Christine's STS-93 Adventure
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 field...it 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."
Women Who Inspire Us: Christine