Dreams of space

Welcome to Rockets from Cassiopeia, an independent blog powered by WordPress and run by me, a space geek and “rocket scientist” who dreams of sending our species to the stars.

I decided to start this blog after I found myself limited by the 140-character limit of Twitter (I am @spaceguy87) and always posting long comments on other popular space blogs. I feel very privileged to have the awesome job I have at NASA and would like to share that awesomeness with other space enthusiasts who want to hear about it. There are already lots of space news sites out there that do a great job informing us about what’s going on with space exploration and the aerospace industry. What I don’t want to do is be another voice posting about the same stories you are already reading about from your other favorite bloggers. Instead, I want to provide my unique perspective as a space romantic and an engineer with the ISS program.

By now you are saying to yourself “why do I care what this guy has to say?” Good question. Here is some more about me that may help you decide whether my perspective is unique enough for you to stay and listen.

I am a 24-year-old space enthusiast with a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I graduated ERAU’s Prescott Campus in December 2008 and moved to Houston, Texas. In Houston I work for United Space Alliance as part of NASA’s Mission Operations Directorate. My Engineering Staff II position with USA is as a flight controller for the International Space Station program. Specifically, I am an Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO). In most of the industry what ADCO is responsible for is referred to as GN&C, or guidance, navigation, and control. I have had my flight controller certification since October 2010 and will have been with USA three years in January 2012. While I have only had my engineering degree for 3 years, I am a lifelong space fan. For as long as I can remember I have marveled at the night sky and dreamed of what it would be like to travel to the stars. The fact that my childhood sense of wonder was directed to space and not somewhere else like paleontology or computers or the arts is thanks to my parents.

I was born in September 1987 in California to Canadian parents. My father worked for the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA) – and still does almost 25 years later – which at the time was designing the new W.M. Keck Observatory to be built on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. My family moved to Hawaii in 1989 and hardly looked back. My father’s job as a software engineer for the observatory is the single most important reason I gained an early fascination with space exploration and science. I grew up surrounded by the idea that the pursuit of knowledge is worth it on its own merits, and that the natural universe is a beautiful and fascinating place worth exploring. Two photographs my mother saved from my youth tell this story well.

The first photograph is a shot from 1989. I am between 2 and 3 years old, lying on a couch at home with my father who is reading to me from a large coffee table book titled “Astronomy”.

My first astronomy lesson

The second photograph is from July 1989. My father and I are standing in the pouring rain on the pier at Kawaihae Harbor with project manager Jerry Smith and mechanical engineering manager Hans Boesgaard. Filling the harbor in front of us is a cargo ship delivering the precious Keck segmented mirrors I telescope (mirrors shipped separately). Keck I saw first light about 3 years later.

Precious Cargo

I grew up hearing every week about the amazing discoveries being made by those shimmering mirrors, such as the Nobel Prize winning revelation of the accelerating universe due to dark energy thanks to Keck’s LRIS spectrograph. How could I not have grown up in awe of the vastness of space? How could I not have told my parents at age 3 that I was going to be an astronaut? When you grow up hearing people talk about the gulfs of deep time and deep space every day, it is the natural conclusion for a young child to envision himself conquering those gulfs. It is those dreams of space travel that have brought me to the life I have today. I’d like to share my love of space with anyone that is interested enough to read. We can all be a part in some small way of this age in which humanity will spread its wings and finally fly off in search of destiny.

November 17, 2011 12:59 am

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