T-13 Days and Counting…

The only way humans have ever figured out of getting somewhere is to leave something behind.

– TARS, from the movie “Interstellar”

Good lord, where did the time go?

Up until now, HI-SEAS IV has felt sort of far-off, like it’s not quite real just yet.  However, a few things are starting to happen that are cluing me in to how close it really is.

Perhaps the biggest one happened this Thursday – my last day at Lockheed Martin.  I packed up my office into boxes and loaded them into the trunk of my car.  With all the pictures on the wall gone, the office no longer felt like my own, just a sterile box with a desk and a computer.

I did receive a beautiful parting gift from the crew in the Mission Support Area – a stunning image from the Spitzer Space Telescope – my main project – taken sometime while I was working on the mission.  The lead spacecraft engineer had received signatures from folks I’d had a chance to work with at JPL, and pasted them onto the border along with the signatures from my Lockheed Martin colleagues.  Such a great surprise!  I’m truly thankful to have received everyone’s words of encouragement!

Spitzer Warm Mission

I had already sent my last command as a Real-Time Operator the day before, a sequence for Juno’s Advanced Stellar Compass.  I did have a little bit of time for some final training with Patrick Haas, who is taking over my position on the Pointing Control Subsystem for Spitzer.  I’m leaving the PCS in good hands.

But the end of the day eventually arrived.  After walking through and bidding everyone farewell, it was time to report to my manager, turn in my badge, and leave the Mission Support Area.

I have mixed feelings, of course.  Working in the MSA has been an amazing opportunity.  I was given a lot of responsibility right from the beginning, and had an opportunity to contribute to lots of exciting spacecraft events, like Juno Earth Flyby, MAVEN Mars Orbit Insertion, and Mars Odyssey data relay for the Curiosity rover landing.  I had the chance to work with talented, dedicated engineers, the type of folks who can work wonders with little more than a few subsystem status messages and a 40-bit-per-second telemetry stream.

But, on the other hand, this is also a step forward.  I had to leave, so that now I can move onward to HI-SEAS.  I’m truly excited to be taking the next step.

There are other reminders, too.  This is my last weekend at home before I begin training.  I’m having a farewell party this evening, a board game night with a bunch of friends.  I’ll spend the next week packing and making final preparations, before flying out to Hawaiʻi next weekend.

It’s starting to feel very real, folks.


5 thoughts on “T-13 Days and Counting…

  1. Mark says:

    Last Day at LM? you had to quit to join this opportunity? At first I thought it was a LM program. These facts just pile on to your bend toward and capabilities for exploration. NASA would be foolish to not snatch you up as an astronaut. Good Luck – I will be reading…


      • dave gingerich says:

        I agree. LM should have figured out some way to retain you through this experience, especially since they put your image and interview into LMInside. You know, give you a LOA for six months, make you an employee for a weekend, then give you another LOA. I bet this all has something to do with IRS regulations about deductible expenses for employee pay that limit things like LOA and how often your employer is allowed to grant it to an employee.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s