Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The day finally arrived. Early. The team started trickling into the Boise Airport around 6 a.m., and to everyone's surprise and delight, TSA didn't bat an eye at any of our strange cargo. Dan walked in with something resembling the briefcase from "Pulp Fiction," and just to be safe, he was packing the 49-page TEDP (test equipment data package) to prove that he had no plans to blow up Texas. 

A quick flight (and some priceless napping pictures) later, we arrived in Denver, and Alex led us straight to the Wolfgang Puck pudding. Turns out vanilla makes a great breakfast, even with a plastic spoon.

Before we landed in Houston, we could feel the humidity coming on -- 85% and rain in the forecast. We crammed ourselves and our luggage onto a shuttle, into a rental car office and then, miraculously, into a van that was dwarfed by our colorful mountain of stuff. Without revealing anything damaging, let's just say engineers know how to make it work (especially Mallory).

Headed down the freeway toward NASA country, we got a sense of the enormity of Houston and the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. With Barbara as our guide, we made it to the hotel and were welcomed with complimentary popcorn and well-wishes from the staff. A few lucky students got a sneak peak at the Johnson Space Center's "Rocket Park," which I hear is exactly as awesome as it sounds. 

Then the infamous voice of our NASA principal investigator, Pedro H. Curiel, materialized. Pedro joined us for dinner at a cozy Thai restaurant down the road, where talk ranged from string theory to viral YouTube videos. Dessert was the unearthing of "the box." Foam peanuts flew and the assembly began. While it was not without calamity, everyone ended up smiling and hungry for more. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ... 

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