N A S A R O C K S ! ! !
Needless to say, I was SUPER EXCITED! Back in October, I was lucky to attend the NASA Social event at the Goldstone Deep Space Network (DSN) (previous blog post here) which was an amazing adventure and a chance to learn much more about how radio astronomy works. Considering my favorite spacecraft is Voyager 1, it was the experience of a lifetime!
This event in Houston was MARVELOUSLY done! Every step well-planned and full of awesome.
Some of the highlights of our NASA Social tour included:
- the Mission Control Center - I had always wanted to see this in person!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- the Exercise Equipment Training Facility
We got to Learn about:
moved into a small auditorium and had a terrific presentation by fabulous Liz Warren, of Barrios Technology, [ @Spasmunkey ] on the science and other activities on the ISS. and we could ask questions about anything.
I hadn't know it, but at any given time, there are between 100 -125 experiements going on in the ISS! The majority of what the astronauts do is scientific research.
We then moved to our shuttle buses, for which I quickly created a Foursquare "Cool Bus" check-in :-) #nerdmoment Susan Henderson was the escort on our bus and she was awesome! Lynette Madison was the other escort and equally awesome! So full of information and enthusiasm for the day!
Our first stop was Bldg 5 - the Space Mission Simulation Facility (including the recently retired Shuttle Mission Simulators, or SMS, the ISS Mission Simulator, and the Orion Mission Simulator). Here, it was so cool to walk through the hall and see various mission programs honored with plaques and pictures.
We made our way through to the ISS astronaut training facility! This is a mockup facility where astronauts train for moving through the ISS and for problems that may arise. It was HUGE!
To our delight, Rick Mastracchio, astronaut, was our tour guide! What a great guy! He showed us all through the mockup and talked to us about what it is like to be aboard the ISS and the level of athletic training one needs to stay fit up in space. We got to ask him a ton of questions! He graciously took his time out to have a picture with us in small groups - so nice! He also told us "Don't press any buttons" :-) the facility was laid out exactly as the ISS is and it was VERY cool to be walking through there, seeing what the astronauts see. This is as close as I will ever get to actual space exploration and I'll take it!
Astro Rick showed us some computer areas and issues, how they maneuver around, alcoves, how there is as much technology on the ceiling as there is on the walls, and explained that there is constant science going on. This is one of my favorite pictures because the mockup is life-sized and you gain perspective on how the astronauts live and move within a confined setting. Just remove gravity and we're all set :-)
There are storage facilities, labs, sleeping areas, etc. The permanent crew is six people. Astro Rick mentioned that people must get used to weightlessness and be well before launching.
When asked how they avoid getting sick, he talked to us a little bit about how astronauts were quarantined for two weeks before going to the facility from which they would launch.
The actual living space on the ISS is about the
equivalent of one-and-a-half Boeing 747s (roughly).
The main ISS area was put together piece by piece,
by bolting giant modules to one other to form one 74m-long tube. Inside, most everything is built into the walls and the ceiling to provide for space to get around. To the right, you see a computer station with at least five monitors.
Below, you see an ISS hatch diagram schematic with hatch closure directions. This also shows you how the modules are connected. Here is a link to a YouTube video of hatch closure as the crew of Expedition 33 begins their return home. It is from Nov 2012.
The ISS moves at 17,500 mph relative to the Earth and It takes 90 min to circle the planet which turns out to be 16 complete laps every day. I asked both Astro Rick and Susan Henderson (whose husband is Astro Clayton Anderson) whether or not they knew that some people wave and say hello outloud to the ISS as it passes overhead : )
The above is a picture of several #spacetweeps with Astro Rick (I'm on far left) :-)