Status Report

Heather Smith’s NASA Free Falling Blog: The Adventure Begins

By SpaceRef Editor
June 5, 2009
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This week, my journey into microgravity begins. I leave out early Wednesday morning for Houston for a week of training and then, on next Tuesday, my reduced-gravity flight.

Our team has wanted to send a writer on a reduced-gravity flight to write about it for quite a while. The opportunity came up earlier this year and our team lead offered it to the senior writer on our team. Because he had flown on a reduced-gravity flight in 2007, he passed the opportunity on to me. His rationale: it is better for two writers to each have flown once than one writer to have flown two times.

So we’ve worked the last few months to get everything in place. Now that it’s here it’s a little unreal. I’ve not really had time to be too nervous about it because it’s been work as usual until time to go. Now that it’s here, well, the butterflies are setting in. I’m nervous about the training, especially the hypobaric altitude chamber. I’m of course concerned about getting sick during the flight. I don’t want to miss such a cool experience because I’m sick the whole time! I hope I’m able to do some cool tricks like turn a somersault in mid-air or eat floating candies. I’m even nervous about what to wear and how my flightsuit will fit. (I’ve worn a flightsuit only once before and it was the most comfortable and yet most uncomfortable clothing, both at the same time.)

Since training doesn’t actually begin until Thursday, on Wednesday I’ll be interviewing some folks who work for NASA about their careers. When I get back I’ll write up career profiles for our students pages. We write these profiles every so often to show students the variety of careers at NASA. This time, I’ll be interviewing people who have jobs related to reduced-gravity flights. We’ve requested interviews with a pilot, a photographer and a scientist.

I’m looking forward to Thursday when I meet up with the student team from the University of Colorado at Boulder and see their experiment on the Wilberforce Pendulum.

SpaceRef staff editor.