My First Launch!

If there is anything to love about Daytona Beach, it’s how amazingly close it is to the Space Coast! You can faintly see the launches from campus, but if you really want the best view, the hour’s drive to Cape Canaveral makes launch viewing even better. Despite how close it is, I have never taken the opportunity to drive down for a front row seat. Thanks to Space Tango, I didn’t have choice – and I was completely okay with it!

I’m interning remotely from the Lexington, KY-based company as their marketing and public relations specialist, so it was only befitting to make sure I was there for the launch of SpaceX CRS-12. This launch carried not only 12 customer research payloads, but an additional TangoLab facility to double available research capacity for Space Tango Customers.

The launch was scheduled for August 14th at approximately 12:31 PM EDT on launchpad 39A, historically know for being used for the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4) and other Apollo missions including Apollo 11. Needless to say, I was excited. Not only was it my first launch, but I was working. There’s nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love for a living!

I was also fortunate enough to have my family and friends join me for the VIP viewing at Banana Creek, which is also home to the Apollo-Saturn V Center.

I spent a solid 3 hours waiting for launch inside the center, but I was so busy exploring all the exhibits that I almost forgot about the launch! As time neared, my family, friends, and I made our way to the launch seats. Although it was scorching hot outside, it was worth every second of the countdown. I’ve NEVER seen a launch, and the moment I saw plumes of exhaust, my skin was covered with goosebumps.

We were all in awe. In almost no time at all, stage 1 and 2 had separated and Space Tango Payloads were en route to the International Space Station. I took photos, published a press release, and just like that –  my first launch was over and I’m counting down until the next one. While I started my own countdown to the next launch I’d be attending, we enjoyed our access passes to the Kennedy Space Center. That in itself was amazing and well-worth the time (there’s a limited supply, but students and faculty can purchase discounted tickets for KSC).

There are many more photos that I can share and more stories to tell about my first trip to KSC, but I’ll leave that up to you to explore and discover.

⋆ Dani

 

ISS Research & Design Conference

(From left to right) – Space Tango’s Director of Business and Communication Operations Kirsten Jenkins, CEO Twyman Clements, and myself at our booth.

It’s been a pretty computer-heavy summer with my internship at Space Tango as we prepare for our next batch of customer payloads to be launched on SpaceX CRS-12. From cleaning up the website to controlling social media, I’ve spent the last two months behind screens completing a lot of background work. Needless to say, I was absolutely enthralled when Space Tango invited me to attend this year’s International Space Station Research & Design (ISS R&D) Conference in Washington, D.C.

The ISS R&D Conference is an opportunity for aerospace industry leaders to network among each other, share ideas, and learn from their personal business ventures in commercial space. Through a series of talks, technical sessions, and a huge networking event, I got to learn first-hand what it’s like to be in the industry. Just so you know, they are just as excited and geeked-out about space as any other college student. It’s truly a shared passion.

Not only did I meet several astronauts, like Embry-Riddle Alum Terry Virts, but I also networked with people at Bigelow Aerospace, Leidos, Made In Space, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to name a few. 

Astronuat Terry Virts and myself – We had a great talk about his experience not only at Worldwide, but at the Daytona campus as well.

Astronaut Kate Rubins shared a detailed story on what it was really like getting to and from the ISS. If you check out the ISS R&D Conference website, you can access a full video on her experience.

Astronaut and Orbital ATK Space Systems Group president Frank Culbertson shared a heart-wrenching story about what it was like to be the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 events. As a military dependent, it was an honor to hear stories from an American hero.

JAXA Astronaut Soichi Noguchi and I not only spoke about JAXA, but I shared a few stories about my time in Japan. Truly an amazing place to visit, but an even better place to live!

It was absolutely exciting to listen to Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow. He shared with the audience why we should remain a leader in space exploration. This was another great talk I urge you to check out at the ISS R&D website!

I even got to meet Dr. Camille Alleyne! We bonded over our Caribbean roots and she even shared some insight on her newest non-profit, The Brightest Stars Foundation. As a woman of color, to say that our conversation was empowering is truly an understatement.

Several students from high schools and universities were also in attendance to share their research. My favorite part of this whole week? A tie between two young women for the Genes in Space Science Contest.

Elizabeth Reizes (14) and Sophia Chen (14) were both named the finalists for the 2017 Genes in Space science contest. Their experiments will be performed aboard the ISS.

The conference was an amazing opportunity and has given me the motivation to get through my last year of my undergraduate degree. It’s a little costly, but this event is well-worth the time for any looking to enter the industry!

⋆ Dani

Goodbye, Kentucky and Hello, Florida!

In two weeks, my Spring internship with Space Tango is over. This was sad news for me. I’ve grown attached the this company and their mission. Like I said though, I was sad. Space Tango has asked me to join them AGAIN in the Summer. Now I can’t stop smiling.

I’ll be working part-time in Florida for Space Tango continuing on as their Communication and Marketing intern, but with a  perk – launches! As the company continues to grow, they will have more customer payloads to launch from Cape Canaveral. So although I’ll be doing most of my work online, I’ll only be an hour away from the Space Coast.

I’m certainly excited about this perk, but as their intern this is extremely ideal. I’ll have more access to Florida sources. I’ll also be present for the more intensive mission preparations prior to launch. They also have a location at the Space Life Sciences Lab in Exploration Park which is a great source for new photos and media content to advance their public image as the growing entity they are.

SLSL

My time with Space Tango has been rewarding. I’ve taken a strong liking to this start-up company, and I’m excited to still be a part of their growth in (sometimes) sunny Florida!

⋆ Dani

I Began my Morning with a Little Bit of Gardening

I’m a Communication major and I hope to be a public relations specialist for the aerospace industry. Somehow though, I’ve gotten into a little bit of hydroponic gardening at Space Tango.

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Each glass cup was filled with mulch pebbles surrounding a pod of seeds. Connecting each cup a tubing system that will cycle the water from one cup to the next until it returns back to the water tank. (That’s my hand by the way, doing science things instead of writing.)

This morning the Space Tango biomedical engineer and her intern asked for a little help with a prototype hydroponic system. I had no idea how to even begin such a system, but with a little guidance I soon found myself placing pebbled mulch, seeds, and burlap. A decent amount of duct tape later and we had a fully-functioning hydroponic system. As water flowed from cup to cup, I couldn’t believe I was “just ” a Communication major. I think our positions are what we make of them, but they aren’t meant to be boundaries.

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To the right you’ll see our water tank accompanied by a small pump. Attached to the pump is one end of the tubing. After cycling through each glass cup, the final tubing flows water back into the tank to begin the process again.

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To help contain the mulch and soon-to-be plants, burlap was taped to the surface of each cup. Believe it or not, this was the hardest part for us.

I spent my time here at Space Tango on a computer working on press releases, networking, websites, and social media. Just for today, I spent it in the lab. I got to get a first-hand try of what I report. It’s just a prototype, but it’s a step in the scientific process. It was exciting to be a part of it! As a writer, it’s great to be able to try the things you only get to write about.

⋆ Dani

 

Escaping the Comfort Zone

I am skilled at writing, marketing, project management, and graphic design. I have ZERO experience in website design.  I can now say that I have experience in website design thanks to a little push from Space Tango.

What was once a daunting task has become an everyday skill I tend to. The Space Tango website didn’t correlate with their desires and needs. The overall sitemap was confusing and it didn’t reflect the simple and sleek design of their CubeLabs and other manufactured products.

Granted, I have a background in design,  but it doesn’t compare to leading websites within the aerospace industry.

screenshot-www.spacetango.com-2017-03-29-15-17-35

It’s not perfect, but it’s new to me and a change for them. It’s a skill I really overlooked and, quite honestly, never attempted. Now I not only have something to add to my resume, but I feel more comfortable trying different things within my field that make me more desirable in the market.

screenshot-www.spacetango.com-2017-03-29-15-16-39I had to conduct a series of interviews with employees and partners to make sure I was effectively communicating the company mission. I embedded videos and reorganized the site in its entirety. I’m most proud of how clean the design looks. We used a professional photographer at the CRS-10 launch to take photos of payloads and customers. Now we have quality content.; This makes all the difference in design.

Now I’m working on the company’s brand. This includes the logo, slogan, theme, mission statement, etc. I have some more great ideas, but I’ve decided to take on HTML coding to give me a little boost. I mean, why not?

⋆ Dani

 

A Little Piece of Home

I thought I would have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) this week. I’m bundled up in 20-degree weather, while my friends enjoy Spring Break and the perks of attending school in Florida. I was fortunate enough, however, to have someone bring a little bit of warmth my way.

Working at Space Tango, has been undoubtedly exciting, but sometimes I get a little homesick. This week my boyfriend, Malik, sacrificed the warm weather to spend time with me and learn more about our shared passion for the aerospace industry. Although we both miss Florida weather, he was excited to step foot in the Space Tango office.

My boyfriend Malik, and Aerospace Engineering student at ERAU, takes a picture with one of the first TangoLab facitlities.

My boyfriend Malik, an Aerospace Engineering student at ERAU, takes a picture with one of the first TangoLab facitlities.

He had an opportunity to speak with the entire team and get a walk through of our mission operations with CEO Twyman Clements. Even though it was a relatively slow day in the office, Malik was still thrilled to see firsthand what it means to work in the industry. From 3D printing to CAD, he saw everything he was studying boil down to one place.

Being away from friends and family isn’t easy, but invite someone close to you to share it with. It makes time move a little faster when you remember how unique and invaluable your opportunity is to work with a company you love.

⋆ Dani

Unforeseen Advice

I walked into the Space Tango office with my usual to-do list of intern tasks, but I didn’t know that I would be adding new goals – like starting a retirement fund.

I’m only 21 going on 22 and my mentor is 25, but she said that she’s already begun saving and there’s no reason I shouldn’t also. Before I knew it, it was the Morning Show with Ellie and I was receiving the most helpful advice since I started working at Space Tango.

Ellie, along with the occasional input from other coworkers, told me about their saving plans, credit scores, and we even talked about stocks a little. These are all things you don’t really learn unless the “right time” comes around. I just didn’t think it would be in the Space Tango office.

I’m a Communication and Marketing intern and I have 6 weeks left. I expected to gain first-hand experience on advertising, public relations, and business tactics in the aerospace industry. In the time that I have been here, I learned more than I expected. My coworkers have shown me not only the reality of the aerospace industry, but the reality of being an adult. The Space Tango team takes the time to make sure I’m adjusting well to a new environment because they understand that at one point this was all new to them as well.

CEO Twyman Clements takes a break from reorganizing the office to show me microscope glasses.

CEO Twyman Clements takes a break from reorganizing the office to show me microscope glasses.

When I began my internship, all of my questions were oriented towards my area of study, but I have to remind myself that my mentors are just people. They can provide more than just feedback on your work, but a new perspective on life. What should we really be paying attention to? Why do we work as hard as we do?

There’s so much more to take into consideration then we think, and it’s a lot easier to have the people that have gone through it tell you how it went than figuring it all out on your own. I’m not alone, and being an intern isn’t unfamiliar. We all have to start somewhere, so don’t be too serious. Ask questions outside of school and work. Learn about the people around you and it may just start to feel a little like home.

⋆ Dani

Adapt and Overcome

I’m nearly 7 weeks into my internship and the most valuable skill I’ve learned thus far is the ability to adapt. Not only is Space Tango a start-up, but the companies we work with expect reasonable turnover times. I myself am the current point of contact for all press and media information in-going and outgoing. I have to have all the information ready for public release and company distribution.

falcon9crs-10

Although delayed a day at the last minute, Space Tango successfully launched experiments on SpaceX CRS-10, pictured above.

However, working with launches can be unpredictable. Just as quickly as a launch date changes from week to week, I have to be able to update the press kits and all news information. Most recently, CRS-10 launch date and time was changed a week before launch. Space Tango was informed as soon as possible, and most conveniently, the day we were all to begin our travels to Cape Canaveral. The team got a chance to sleep in a little, but as soon as they arrived to the office to reevaluate their mission timeline it was calm chaos.

It sounds like a contradiction, but it was one of those “you have to be there to understand it” situations. Flights couldn’t be changed and all the equipment was packed. Some experiments that we carried had to be kept cold. Despite the finite details that all had to be kept in mind while planning around the launch change, everyone was so calm. They adapted to the situation.

In the end, things don’t always work as we may hope. We do, however, have to be ready to accommodate to changes. More so, you can’t fight the facts. Accept change as it comes and work accordingly.

Liftoff!

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SpaceX CRS-10 awaiting launch.

On February 19th I didn’t just watch a random launch off the Space Coast. I watched the SpaceX Falcon 9 liftoff along with Space Tango payloads. I was a part of the launch and I am now an even bigger part of the mission.

I think I vastly underestimated how great it would be to work for Space Tango. I genuinely thought it would be more of me shadowing someone and learning from what they accomplish. Almost 8 weeks in and it has all been hands-on. I have control, I have input, and because of this I have experience.

I got to experience first-hand the role a public relations specialist plays in an important event that can vastly affect a company’s image. I was constantly on stand-by. All of Space Tango’s social media was up on my computer ready to publish posts. Press release templates were prepped and my phone never left my possession. I had to be on call the entire weekend to ensure that we covered content accurately and effectively for the launch. It was STRESSFUL, but it was so very real.

Just a few of the payloads that were launched on February 19th. Inside these cubes are the respective companies’ experiments.

For the next few days Space Tango, and myself, are waiting for the Dragon capsule to berth with the International Space Station. At that point, I’ll get to publish another press release and begin live updates on all social media about the payloads/experiments.

It’s a time consuming internship, but it has shown me that this is definitely where I was meant to be.

Ditch the Yellow Brick Road

Interning at Space Tango has certainly put project management into perspective. Throughout my last four years at Riddle nothing was more challenging to me than staying on task. Assignments sometimes require so much more than we expect.

So what happens when you give a communication major MATLAB for a math gen ed? What happens when you give an engineer a business plan? Or a paper to write? Or a lab to test for safety and health issues? At Space Tango, the CEO is more than just a businessman. Twyman Clements is not only an engineer, but sometimes he’s a marketing specialist, a technical report writer, and a human factors psychologist all in one day. Staying on task means taking on extra responsibility.
On the International Space Station, astronauts have a VERY strict schedule. Their days are planned out by the second. Astronauts don’t get to float back and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers. They have to follow the red line. On their schedule, known as the Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer (OSTPV), a dotted red line runs across the screen at the pace they should be working. Astronauts use this to figure out if they are on task, or behind.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

As we know, each astronaut is extensively skilled. They’re more than just astronauts. They’re physicists, biomedical engineers, researchers, and many of which are parents, too. “Astronaut” is a pretty broad title, and even with all their responsibility they manage to follow the red line.

We often overlook the humanities courses that we take, but I’m witnessing first-hand how it all fits together. We aren’t astronauts (not yet at least if that’s what you’re in to), but we are taught to recognize how interdependent our classes really are. The minors you take will only expand the depth of your knowledge.
I’m studying communication, but I don’t just focus on the complexities of grammar and speech. As a communication major I have to understand body language and the art of persuasion all while maintaining background knowledge in the subjects I address. I have to target an audience based on their interests and needs.

All of this sometimes, and more often than not, means I need to understand sociology, psychology, engineering, commercial space laws, international relations, marketing, physics, astronomy, organizational behavior – the list goes on. These are only a few of the subjects I’ve researched for papers, speeches, and interviews. It’s a lot, but by understanding everything, not only am I more valuable to a company, but I can depend on myself to get everything done on time.
I’m not an astronaut, but how could I ever say I’m just a communication major? I’m so much more than a writer and you are so much more than your major. We’re all just following the red line.

⋆ Dani