Many around the world watched NASA and SpaceX reach a milestone on May 30th when two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, took part in Demo Mission-2, the final test in the company’s spacecraft. Demo Mission-2 is the first launch of NASA astronauts from the U.S. since the shuttle was retired 2011 and many believe is ushering in a new era of space travel.
Working in Mission Control at NASA in Houston was one of our very own, Gabriel Morocoima, Class of 2005. Gabe recently described what this launch and docking was like for him. We are excited that he is able and willing to share this once in a lifetime memory with us!
Gabe Morocoima: In His Own Words:
When I reflect on getting to be a part of the SpaceX Demo Mission 2, the first flight of American astronauts on an American spacecraft from the USA since the space shuttle retired, I can honestly say that I am humbled. I say this in part because any person working in Mission Control is always well aware of the present reality and enormity of the task that is at hand. The fact of the matter is that we are entrusted with keeping men and women alive in the harshest environment known to humanity by operating a very complex international spacecraft that orbits the earth every 90 minutes at 17,500 mph; a modern marvel of engineering. This can only be accomplished through the humility of teamwork. Teamwork that extends beyond the Flight Control room with our engineering counterparts, international partners, commercial partners like SpaceX, and every employee at NASA and throughout the international space sector. This SpaceX Demo Mission 2 has been in the works since early in the 2010s so the reality is that when Dragon successfully launched and docked we were merely standing on the shoulders of giants. The mission is also not over yet. We still have undocking, departure, entry, splashdown, and recovery before we can say: “mission accomplished”.
Personally, I have had the privilege of working on this flight for the past 3 and a half years, so finally getting to be a part of the launch and docking team was EXTREMELY emotional (I can’t tell you how many times I cried). Not to mention that the space shuttle retired in 2011 during my first year at NASA. In fact, I was at Cape Canaveral for that final space shuttle launch in July of 2011…also a very emotional day for me and many others. I remember thinking that day: “when will we launch humans from here again”. So needless to say, it is humbling to know that I got to play a role in that return to flight.
However, the main reason why I am humbled is because I can honestly say that apart from God’s sovereignty in my life I would not have been sitting in that control room. I cannot take credit. I was reminded of that as the Houston and SpaceX flight control rooms erupted in cheers and applause (something that RARELY EVER happens) while we witnessed astronauts Bob Benhken and Doug Hurley float into the International Space Station (ISS) from the Dragon capsule. God reminded me at that moment that He put me in that control room not just to help humanity explore the cosmos of space but He sovereignly put me there so that I can proclaim the gospel message of His kingdom “to the very ends of the earth”. And THAT is a mission that I take even more seriously.
I am truly humbled that God is allowing me to be a conduit of his message of reconciliation, peace, and hope – something so needed today – amongst the science community at NASA. Being a part of the flight control team that launched and docked American astronauts from Cape Canaveral brought me great joy but it does not hold a candle to the joy I have felt when seeing a coworker become a follower of Christ! In my mind that is the most appropriate use of the words: “mission accomplished”.