I’ve written two guest posts this month for Sew Mama Sew’s annual Handmade Holidays roundup. The first — Gifts for Geeks — was published a couple weeks ago and the second is coming up next week. As I wrote a short bio to go along with that post, I started with my standard “NASA engineer by day, quilter by night” byline…and realized that it might be fun to mix those a little more here on the blog too. I firmly believe that more people knowing about what NASA is going means more people willing to enthusiastically support our missions, so even if you don’t really follow space happenings on a regular basis (or at all), I hope you find these occasional posts interesting!
1 // A Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched yesterday afternoon carrying 3 new crewmembers to the International Space Station! The ISS normally has a crew of 6 but they’ve been down to 3 since a previous group landed at the end of October. The new crew is currently hanging out in their cramped little Soyuz but will dock with the ISS tomorrow afternoon. They’ll stay onboard until next spring.
2 // There’s a long list of rather mundane things that need to be done when you’re about to leave the planet for several months…like getting a haircut! Astronaut Peggy Whitson was the NASA crewmember onboard the Soyuz yesterday (along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet). She’s had short hair for years, but enjoyed a trim during her last full day on Earth for a while. They actually cut hair pretty similarly on the ISS — with an electric razor, and holding a vacuum cleaner close by to keep all the stray hairs from floating away!
p.s. Did you know astronauts also vote from space? I’m assuming Shane Kimbrough wins the crown for the most absentee of all absentee ballots cast this year.
3 // You might have heard about the “Super Moon” earlier this week — seen above floating in the sky over the Soyuz launch site in Kazakhstan. It looked pretty but actually caused flooding problems in some low-lying areas thanks to the slightly higher tides associated with the moon being both closer to Earth (which has to do with where it was in its monthly orbit) and forming a straight sun-Earth-moon line (which is always the case for a full moon). As global warming continues and sea levels rise, this kind of thing will only get worse. It’s minor now, but someday it might not be.
4 // Many of us at work are curious/worried/interested/anxious about what the new Presidential administration will mean for NASA. This isn’t actually specific to the person elected — there’s always uncertainty associated with a change in leadership. We went through some pretty significant upheaval during the first few years of President Obama’s time in office so it won’t be a huge surprise if we get thrown for a few loops again. One thing that’s nearly a guarantee is that there will be a freeze on hiring any new federal employees. Hiring new people is difficult enough in normal times, so having another freeze — especially when my group is currently short-staffed — will be frustrating.