I couldn’t get to the computer yesterday to write, and thought I’d spend a very brief report on what is going on for the last couple of days.
I’m traveling with several senior NASA officials to London and Paris to have high level talks with the leaders of other national space organizations. Going into space — to the International Space Station, or sending robotic probes to obtain various scientific data, or even in the future returning to the moon and going on to Mars — going into space is international in scope. I guess what I am learning is how to work with the rest of the world.
Our first day was filled with meetings with the British government, both the executive side and the legislative side. There is quite a bit of cooperation with the British government, but they have many of the same problems and concerns that the United States has in regards to space exploration. It was very interesting to meet these folks and talk with them. I think good will come from this.
Going to the Farnborough air show was interesting. For the longest time I didn’t think we were going to get to see any airplanes fly. When I was growing up, going to the airshow meant looking at the parked planes on the ground and then seeing them fly. This airshow is all about business deals. Everybody who is anybody in the global aerospace business has a space at Farnborough. You can see everybody all at once. And we did.
We spent the better part of our day at the airshow in little conference rooms meeting with the heads of the various aerospace firms. Topics were very high level but mostly consisted in making sure that we were all working well together on the various projects that are going forward. I’m happy to pass along that the reports were good.
We managed to watch the planes fly for about an hour, and it was great. The fighters put on aerobatic shows that were phenomenal. Lots of great aircraft were there.
This morning we traveled to Paris. Straight to the meeting rooms. In one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world and we spent the afternoon locked in meetings with the leaders of the national space agencies from around the world. Tomorrow will be more of the same. These Heads of Agencies meetings happen about every 18 months or so. It is a chance for everybody to discuss and plan at high levels. More good meetings, not very exciting. A lot of work is like that, not exciting but very important.
Anyway we had a nice French dinner with all our international collegues. More work was done between the appetizer and the main course and by dessert some loose ends were tied up.
Whew. This is a long way from Mission Control. A lot less exciting than watching the shuttle launch. Not technical in the usual sense. But vitally important.
I’m learning a lot. Hope to get on and update the blog tomorrow but no promises.
Travel can be very educational.