Nerd Nite meets NASA, sparking memories for an astronaut with deep Northwest roots
The High Dive is known to draw crowds into the local music scene, but this week, music was not what attracted close to 200 people on the spot – it was NASA.
Nerd Nite Seattle is a monthly gathering at the bar in the Fremont borough neighborhood, featuring beer, savory Mexican food, scientific discussions and, of course, Seattleites nerds. The Tuesday night event attracted a lot of repeat customers, plus an assortment of beginners.
One of the first timers was NASA astronaut, Anne McClain. He mixed with the crowd, and was led to talk about his rigorous training of astronauts, shared hilarious stories of other members of the astronaut class and thought about how growing up in Washington State has made wanting to go to space.
“I decided when I was about 3 years old, the first time I told my mother I wanted to be an astronaut,” said McClain, who is now 37 years old. “Fortunately, it’s a bit nerdy itself, and so we really favored this.”
Young McClain and his family (who came to support Nerd Nite) were frequent visitors to the Pacific Science Center. They also went to Space Needle, where he played McClain claiming astronaut.
“I remember getting into the Space Needle and getting into the elevator and being scared, but thinking,” This is going to be like riding a launch tower, “then I feel and try to deal with this fear,” he said.
Nite nerd in High Dive
About 200 people gathered for the Nerd Night event by NASA at High Dive in the Fremont district of Seattle. (Photo GeekWire / Chelsey Ballarte)
McClain followed his childhood dream by attending West Point and becoming an Army major, a helicopter pilot and a flight instructor. In 2013, he won a place in the last class of NASA astronaut candidates.
She is still waiting for her first spaceflight mission, but in the meantime she plays a role in the development and testing of future spacecraft.
This week may have marked the first time the people of Nerd Nite Seattle organized an astronaut, but it was not the first time they met to talk about space. The nite nerd volunteers Jenny Haaland said he welcomed discussions on planets and other space topics before. A night of Star Wars in particular, has become very intense.
The fifth Nite Nerd is a big part of its appeal. Haaland said she likes to discover what people are passionate about and take on the nerdy atmosphere of the night.
“The bars tend to be very insular and Nerd Nite simply is not,” he said. “People are willing to turn to each other and say, ‘Well, what do you think of that?’ And talk about what we just heard. ”
Nerd Nite brings some families – but a wide range of participants in their early careers, usually work in technology companies like Amazon and Boeing. Amazon software development engineer Michael Li said he would like to come because it is a refreshing break from a long day at work.
McClain’s visit to Seattle was part of a NASA tour program known as the destination station, which sends astronauts, researchers and advocacy experts to cities across the country. The destination station team also checks with local companies to disseminate information on commercial opportunities in the space.
During this week’s stop, the team visited Blue Origin adventure billionaire Jeff Bezos, Microsoft and Starbucks. Topics covered at Starbucks include the challenges of managing product lifespan and zero-gravity coffee production, said Pete Hasbrook, a program scientist associated with the International Space Station program.