Spring Flings

It’s been far too long since Mike and I last checked in, for which we apologize!

I’m writing this from the airport terminal at Newark after a whirlwind weekend in the New York City area. Mike and I spoke on Saturday at the Northeast Astronomy Forum, the annual shindig thrown by the Rockland Astronomy Club. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The exhibit hall in the field house was filled with an eye-watering (wrong expression) display of telescopes and accessories that told me that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of amateur astrophotography.

IMG_3344We were interviewed on Cosmic Perspective Radio at 9:45 Saturday morning, following their discussion with Pranvera Hyseni, the dynamic force behind the Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo. I had the tough job of speaking immediately after Pranvera at Spacefest last year! Her passion for bringing astronomy education and an observatory to Kosovo are unparalleled.

Mike and I spoke at 5:00 in a magnificent venue, in a setting very much like a TED talk. We weren’t sure how many amateur astronomers would be interested in hanging around until the end of the day to hear a talk about the Columbia accident. However, we were gratified by the rapt attention of the large crowd. Once again, we affirmed that the Columbia recovery story is one that the public wants to hear. Afterward, we signed books  continuously for more than half an hour. Many thanks to Ken Kremer for inviting us to attend and to the wonderful people at the Rockland Astronomy Club for treating us so well at this event.

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The next day, we were guests at the Bueller Challenger and Science Center in Paramus, New Jersey. The Challenger Centers are a worldwide network of educational centers that were born from a shared desire by the families of the STS-51L Challenger crew to carry on the crew’s educational mission. We had to shift gears to go from addressing a crowd of astronomers to a group of enthusiastic students and their parents! The kids asked some great questions that often cut right to the heart of some of the major issues facing NASA. We know the future is in good hands when these students eventually take charge.

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This promises to be another busy week. The audiobook of Bringing Columbia Home is scheduled to be released later this week. I had the pleasure of speaking with Danny Campbell, who is narrating the majority of the book. He’s an outstanding actor, and we know he will do wonders with the text. His wife Cassandra will be reading Eileen Collins’ epilogue.

Speaking of Eileen Collins, she let us know yesterday that she spoke over the weekend at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas. She said that the people of Texas sure like the book, and that she signed more than fifty copies after her talk.

At 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 26, Ann Micklos will be signing books at the Fairfield (Connecticut) University Bookstore. You all know that Ann’s poignant story was a cornerstone of the very human nature of the events surrounding the loss of Columbia and the investigation of the accident. If you’re in the area, please stop by and meet Ann.

I’ll be speaking at the Infinity Science Center in Pearland, Mississippi on Friday for the Space Hipsters (Facebook group) Spring Field Trip. I’m looking forward to meeting many of my online friends face-to-face. We’re also getting a tour of the Michoud Assembly Plant, where the space shuttle’s external tank were built.

So you can see that we’re staying very busy sharing the story of Columbia and the amazing efforts of so many people to bring her home again. Stay tuned for more news soon!

Author: Jonathan Ward

Jonathan Ward is an author of books on the history of American manned spaceflight. He also serves as an adjunct executive coach at the Center for Creative Leadership.

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