An Astronaut Encounter at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

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Tom Jones, PhD, Flew on Four Space Shuttle Missions and Wrote Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir, Oct. 2015

Tom Jones, PhD, Flew on Four Space Shuttle Missions and Wrote Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir, Oct. 2015

Looking for an out-of-this-world experience? Have an astronaut encounter at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Excuse me for my tongue-tiedness if we meet and you tell me you work for NASA. I can’t help it but I lose all train of thought and I can’t count how many times it’s happened. I know it did when I met Bob Sieck in 2011. He spent 35 years with NASA in various roles dating back to the Gemini program through the space shuttle. He’s been an engineer and shuttle launch director. Our mutual friend who introduced us suggested I become Facebook friends with him, four years later, I still haven’t made the friend request!

If I learn you were an astronaut, oh boy! No matter how much I try to contain it, I get all fangirl and stuff. I mean, I may squeal, I may lose my train of thought, I may ask for a selfie.

During my visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex earlier this month, I met astronaut Tom Jones who flew on STS-59, 68, 80 and 98.

*SQUEE!!!!*

I admit, I have no idea what to say to an astronaut. One time during the Lunch with an Astronaut Experience and after sipping my Tang, I asked the presenting astronaut whether he experienced jet lag returning from space. He looked at me like I had three eyes. (In case you’re wondering, his answer was, “No.”)

Thankfully, Dr. Jones had a prepped ice-breaker question and asked where I was from and what I was doing there. The conversation flowed a bit when I told him I was a blogger and have been involved with various #NASATweetup and #NASASocial events. But, in a way I still felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story because I thought of questions as I walked away and finally had the courage to ask for a selfie but he was already engaged in deep conversation with the next space enthusiast.

Tom Jones, PhD Penned Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir and Signed it for Me When I Met Him at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Oct. 2015

Tom Jones, PhD Penned Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir and Signed it for Me When I Met Him at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Oct. 2015

Dr. Jones was in the Space Shop signing free autographs toward the end of the day. I’m a book junkie and space nut so I picked up his book Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir and cannot wait to read it! I just finished The Astronaut Wives Club and now I’m reading Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut. (BTW, loved Astronaut Wives Club and am totally digging Riding Rockets! Another of my space reading faves is Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.)

The astronaut also penned Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System with Ellen R. Stofan, Ph.D.

Other opportunities to get up close to an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center also include the Astronaut Encounter in which an experienced astronaut will share their experience and Lunch with an Astronaut. The lunch experience includes a buffet lunch that yes, serves Tang, a presentation with an astronaut who answers questions from the audience then a brief meet and greet for photos. There is an additional fee for lunch and you can read about one of my Lunch with an Astronaut in this post.

Can’t make the journey quite yet but looking for a stellar gift? Check out AstroNotes offered through the Association of Space Explorers, the only professional association of flown astronauts and cosmonauts. An AstroNote offers the opportunity to have a handwritten note from an astronaut sent to someone. How cool would it be to have a birthday wish, congratulatory or an inspirational word sent to someone special? Learn more at space-explorers.org/astronotes.

For additional information on visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.


Disclosure: I was a guest of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, however, they have not reviewed this post and opinions are my own.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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