A Tribute To Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

The following video was put together for the first general meeting of the Iowa State Space Society to honor one of our favorite space heroes. Hope you enjoy.

Neil Armstrong, NASA engineer, test pilot and astronaut, the first man to set foot on the moon, passed away from cardiovascular complications at the age of 82. His life will be celebrated by space explorers forever, an inspiration to reach for new heights and to learn more about the Universe.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had to following to say about Neil Armstrong’s legacy:

On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of the Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong. As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own.
Besides being one of America's greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation.
As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero.

Armstrong’s family made the following statement commemorating Neil’s life and impact on the world:

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.  
Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. 
Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.  
He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.  
As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.  
While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.  
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

The following two videos are by the VlogBrothers, and paint an inspiring picture of Neil Armstrong's life:


XCOR to Open New Operations/Manufacturing Facility in Florida

XCOR Aerospace announced Thursday that it would be establishing a new base at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for manufacturing and testing of the company's Lynx suborbital spacecraft. Good news for me, this means as many as 150 new jobs through 2018. I *should* be graduated by then... XCOR is one of my favorite private aerospace companies, right up there with SpaceX even though they are a fraction of the size. They prove to the world that small companies can do big, amazing things with the right focus and drive.

The KSC is a very exciting place to drop an aerospace company. As CEO Jeff Greason said in the press release, "Looking over the KSC Visitor Complex grounds and seeing the history of U.S. human spaceflight and realizing that soon XCOR will be a part of the fabric of the Space Coast is very exciting to me personally and our company." XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson pointed out, "The Space Coast as seen a slow wind down of legacy space operations in the past few years, but the new commercial space industry will return high paying aerospace jobs and human spaceflight back to Florida in the very near future, with several scheduled flights a day! We foresee significant positive impacts on the creation of technology clusters and educational opportunities for K-12 and college students."

I look forward to seeing where this company ends up in a decade from now. Heck, I'm looking forward to seeing where I end up in a decade from now, and maybe it will be with XCOR. You just never know.


College Halfway Point.

Being at the midpoint of any endeavor yields some interesting perspectives. Admittedly, I may be here as long as five years, but the view is still the same. I have come a long way from where I started and I have a long way to go until the finish line.

My journey started out strong freshman year. I got some good grades, met some great friends and had a lot of wonderful experiences. I'm glad I took initiative to get involved on campus and in aerospace projects such as USLI. 

One trend that I've noticed, however, is that each semester my performance is a little lower. Not sure if I'm decreasing in intelligence or just classes getting harder. But this semester I intend to break that trend. I know last year the biggest problem was probably the same problem Alexander the Great experienced in that I spread myself way too thin over classes, projects, and other activities. So this semester is going to be a study on living a simple lifestyle in order to keep the main thing the main thing.

And what is the main thing?

I'm looking ahead to next summer (maybe even this spring) in which I fully intend to land an aerospace internship! All of this year will be spent mainly in preparation for this goal. This includes, but not limited to, getting good grades, making a lot of contacts, talking to professors, getting recommendations, applying to positions, making phone calls, etc. In all of this, I will at least make room for one project, such as USLI.

Recreation and entertainment are important, but need to know they're place at the bottom of the totem pole. For instance, it's a good way to bond with friends and roommates. After I moved in to the apartment, two of my roommates and I went shooting and ate dinner at one of my roommates home, since it was his birthday. It was a great way to start the semester off. 

For some reason after the end of last semester I just had to stop and wonder what it was that I wanted in life. It's funny how I can ask that question and also know exactly where I'm going with my career at the same time. For the past six years I have known that I want to be an aerospace engineer, but suddenly I began to get the inklings of a question on why. Just because it's fun? Because I think it's an important contribution to humanity? Because I want to earn a lot of money and do a lot of cool things in life? What exactly is the point? What would my life look like in ten, twenty years from now? Who will my friends be? Will I have a family? What will I be working towards, fighting for and living for?

And I can just shrug all these questions off now, because, if nothing else, I'll always be living for the glory of God. And if that doesn't make sense to you, I hope and pray that it will someday.

My homey work station.

From left: Me, Darin, Nick.


MSL Pictures

I actually stayed up until one in the morning last night watching this stuff unfold. Even my heart was pounding during those last 7 minutes of terror. You may have seen that previous video I posted about how complex the landing sequence is. If any one thing malfunctioned, the entire multi-billion dollar investment would be lost.

Fortunately it was all worth it. I'm looking forward to seeing all the pictures that will keep coming in, and also reading about results from science experiments.


Curiosity Arrives Safely on Mars!

After 7 minutes of waiting on pins and needles, the Mars Science Laboratory is now safely on the ground. The first thumbnails have already come in just minutes after the landing, and scientists are just itching to start getting data! This mission has been a major accomplishment so far, and hopefully it will be a very rewarding mission from here on out.