NASA HQ Open House

Space Shuttle Discovery at Udvar-Hazy Center Courtesy yatesc, I now have a photo on the cover of a NASA publication — specifically this shot of Discovery, used for “Toward a History of the Space Shuttle: An Annotated Bibliography Part 2, 1992–2011.”

On the Friday before the 2013 Inauguration, NASA HQ had an Open House event in DC, and I was on a short vacation, so I took that opportunity to drop by and pick up some free copies of the book, look at the exhibits, and attend a panel.

NASA HQ Open House

Most of the action seemed to be in the West Lobby, with a Mars pavilion showing current spacecraft and rover missions. Overhead was an Orion model, and outside the auditorium entrance were a few spacecraft models, including the upcoming SLS, and the three major commercial crew vessels: Dragon, Dream Chaser, and CST-100.

NASA HQ 2013 Inaugural Open House Orion Capsule
Commercial Crew Spacecraft Models

The library information center had a bunch of free books available so I picked up a few, though many of the hard bound volumes were already on my iPad as PDFs or ePubs. The annotated bibliography with my photo is at right.

Free Books from NASA HQ Library

Another fun library attraction was the collection of models, miniatures, and mementos, which the librarian was happy to tell me about in great detail.

NASA HQ Library Artifact and Miniature Collection

Buran and the Peeps were especially fascinating.

Buran - NASA HQ Library Artifact and Miniature Collection Peeps - NASA HQ Library Artifact and Miniature Collection

I had arrived late and only had time for one panel in the auditorium: a talk and Q&A on spaceflight with moderator Sara DeWitt, Chief Scientist Gale Allen, and astronauts Leland Melvin, Lee Morin, and Alvin Drew. There were many interesting anecdotes about shuttle and ISS missions; I especially liked the one about how STS-118 smelled like basil. During the Q&A there was an extremely interesting appropriations question about funding sources and whether private companies could directly fund NASA projects. (The answer was no, due to federal budget rules, but with possible exceptions for contractual or partnership agreements.)

NASA HQ Open House Astronaut Panel

On the way out I was able to pose for a quick photo op with Col. Leland Melvin, after hovering for a bit around the crowd of people surrounding the astronauts.

Me and NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin

I also dropped by the NASA HQ gift shop to get a backpack and some souvenir mugs. It’s a small shop but they have some fun stuff.

NASA HQ Gift Shop
NASA HQ Gift Shop

(A little postscript: I had lunch at the Grand Deli on the northeast side of NASA HQ and it was pretty funny how an otherwise normal sandwich menu included items like “NASA Club” and “NASA Combo.” Me, I got a grilled chicken parm.)

More of my photos from the NASA HQ Open House, and official NASA photoset here.