Participating in the Go For Launch program was a pivotal experience for me. At the time, I was a senior in high school and had already decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in engineering. However, I wasn't quite sure which field of engineering I wanted to specialize in. That all changed when I participated in the program.
After the program ended, I continued to be inspired by the experience. The program helped me rediscover my love for space and space exploration, which ultimately led me to choose aerospace engineering as my major at the University of Florida. Since then, I have been fully immersed in my studies, taking every opportunity to learn more about space and the technology that makes space exploration possible. I wrote several senior papers on the topic of space exploration, including one on the history of the ISS and the ethics of space tourism. These projects allowed me to delve even deeper into the field and explore new avenues of research and discovery.
One of the things I loved most about the Go For Launch program was the chance to learn about the different aspects of modern space travel firsthand from an astronaut. It was fascinating to hear about the astronaut's experiences in space and the challenges they faced while working on the International Space Station (ISS). I was amazed by the complex science and engineering that goes into every aspect of space travel, from the rockets and spacecraft to the life support systems and experiments that are carried out on the ISS, as well as the creativity, artistry, and humanity behind it all. I also appreciated the opportunity to work on a team and collaborate with other students who shared my passion for space exploration.
During the program, we were tasked with designing an experiment that would be flown to the ISS. My team, the Andromeda team, worked tirelessly to design and refine our experiment, and we were thrilled when we learned that it had been selected for flight. When it came to designing our experiment, it was a bit hard to come up with ideas and get things off the ground, but focusing on the design constraints, we found Deinococcus radiodurans, a polyextremophile bacteria. Our goal was to find whether it could be used for RSV vaccine production after being grown in space.
Getting to watch the launch in person was also an incredible and inspiring experience. It was a beautiful sight to see the rocket launch into the sky, carrying our experiment and other payloads towards the ISS. I couldn't help but feel emotional as I watched; just knowing that something I took part in was going to be flying into space and on the ISS made me feel elated.
As an aerospace engineering student, I am particularly inspired by the Artemis program and the goal of returning humans to the moon by 2024. This ambitious mission is a testament to the potential of human ingenuity and perseverance, and I am excited to be a part of an industry that is working towards such a monumental achievement.
Looking back on my experience with the Go For Launch program, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities it provided me. It not only helped me to rediscover my love for space and space exploration, but it also gave me the chance to work alongside other students who shared my passion. I am confident that the program will continue to inspire other students like me to pursue careers in the space industry, and I am excited to see what amazing achievements they will go on to accomplish.
Overall, Go For Launch was an unforgettable experience that has shaped my life in countless ways. It taught me the importance of teamwork, perseverance, and the value of pursuing your passions. I am truly grateful for the opportunities it provided me, and I am excited to see what the future holds for space exploration.
Written by Anais Mera-Sarnelli