CNN's Brooke Baldwin reveals her dream to be an astronaut

As a little girl, my dream was to become an astronaut.One of my early heroes was...

Posted: Jun 18, 2018 8:39 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2018 8:39 PM

As a little girl, my dream was to become an astronaut.

One of my early heroes was Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. I imagined what it was like to be her, strapped into the space shuttle.

The countdown from Mission Control: "10, 9, 8...". On the launchpad, engines quaking, heart pounding "3, 2, 1, liftoff" taking me to a place few have ever seen.

Minutes later, I'm floating and staring back down at planet Earth.

How could I possibly complete that mission? At age 12, it was obvious. I had to go to Space Camp.

I wanted that feeling. (Oh, and a generous supply of astronaut ice cream and a spin in the chair, the Multi-Axis Trainer, which rotates in every possible direction.)

I grew up in Atlanta, which meant the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, was a mere 200 miles away. I grabbed an adventurous classmate and pleaded my case to my parents to help me launch my space career. To my amazement, they agreed pretty much immediately and away I went.

It all starts with science

On day one, I'd pictured myself in a spacesuit, spinning and tumbling in a zero-gravity room.

In reality, what I discovered was an institution that takes this first encounter with the world of space discovery very seriously, and rightly so.

Of course, it all starts with the science: the math, the space program, the solar system, and there is tons to learn. At Space Camp, we were "up and at 'em," sitting in classes, taking tests that culminated, at the end of the week, with the mission itself.

Obviously, I was thrilled to learn that all my work had paid off, and I was on my way.

I was selected as commander of my team's mission. There I was at 12: spacesuit, white boots, helmet -- "miles from Earth."

Spoiler alert: I did not become an astronaut. But when I look back to the summer of 1992 (or was it 1993?), my experience at Space Camp taught me several life lessons. First, as a young girl I was encouraged to satisfy my curiosity, especially in a field that wasn't exactly filled with women. It also exposed me to values like leadership, teamwork and endeavor. Plus few kids really know what they want to do so young. And Space Camp shows you the range of opportunity at NASA and beyond.

What was the next best thing to becoming an astronaut? Being a journalist who gets to go back to Space Camp and look at that time of my life through a different lens.

More opportunities

Only now, there are so many more opportunities for girls who dream of space and science. That's what I really wanted to focus on this time in Huntsville.

As I was recently there, I met young women from around the world.

Two Indian teenagers were bursting with confidence while showing off their knowledge in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

I introduced them to my new NASA friend, Andrea Hanson, who oversees the astronauts' exercise program in space. She exemplifies what is possible for women and space in 2018.

And I met two classes of Americans when we were "walking on the moon." They may or may not become astronauts, but several of these girls wanted me to know they were just as talented as the boys.

I walked away from Space Camp delighted to see it has not only kept up with the space program, but also with education for all.

And these girls I met are budding rock stars in science. Meeting them just made me feel good about our future.

Oh, and of course I had to take one more spin in that rotating chair -- the very same machine from my youth -- just to make sure I still had the right stuff.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
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Oktibbeha390380
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Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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