St Albans consultant joins NASA space launch

PUBLISHED: 06:02 14 December 2014

Gabrielle Laine-Peters watched NASA’s new Orion spacecraft complete its first spaceflight test, with Jason Major. Photo courtesy of Jen Vargas

Gabrielle Laine-Peters watched NASA's new Orion spacecraft complete its first spaceflight test, with Jason Major. Photo courtesy of Jen Vargas

Photo courtesy of @GabrielleNYC

With NASA recently marking a major milestone on its journey to Mars, a St Albans social media consultant is still coming down to earth after witnessing a "jaw-dropping" spacecraft launch.

Gabrielle Laine-Peters watched NASA’s new Orion spacecraft complete its first spaceflight test. Photo courtesy of Jason MajorGabrielle Laine-Peters watched NASA’s new Orion spacecraft complete its first spaceflight test. Photo courtesy of Jason Major

Gabrielle Laine-Peters, a 9/11 survivor who speaks publicly about her experiences and works as a consultant across the globe, was among 150 social media users invited to view and give updates on Orion’s first flight test launch in Florida last Friday.

Orion travelled further than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years, and has been lauded as a huge step towards pioneering deep space on NASA’s journey to Mars.

The spacecraft blazed into the morning sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on a rocket, and splashed down about 4.5 hours later into the Pacific Ocean 600 miles southwest of San Diego.

Gabrielle, who returned to England on Sunday, told the Herts Advertiser that watching the launch live at Cape Canaveral was “surreal”.

Prior to the launch, attendees of the NASA ‘social group’ toured the Kennedy Space Centre, met astronauts and NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

Gabrielle and others were chosen by NASA for their ability and willingness to share experiences of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity via social media.

The self-confessed space geek added: “We could feel the launch, as well as hearing it – it was bone-shaking, surreal and like watching a movie.

“The rocket was huge, about 26 floors high, and Orion was sitting on the top of that; it was so majestic.”

Tweeting via @GabrielleNYC she kept thousands of her followers up-to-date, saying after lift-off, “Orion is a thing of beauty!”

Orion experienced high periods of radiation and reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth, hit speeds of 20,000mph and weathered temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

Information gleaned from the spacecraft, which has now been plucked from the ocean, will be used to help future human missions to Mars.

Although the cone-shaped Orion did not carry any people into space, it is designed to take astronauts into deep space in the future.

It became the first spacecraft designed for humans to leave “low-Earth orbit” since the Apollo 17 mission, the last moon landing by NASA.

President Obama later joked that when “a human is the first to set foot [on Mars] … I’ll be out of the presidency and I might hitch a ride.”

Gabrielle said that people attending the launch had been so inspired “it has changed their lives”.

She become a social media consultant after surviving 9/11.

At the time of the terrorist attack she was working as an architectural designer and living across from the World Trade Center in New York.

She was rescued down 35 flights of stairs by firefighters after blast waves shook the building she was in, and her ribs were broken.

Gabrielle moved back to St Albans after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder following the terrorist attack and subsquently launched her successful consultancy.

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