I am writing this on my plane to Florida! I plan on posting it tomorrow, which will be officially Day 1 of PoSSUM training. I was thinking I should do something similar to the Space Symposium and document the events of every day. To the best of my ability that is... I am going to be kind of busy. But sitting here on the plane, going to Florida (again) to do this was not something I knew I wanted until very recently. It is a crazy surreal experience.
Bailey's life - barely keeping my head above water! I have been working overtime (to do PoSSUM this week), doing my master's program in space resources, and doing PoSSUM training. And my parents are moving. It's been a lot and I am very tired. I have to keep reminding myself what my big-picture goal is!
Fund Raising life - I did a GoFundMe to help me pay for PoSSUM. I asked for half of the $6,000 I needed (for those without a calculator that is $3,000). I knew I needed a little financial help to make this possible and $3,000 seemed like a pretty high bar that I could maybe possibly meet. Well, last-minute I raised just over $4,000. And I am completely floored by that. Like, sit on the floor think about what the heck just happened floored. The amount of support I got, in some cases by complete strangers, is something I will never forget. I hope this is an example of "but good into the universe and good will come to you." Thank you multiplied more than I can express for all the support.
PoSSUM life - I just wanted to give a set in stone explanation of what this program is all about. PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) is a massive science experiment to study noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere. Noctilucent clouds are thought to be a product (and thus proof) of climate change because they occur with the cold temperatures on the mesosphere mixed with methane which we have seen a rise in. The mesosphere is above the stratosphere which is above the troposphere which is where we are. The mesosphere, the third level in our atmosphere, is about 50 km (or 31 mi or 160,000 ft) up with a temperature of less than 130 K (or -226 deg F). Sadly there isn't as much research in this area and that is what we are being trained to do. We will run all the cameras and other testing equipment in the short flight time we have to gather data. This is just the training for that event but that means we need to get spun up on how to use the equipment, how to function in microgravity, and know the physicological symptoms of hypoxia both in our selves and in our crew. So that is why I am in Florida! To learn all that stuff!
Okay, true vulnerability time! I feel very out of my element. Most of the people coming to this program are highly intelligent and qualified. I was reading their bios and most are PhDs with some sort of research that applies to this. Or they have countless amounts of awards on how awesome they are. Or they have an impressive military background. And I am just like "hi... my name is Bailey... and I like to learn new things..." I know how important that is, but when you're about to go into training (and be tested) with these incredible humans... it is hard to not feel inadequate. I am hoping I can leverage my energy at this stuff... they maybe be smarter than me but I am the energizer bunny man!
I am also worried about the simulations. This is my first chance to see if I actually could be an astronaut. What if I SUCK at all the commands and controls of being a copilot and I have to give up my dream? Or what if I can't handle motion sickness as well as I thought? Or I have some rare heart disease that doesn't allow me to go into space that they discover in the simulations? As you can tell, I do enjoy the what-if game. But it's true, this is my first insight into if I can actually do this thing or not. I guess we had to find out eventually! Might as well be now!
Okay, that is my update for now. Mostly just a good background for everyone. Thanks for joining me on this journey and check back tomorrow!