Status Report

Heather Smith’s NASA Free Falling Blog: First day in Houston

By SpaceRef Editor
June 5, 2009
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My flight left for Houston at 6 this morning, which means I left for the airport at 4:30, which means I woke up at 3. That’s quite early even for a morning person.

The flight over was fine – I read a little, napped a little, ate a muffin and juice. I landed just before 8 and was on-site at Johnson Space Center by 9:30. I’m setting up temporary office in the Teaching From Space office, which just happens to be in the astronaut building. It’s quite cool to work even just one day in this building.

I spent several hours with videographer Regan Geeseman who has flown hundreds of microgravity flights and will be on my flight next week. We did our interview at a barbeque restaurant over yummy Texas barbeque. Then he showed me over to his building where all the video and photo stuff here go on.

Talking with Regan was a lot of fun! Doing a one-on-one interview makes me wish I could do all of my interviews in person. Because we interview people from all over, a lot of the interviews I do these days are over the phone or via email. So it was such a treat today to talk with Regan in person and pickup on how excited he is about what he does for NASA.

Regan has been a videographer at Johnson Space Center for a long time and recorded or photographed lots of cool stuff. He’s been shooting photos and video on NASA’s reduced-gravity aircraft for about 10 years. He estimated that he’s flown close to 10,000 parabolas in NASA’s reduced-gravity aircraft and possibly spent more time in microgravity than some of the early astronauts.

When we first talked about interviewing people who fly on reduced-gravity flights as part of their job, I expected to hear people talk about how fun it is and what a blast they have doing it again and again. And Regan said all of those things. Yet while he sincerely enjoys working in microgravity, he was also honest that sometimes he is bumped into – or kicked – by someone floating out of control. He admitted that flying now is still fun, but it’s not as exhilarating as it was the first few times. I appreciate that he told the other side of the story. Those are things I hadn’t thought of or expected.

One thing Regan is so evidently excited about is his role in capturing videos and photos of the research that goes on in these aircraft. He talked with passion about helping the different engineers and scientists and students get the right equipment and angles to get exactly the images or videos they need for their projects. He told me that he doesn’t think about floating around and having fun while he’s up there. He focuses on the cameras and what he needs to do to get the shot. “If we have a failure or make a mistake, they don’t get that data back.”

Regan’s actually going to be one of the camera guys on my flight so I’m glad that on my first day here I met someone who can sort of show me the ropes.

SpaceRef staff editor.