It’s never lost on me how fortunate I am to be in a field where I get the opportunity to travel and explore. I’ve been all over the US, including many NASA Centers and military bases, England, Australia, and beyond. In September 2022 I spent a week in Paris – and a whirlwind 24 hours in Luxembourg. I was so proud to be a part of the IAA History of Astronautics Symposium, a part of the larger International Astronautical Congress. I presented my paper “Science and Strength: The History of the Relationship Between Civil and Military Space Organizations in the United States.” This was my first history paper and was absolutely made better and benefited from the work of my amazing research assistant, Grant Jones, and his hard work. Nebraska LLM alum and friend Nate Johnson presented in the same symposium! It was great to see friendly faces far from home.
This was my third International Astronautical Congress, but only the second in person (virtual 2020). It’s always a wild ride. I went to so many other incredibly fascinating discussions and have been really interested to see the continued focus on low earth orbit, commercial space stations, and fears about congestion and sustainability.
My program, the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program, was a proud sponsor of the International Institute of Space Law Manfred Lachs Moot Court Finals and our (I am also an institute member) annual awards banquet. This international and space law competition is unique in the world, and our finals are argued to justices from the International Court of Justice. A truly great, if not intense, educational experience for these students.
I spent a fast day in Luxembourg! I am part of a US State Department Leaders program that works to send US subject matter experts out into the world to meet with groups through our embassies and brings amazing international guests likewise to American institutions. I visited the Science and Technology Center at the University of Luxembourg and then on the The Luxembourg Science Center. Two of their science communicators showed us many of their very interactive and multi generational exhibits and public showcases on things ranging from statistics to astronomy to the science of cooking. To be quite frank I found myself remarkably jealous of their jobs and asking if I could apply! Finally we met with the Luxembourg Digital Learning Hub and Women in Digital Empowerment group, who are doing amazing work to broaden tech education on the tech jobs actor – and reminded me so much I’ll be awesome work happening at Nebraska Tech Collborative. I can’t wait to continue these connections and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have met with these groups.
The hub is located in a very cool gigantic bright red building owned by the royal Canadian bank. Outside are still these huge furnaces and this beautiful marble exterior library. It celebrates the industrial history of the area and is also a beautiful architectural feature. I didn’t grab a picture but from the top of the building you get to see Germany, Luxembourg, and France all at the same time!
In the evening I strolled from new town to old town which was essentially a large hill/cliff side. The second slide is a shot from the glass elevator that is free, public, and runs till 1 AM to help move people back-and-forth!
I did find some time for tourism, including a visit to the unreal Paris Catacombs💀 I went in with the first timed group of the day – they definitely space folks out so that it never actually felt busy in the tomb, which I’m sure is also for the safety of the remains. It was fascinating how everyone was chatty and talkative going down the tiny winding circular staircase to go underground (around 130 steps), but once everyone reached the tomb, it was immediate hushed reverence. I paid for the audio guide which is extremely helpful, but otherwise there was no official tour guide or anyone telling us to be quiet, but every person on the tour just automatically was moved, being surrounded by the remains of millions of individuals. Children aren’t allowed on the tours nor could anyone bring strollers, wheelchairs, or walkers and backpacks had to be worn on your front. It was not as claustrophobic as I feared, but then we were in the publicly open tunnels that I believe are probably the largest and the safest.
The experience was a lot more unnerving and moving than I expected it to be. It only took about 40 minutes and was one of the coolest things I did on the trip.
I also made time for a run/walk by Notre Dame and the The Louvre. The Louvre, I’m sure, is a remarkable experience and I’m glad I got to run outside it and see the pyramid, but my trip (mostly working) did not give me enough time to wait in those lines and explore that gigantic museum. Instead I hit up the smaller Rodin Museum and gardens. Magic. The Thinker, The Kiss, The Gates of Hell from Dante’s Divine Comedy. I would highly recommend it as a faster, but still beautiful, art experience in Paris.
Finally, I also went on a conference sponsored tour of the River Seine. Just, well, chef’s kiss.