So we are headed back on the road in a few days. Each time that we think Chasing has wrapped production, another amazing opportunity opens up. This is actually shaping up to be our most epic filming journey yet. Here is what we have lined up:
Starting in Toronto, I’m giving a speech at the University of Toronto International Development Conference (www.utoronto-idc.org) The conference is being hosted by the current cohort of the program I graduated from at U of T. It’s great to come back to the program because, in a sense, it is like coming full circle. I sometimes felt that I had given up on one dream (space) to embrace another (international aid) but now here I am years later combining both topics into one presentation. While in town, Paul and I will be connecting with Clara Mooney, a grade 2 student who was brought to our attention because of her passion for space. I hear she dressed up as Spock this past Halloween. Clara’s enthusiasm for all things geek reminded us of ourselves at that age and we are excited to connect with her.
Then we are off to Montreal to hit up the Canadian Space Agency (www.asc-csa.gc.ca) Paul has been in contact with the CSA’s PR folk, some of whom helped us organize Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s interview we did at the start of our journey. Paul’s prepping what he called tonight a “surprise” for when we arrive at the Agency. To be honest, I am not sure what we have lined up to film but Paul has assured that it is a “VIP” tour of the facility. I am really stoked about this because one of the potential areas we get to visit, typically off-access to visitors, is the training station used to teach astronauts how to use the CANADARM2 on the International Space Station. One very cool video game. http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/missions/sts-111/mobile_simulator.asp I am wondering how many simulated dollars worth of space station equipment I can destroy in my attempts to operate the thing.
Next we are heading back to Florida. We are conducting several follow-up interviews with people we have met in the past while shooting at the Kennedy Space Center including Ryan Horan, who was pivotal for helping us get into the Vehicle Assembly Building the first time in October of 2011 and Ryan Kobrick, astronaut candidate whom we met last November. We are also working on getting into the new Atlantis facility to see where the shuttle has now come to rest. The new facility, which is part of the visitor center and is dedicated to the legacy of the Space Shuttle Program, will really help us to complete the story of Atlantis’ journey. At first we had assumed the story had ended with Atlantis’ launch, but now we have continued that journey capturing Atlantis during all the stages of its decommissioning from the removal of its avionics package in the VAB, it’s roll-out this past November at the Kennedy Space Center and now catching up with the Shuttle in its final resting place.
Following Florida, it is off to San Francisco to meet up with Reuben Metcalf of I Dream of Space. I Dream of Space is Reuben’s project to help provide opportunities for anybody who can make a $10 investment to fight Earth’s gravity. We are really interested to hear about the challenges of setting up I Dream of Space’s model of providing tickets to space and what successes have come out of the venture to date. (Perhaps this will be our own key to space in the near future!) Also, San Francisco, is the future site of Star Fleet Headquarters and we have never been! And I believe the classic 90’s action movie, “The Rock” was one of Paul’s inspirations to go into filmmaking. Another good reason to head that direction.
Next we head North to Seattle. Since last August, we have been working eagerly to secure an interview with Chris Lewicki, President of Planetary Resources. Planetary Resources represents some of the “what’s next” in space exploration. Backed by supporters like filmmaker James Cameron, Planetary Resources’ goal is to begin mining asteroids using automated robots. Not only an ambitious venture, but perhaps a very ecofriendly move considering the damage that extractive industries cause on the planet (and the planet’s people looking at countries like Sierra Leone where I’ve worked). Chris was also flight director for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers.
Then I head back to Vancouver with Paul completing our epic North America tour. On the menu for Vancouver is some filming of my telescope (hoping for clear weather) as well as an interview with renowned Canadian Astronomer Howard Trottier. Howard is a professor at Simon Fraser University, is spearheading the construction of the University’s new observatory, is president of the Vancouver Royal Astronomical Society, is an accomplished astrophotographer (I’m jealous!) and is one of the most passionate space enthusiasts I have ever met. He has been ranked as one of SFU’s most influential educators and we are excited to get him on camera talking about his love and fascination with the cosmos. Below is one of Howard’s more famous space images of the Horse Head Nebula
So that is our upcoming trip. Toronto, Montreal, Orlando/Titusville, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver from Feb 8th to the 21st. EPIC. We will keep you posted on all the happenings as we go!