Heather Smith in the MOSH Planetarium
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- To say Heather Smith lights up when talking about outer space would be a cosmic understatement.
"I love my job," she said with a huge smile, "I absolutely love my job."
It makes sense. She holds the universe in her hands at the MOSH planetarium. Smith is one of four employees there that run the shows.
There are so many buttons and knobs at her console, she can squint real hard and pretend it's her real dream job.
"This is my mission control, exactly," she said.
If it's not obvious, the NASA stickers and shuttle mission patches that cover her laptop should help.
She says she's wanted to work at NASA forever, but it became more of a mission 8 years ago.
"The Columbia accident in 2003. The day that happened, that Saturday, I figured out that should never happen again, ever," she said.
"So I completely dedicated myself to learning more about NASA and letting people know about it."
Which led her to follow NASA on Twitter.
She's one of more than one million others who follow as well. And NASA invited them all to apply to come to Kennedy Space Center and see the final launch, in person.
"They had 1,500 people apply in one hour," she said. She was one of those people.
Only 150 people were picked from the entire planet.
"I get this email and they say, hey, we're going to invite you, and I was so happy I was jumping up and down," Smith explained.
The 22-year-old aeronautics student was the only person in North Florida chosen.
She says she's fine cashing in all those shooting star wishes she's made. It's going to be a cool experience for her, sure, but she says this is about what she'll be able to bring back to the students she teaches at MOSH.
Smith said, "We have to let them know about this space shuttle era, because it's ending."
So it makes sense, whether you get Twitter or not, because her feelings are universal.
"I'm so honored," she started to giggle, "NASA chose me, just me."
First Coast News