Week 2: Starstruck

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Monday, June 20, 2016


Demitri Call

My second week here in DC was again, an incredible experience. As a young child I remember watching space and Nova specials with my family. It may not have been the cartoons I was such a fan of at the time; however, those shows left a hunger for space and science. After this week, my childhood dream of becoming an Astronaut received another glimmering star of hope. What could have possibly happened to me at an internship on the Hill to renew this dream of mine? Well the short answer is, I was star struck. 

I was fortunate enough to work a hearing on Astronaut Health Care. This was enlightening beyond belief. I heard witness testimonies from three former astronauts on the dangers of space flight and the long term effects of being in space. The most notable of which was “the man who spent a year in space”, Astronaut Scott Kelley. Captain Kelley is this generation’s astronaut, this generation’s Neil Armstrong. Hearing his account of his health challenges upon his return was incredibly unexpected. I spent over an hour hearing accounts of bone mass and muscle mass reducing over 10% over the course of their times in space, of visual acuity being impaired due to microgravity conditions, of some of their former astronaut friends who have late stage cancer that was likely caused from excessive radiation exposure in space. What struck me as odd about all of these stories and warnings was that if given the chance to be an astronaut, those problems would not deter me but rather inspire me to push myself to find solutions to them to make space travel safer for everybody because I don’t know about everybody, but vacationing on the moon would be the experience of a lifetime and I want to get there one day!

Towards the end of the week SPS hosted a bowling get together where the interns got to meet the Executive Council of SPS. As a previous Associate Zone Councilor for SPS I had worked with all of them previously, but it was still fun to spend a night with them all! Dr. DJ Wagner, our SPS President, was definitely a serious bowler and managed a turkey almost immediately. After seeing that I was relieved to be bowling on a different lane as I had not bowled in a while and I am by no means a bowling champion. 

This busy week coupled with a rather quiet weekend in which I could relax and finish my book was nearly perfect. If my book did not lie to me it would have been perfect. The 555 page book ended on page 426 because of an extensive encyclopedic glossary after the ending that was wholly unexpected! In short, this week was much like my book in that it was exciting the whole time but ended quite quickly.

Setting up the game!
Night our with Einstein
Astronaut Scott Kelley

Demitri Call