This is a clip of the initial email sent by my production studio, asking if I’d be interested in hosting an educational outer space show that would later be known as Xploration Outer Space which would be part of a two hour STEM block called Xploration Station. To be honest, I thought it was spam, because things like this simply don’t happen. People don’t email you out of the blue and ask if you’d be interested in hosting an awesome TV show. Except that, of course, sometimes they do and all your dreams come true.
This past year has been a wonderful adventure and I’ve learned a lot along the way. For one, there is a big learning curve to feeling comfortable in front of the camera. There are many instances throughout the season where I cringe whilst watching my awkward self. Should I act like Bill Nye? No, there is only one Bill Nye. Should I emulate Neil deGrasse Tyson? No, he is far more educated in all things science than I. So I had to find my own on-camera personality, and it took a few episodes to get there!
I wanted to end the year with a list of a few of my favorite moments from Season 1. So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Favorite Moments.
5. The View from Ivanpah Solar Facility
I had seen this facility on the way to Vegas last year and thought it looked impressive from the road which is miles away. So I was really excited that we were able to go there and film for the show. I was not prepared for how cool it would look up close.
The Ivanpah Solar Facility is the largest thermal solar plant in the world. It uses 180,000 mirrors to harness the power of the sun and create electricity for over 200,000 nearby homes. In the show, we went to the fifth floor in one of the central towers (where all the mirrors are directing light) and were able to get an incredible view of the entire facility. The Ivanpah Solar Facility was an engineering marvel with an incredible view.
4. Standing in the Middle of the James Webb Space Telescope Sunshiel
The James Webb Space Telescope is one of NASA’s most ambitious projects and it is scheduled to be launched in 2018. It was really fun getting to learn all about this $8 billion telescope that will eventually be sent one million miles away from the Earth. For the show, we visited the main contractor for JWST, Northrop Grumman, and the Program Manager Scott Willoughby showed me the huge sunshield for the telescope. It’s hard to understand the true scale of this project from pictures, which is why being able to stand inside the middle of the sunshield was so impressive and inspiring!
3. Meeting Richard Garriott and Exploring His Home
We highlighted Richard Garriott, a space tourist who had been to the ISS, in our episode about Space Tourism. He invited us to his home in New York to film and was easily the coolest house I’ve ever visited.
Richard Garriott is an adventure seeker, to say the least. He has SCUBA dived to the depths of the ocean and explored the sunken Titanic, he has canoed down the Amazon River, observed mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and – of course – flown in outer space. In addition to being the real-life Most Interesting Man in the World, he has designed the Most Interesting House in the World. Secret passageways, 2-way mirrors, hidden pools, and a collection of historic artifacts that would make a Smithsonian jealous: these are the things you will find at the Garriott’s. For a space-man who has accomplished so much in all aspects of life, he was ironically incredibly down to Earth. This wasn’t just one of my favorite moments in the show, it was one of my favorite experiences in my life and now my need for adventure has grown exponentially.
2. Seeing Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo Test Flight
Virgin Galactic is an exciting company which I believe will eventually be very successful. I was so thankful and excited that they wanted to be a part of our show. Speaking with Will Pomerantz and catching a WhiteKnightTwo test flight in person was exciting and inspiring. Virgin is filled with hard working individuals who are fighting for a dream that will change the way we think about traveling to space and it was an honor to feature them in our show.
1. Flying in the Vomit Comet
I had flown in NASA’s Vomit Comet five years ago when I was in undergrad, but this time was so much more fun. This was due to a couple of reasons. For one, in undergrad I was responsible for an experiment which so rudely distracted my attention away from the amazing weightless experience. Second, I barfed on my first ride. I didn’t do either of those things during my second Vomit Comet experience and it was magical. I was free to fly around the cabin and ham it up to the camera for our show. There was a huge smile embedded on my face from start to finish and it was the most fun thing I’ve done in years. Easily my favorite moment in Season 1.
I want to end with a huge “Thank You” to a few people. First and foremost, I am thankful that the Executive Producer, Steve Rotfeld, offered me this opportunity. It is my dream job and I'm so lucky he gave this girl, with no on-camera experience, a chance to be involved with this awesome show.
Second, my show would be nothing without the creative mind of my producer, Matt Howley. Story telling is an art, and he has painted many beautiful space-themed masterpieces throughout the season. I’m lucky to have him on my show.
Other people I am thankful for are the crewpeople we have worked with who are experts in all things lighting, audio, and video. Believe me, we totally underestimate the work that goes into setting up a TV show to make it look good. Thank goodness I’ve been put in the very adept hands of those we have worked with. If I ever look bad, that’s due to my sub-par fashion/hair/make-up knowledge, because these guys and gals know what they’re doing.
And lastly, I wanted to thank all of you for watching and following the adventures of Xploration Outer Space. By watching and sharing info about our show, you help keep us on the air, and as a result help me keep my dream job. Happy New Year to all of you!
Stay curious and keep exploring,
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