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2011 Solstice, JWST, and life’s inspiring cycle

21 December 2011 2 Comments

The mirror settled into place gently and the crane was silent for a moment while we torque the restraining plates into place.  I removed the pin from the lifting plate and it moved up and out of sight gently revealing the gold coated JWST Primary Mirror Segment we were loading into the environment shipping container. 

It was the last one.

JWST is a scientific inspiration.  It is the most incredible and complex, optical instrument we can feasibly put into space with the technology we have today.   It will capture the most detailed pictures ever recorded of our universe, and give us hard evidence of things we can just barely guess at.

I’ve personally been working on it for the last 7 years, and part of the JWST Primary Mirror Segment Assembly testing team for the last 4 years. 

All 18 flight mirrors have completed their last cryogenic optical test.  This is a major milestone, and has been one of the reasons JWST has been able to keep funding this year.  As an optical engineer the PMSAs are by far the most interesting and complex portion of JWST, and I am thrilled to have played such a large role.

Light is a huge part of our world, and has been the focus of my career and schooling for the last 11 years.  Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day, and the longest night, a time that has always been special in my life. 

Last year I organized a fire above Boulder to watch the Full Lunar Eclipse.  The year before we sent a flaming balloon into the heavens above Boulder.  This year I am sending JWST mirrors on their final trip back to Colorado. 

Since the last Winter Solstice I’ve dove into the most beautiful relationship of my lifetime, one in which purpose, deepening connection, and sharing with the world are the guiding principles.


 I went part time at Ball, opening up energy for more creative projects while maintaining my connection with JWST, space, and optical engineering. 

I rafted the Grand Canyon for 21 days with my dad, 280miles of adventure and exploration. 

I bought a house, and moved up Sunshine Canyon with three of the people I care about the most, returning to the forest, and mountain life I crave. 

I stepped down from Assistant Chief at BES, making time and gaining perspective on what it means to truly help someone.

I performed a wedding for a close friend, starting his partnership journey with a ceremony of love. 

I’ve continued helping to organize Ignite Boulder, running our 17th event at the sold out Boulder Theater a few weeks ago, challanging and changing my fear of public speaking and public spotlight into something I am cumfortable and capable of.

I climbed trees for a month in Oregon with Kate and my Dad, exploring my love of biology and climbing, and really opening up my life to the possibility of alternative jobs, and life experiences since I moved to Colorado.

I’ve continually opened my heart, and listened to it more than ever before.  It’s been hard and scary many times, but more and more I find myself inspired to empower the world around me with what I know I can give.

I think back on this solar year, and forward to the next one, and I feel hope, excitement, and love.  Join me in making this next cycle beautiful and inspiring for the whole world.


  • lichen said:

    YOU are inspirational, Larkin! I look forward to the day our paths meet again. Happy Solstice!

  • Larkin (author) said:

    awww… Thanks Lichen! I look forward to seeing you again and meeting your beautiful family.

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