It’s About the Journey…Not the Destination…

I met and Interviewed ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano on our first STS134 Launch Visit. He was so generous with his time and gave me great advice.

In the last few months I have had two experiences, both of which have taught me an important lesson. It began with participating in Minnesota State History Day, I had a goal to win the competition and go to the National History Day competition in Washington D.C. so I could see the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. When I didn’t make it to nationals (I was told that my project was too science focused) I was really sad. Although I still feel sad about not advancing, I have realized that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination. It truly has been a wonderful journey.

Working on this history day presentation has opened so many doors for me. I have interviewed Susan Freeman (ISS engineer), Luca Parmitano (ESA astronaut), and Bob Blume (president of Aerospace Fabrications), among others. But perhaps the most incredible spinoff, if you’ll pardon my adjective, has been getting to see the shuttle Endeavour launch yesterday. The research online for my history day project led me to discover the upcoming launch of Endeavour and convince my mom to take me to Florida to witness this most incredible and historic event. I am thankful that my history day project pushed me towards this new path, a spectacular stepping-stone along my journey.

My new goal was to see the shuttle launch, and although I accomplished that I was once again reminded of the importance of the journey. I found the shuttle launch to be an absolutely amazing site, one that I will always remember, even if it was only a four second experience. And yet, it was not the best part of my trip. The best part of my trip was the people I met. I have been fortunate enough to meet an amazing number of wonderful people while at NASA. Below are some pictures of amazing people I met while on this launch journey. I come away from this trip with a truly valuable lesson, that it is the people you meet and the things you do along the way that are truly important.

I continue along my journey with renewed determination and persistence as I lead my generation, the Mars Generation, towards the great mark on history we are meant to make with our journey to Mars. Remembering in the future that although there are many incredible destinations, to not forget the importance of the journey.

That is, of course, unless the destination is mars. It would have to be a pretty amazing journey (I’m talking alien contact amazing) to beat that destination. 🙂

I met some of the Endeavour STS134 Launch Support Team after the launch at a local restaurant. I had the opportunity to learn a little bit of each of these guys important role in the launch. Who knows a few of these guys may be on my launch support team when I go to Mars.












Dimitrios Mitsakos part of the launch support team. His job is as a solid rocket booster electrical engineer. He said to me “You keep dreaming and we will keep working and someday we will have a vehicle to take you to Mars.” He also gave me the NASA pin you will see in the next photo.


Dimitrious Mitsakos the SRB Engineer for the Endeavour STS134 launch team gave me this NASA pin. He told me that he wore this on his first launch and every launch since then and that he wore it this morning for the Endeavour STS134 launch. He said he was saving it to give to his daughter now age 3, but that he felt it was more fitting to give it to me. He asked that someday when I was an astronaut that I give the pin back to his daughter who will be grown. I will treasure this pin always!


















Here I am with SGT David Drury who upkeeps the communications devices for the Pararescue squad that deploys for shuttle launches/landings. We are standing in front of an actual Apollo training capsule used by the USAF Pararescue team. They recently tested their flotation devices with this capsule to prepare for possible future space travel. It’s interesting to see us “go back” to what we used in the past for possible future trips.













I met Lt Col Kurt Matthews of the USAF Pararescue Squad – Col Matthews gave me his pararescue squadron patch off his uniform (see next picture).











The rescue squadron patch that Col Matthews gave me today during our visit. He asked me if I would take this with me when I went to Mars and my answer was of course!














I met SGT Blain Morgan a pararescue team leader. He shared details of what the deployment procedures are for shuttle launches. He was one of the pararescue team members deployed for yesterday’s launch.



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