Written by Rachel Blosser
Honestly, it’s hard to believe that the launch is over. When I started working in Dr. Kacena’s lab back in January 2018, I was interested and excited to hear my lab mates talk about the spaceflight project. It was really exciting to view the whole process, from watching them run preliminary experiments, to preparing cells and everything else that went into the project.
I thought it would be awesome to be part of the team involved in the launch; however, I was pretty new in the Kacena lab and didn’t think I’d be too involved. Things change over time, especially with personnel in an academic institution, and 12 months later I found myself as the lead lab scientist from the Kacena lab once several post-docs moved to other positions and another lab associate retired.
Space research requires us to discuss every little detail and to make so many preparations that it seemed like the launch date would never arrive. Knowing that we had only one chance to get the experiment right was a bit daunting, but then watching the science head to the ISS was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been part of.
During the 18 days I spent in Florida, there never seemed to be a dull moment. Certainly, there were stressful and frustrating times, but there were far more exciting and fun times. Between all of the prelaunch preparations and making sure everything was functioning well at the lab in Indianapolis we stayed plenty busy, but we also had a lot of fun.
In addition to experiencing the launch, a few of my favorite ways to relieve stress included the bioluminescent kayak tour, visiting Epcot, the escape room, and eating ice cream at “The Fat Donkey.” I really enjoyed working with everyone, as well as getting to know them better.
Since arriving back home, the memories of the stressful times have faded and the important memories have stayed with me. I absolutely loved watching the launch, it truly was more than I could have imagined.
I have told many of my friends about my experiences, and how amazing the whole thing was, but it’s impossible to truly describe how awesome it was to be a part of this. When people ask about my summer, it’s pretty cool to say “I sent bone cells to the International Space Station.”