Friday, January 23, 2009

New Year Q & A

Mrs. L of San Jose says: Only one president has gone to a launch? Hmmm... methinks more should do this. Maybe you should send a letter to the new president inviting him and his family?
LOL, I’ll get right on that now that he’s been sworn in. I saw on the news that a group [of people with too much time on their hands] created an OBAMETER to track 510 campaign promises made by our new commander-in-chief. No less than 18 may affect NASA:

#150: Code of Conduct for space-faring nations
#331: Re-establish National Aeronautics & Space Council
#332: Additional Space Shuttle flight
#333: Speed development of next-generation space vehicle
#334: Use private sector to improve space flight
#335: Work with international allies on ISS
#336: Partner to enhance potential of ISS
#337: Use ISS for biological + physical research
#338: Explore whether ISS can operate after 2016
#339: Support human mission to moon by 2020
#340: Robust R&D on future human/robotic missions
#341: Increase spending for longer missions [Mars, asteroids, etc]
#342: Deploy global climate change monitoring system
#343: Improve climate change data records
#345: Enhance earth mapping
#349: Support commercial access to space
#350: Revise regulations for export of aerospace technology
#351: School programs to highlight space & science achievements

I don’t see "Attend Launch" on there... so I intend to call the White House... as soon as all those rotary-dial phones get fixed ;)

Qazser says: I passed bloodwork testing (studied real hard for it) and got my ticket to Houston for a February visit. Thanks for your info. They say rooms are semi-private... is that your own room under camera surveillance or two people together?
Glad to hear you are in process, that’s wonderful! Each room is under camera surveillance, and there are two beds per room, so it is always possible to have a roommate. I never had one, being one of only two women at UTMB for most of 2008... Candace and I each had our own rooms. The men are more apt to be roomed together since there are always more of them at any given time.

Orange of East Timor says: I like your blog! Thanks for sharing =) Are you a scientist?
Thank you! I am degreed but I am not a scientist -- merely a space-exploration enthusiast. For the past decade I’ve been in the IT and database fields, and one might say trying to escape… but then what would I do with all these screwdrivers?!

Thursday's Child of Kuwait says: I'm glad you're still posting about NASA. It's neat to read. I so wish you'd been able to finish your study. Do you plan to volunteer for another any time soon?
Hi again TC! I’ll definitely volunteer again in March, if my bone density scan shows favorable results. Hy hopes are set reasonably. I’m exercising back toward peak fitness, and feeling better about increasing the intensity week-by-week. When I first resumed weights and intense cardio exercise, I was too scared to push myself, ever-mindful that I was more susceptible to injuries or muscle tears. However, my body feels like it’s “my own” again now, and I’ve got a strong routine.

I’ve had people tell me that I’m crazy to get back in shape just to return to the program; my own mother asked me on the phone: "After everything you’ve gone through in the past few months, you’d still do this again?"

Very simply, yes. This project, and I am not exaggerating, was the most unique episode of my life, made all the more remarkable because I did not plan to stumble over it. I didn’t expect to go from bland, negative office surroundings to realizing that I was working with the most dedicated scientists I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing... (even if some were poking me with needles!), and I also didn’t expect to make such incredible friends. Participation in this program made 2008 one of my best years, both for the activity itself and the distinctive environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t pretty up the disadvantages for blog reporting – never have. Some of my most descriptive posts have been about painful medical tests or the effects of weightlessness on the body that made me sick or uncomfortable. What kept me going was thinking, "This is what astronauts go through and I want to see if I can do it too."

Even facing downsides, almost everyone there had a positive attitude, and found a rewarding sense of satisfaction that we could contribute to science. Screening is tough, baseline testing is even tougher, and the projects themselves will test your limits in ways you couldn’t possibly have forseen. You go through all that just for the "honor" of knowing you are healthy enough to withstand a certain amount of deterioration.

Fighting back from that to regain strength and energy is a test of seeing what we can handle, what we can juggle, even what we can endure. We feel most alive when we are testing ourselves, journeying to our boundaries. That’s ultimately why I did it, and why I would do it again.