Tag Archives: rockets

Earth Moves. NASA Measures.

Mother Earth just seems to be quaking from the inside out. Doesn’t she? We’re still reeling from the Haiti quake and Chile get pummeled with an Earthquake 500 times stronger. Now we find out this week’s 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have

shortened each Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds.

Furthermore, the quake may have

shifted Earth’s axis by by 2.7 milliarcseconds — or three inches.

I don’t know about you, but that’s just freaky and amazing to me. Freaky that an earthquake can shake the world off it’s foundation and amazing that we can measure it — thanks to our space program.

Earth as Blue Marble. Credit:NASA

Earth as Blue Marble. Credit:NASA

After spending time at the International Space University Symposium, “The Public Face of Space,” I’m still processing all the “why space” conversations. The general public-at-large, though positive about contributions from a half century of global investments, doesn’t really get what space has to do with their lives.

We haven’t told our space story in a way that connects YOU to space in a personal, intimate way. We haven’t engaged you in a way that you can’t imagine your life without space. Instead of bringing space home to you, we’ve pushed it farther away — untouchable, unachievable, only for the Right Stuff guys/gals who get to strap themselves onto a rocket to blast-off our planet’s surface. Does that about sum it up?

Many think we’ve made space boring, as you can see in the SpaceUp presentation. I can’t disagree, but I can only offer you the world as I see it through my starry-eyed space spectacles (my Hubble contact lenses). Here’s what I see:

Space isn’t about who or what gets to ‘go’ outside Earth’s boundaries, but rather how my life is affected by the discoveries we bring back home to Earth.

And this one little NASA/JPL press release about a shorter Earth day and 3-inch change to the Earth’s axis just really brings home the point — space is part of who we are as citizens of this planet in 2011.

Our eyes on this planet — robotic and human — give us data to make informed decisions from crop management to disaster planning to global warming to sustainability challenges.

Geological Safari: Crater Highlands, East Africa

Geological Safari: Crater Highlands, East Africa

What can I say. I’m biased. But you could be too. Just put on my starry-eyed glasses for a while and look around. You might discover some amazing things about how space touches you personally.

NASA's Interactive program to find space in your life.

NASA Home and City program.

I leave you with Carole King’s I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet.


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

Rocket Man Dreams of Mars

Meet Jesco.

Jesco Von Puttkamer trying out space suit

Jesco Von Puttkamer trying out space suit

German-born Jesco Von Puttkamer came to NASA 48 years ago to build rockets with legendary Wernher Von Braun. I’ve known Jesco for almost 20 years now, since I first came up to NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

What can I say about Jesco? He’s a force to be reckoned with. I’ve known him as one who stands his ground. I’ll leave it at that.

In the 1990’s, I worked in international relations at NASA Headquarters as the German Desk Officer.  In this job, I witnessed Jesco’s rock star status in Germany. Everywhere I went, the German’s wanted to know if I knew Jesco or if I could get Jesco to come speak at their events.

So why am I introducing you to Jesco now?

Simple. Jesco and I spoke on the “Future Directions” panel at the International Space University’s “Public Face of Space” Symposium last week in Strasbourg, France. His talk moved me to tears.

Here’s what I learned about Jesco last week that I never knew:

Jesco’s unfulfilled dream=GO TO MARS!

Jesco to Mars

Tweet about Jesco's passion for Mars.

Who knew? I always understood he liked to build rockets and track Space Station. But Mars? Wow. Somehow I missed the destination-side of who Jesco is.

I like to think of Jesco as the Forest Gump of space — always right on the fringes of every historical moment. Prime example: Take a look at this picture of President Kennedy touring the Space Center with Wernher Von Braun. Jesco stood on the street corner as the car drove past.

Jesco snapped this pic from the street corner.

President Kennedy with Wernher Von Braun.

I’d never caught his passion before. Jesco’s presentation took us back to his years at the Marshall Space Flight Center, the very center of the space universe, the birthplace of all things space — until, that is, we learned the Soviet Union had their own space Capitol where they worked as feverishly as the Von Braun team to be #1 in space.

Space race news articles

Space Race

Here is Jesco on his first day on the job.

Young Jesco on his first day on the job.

Young Jesco on his first day on the job.

He spoke passionately about how he took no vacation for eight years because he feared missing an exciting breakthrough. None of the team wanted to go home at night. (Let’s not talk about the toll on their families.) The point of his talk: we can’t go forward without understanding where we’re coming from.

Rocket guys married to the job.

Rocket guys married to the job.

I knew Jesco was passionate about the past. That wasn’t news to me. What utterly shocked me was his passion for the future. I’d never connected his love of all things space to a particular destination — Mars. And to see his face light up when he spoke of it, reminded me of the little boy in him dreaming of what might be someday.

I knew Jesco, the pragmatist. I’d never before seen this Jesco. Jesco, the dreamer.

I write this post as my way of saying thanks to Jesco for all his dedication and sacrifice and passion for the journey to the great unknown we know as space. During the Q&A portion of our Future Directions panel, I liked his response to the question, “Why space? Why bother?” (My paraphrase.)

“We establish the frontier, step over it, and push the frontier out even further.”

Thanks Jesco for pushing the space frontier out even further to get us closer to your passion: Mars.

His presentation will be available on the International Space University website. For more tweets from the ISU conference, I created an archive.

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