Houston, TX

Tales From a Space Nerd

Stacey Doud

The lovely skies of late (at least when it's not cloudy or raining) have me reflecting on my adventures as an active Space Nerd in the mid- to late 2000's. I was working for a Houston-area based newspaper at the time, and they pretty much gave me free reign to cover Space Program stories.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have been a total space enthusiast for decades. I think that is because I grew up with a family who loved the space program. In fact, my dad used to work for a NASA contractor at Johnson Space Center (JSC) during the Apollo years.

I have a few things that I treasure that kind of covers several aspects of space nerdiness. One is a signed picture of George Lucas. First of all, I LOVE Star Wars (surprise!). But the other thing is that it's not easy to find an affordable signed photo of Lucas. I was at a benefit/silent auction and everyone was bidding on sports memorabilia. I was the ONLY one to bid for this photo, so I got it cheap. It came matted and framed with a certificate of authenticity.

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I also got to meet many astronauts and learn about all kinds of things (how an astronaut can get his/her grandma's special lasagna - same recipe - to take with him/her, etc.).

The NASA Socials were fun. I got to go to Kennedy AFB (now called Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, or CCSFS). If you'd like to see a video of the launch, visit https://youtu.be/9AdI64eBaWg. I apologize for the camera wiggle, as I was trying to film AND take still photos at the same time. I had always wanted to see a shuttle launch, but this was the next best thing. The video was filmed from three miles away from the launch pad.

I used to live in Houston, so I went to as many Socials as I could get accepted for at JSC. One was held before Scott Kelly started his year-long stay on the International Space Station (ISS). He has a twin brother, Mark, who stayed on Earth. They actually got to do twin studies in space! How often do you get twins that are both decorated astronauts?

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Kelly shared that year with Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. During the Social, we were given the opportunity to ask Kelly, Kornienko and their crew questions and take pictures with them. Scott was feeling like a rock star, which he sort of is, without the rock. So, when it came to be my turn for a photo, I asked to be between the Russians. I thought Kelly was going to bust his britches laughing. But then, some folks behind me started asking for the same thing. It was a fun opportunity, and everyone seemed to have a good, light-hearted time.

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So, those are my most interesting stories. I have many more, but I don't want to completely put you to sleep. For all of you fellow Space Nerds out there, especially "influencers," you can apply for NASA Socials at https://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/index.html.

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I live and work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and enjoy discovering new trends, businesses, events and organizations to write about! As a writer/reporter/photographer and editor, I especially like to report on positive things, but I'll always bring you a balanced view (unless it's an opinion piece). I report locally in Grapevine, TX. Thank you for viewing my profile and I'd be honored if you'd follow me!

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