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Mission Prep Zone 1: Daring to Dream

Challenge Question:
Who Supports Your Big Dreams?

It takes an immense amount of teamwork to safely send people to space. There are countless engineers to develop and test new equipment and operations, scientists and researchers to develop the experiments and plans for the mission, and so many others. Polaris Dawn is a complex mission full of exciting objectives, requiring every person to give their expertise, care, and passion to the project.  Every person’s path to supporting Polaris Dawn was different, with many steps along the way. However, it’s safe to say all these incredible team members’ paths share at least one thing in common: at some point each individual has dared to dream new things were possible, for themselves and for our world.

Sarah Interviews Joe Tanner

Hear Polaris crew member Sarah Gillis describe some of the moments when she dared to dream, including imagining a new possibility for her future thanks to the support of this conversation’s special guest, former NASA astronaut Joe Tanner.

Joe Tanner Introduction

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Joe Tanner Mentors

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When Sarah Gillis dared to imagine a new path for herself in aerospace engineering, Joe Tanner helped her believe it was possible. In this Challenge, you’ll be connecting to your dare-to-dream moments!


Think back to a time when you dared to dream and imagined a new idea for yourself, for your community, or for the world. It might have been a moment when you tried something new, changed your perspective, or aimed for something different. Maybe you’ve got a new idea you’re daring to explore right now!


Once you have a moment in mind, ask yourself this Zone’s Challenge Question to think about who supports you as you imagine and grow:

Who Supports Your Big Dreams?

Think of someone who helps you…

(This supportive individual might be a real person you are close to, like a friend, teacher, or family member. However, it’s also possible to have your imagination sparked by someone well-known you’ve never met, or even a fictional character from a book, story, or movie.)

Say “Thank You” to the person who has sparked you to imagine new possibilities, for yourself or for the world around you. Write them a letter or quick note, or record a brief video or audio message of gratitude. (And, if you can, hug them and tell them in person!) Be sure to let them know how they inspired or helped you.

Want to let us know who you’re grateful to? Share your messages of thanks on social media using the hashtag #space4music. We will be sharing some submissions in this Zone’s Challenge Accepted space. A few messages may even make it to space with Sarah Gillis!


Finally, turn your thoughts to the future and imagine how you could help pass that spark of inspiration and imagination on to someone else.

  • How might you support other people to learn something new or see things in a fresh way? How can you help others to dare to dream?
Space Insights
Many Paths to Space Exploration

Do you dream about being part of the future of space exploration? There is an amazing array of paths that lead to supporting missions to space!

Find out more in these NASA Stem Stars Interviews where you hear from real people in nearly 100 different careers, all connected to space exploration.

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What is an Engineer?
Engineers, like Sarah Gillis, are curious problem-solvers who love the challenge of designing and creating solutions to interesting questions. This quick Intro to Engineering video from NASA explains a little more about what problem-solving could look like as an Aerospace Engineer.
Designing Extra-Vehicular Activity Suits
One of the biggest mission objectives of Polaris Dawn is to perform the first commercial spacewalk using a brand new, SpaceX-designed Extra-Vehicular Activity suit (or EVA suit). To perform the spacewalk, the Polaris Dawn crew will put on the suits and pressurize with oxygen before the atmosphere is vented from the spaceship. Once the capsule is empty, they will open the hatch and go outside to test the new suits in the vacuum of space. To find out more about the new suits, you can go here

Tune in during the mission to to watch the live broadcast of the spacewalk!