Category Archives: Space Exploration

Touching the Future…

January 28, 2016

Thirty years ago today seven people died aboard the space shuttle Challenger when it broke apart 73 seconds after liftoff. I was 19 years old in 1986 and was stationed in West Germany in the United States Army. It was a traumatic event for the world and I am still heartbroken.

Christa McAuliffe never got to teach her lessons from space, but she certainly inspired many of us when she said, “I touch the future. I teach.”

When I was in the third grade a NASA spokesperson visited my school, which sparked a lifelong interest in the space program. Many people told me in the days that followed the Challenger tragedy that they thought of me. I haven often thought of the seven astronauts who died and wondered why, and of their children who lost a parent, and of the many children who were watching the launch live in their classrooms. We’re all older, but the sadness remains.

This year, along with remembering the seven members of the crew and their infectious smiles, I am making a donation in their memory to Children’s Health Fund.

Godspeed, Christa, Greg, Judy, Dick, Ron, Mike, and El.


Apollo 11 Landing: 40 Years Later

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

40 years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.

I was only three years old on that day, and I don’t remember it. My memories of the Apollo 11 mission are from the books that I have read, the movies and television shows that I have watched, and the people that I have met.

A total of just 12 men have walked on the Moon. It is my hope that within the next 40 years many more will do so.

Expanded Planetarium Honors Shepard, McAuliffe


The new, 45,000-square-foot McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center opens today with new interactive science exhibits, an expanded gift shop, cafe, and theater space.

The new Discovery Center is a major transformation of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, built to honor the teacher who died on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission. The new center is also named for Derry, N.H., native Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Help NASA Name Node 3!

Neat contest underway on the NASA website:

NASA wants your opinion in naming the International Space Station’s Node 3 – a connecting module and its cupola – before the two segments travel to space and are installed on the orbiting laboratory. The name should reflect the spirit of exploration and cooperation embodied by the space station, and follow in the tradition set by Node 1- Unity– and Node 2- Harmony.
Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Node 3 components during the STS-130 mission targeted for December 2009.”

Touching the Future…

I was reminded of a story today from my time as a Challenger Learning Center Mission Commander.

Anessa was a recent immigrant from Russia who came to the Buehler Challenger & Science Center for a mission. Her teacher had assigned her to the Navigation station, probably one of the most difficult teams because of the reading required.

A few minutes into the mission, as the rest of the students enthusiastically began their work, Anessa sat alone at her console, a look of discouragement on her face. Her teacher told me that Anessa did not either speak or write English and that she couldn’t get her to do anything.

I went over to Anessa and said, “How would you like to try something different?” I led her over to the Isolation team, and to our robotic arms. She grinned, sat down, and went to work.

As some of the other students struggled with the instructions in their task cards, Anessa went to the controls of the robots like an astronaut with years of training. At the end of the mission, Anessa was glowing, and I was happy for her success.

Touching the future often happens one child at a time.