My Very Own "SpaceX" Adventures in Spain
Most people don’t know that I had many adventures in Spain. Among my best memories were my very own “SpaceX” adventures in teaching. You see I taught high school on the military bases in Spain and Italy for 7 years. Three of those years I lived and taught in Zaragoza, Spain on the U.S. Airbase.
I was watching the launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy yesterday afternoon. I was in such awe of what I witnessed. The most powerful rocket ever to take-off successfully. Even more amazing was watching the two out of three boosters landing, not only safely, but in an upright position. Imagine the amount of Physics, Chemistry, and especially math involved to make this all happen!
Did you know that I taught science? I taught Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology when I taught in Europe. I also taught computers. Most people only know about my math teaching. I majored in Pre-Med in college and switched to teaching my senior year. So in DoDDS, I was called upon to teach these science and computer classes too.
What does all this have to do with “SpaceX”? Well, the U.S. Airbase in Zaragoza, Spain was used as an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle. So, every time the Space Shuttle was launched, we had Astronauts come to our base. They had to be at all the alternate landing sites across the world just in case the Space Shuttle ever had to land quickly.
It never turned out that the Space Shuttle had to land in Zaragoza, but the Astronauts still taught us all a lot about Space Flight. They were really nice people that really enjoyed talking to my kids. Before the Astronauts came into my class, I always talked to my kids first. I mean, I didn’t want to embarrass our school and I wanted to make sure I could get more Astronauts in to talk to us in the future. So I asked all my students to write out questions they wanted to ask the Astronauts in advance. I figured I could weed out the embarrassing questions. Usually these involved bathroom functions. Then the day before class, I showed my class an actual Space Shuttle launch and then we talked about proper behavior for the next day. I didn’t have to do a lot of work on this front as they were all kids from the military and they knew what behaving was all about.
Inevitably, the next day when the Astronaut arrived, the very first question out of my “kids” were all the bathroom questions. It is very funny to think about now, but back then it wasn’t funny worth a darn. Seriously, everybody asks this question, at least that is what the Astronauts always told me.
We learned a lot of great things about the actual Space Shuttle. They brought in the heat shield tiles and told us all about how that worked. If we were lucky enough to get an actual Astronaut that had flown on the Space Shuttle, he would tell us all about what it felt like with no gravity. He explained everything from how they did all the labs experiments in space to how they slept in space (turns out, not very well).
This was in the early 90’s, things have changed so much since then. Watching the SpaceX flight, it’s amazing to think how far science has come even in those short 25 years. To get a rocket into space is a feat of amazing technology and math, but to get the boosters to land back on target upright is a whole other level of technological development. So, that is my very own “SpaceX” adventure in Spain. It was an honor to teach my military kids and an honor to meet each Astronaut. In fact, I’d say it was a blast!
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