Third Grader: Katie Herleman shares the experience of viewing the
Mars Pathfinder lift-off.
My name is Katie Herleman. I'm nine years old and am in third grade
at Pineview School in Sarasota, Florida. I love rockets and my dream is
to some day work at NASA as a scientist.
| I went to the Kennedy Space Center to see the Mars Pathfinder launch.
It was one of the most exciting times of my life. I often think that
in the years to come, as we continue to explore the planets and the
universe, I will always remember that I was there during a very big
moment in NASA history, watching the launch.
I look forward to going to many more launches and I hope to go
to space camp this summer. My dream is to go to the Air Force Academy,
become a pilot and then ON TO NASA!
When I got to see the Mars Pathfinder liftoff, it was one of the most
exciting experiences in my life. It was like one big party at the Kennedy
Space Center, and even in the nearby town of Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral,
where everybody seems to be a space exploration addict.
I have seen photos of launches but they are nothing like the real thing.
When the Pathfinder took off, I felt like jumping out of my seat, it was
so exciting. Even from a distance, the noise and the light were amazing.
I felt almost like I was going up with it. All of us sitting in the bleachers,
jumped up together and cheered.
|| I had a chance the people who make the space program happen, and
they were all really, really nice to me. They gave me pins and souvenirs
and stuff, including a great t-shirt that showed a martian and the
Sojourner Rover that says "The Earthlings are coming. There goes the
I even met Buzz Aldrin, one of the most famous astronauts of all
times. Wow, what a neat man! And real friendly to everybody. Mr.
Hugh Harris of the Public Relations Department at the Kennedy Space
was my hero. He introduced me to all sorts of people working with
NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A nice man named Dan Woods
from the Washingon, D.C. NASA office made me feel so special, too.
I have never seen a launch with real astronauts, but I can tell you
this. I will go back to Cape Canaveral every chance I get. It's wonderful
to be a part of history - even a tiny little part.
Just think... the rocket I saw take off will reach Mars on July 4th,
1997 if all goes well! We are planning a Mars Pathfinder party out in
the country where we moved to so I can launch my rockets and build experiments
without the neighbors calling my parents very time I shoot off rockets
in the backyard. I got a telescope for my birthday and we live out where
you can see the stars so clearly.
Now that I am older and in third grade I think my trip to NASA and all of
the neat engineers I got to sit with at the Mars Pathfinder liftoff have
helped me come up with my science project. I actually met the real-live
engineers who put the Mars Pathfinder into orbit and who built Sojourner.
| I fell in love with the Sojourner Rover and learned a lot about
it at speeches and press conferences I was invited to when I got to
go to the Kennedy Space Center. I am working very hard on making Sojourner
rover for my school science fair. It is an annual science fair and
I won a big prize last year for my experiments with rockets where
I found a lot of fun experiments and information that NASA had on
the Internet. I made a hero engine out of coke cans, a balloon rocket
car and match stick rockets where I tested Newton's Third Law of Motion.
My school was very proud that a second grader could win a big science
contest like I did and they are looking forward to my entry this year
to represent our school.
| I am studying solar energy and I think I can build a small demonstration
of the Sojourner Rover after seeing what I saw at the Kennedy Space
Center. Plus, I found some really good information on the Internet
to help me with the dimensions for Sojourner.
Katie won 1st Place again this year in the Sarasota County Elementary
science fair for her model of Rover and solar energy power experiments.
I also found a nice engineer named Geoffrey Landis at the NASA Lewis
Research Center who is an expert on solar energy and even invented the
dust measurement device that is attached on the Sojourner Rover. Who knows?
Someday I might even be at NASA, too - and some kid could watch me take
off and say to her parents, I want to be an astronaut just like Katie
when I grow up!
|| I got to meet Donna Shirley who works at the JPL and Wesley Huntress
at the Beach party I was invited to at Patrick Air Force Base. They
gave me their personal pins...Donna gave me her Sojourner Rover pin
and Mr. Huntress gave me his Mars Pathfinder pin. I have a coat from
the U.S. Space Camp gift store I got as a memory for my most favorite
trip in the world to the NASA and to see the Mars Pathfinder liftoff.
I got patches on the coat and I put those special pins from Donna
and Mr. Huntress on my jacket.
| At my school they call me "Rocket Girl" and "NASA girl" because
I wear mostly NASA shirts to school and I write all of my reports
about NASA. We had a contest at our school called the Nobel Prize
Competition and I won the Physics prize for my project on rockets.
I am so glad that I got to go to the Mars Pathfinder lift-off. It
is my goal to see a manned lift-off someday at the Kennedy Space Center.
I wish all kids could see a lift-off, too. I will never be the same