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Mildly Exciting Tales of Astonishment

“In Mildly Exciting Tales of Astonishment (or META — awesome, right?), we follow the misadventures of a group of heroes as they deal with the absurd, mundane tasks that plague us all. In META, you’ll learn how heroes must be conscious of their branding, why it’s not the best idea to build your secret lair under the subway system, what happens when a super mom has to find a decent daycare facility and what it takes to interview for the position of henchman. And you might just learn a little bit about yourself along the way. But probably not.”

Some Friends of the Forge™ Jonathan Strickland of How Stuff Works and  the lovely and talented Ariel K. Stewart (serious, you should hear her sing) have launched a Kickstarter for their awesome web-series Mildly Exciting Tales of Astonishment. You should check it out their Tumblr,  and pony up some disposable cash. This show is going to kick ass.

 

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Can Girls in Science be Cool Now?

In the past few years, geek has become the new chic.  With the surge in popularity of comic book movies, television shows like Doctor Who, and the ever-increasing popularity of video games, it’s no wonder.  Those of us who have always had a crush on Han Solo, or who can quote Futurama in any social situation already knew – being a geek is awesome.  And we all rejoiced that everyone else had caught up to our way of thinking.

So can girls in science be cool now?  When I was in school, it was decidedly uncool to be interested in science or math.  I was the only girl in my computer programming class, and one of only a few in the advanced physics class.  Showing any kind of interest in the standard chemistry or biology warranted dirty looks from the majority of my female classmates.  I sat quietly in precalculus and didn’t raise my hand to answer any questions. 

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Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon Capsule Launch

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Falcon 9 Rocket Launch

On October 7, 2012, I was lucky enough to witness the live launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon lab perched atop.  The rocket was bound for the International Space Station, to deliver 1,000 pounds worth of cargo, science experiments, and ice cream, to the astronauts in orbit.  This marks the first time in US history that a commercial vehicle, hailing from US soil, is making such a trip.  And it fulfilled one of my childhood dreams.  Ever since I was a small child and saw my first Star Wars movie, I wanted to go into space.  Witnessing this launch was an amazing experience.  I was moved to tears as I watched that rocket climb into the sky, knowing that the future of human space flight and exploration had completely changed at 8:35 PM that Sunday.  I felt a sense of pride in my country and in my fellow man.  Once again, the possibilities of life on this planet and beyond are endless.  Dreams of travel to distant planets have been reignited.  And not only did I have the privilege to witness such a spectacular event, I was able to be part of a small group of social media contacts.  I met some fantastic people I would have never met otherwise, and we all expanded our social horizons, which is what social media is all about.

In addition to this flight being the first commercial cargo resupply in American history, this also marks the first time refrigerated units are able to be sent back to space, since the decommissioning of the shuttle program.  And when the Dragon is sent home, she’ll have those same refrigeration units to bring back experiments that need to stay cool.  But almost as important as science is the fact that we were able to send real ice cream to the men and women orbiting the planet.  SpaceX and NASAs ice cream of choice? Blue Bell Vanilla with Chocolate Swirl apparently.

While Jen was live-tweeting the whole time, she heard some amazing quotes and interesting facts.

From NASA administrator Charlie Bolden

“Our space technology program is developing technology we need for tomorrow’s missions.”
“We are once again launching space craft out of US space ports to our astronauts.”
“The plan is to get humans into the Martian atmosphere between 2030 and 2039.”
“This is an incredible “in” for the way of commercial space crews.”
“We have to find innovative ways to do better, the things we have done in the past.”
“What we have done, with the President’s leadership, is put our faith in American industry.”

From SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell

“Tomorrow’s SpaceX launch begins a new era in commercial space flight.”
“We’re making steady progress in making the next generation of deep-space travel.”
“We’re a launch company. I’m excited every time we get to do a launch.”
“We hope to be part of the partnership [with NASA] to go to Mars.”

From Lori Garver, NASA’s Deputy Administrator

“We want to be able to reduce operational costs so we can focus on the science.”
“To me, I really like the quiet of the touchdown and the completion of the mission.”

From Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station

“Our goal is to have US capability to fly a crew by 2017.”

And our favorite fun facts

“Falcon is named for the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movie.”
“The more fish you eat in space, the less bone density you lose.”

Jen took lots of pictures.  You can find them here, under our Photos page.  Here are a few of our favorites:

NASA at twilight
NASA at twilight
Before the rocket launch
Before the rocket launch
Liftoff!
Liftoff!

Here’s our footage of the the Falcon 9 rocket rising in preparation for the launch:

And here’s our footage of the actual launch:

Jen is also putting together some more video, so that’ll be available soon!

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Launch Day!

Although now technically the day after the launch…

The launch was amazing.  I was moved to tears at the sight of it.  This entire experience has been incredible.  I’ve met some great people, seen some awesome science, and got to realize a dream of mine that I wasn’t sure would ever come to pass.  The moral of the story?  Go big or go home.

Jen will be making a page to chronicle all her adventures from the weekend, but we will leave you this picture of the Falcon 9 rocket as it left the ground, headed for the International Space Station.

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T-Minus 1 Day!

Jen flew into Orlando this morning.  Not much for her to report as of yet, but her plans include the science and pre-launch briefings today, and a chance to meet some other SpaceTweeps.

We updated the page so you can see Jen’s latest tweets right from the home page.  Stay tuned for live tweeting, blog summaries, pictures and video over the weekend!  Jen is still very excited, and has been telling anyone who will listen about her upcoming adventure.  It earned her some new friends on the flight down this morning. 🙂

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T-Minus 2 Days

With a media pass, Jen gets to attend a science briefing, the pre-launch briefing and the post-launch briefing.  And, with the social media push, there’s going to be a Google Hangout this afternoon from 1-1:30.

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