8/17/07

Day Two--One Giant Step For Coco

President John F. Kennedy had many great quotes about space exploration and was a strong advocate of the program.

One of his quotes is, "We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share."

Last Tuesday, my daughter Coco had the unique opportunity to fully share in the years and years of space exploration began well before her mother and father were even born.

Tuesday was the day Coco would get to talk live to four astronauts in space and ask them a question. Her, along with 17 other students from the state of Idaho, would participate in this historical event.

This event took place at the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise. DCI received a grant to have this NASA downlink and involve the children from across the state. To see a video of the event, go here. Coco is the second student to ask a question. In fact, she got to ask it twice!!

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a NASA astronaut there for the day, spent about an hour talking to the students. She also did the "warm up" in the VIP room before the the downlink began. She was one of the most interesting parts of the whole day. I was very impressed with her.
Here Coco is practicing asking her question again. I had to take pictures at this time, because I was videotaping during the event, and I couldn't use flash photography.
Here are all the students who asked the questions, with Dottie in the middle in the back row.

The downlink was scheduled to begin a little after 3 p.m., but we were told to be in the VIP room by 2 pm, because then the doors would be closed, and nobody would be allowed to enter after 2 p.m.

The program began with some Idaho dignitaries taking the podium, including Lori Otter, the first lady of Idaho, gave a proclomation, Senator Mike Crapo and Congressman Bill Sali addressed the crowd, and Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and Boise Mayor David Bieter also talked to the kids.

Then Dottie did the "warm up" until the downlink. Then the big event started.

The DCI staff made the NASA connection, and it was a go. As we watched the big screen TV, the four astronauts were introduced by Idaho teacher Barbara Morgan, who was the main reason all of this was made possible.

"Good afternoon, we're happy to be here with you. This is Al Drew, Clay Anderson, Dave Williams and I'm Barb Morgan and we're ready for your first question. Welcome on board the International Space Station."

From asking how fast a baseball can be thrown in space, to how do you prepare for a space walk, the students asked question after question, until all of a sudden, DCI staffer Woody Sobey was making a signal. We thought the downlink was getting cut off before the final students could ask their questions. But the International Space Station did a gimble roll to realign with the satelite signal so they could finish the questions. And they did. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when it was finished.

I received an email from Woody today, and here is what part of it said: "NASA said it was one of the best downlinks they'd seen, so well done to you."

I thought it couldn't have gone any better. Everyone involved was so wonderful from Woody to the Idaho science teachers Kevin and Barbara.

So, once the program was done, the students were sent into the media frenzy, with newspaper, T.V. and radio reporters vying for their attention.


Here is Coco being interviewed by Spokeman Review reporter Betsy Russell. She was also on FOX-12 TV in Boise, and Channel 6 TV station in Boise did a voice over with her question. A crew from an outfit that does documentaries for NASA also interviewed Coco.

And now it is done. Coco is at a friends house in Clarkston, Washington for a few days, and they she'll be home Sunday.

But I know she will always remember the day she talked to the astronauts on the International Space Station.

It is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.


— P. L. 85-568 U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.


4 comments:

Dawn said...

COCO, YOU ARE A MAGNIFICENT REPRESENTATIVE OF OUR FABULOUS SILVER VALLEY AND WE ARE ALL SO PROUD OF YOU!! You don't know me, but I am a friend of your Aunt Christy's and Uncle Bill's. You have a wonderful family, Coco, and you are carrying on the tradition! Thank you for the wonderful job! YOU GO, GIRL!!

Yours Truly,
Dawn McLees

Katrina said...

How exciting! And what an honor--I'm sure it's something that she'll always remember.

c&g said...

Here in the Treasure Valley, we watched the news reports of the kids asking their questions. I looked for your daughter (& you), but either channel 7 (NBC) didn't show her or we missed that part :( They kept showing a girl named Fallon asking her question.

Anyway, what a great opportunity! :) Congratulations to her!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

I was so concerned about the tiles on the spacecraft and knowing your daughter would be speaking with the astronauts, I prayed for their safety. I didn't want the kids to be strapped with a tragedy to mar their amazing day. I was so relieved and thankful to know the shuttle landed safely, and the kids would have glorious memories to tell their children and grandchildren. Hooray for Barbara Morgan and her courage to fly into space. She truly put her life on the line for education, Idaho and the USA.