Many people have asked me how I met my mentor, Astronaut Luca Parmitano and how this Soyuz Adventure came about. You can read a post I wrote back when I met Luca to learn more about how we met (it’s a good story) and also see a video interview I did with him on that fateful day by clicking here.
After meeting Luca he took on the role of being my mentor and that has included emails and tweets and simply staying in touch. I am motivated by watching him make his way in space for the first time and perhaps I motivate him by carrying the flag of the future of human space exploration. I remember Luca telling me when we met that “Someday I will be training you” and that is what I look forward to everyday.
It all started with an Idea
Through our communications the we discussed the idea of me attending his launch but honestly I did not think it wouldhappen. Astronauts only have 15 invitations for family and friends. And it looked like 6 months ago it was not going to happen. But then at christmastime I received an email from Luca stating: “I have a somewhat good surprise for you (being Christmas, it’s quite appropriate)” Luca went on to tell me I was on the top of the waiting list if any seats are available.
This was an exciting Christmas surprise that soon turned into a present.
The Official Invitation
On January 16, 2013 I received a short email from Luca that said: ”There’s been a change and you a are now officially on my list ;)” Attached to this email was an official invitation from Luca which I am publishing below because it is so cool and I promised I would share the whole story:
Dear Nicole and Abby,
After over thirty years of dreaming, two years of training, five countries, three languages, and hundreds of people involved, one crucial step is now getting close. I believe this will be another life shaping event, and because you are an important part of my life, I would like to share it with you.
I would like to formally invite you to attend the launch of the Soyuz-TMA-09M, scheduled to occur on May 28th, 2013, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The launch will mark the beginning of a six-month space flight for me, together with Russian Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikin and American Astronaut Karen Nyberg. We will join Expedition 36 on the International Space Station (ISS) and will later be part of Expedition 37 during the second part of our stay in space.
Travel to Baikonur from Moscow for all guests will occur three to four days prior to launch in order to observe the roll-out of the rocket from its hangar and its positioning on the launch pad. Return from Baikonur to Moscow is usually the day after launch day or several hours after launch on the same day, depending on the launch time. You will have the opportunity to view the docking of our Soyuz to the ISS which, depending on the launch pattern, will occur the same day 6 hours after the launch or on 30 May (2 days after the launch). In the first case you will view docking from Baikonur and in the second case from Mission Control in Korolev, Russia, not far from Moscow.
Once again, the launch of a spacecraft into orbit is one of the more spectacular events to experience. For a Soyuz launch, it also involves travel to two countries and unique cultural experiences. I sincerely hope that you can attend, and to see you in a few months in Baikonur.
All the very best, Luca
This marked the beginning of my #SoyuzAdventure – I quickly realized that this gift was such an amazing gift and I needed to pass it on. This is when I came up with the idea of sharing the adventure with kids and adults everywhere and igniting passion about space travel, STEM and dreaming. The cost of attending the launch and the 6 months of outreach that will follow is something I need help with I hope you will join me! All funders get inside access to content that I won’t be sharing online.
Please check out my RocketHub campaign to learn more about the classroom outreach and to support my efforts.
Thank you for joining me. I appreciate your support! And stay tuned this is just the beginning of the adventure.