Tag Archives: norway

Nobel Peace Prize Orbits Earth

When NASA’s Alan Ladwig spoke at the International Space University Symposium, “Public Face on Space,” he suggested the International Space Station partnership deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

What an absolutely BRILLIANT idea!

Orbiting Outpost

Nobel-deserving International Orbiting Outpost

Think about it. Space agencies  in the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan worked together for years planning an orbiting laboratory in space. After the fall of the iron curtain, Russia — a former adversary — joined the partnership. Unprecedented. Our Cold War rival now our friend?

Our quest to move beyond the boundaries of Earth’s atmosphere lifted us high above political, cultural and language barriers that divide us on the surface of this planet.

15 nations came together IN PEACE to design, build, launch, and assemble our orbiting outpost — 22o miles overhead 24/7 orbiting every 90  minutes at 17,500 mph.

15 countries came together to build the International Space Station

Senior government officials from 15 countries agreed to partnership.

Here is a portrait of senior government officials from our international partner countries who came to Washington D.C.  on Jan. 29, 1998 to establish the framework of cooperation upon with the partnership was formed — representatives of Russia, Japan, Canada, and participating countries of the European Space Agency (ESA), including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

And it wasn’t easy. Just ask anyone who worked in the Space Station program.

I was actually hired to come work in the Space Station program back in 1985. At the time, Station was but a series of drawings, hopes and dreams — not to mention crossed fingers. In a staff meeting not long ago, Bill Gerstenmaier made a comment during a Space Shuttle mission that really struck me. He told us how amazed he was that all the assembly details that kept him up at night over the years came together flawlessly. It’s pretty incredible that we assembled ON ORBIT all the hardware, cables, and software built at locations all around the world by workers in multiple languages.

So what about Alan’s  Peace Prize idea? How would that work? Curious, I looked up the Nobel Peace Prize nomination process. You may not be surprised to learn that only a select few can submit proposals. No self-nominations. Snap.

According to the Nobel Prize website:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian parliament). The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, not in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and the Economics Prize are awarded.

Nobel Peace Prize process

Nobel Peace Prize process-- Credit: NobelPrize.org

So, from what I can tell, we have until September. We need to find a qualified nominator who believes the Space Station international partnership — that successfully designed, built, launched, assembled, and continues to operate our amazing Peace Laboratory in Low Earth Orbit — is worthy of nomination. Right?

Peace signHey, what about our Norwegian partners? Surely they have qualified friends, wouldn’t you think? If you know anyone who fits the bill, give them a shout for us. You can help us spread the good word — two words, actually: Peace Prize!

It’s amazingly noble — this international partnership in space. Why shouldn’t it be Nobel too?

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Filed under Earth, federal government, leadership, NASA, space

Going Green for Green Sake?

In the mid-1990’s, I traveled to Norway to negotiate NASA’s Sounding Rocket agreement with the Norwegian Space Agency to study Northern lights. (Note: This project nearly caused World War III when the Russians mistook the Black Brant XII, launched from the Andøya Rocket Range, for a U.S. Trident missile.)

NASA Sounding Rockets: Black Brandt XII

NASA Sounding Rockets: Black Brandt XII

In my tiny little hotel on the Norwegian island of Andøya I encountered, for the first time, thegreen hotel’ concept where guests are offered the opportunity to reuse the towels and sheets to save the environment — saving precious water, reducing energy required to heat the water and power the washers, and preventing spread of pollutants caused by cleaning detergents.

Since that time, the idea spread across the Atlantic. I rarely stay in a hotel that doesn’t offer me the opportunity to reuse my towels and sheets.

For the record, I wholeheartedly support the option of green services at hotels. I feel quite nobel for my contribution to help save the world by using ‘dirty’ towels and sheets. (Ewww. Sounds pretty awful though, doesn’t it?)

My sister Aimee, however, doesn’t think it’s noble at all.

In fact, she refuses. Her rationale: she’s paying full cost for the service.

Why should the hotel save money on water, energy, detergent, AND staff labor at the guest’s expense?

My sister believes hotels reap financial reward from environmental do-gooders. Hotels charge daily rates. Guests willingly opt for less service. Hotels come out ahead. She sees the environment less of a concern to the hotel than the bottom line.

She makes a good point!

In the article, “‘Green’ hotels juggle conservation with customer service ,” Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin points out a totally different issue — hotels boasting green service without the follow-through. Towels and sheets are changed out each day even when the guest wants to save the planet. I guess I prefer the hotel erring on the side of clean.

Tangent: I once stayed at a very nice hotel only to wake in the middle of the night to the pungent smell of dirty hair (not mine) on the pillowcase. Evidently not all the pillowcases had been changed from the previous guest. That’s a little too green for me.

So how do we get this right? You know, the whole saving-the-world-one-choice-at-a-time thing….

What if hotels offered a discount on hotel rates for green services? 10% off the cost of the room, perhaps?

Guests might be persuaded to sleep on the same sheets a couple of nights in a row…and reuse a towel or two IF they have financial incentive.  Going green to save green (money, I mean). It’s only fair, really. Hotels DO save money. Personally, I’d LOVE a discount on my room.

Or, it could go the other way. If we’re not careful (with our precious water), we may find ourselves facing additional fees for water-based services, like clean towels. Look at all the places around the world where people live daily with water shortages.

Zambia: Mukuni Village Water Supply

Zambia: Mukuni Village Water Supply

But in the places-of-plenty, where I live, sometimes the green (dollar) speaks louder that the green (environment).

A “green discount” might just be the place where water conservation and wallet conservation meet.

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Filed under Earth, environment, leadership, NASA, water