My name is Aeryn Avilla, the author and owner of this blog/website. I'm a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University majoring in Spaceflight Operations with a minor in Human Factors. I am currently a NASA intern with the Goddard Space Flight Center working on a history publication. I'm also a Florida native and memorabilia collector (specializing in patches) with a love for archaeology, world history, languages, old movies, and of course, space.
How I Became Interested in Space History
It really all began when I learned about ancient Egypt in the third grade. As a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist and uncover stories and treasures lost to the sands of time. When I had just started the sixth grade, NASA's Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. Every Friday, my history teacher had her students write brief reports on current events and I became more interested in space exploration. By the end of the year, I chose "astronaut" as my new career path and my focus shifted from the past to the future, but not for long. For my thirteenth birthday, I did what every girl dreams of doing on her special day— visited Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (as it was known back then) for the first time. As I stood outside the blockhouse of Launch Complex 5/6 looking up at the replica black and white Mercury-Redstone rocket against a clear blue sky, I was hit with the feeling, the knowledge, that the things I was learning today— the places, names, dates, vehicles— they were my future. I remember exactly what I felt standing there but no matter how many times I tell this story, I can never quite put it into words.
Over the next eight years and sixty-some-odd trips to the Kennedy Space Center, I came to realize I was bad at math, pretty good at writing, and increasingly sure my future involved the past I never experienced. Then during the Spring of my freshman year of college, the pandemic was announced and a quarantine put in place. I decided to take those months to really focus on this blog, which I had started at the beginning of the calendar year. At some point while in school, I decided flying in space might not be for me but training people to might be. My love of ancient history was reignited near the end of my junior year and I couldn't deny that those dreams of my childhood were still alive and well. Now as I approach the end of my college career, I'm figuring out how to combine my love of space history with my love of archaeology and ancient history. I know for sure I want to end up back where it all started for me, at a derelict launch complex on Florida's east coast. I hope to work with teams to preserve and potentially restore these old historic sites where our journey into space began before they, like the ancient cities that captivated me as a child, disappear too.
So here I am writing blog posts about history and hoping they inspire someone out there the way space history has inspired me. This passion has allowed me to witness some incredible things and meet some really interesting people (one of whom has remained significantly closer to me than the rest). My end goal in life is to operate my own space history museum on the Space Coast and even though I don't know what the future holds, I know it will be far from boring.