Week 2 Summary (June 22nd - June 28th)

Written by: Dani and Cooper

Sunday, June 22
The Space Cadets awoke after a lovely first (and perhaps last) night of real sleep to a beautiful day and a networking event with Center Director, Dr. Pete Worden. Little did Leo know, cargo shorts are not “nice.” Lynn doesn’t have her ‘mountain driving’ license yet, so Abby, Cooper, and Karl drove the rest of the crew up to the event.

We were accompanied by two visiting Austrians, on business to prepare for the Pioneers Festival. Once everyone arrived, Dr. Worden taught us all a few lessons about culture, bureaucracy, and poison oak. Basically, the Russians are great at chess, but we’re better at poker. Eventually we sauntered back to the Struggle Bus, Karl’s Red Rocket, and a Prius and were on our way back to the quads.
Once back on base, Cooper went climbing, Dani did laundry, and the rest of the ‘mites made dinner. We had our first SQP and then Abby capped it all off with an award-winning film of our first week (insert clapping).

CHALLENGE ALERT: Cooper finished the day with a foray into the Space Academy Summer Challenge Series. One tablespoon of cinnamon, no regrets. What’s next? No one knows. Now taking applications for the next challenge.

Monday, June 23
Monday, everyone’s favorite day! Pretty routine morning, Cooper forgot his badge so he drove to breakfast. There’s nothing like plain oatmeal that gets us going, right? Today we were lucky enough to have a brown bag lunch with speaker Lynn Harper. She gave a wonderful talk about the future of the space industry and the fundamentals of effective leadership and management. Dani dropped her phone in a toilet, oops. Fear not, it’s currently drying in a desiccator. Bag of rice at NASA? Never. If there is ever a place to drop your electronics in water, it has to be NASA!

A few of us finished lunch with an exciting visit to the lodge to pay for housing. Dinner came and went, curry on the menu from Chef Jiró, and then it was on to practice our group presentation. Matt ordered pizza. Jason thought it was pretty good. Our group changed course after some inspiring innovations by Jiro; we’ll see what Brad thinks tomorrow… Polos came in--navy for aero and periwinkle for space. Thanks Karl. Thanks for the business cards too. We love ‘em. They’re great for networking. Thanks guys. Night.

Tuesday, June 24
The Space Cadets presented their group project proposal to the Academy staff and upper management today. Guided by a few vital pointers from the Aero Heads, the Space Cadets made it through the presentation with more questions and ideas than we had come with, as with any good science experiment! (What’s in it for your stake-holders? Basic science for sustainable space exploration. Why was this project not selected for the Mars 2020 Rover? Planetary protection concerns.) As per the usual, Brad gave us a hard time, because that is what he enjoys doing, making us squirm.

Dinner at Doug’s for special guest lecturer… Doug! We were treated to a wonderful meal by our friends from aero: fresh guacamole, chicken, and pies galore. What do you get when you let Leo, Mike, and Ruth cook dinner? Aero-PLANE food!!! The guac was fantastic and well-seasoned. We didn’t get to go swimming in Doug’s pool, but we did get to go swimming in his stories!!! I’m so sorry. I’m done I promise. It was really wonderful to hear about his life journey and his fondest memories of research trips, Antarctic shenanigans with seal pups, and unimaginable hangovers.

Wednesday, June 25
Happy Hump Day! It was work day for everyone today, with another brown paper bag lunch with Melissa Kirven-Brooks, one of Ames’ NASA Astrobiology Institute scientists. I’d be lying if I told you she didn’t make a hard pitch to convert us into astrobiologists, but her enthusiasm was infectious and everybody seemed to love it. She showed us every resource available for anyone even slightly interested in astrobiology, from focus groups to outreach projects. Dani was thrilled!

The space cadets got to work on their group project in the evening, only to find they had come up with even more ideas to pitch, including a newly designed toilet, courtesy of the Mastermind Jiro.

Thursday, June 26
We had breakfast at Megabites! AGAIN!!!!!!!!! It was a pretty routine workday except for the student mixer at T Minus One happened! Everyone from Brad Bailey to Jacob Cohen (Ames’ chief scientist) were in attendance. We talked, we networked, and we even met with the center director Dr. Pete Worden himself. It was a really good time and it seemed to open everyone up a bit, making for a fun night.

Friday, June 27
Meet outside quads. Walk to breakfast. Megabites breakfast. Work. Morning routine, down to a science. (Because we work at NASA.) And for lunch, another brown bag! This time our speaker was Matt Reyes, Space Shop extraordinaire. Matt is quite the outgoing personality, munching his Doritos and sipping his classic glass-bottle Coca-Cola while balancing on the back of his chair overlooking the interns and cracking jokes like it’s his business (Maybe it is?). Matt showed us around the Space Shop, gave us pointers on how to use his resources for our group projects, and generally told us to enjoy the toys he has compiled into the shop!

While most of the ‘mites got this tour of the Space Shop, a few unlucky ones had to take their safety boot camp training.

The cadets finally got some well-earned bonding time, eating a Thai dinner together on the infamous Castro Street, before heading back to the quads for the night.

Saturday, June 28
The Academites trekked down south for hiking in Castle Rock State Park today. We lost our third driver due to an unfortunate sleeping incident, tried to fit “all the small people” in another car, then decided instead to take Dani’s non-mountain car on the adventure. It was full of blueberries, lots of cheese, hardcore parkour, and dust. Kiley and Dani bouldered into a cave, Emily power-walked ahead and beat the team to every shady break point, Leo did impressions of the other cadets, Lynn got a sock tan, Jiro baked in his black jeans while Jason listened to the more seasoned hikers and changed to shorts before shoving off, Michelle helped keep us from getting stranded on the trail, Yoh learned some American slang, Julian taught us a bit about military trekking safety measures, Brennan peed behind a rock, Nicole revealed that she is a massive cat lady, and Michael successfully traversed No-Man’s Land.

Sweaty and dusty (not a good combination), we reached the cars and finished the day off on the Santa Cruz beaches for sunset and some Hawaiian Barbeque to sate our appetites. The water was frigid, even for the seagulls, but the dive-bombing pelicans were unphased in their pursuit of dinner.

Today was another great bonding experience for the crew, and any resulting ticks will serve for even better bonding!

Picture of the Week:

Video Clip of the Week: