i volunteered at the european science open forum (ESOF) 2012 which took place 11-15 july here in dublin. 5 nobel laureates, 500 big-whig science speakers, and 1,000s of enthusiastic delegates descended on the city for one of the largest science conventions on the continent, which takes place every two years in a different european city. as a volunteer, i was able to attend the sessions outside of my shifts, which allowed me to listen to personal heros of mine such as jocelyn bell burnell (discovered pulsars) and brian greene (author of the elegant universe). while on-shift, i worked in-theatre and was able to listen to speakers on topics that i normally would not have sought out, such as arctic climate change.
the forum also brought in NASA administrator, major general charles bolden. in addition to his ESOF keynote address, he gave a less formal talk at trinity college. obviously, i attended both. in case it wasn’t public knowledge, i am a huge admirer of this man. his vision for NASA is so ambitious but he speaks with such passion that it becomes your vision too. and if it becomes the vision of enough people, then damnit, we WILL be on mars in 30 years. he spoke a bit about curiosity and naturally that’s when i began to get emotional (george lands in 13 days!).
Last week, US Astronaut Shane Kimbrough came to Dublin for an early kickoff to Space Year, 2012. He gave a talk in the Helix at Dublin City University and I was invited to photograph the event. He took part in mission STS-126 Endeavour in November 2008, where they installed several new modules to the International Space Station. You may remember it as the mission where they installed the urine processor… that got a lot of media attention. Anyways, I was interning at JPL at the time. I got to chat with Col. Kimbrough before his talk and I mentioned that I saw the shuttle contrails over LA from their landing at Edwards [the weather was bad at Cape Canaveral that day]. I posted the youtube video of the event above, and at 28:10 he starts talking about the landing and mentioned my little anecdote! I almost fainted from excitement when he mentioned my name. [You can also see me running around photographing in some parts of the video, which I think is funny.] Later on, he made an appearance at Dunsink Observatory and gave another little talk and answered any questions people had. Astronauts are some of the most inspirational people to me, so needless to say, it was a damn good day.
“a sentimental journey into history. atlantis flexing its muscles one final time.”
godspeed atlantis, you beautiful, beautiful spacecraft. my favorite shuttle is a part of the mission that signifies the end of an era.
[all photographs by NASA Headquarters.]
these are the photos prior to the rollback of the rotating service structure of shuttle endeavour found on nasa hq photo’s flickr photostream. today will begin the 25th and final mission for endeavour, and the second to last shuttle launch of the NASA shuttle program. liftoff is targeted for 3:47 pm EDT (8:47 pm GMT) and about 20 minutes after launch, we should see endeavour over ireland and the UK (more info on that here).
many cried this morning over the royal wedding (including my mother), but i’ll save my tears for this evening. while yes, kate middleton’s alexander mcqueen by sarah burton dress was gorgeous, there is nothing more beautiful or inspiring to me as the shuttle’s ascent into space. i am still very grateful that i got to witness a launch in person; it will forever be the coolest thing that i’ve ever seen.
5:30 pm GMT edit: scrubbed, due to APU heater issues. DAMNIT. the next launch attempt likely won’t be before sunday at 2:59 pm EDT.