NASA SLS QM2 Booster Test
This past weekend/Monday, and Tuesday – I attended a NASA Social event named QM2 in Promontory, Utah at the Orbital ATK facilities. NASA was testing one of the SLS booster’s that will eventually be what takes humans to explore our solar system. I’ve created video, photographs, and had some articles by others written up about my events, but I haven’t even told anyone first hand the events that conspired this past week, amazing as they are.
Saturday, I flew out of Gillette, Wyo. airport. I wouldn’t recommend that airport if you’re into having something to do. However, the small size of the airport allows for easy navigation. I digress.
I landed in Salt Lake City around 7 PM. Busy, busy, busy! As I tried finding my rental car, I started getting flustered with the amount of people in this airport. I’m used to small county airports. I’m not going to lie though, hindsight has set in, and I crave the presence of people on their adventures, or traveling for work doing big things. Flying is such a miracle.
I was ecstatic when I arrived at E-Z-Rent-a-Car (I highly recommend this company, they’re amazing) and got a Kia Soul. These are by far my favorite cars, and I’ve definitely decided I want one. Like… no questions asked.
Sunday, I road tripped to the Salt Lake and stood along the shore. I dipped my feet in, just to say I’d done so. I’m a huge desert junkie, so anything that resembles the desert or shows an expansiveness nothingness is something you can count me in on.
That afternoon, I drove up through Ogden Canyon and stood at the base of Snow Basin Ski Resort. Stunning drive, especially for a Sunday afternoon. I pulled off the sde of the road and took photos of the intense green landscape and wildflowers. Nothing better than driving around in a Kia Soul and exploring parts of the world you’ve never seen.
Monday marked the first day of the tours at Orbital ATK. Upon arrival, we listened to stories from NASA Officials, met NASA Social Media teams, and toured the manufacturing facilities. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed at the facilities. Security reasons?
That night, I went downtown Ogden. I am all about experiencing the most out of life while you’re in the face of it. There’s nothing more important than seeing the world and not being shy or scared to do things that others would normally find weird. So, I went to a very nice Italian restaurant, had a Margherita pizza (my favorite) and a glass of Chardonnay. I sat on the patio area among the green indoor trees, hanging patio lights, and warm evening light. It was magical.
Tuesday, the BEST day of the trip by far. The TEST! At 3:30 A.M. I drove out into the Utah landscape in the dark. The sun was barely coming up against the Wasatch mountains in my rearview mirror. The line of cars going out to the test site was endless. I knew this was going to be a big deal.
I sat with the people I had met the day before, and some people I hadn’t as we watched the crowd of NASA officials, orbital officials, and everyone in between grow the crowd larger and larger. It was a dream come true. I even talked with Cady Coleman, the astronaut. She was so sweet and we got into a big discussion about the hidden meaning behind the movie Gravity. It was awesome.
After an hour long delay due to some software issues, the launch happened at 9:05 A.M. First, you hear the countdown. Then you see the light, and THEN comes the shock wave and heat.
I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity, as I’m sure I will be attending many more of these events in the future. It didn’t feel like my last test, and I’m sure it won’t be. I have to see this puppy go to space!
This post was originally published by Robyn Hynes on her blog, NerdieBurdie, and has been shared with her permission here on We Report Space.
Robyn Hynes is currently studying science communication and earth science at Black Hills State University. Her favorite types of science include: meteorology, astronomy, biology and food science. She enjoys road biking, animals, and being outside in her free time.
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