The Space Program | My Family Travels
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The Space Program

I spent my summer working as an intern  for 8 weeks at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. It was the experience of a lifetime. I got the opportunity to see all the small tasks and jobs it takes to complete a space project. Just one camera on the Hubble is the collaboration of perhaps a hundred scientists.  Working together, each doing their own task, the have created a camera which can travel into space and send back unfathomable pictures of far off galaxies.

My job was such a small part of a smaller part of Lunar studies, and at times it seemed so menial in comparison to, say, building the Space Shuttle.

I finished my final presentation, said gooodbye to my new friends, and left for a Cruise from Cape Canaveral Florida. Before the Criuse, my family and I were to spend 2 days touring the Kennedy Space Center.  I got to see firsthand where the Space Program began with the Saturn Rockets, where it is now with the space shuttle missions, and where it is going with the Constellation program. The difference was that unlike my brother and sister, I could visualize how many people it took to get these projects up and running.  Seeing each display became a stunning realization of what we really accomplished.  They say Travel changes your perspective forever, I understand that even more now. 

The Space Shuttle was on the launch pad. It was to take off on August 25th, the day our cruise would be in Belize. We took the VIP tour and saw the Shuttle.  I thought ‘Imagine seeing it take off. How cool would that be?”

So we left on the Carnival Glory on the 22nd. It was great and just as fun as everyone said it would be. We did great shore excursions in Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya, and the weather was beautiful.

We got news that the Space Shuttle was delayed until August 28th at 11:59PM. That was the night we were heading back to Florida from the Bahamas.  We would be set to dock in Cape Canaveral at 7:00 AM on the 29th,

At about a quarter to midnight on the 28th, 100 passengers and my family went to the forward deck to try and see the launch.  We all looked and looked, and then some one yelled, ‘Oh, I see it’. off to the left was a beautiful blast. We followed it go up and up. Then the boosters each fell off, the Shuttle lighted the afterburners and the Space Shuttle flew further into space. 8 minutes after launch, the afterburners went off, and we lost visual.  My Mom and Dad had tears in there eyes.  It was an unbelievable sight on American ingenuity and cooperation.

I felt so much a part of that accomplishment, even with my little intern job.  I helped NASA in the most miniscule way, but I was a part of something big that will be just as spectacular as that launch.  Spending the whole summer, beginning to end, studying the Space Program, changed my perspective on so many things. It is a summer I will talk about until I am a very old man.

 

by Christofer Paolillo, Age 16, High School Senior 

 

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