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On the Highroad to Space: A Day with NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center

By March 30, 2011November 14th, 20122 Comments

In this blog we will share insights from our day at Marshall Space Flight Center as well as our plan to contribute to international cooperation in aerospace!

Dreams do come true, I can say with certainty. Those who know me well can tell you, I am a grand fan of NASA and a student of the early space programs in particular. My book shelves are filled with astronaut biographies, histories of the Mercury and Apollo programs, and photography books depicting the space shuttle era. My husband often marvels (and teases me) about my arcane knowledge of mission statistics.

Space, however, has always been more than a hobby. Like many children in my culture I dreamed of reaching the stars, but the dream never went away. I took three years of flying lessons from age fourteen to age seventeen, and my original major in college was aerospace engineering. I was serious.

The problem was that having a full time engineering career in the aerospace field never fit me like a glove. You can likely tell by now, dear readers, that I greatly enjoy speaking, writing, coaching, and culture. While I will always cherish my time in the skies, I had to admit in my early twenties that it was time to let go of the NASA dream.

Or was it?

In the years that followed this decision to switch career tracks, I saw the wonders of the world, from the deserts of India to the rolling hills of the German countryside. I discovered how much I loved to foster cross-cultural awareness and skills, and Highroad Global Services, the new dream, was formed. Now we work with clients all over the world to build international collaboration and I love my work – but NASA still occupied a space in the heart (no pun intended).

About six months ago I was reading my daily news when a large light bulb appeared above my head. Every time I opened a news website I saw an article about the increasing necessity of international cooperation in space. On one level this was nothing new. Crew members on the International Space Station and Soyuz craft have been engaging in cross-cultural work for years. What about the rest of NASA’s missions? With rising costs and innovation around the world bursting at the seams, partnering for resources and ideas makes perfect sense. The time had come to further enable commercial space and that meant cross-border efforts.

That’s when it occurred to me – I wanted to help NASA meet that need. The Highroad team has the skill and the passion to help and I spoke my intention to friends, colleagues, and clients.

Last month, as a result of speaking the dream aloud a good friend forwarded me an e-mail about NASA’s small business outreach event at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. I signed up immediately and attended the conference last week. My theory was correct – a need exists for international collaboration at NASA. I had a wonderful time talking to contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as NASA small business specialists and program directors. Everyone was friendly and helpful. 

NASA, though retiring the shuttle program soon, is engaging in cutting edge missions. Last year alone saw three successful shuttle launches, and satellites were launched with six payloads. The President of the United States has given clear direction to get beyond low Earth orbit, and the SLS (Space Launch System) program to facilitate that is in his budget. As one of the presenters at the Huntsville event stated, “Space exploration can unite human kind.” As I wandered among the rockets at the meeting site, ideas flowed over about how much potential existed at NASA for true partnerships. I was in the right place.

To thrive in space, keep exploration alive, and seek solutions to our growing environmental issues, space agencies around the world are going to have to work together. I am already setting the new dream in motion as Highroad begins its mission of contributing to international cooperation in space, and I will share more in the coming weeks.

If you dream a dream, don’t forget to make it known. Say it aloud. You never know how it will make its way into reality. We are excited to share our dream with you! Comments are welcome.

 

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. inspires people to leverage the full power of differences. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations across the globe and build bridges across cultures, distance, and time.

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