It was all first time!!!
I was so disappointed last year when I couldn’t attend the 100 Year Starship Conference in Orlando even after so many efforts and predicament given to Dr. Andreas Tziolas and Mr. Rob Swinney for the sponsor, stay and specially my Visa documents.
This time, fortunately all things were put together at the right time!
It was Aug 16th, when my paper got selected and only few days were left for the conference. Luckily this time, I had my Visa and Passport but only question was finance. Dr. Richard Obousy through Icarus Interstellar, Mr. Kelvin Long through Institute for Interstellar Studies, my professor Sankar Dasiga and my college Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology all agreed to help me with the required funds. I render my immense gratitude to all of them.
Everything was set for my departure!
It is my first overseas trip!
My departure was on 12th Sep 2012 at 4.15am, a 4 hours flight to Dubai which has a time difference of 1½ hours to India. It was my first ever flight in Life. I landed there at around 6.30am. Connecting flight to USA was at 9 Am.! I could get wifi there and posted things on FB and moved many of my files to USB drive to study them during my travel. Now it was a Boeing flight, a huge one than my previous flight which was an airbus with a bigger video display in front of me. I started exploring it and found many entertainment stuffs and I was happy seeing a USB port in it. It was 16 hours of flight to USA. Then a person next to me was from UAE. She was basically from Mysore, a neighbourhood of Bangalore in India. I was happy talking to her.
Houston and India has 10 ½ hours time difference. I landed there in Houston at 4.30pm on 12th Sep, underwent all immigration check and found Dr. Eric Davis waiting for me at the gate exit. It was a moment of joy and relax to see him. We drove downtown Houston with the address details in hand.
On reaching Hyatt Regency, I met Mr. Pat Galea and Mr. Richard Obousy at the registration desk!! I was so glad meeting them after working for more than a year, learning so many things from them, in fact the world outside India was told and taught by them when I joined the team. It is a huge hotel with 30 floors and checked in to my room 1028. Dr.Obousy left the place to get Tiffany and Hailey from the airport. Mr.Galea and Dr.Davis came with me to drop me to room and after refreshing we went down to expo to watch our Icarus booth. It was an awesome banner done by Mr. Bill Cress. Mr.Galea gave me Icarus pens. I took two!! Blue and Green!! He mentioned “many of them have taken green only”…
Then we went upstairs and decided to meet in the lobby at around 8 when Tiff and Hailey reaches Hyatt. Later in the lobby, I and Mr. Galea met Dr. Ian O’Neil from Discovery News. Mean while Robert Freeland joined us. Then Tiffany and Hailey arrived. Till that day, email and phone contacts divulged how good my team members were but when I met them in person, I realized they are even more awesome. We all went out for dinner.
My first day in USA was at Johnson Space Centre!!!!!!!! WoooooooooooooW!!!!! Isn’t it amazing???
Yes!!!! Any space enthusiast, who always dreams about space, wouldn’t ask for anything better than this!! Jeffrey Nosanov from JPL who was also there with us in the NASA tour described many of the things there. Mission Control Centre, Space Mock up Facility and a huge Saturn V Shuttle with its engines were all perceived. The quotes from the astronauts from every Apollo machine which were hung out there were brilliant and exciting!
The first conference day! It was inaugurated by Dr. Mae Jemison. Seeing her is again one great opportunity. The people who are called as “First Beings” are always so much inspiring. The First African American Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison was just next to us!!!!
MY first International conference and being the first one to present in the college session, it was a different feeling; a mixture of emotions wrapped me along with lot of nervousness. I presented Project Longshot II paper. Then, later half of the day, I attended the workshop named “The Mission –Human, Robot or Reconstituted”. All of us sharing different views about interstellar travel considering economic, religious, political and other issues and then arguments with different teams supporting Humans to be sent, and others on robotic probe was all extraordinary!! That night was “Icarus Party”!!!!! The Icarus team was together and I was given the “ICARUS T-Shirt” and there was raffle and many of us won YO YO and few t-shirts and Mr. Robert Freeland was awarded with Icarus Steam Punk Award…. Then yummy Pizza and wafers competition was all so good…
The second day in the Time-Distance solution track, being the first presenter I was again wobbly before the presentation. It was a bigger track with many researchers and scientists with many papers. I presented my paper on “Design Considerations for Interstellar Communication” and was happy since it was better than my previous day’s presentation. Mr. Pat Galea, Mr. Claudio Maccone, Mr. Rob Adam’s presentations which followed mine was all great. In the afternoon, the plenary session by Jill Tarter from SETI institute was exceptional. Their perseverance in searching for extraterrestrial intelligence was inspiring. Her talk reminded me Carl Sagan’s book based movie “Contact”, which is my all time favourite one! We had raffle again there! And luckily many of us won in the raffle and there was dinner and dance in the night for winners. I spent good time with friends there.
Towards the end of the conference, last day had arrived! The very thought that it was the last day for me to spend with these space geeks made the morning gloomy for me. There was a panel discussion with Dr. Mae Jemison which turned me on and it was an awesome moment. The questionnaire with all the track chairs at the closing ceremony was a boon which briefed us about all presented papers, since all tracks were run in parallel and not all of us could attend all the tracks.
After this, it was time to bid adieu to the symposium. It was hard but still we all departed in the hope of meeting for the next starship conference
Few of us who were still there had lunch at Houston Restaurant and Dr. Davis took us for site seeing. Unfortunately it was Sunday and everything was closed in downtown. Still we roamed around the streets of Houston.
It was Monday, 17th Sep! I had to vacate my room by 12pm. Then Dr.Davis dropped me to airport. Departure time was 6.30pm. The way back home was overwhelming. It was exceptional seeing NASA ISS video displays in the Houston airport. I was thrilled by the view of sunrise and sunset spread across miles and flying above the clouds. The time spent in airport and the experience at flight will itself take pages together of write up.!
After this great trip, I arrived at home on 19th Morning. The experience gained is for life time!!! Meeting many people from different countries and being amidst the people who share the same passion was all Fantastic!!!!!!!
I wish everyday of life to be lived in one’s own Passion.! All thanks to ICARUS for making this happen for me!!!! The support rendered is incredible! I feel I am the luckiest on Earth to be a part of this Incredible Project.
My loads of love, respect and thanks to everyone in the team… 🙂