I’ve always been a science and space geek so I’m looking forward to July 14th and New Horizons’ close encounter with our solar system’s only dwarf planet.

But, I have a more personal reason to be engaged with this NASA mission.

In 2005 I was a freelance copywriter. I also wrote accurate HTML and had built a prettyNASA-HOPKINS
decent marketing presence on the Internet. I’d been interviewed a number of times for print pieces and online publications.

One Morning, about 10 a.m., my phone rang.

“Hello, this is Stephen.”

The caller said, “Hello, Stephen. My name is Melanie Savage and I’m calling from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

I paused in disbelief; I nearly hung up the phone.

She continued, “I’ve been reading the articles on your website about marketing not being about just writing ads and articles, but about creating experiences. I wonder if you might have time to chat with me.”

Well, of course I did.

Over the next week, I went through an intense background and security screening.

Two weeks later, I was in Pasadena, at JPL, consulting on NASA’s technology transfer efforts.

JPL campus, Pasadena

JPL campus, Pasadena

The agency provided me with a large one bedroom suite (with a wet bar and balcony), a sporty rental car, and an expense account. For the next couple of weeks, heaven wasn’t overhead. It was in Pasadena, California.

NASA photo, Aerogel

NASA photo, Aerogel

I had meet and greets with NASA engineers. I listened in on technical conference calls. I was invited to a number of spectacular lunches with NASA scientists—at the The Athenaeum at the California Institute of Technology. I held a piece of Aerogel.

I heard that NASA folks were excited about putting their names on a new spacecraft prior to its voyage to Pluto. I learned that I could have my name on it, also.

The names of those accompanying New Horizon, in name and in spirit, can be found on a NASA New Horizons’ participant database.

Those were fun times. And to quote Jack Horkheimer, host of the PBS series Star Hustler, “You can realize your dreams if you remember to keep looking up.”

Names being attached to NASA's New Horizons spacecraft

Names being attached to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft