To celebrate 75 years in operation, the NASA Glenn Research Center hosted an Open House at its Plum Brook Station facility in Sandusky, Ohio, USA. The public was welcomed on 11-12 June 2016 for a weekend of activities and exhibits as well as special tours of its facilities, including the Space Power Facility, the world’s largest vacuum chamber for testing parts of rockets, landers, and space station components.
Julien Harrod, Human Spaceflight and Operations editor, EJR-Quartz for ESA, was invited to cover the event from the ESA perspective. In coordination with the Human Spaceflight team, Julien designed posters for ESA’s stand at the Open House, which also featured informational brochures and video clips. Throughout the weekend, Julien manned the ESA stand, engaging with visitors – a majority of them families – about ESA programmes and missions.
Julien was also treated to a tour of the testing facilities. Currently under testing at the Space Power Facility is NASA’s new Orion spacecraft, for which ESA is constructing the service module that will provide the spacecraft’s power and propulsion. Julien was able to get up close to the module, taking photos that later served as Human Spaceflight and Operations Image of the Week, recording establishment shots, and conducting an interview for future Human Spaceflight videos. Read his feature article on Orion here.
In addition to communicating ESA’s work to the American public, the Open House also gave Julien the opportunity to network with colleagues in the field. Julien connected with fellow ESA colleagues currently based at Plum Brook Station for the Orion service module testing period and met his NASA Glenn Center counterparts for fruitful discussions on science communication and public engagement in the space sector.