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!
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.