I am so lucky. I have been able to witness not one, not two, but three historical launches. In 2011, I was able to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s last launch, the STS-134. Witnessing what is now the past of American human space flight is an experience I will never forget. A couple of years later, in 2013, I was able to see my mentor Astronaut Luca Parmitano and his launch on the Soyuz TMA-09 to the International Space Station. The Russian Soyuz Space Craft represents the present of human space flight. I witnessed this launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan with Luca’s family and friends. It’s hard to put words on this experience as it was very personal to watch someone I know launch into space and having an experience to witness the Russian Space Program in action was phenomenal.
And most recently on December 5, 2014, I was able to be behind the scenes for the EFT-1 Orion launch, the first test flight of the Orion space craft which is America’s new space craft. Witnessing what is the future of human space exploration and eventually my ride to Mars was incredibly emotional. I was not expecting this unmanned mission that lasted only 4 hours to bring forth so many emotions. It was truly a special moment to watch history unfold.
I have been so fortunate to witness all three launches and be able to report the experiences to the world through my Future of Space outreach program.
Below are three videos that help capture my immediate reactions to EFT-1 Orion Luanch
Immediately after watching the EFT-1 Orion launch
Although this launch was different than the Soyuz launch I saw in 2013 in that Luca wasn’t on it, the EFT-1 Orion launch was still very emotional to witness. This is our future. To see something so unique and advanced is incredible!
Watching the EFT-1 Crew Module Splashdown
This may just look like a TV screen, but it is so much more important than that! This video captures me witnessing the splashdown of the EFT-1 Orion spacecraft. The video was taken in the press room of the Kennedy Space Center. Being amongst so many space reporters, astronauts and space industry professionals to watch history be made was an intense and pretty awesome experience.
Right after the splashdown of the EFT-1 Orion
The launch was great of course, but watching the gentle landing was mind-blowing. This is our spacecraft, and America couldn’t be more proud. #MarsorBust2030 has never seemed more real than it does right now!
Being able to witness these three launches, particularly the Orion EFT-1 on Dec. 5, has been incredible. I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I just watched the landing of the spacecraft that will one day take me to Mars. If that’s not the coolest thing ever, I don’t know what is!