By Kimberly Schaefer, MS in Global Strategic Communication
When I was in grade school my class went on a field trip to The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). On this trip we got to pretend that we were part of the mission control team for NASA. I was part of the medical team.
Current day in graduate school with the School of Arts and Communication, once again I’ve been assigned to be part of the medical team, but it’s not pretend this time. Though it’s not part of mission control, I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to be part of the Florida Today/USA Today team to report on the effects of space travel on the human body.
The summer began with a meeting with Todd Halvorson, Florida Today’s Space Editor. He had amazing insight into the workings of the space program.
Our next interview was with former astronaut Captain Winston Scott. His stories about the effects of microgravity on his body were enlightening and my understanding for the subject I was reporting on grew.
Our next adventure took us out to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) where we got to tour the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and get an up close tour of a “crawler”, the vehicle that transports the rockets to the launch pad. We even got to see the count down clock in person.
What made the day the most memorable was interviewing KSC Director, Bob Cabana, and also having the opportunity to speak to astronaut Chris Cassidy who is currently on the International Space Station (ISS).
The whirlwind of excitement didn’t stop there. We hopped on a plane to the Netherlands to visit the European Space Agency Dutch headquarters (ESA/ESTEC) in Noordwijk.
At ESA we met with Juan de Dalmau, Head at ESTEC Communication Office. He gave us a better idea of the focus ESTEC has in the space program.
We were then able to have lunch with Dr. Guillaume Weerts and the Head Infrastructure and Institutional Coordinator, Joerg Wehner where the group was able to interview them about their knowledge of the effect of microgravity on the human body.
This summer has been great! I’m still in awe about all the amazing opportunities we were given.
One thing that I’m taking away from this whole experience is that continuing our exploration of space is important worldwide. Knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the areas of space science and technology is important for all nations.
As we come closer to the end of this project, I believe that with more media coverage about space science, space exploration would have more support. People need to understand the important developments that will affect their nations as a whole, and eventually them as individuals, are coming from the research being done in space.
I will leave you with this, “Don’t be afraid to try something new” and “have a passion for what you are doing and you will succeed.” – Bob Cabana