ISS Story

Last week I talked about how sharing little snippets of a story through illustrations is a method of story telling that I am drawn to.

I am not the crowd-talking type, who can talk to large groups and have all the attention on me for the duration of a story.  I have always felt silly having all eyes on me, I never really learned the art of speaking and story telling.  What if I blow the ending? What if the impact doesn’t hit and the story falls flat?  ( I did buy a book called TED Talk on how to really engage speakers in those 16-18 minutes of your typical TED talk – so maybe speaking is in my future).

As promised last week, I did want to share what turned out to be the most interesting work day for me.

For a job I had in the past, I was the administrative assistant and in the office there is a video conference system and people would book meetings through us to have these meetings on a large screen.

As I was the person in charge of bookings and any set up details or trouble shooting, I had a call one day from the Canadian Space Agency.  They told me that an Astronaut up in the International Space Station at that time wanted to video conference with his mom, who lives in the area, to wish her a happy 80th Birthday.  They informed me that I would be getting a call from NASA to coordinate this.

As expected, NASA did contact me, and wanted to set this up.  We had to conduct tests to make sure NASA could call our video conferencing system and then call the ISS and connect us.  Normally, the protocol was that our system would call directly to where the connection was to be made, but for the security of their systems involved, they would not allow calls to NASA (or the ISS), and insisted they would call us, they would call the astronaut on the ISS, and this is how it would have to happen.  NASA did successfully connect to us in a test and confirmed they would be able to link this call to Dr. Thirsk.

The day of the event, mom arrived at the office to our boardroom, and the calling started.  I was to be in the room to make sure everything worked smoothly and no connections were lost.  I was in the room and the first few seconds had no video, but we could hear the Happy Birthday song come through as he sang in greeting to his mom.  Video quickly connected and there he was, this astronaut out in space on the International Space Station. He talked to him mom, and he was holding a camera and gave a tour of his living quarters and my favourite was when he held the camera up to the window and showed us his view of the Earth from where he was.  It was so surreal.  To be video conferencing someone, to be shown Earth from his view, what he could see of where we were in that moment.  I will never forget it.  I can say with certainty that I will never have the chance to be in the room for a video conference with an Astronaut out in space again.

With Love,