjure up interesting pictures of Lisa and me dressed in orange astronaut suits floating about in zero gravity and eating dehydrated astronaut ice cream. Unfortunately, it is entirely untrue. However, we did see get to see the shuttle launch and also attended the Women's Launch Conference hosted by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center.

Lisa and I are members of the Young Women of NASA Student Advisory Council. The Council's goal is to get more girls interested in math, science, and technology through a website, webcasts, and online chat forums with women who work at NASA. We joined the Council last year through the Castilleja internship program, applying for two available spots open to then sophomores and juniors.

Each day was packed with interesting things to do from taking tours of the various Kennedy Space Center facilities, to interviewing women who work at NASA, to eating the traditional beans and cornbread after the launch. Though we were only gone from September 5 through 8, we were utterly exhausted by the end of the trip.

One of my favorite activities was having lunch with the other conference attendees, representatives from women's organizations ranging from the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau to groups that I didn't even know existed such as Women Work. During the meal, Julie Payette, a female astronaut, spoke about space flight, what it takes to become and astronaut, and what life in space is really like. One of the major things she learned from space flight was the universality of human life. "There's one thing we all share and it's called Earth." she said explaining how from space, there are no borders or divisions among mankind. Since the conference focused on crossing gender-exclusive barriers in the working world, Julie emphasized that space exploration is open to anyone who is motivated. "You're not looking for people of a certain gender or color in this doesn't matter who you are as long as you're competent and know what you're doing."

Of course, the other highlight of the trip for me was seeing the shuttle launch. On Friday we woke up at 4AM and headed to the launch briefing and eventually to the viewing site. As our driver back to the airport told us later, it was virtually a miracle that the launch actually went since so many are delayed. In the 'adventure journal' that we each wrote to post on our website, I described the launch. "As the shuttle soared upward, everyone began to cheer and clap, eyes raised to the clear (yay!) blue sky. In a matter of seconds the shuttle had become a small, blazing dot, leaving a huge trail of smoke in its wake. This was what we had come to see, but while the launch was certainly exciting, there was much more to our trip to the Kennedy Space Center than what we experienced during these brief moments."

Young Women Who Inspire Us: Christine


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