The first in a series, possibly.
I’ve spent the last three days alternating working through the big video pile and sleeping. I’ve been ordered by my boss to give a big presentation on the trip at work this week, so I needed to get things in a form where I can transport them. I ended with 15 GB of data, so I’ve been converting the videos from HD to SD for eventual DVD inclusion, and looking into editing/DVD authoring options.
I’ve also taken a peek at the Space Camp footage of the extended duration mission. Though we left that one with a grumpy demeanor due to our difficult teammate (who has been nicknamed “Riddler”), there was a lot of good stuff going on. Particularly great was the gas leak we had at mission control (we’re lucky it wasn’t the other pipe which was labeled “sewage”). We were informed that we were not able to fix it ourselves, so the “gas company” was called, and they were hamming it up. Here’s the vid of the gas man’s first appearance. At the time, I was distracted by the EVA going on, but it looks like the staff is throwing a lot of these things at us to keep everyone involved in a challenge as almost all times. The staff did a fantastic job both keeping us challenged and helping us work through them when we got stumped.
Mechanistically, the way these things worked was that a councilor “ghost” would tap you and hand you a slip of paper with instructions. Sometimes it’s random, sometimes it’s related to something else. My fictional profile listed me as lactose intolerant, so if they saw me eat a chocolate candy during the mission, they would have come given me an illness slip. For the gas leak, they must have been using non-odorized gas, because they gave people near the pipe “dizzy, fainting” symptoms, and then moved it further and further out. Then they evacced the room and Riddler called the gas company to get the repair dude out. Somewhat out of character, they initially left me alone because otherwise there would be two spacewalkers sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting for the issue to resolve, then we gave me bottled air to give an in-character reason to stay.
Home! I’m on the couch with a dog on my lap. Heaven! Still didn’t get much sleep, but a nap later today will take care of that. Watched some of the DVD I bought from our Extended Duration Mission, and it was a lot of fun, despite the issues that we had. #DC buddies, I’ll be back with you soon, but have a few chores to finish first!
I’m home safe! But barely, as we had two aborted takeoffs! I’ll try to organize tomorrow, but overall, it was a great trip!
A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, or
Into every life a little rain must fall.
Today, we spent 6 hours on our Extended Duration Mission. Six long hours, since we had a “difficult” team “member” which is being generous on both parts. It sometimes takes some time to suss out a person’s personality, and I like to give the benefit of the doubt to people, but sometimes things become clear.
The EDM is supposed to be crazy stressful. Psychological, medical, and both sneaky and critical equipment anomalies are thrown at us, sometimes quite frequently. Our Orbiter had a series of issues, which quickly left the pilot as the least injured member. She has two broken legs. Meanwhile, we had a light-sensitive person AND a person afraid of the dark in mission control, followed by an epileptic EVA (with severe allergies!) We ended up with a PROP that died of IBS (but we had a lovely funeral for her which brought her back to life.)
Different people have different roles, and there are phases where individual roles have not much to do. For example EVA has essentially no required roles during hours 1,3,4, and 6, but is enaged almost non-stop during hours 2 and 5. We’ve spent a week doing very specific team building exercises about prioritization, teamwork, and other stuff, and it’s abundantly clear, even to 12-year olds, that you may need to triage issues and get help from your team.
Well, we have one member who didn’t seem to have ever learned to play nice with others. I’m still not sure what was going on (insufficient data), but they combined an obsession with by-the-book script following with an attitude of strict compartmentalization and an overall inability to do much of anything. In a sim designed to test adaptability, it was incredible.
Life threatening problem going on for 40 minutes? “We need to finish this checklist before we deal with <problem>”. (This ended up stopping 8 other people from being able to conduct anything worthwhile for at least an hour.) Other people who aren’t doing other work try to help? (This is a literal quote to the best of my memory) “You people are terrible teammates! This is my role, so only I will be doing it.”
Early, I tried to answer a question they asked out loud (which was covered in the training), and was met with “Are you telling me what to do? You go do your job!” Then they asked the same question.
In spite of this, some fun was had. I had a good time with my Mission Specialists (4 across two space walks) and I serenaded them with my golden voice as they worked. I’m buying a recording of the spacewalks for good memories, and a recording of the Mission Control so that we may never forget.
In the afternoon, we talked to a rocket scientist who had a suitcase rocket! Also we did the Pamper Pole. See the video for pamper pole details.
Relaxing morning tomorrow. Breakfast, free roam around the center, then Graduation and a trip to the airport!
I’m going to do a little promotion here. Rumor all around the camp is that they will be cutting back or eliminating the Adult Programs here at Space Camp. Go watch this video of fellow trainee Cassandra here. She’s NOT a Space geek, she was dragged here by her spouse. Listen to the joy in her voice as she is bouncing around on the moon. I’m not as expressive as her, but that’s about what I’ve felt almost every moment of every day I’ve been here.
This is an amazing place, and if you have the slightest interest in planes, space, or science, this would be the best trip of your life. If you’re over 18, and you’re interested, CONTACT THEM! Tell them you just found out that they do more than kids programs, and they need to get their act together on informing people about this program.
CEO Twitter is @SpaceCampCEO
They’re on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SpaceCampUSA
(Also our class photo is up there now!)
If you have kids, check it out. The kids program is going strong no matter what fate awaits the Adults! Everything I’ve shown is also part of the Advanced Space Academy program for 15-18 year olds, though they will choose between a track with SCUBA and a track with flight sims, but not both. There are programs for 9-15 year olds that do most of what we did, as well. There’s also a program where parents and children train together!
I need to hop in the shower so I can hit pre-flight breakfast. We’re at about T-2 hours for launch!
I’ve got a good video uploading, but can’t stay up long enough for it to finish. Today we learned more about the Orbiter’s systems, particularly the ones that will kill you when they go bad. Then I trained for and did the last training mission, where I was on the ISS. We decided that maintenance took a backseat to science, and didn’t bother to do our later checklists. Our camp, our rules. I’ll have a video of me spinning in a chair up shortly. Then I got severely motion sick and we had to cut the experiment short. Then we assigned ourselves roles for the Final 6 hour mission tomorrow. I will be EVA in mission control. (See previous post). We got final training. The final mission has more disasters than a Michael Bay movie. Medical issues, psychological issues, shuttle issues, weather issues,and issues which have no remedy except they all can and will come up, and wrong choices result in deaths. Fortunately, resurrections are available, but the cost is high! It will be tons of fun though.
Then we had a talk from NASA’s head of PR from the Mercury program who founded Space Camp, and he gave us autographed copies of his book! (all about the pranks and fun stories from the astronauts.)
Then we did a teamwork challenge course, with physical puzzles that you must solve as a team. (Those were the photos here.) Then back to the sims for a flight to Kennedy Space Center, for our launch tomorrow. Finally 1/6 G chair and MMU simulators, it was a very busy day!
Up early again, so I’m highlighting one more video. This is our third mission, where I’m Mission Specialist 2. I have a wireless mic, and have helmet communications with Mission Specialist 1 (Cassandra), and the Mission Control EVA person (Justin, who is Cassandra’s husband). Coms can’t be heard in the video, but you can hear my end. Spacewalkers don’t really have room to have a manual out in space with them, so the role of the EVA is to read it, and then tell the spacewalkers what to do. One trainee described it as “The Mission Specialists act as the world’s most sophisticated remote control tools, but the EVA is the one doing the repair”.
Now, an interesting thing about NASA protocols. During flight, communications are intentionally severely limited. Only one person can talk to the flight crew, and it’s not the flight director. It’s CAPCOM, who will always be a fellow astronaut who trained with the crew. It’s usually someone who’s on the roster for one of the previous or next flights. If the Flight Director has urgent info to relate, he still has to tell CAPCOM, who then tells the crew. Less time efficient, but there’s a huge psychological advantage, since the guy on the ground telling you they need you to skip the next meal to stay on schedule is one of your buddies who knows what it’s like up there. Same thing with EVA and the spacewalkers, so when the guy in the bay tells EVA that he mis-typed the keypad, EVA knows how difficult it is to work in giant space gloves.
I ended up with about 9 post-worthy videos today, and don’t want to do 9 posts, so follow this one over to my Youtube channel and have a look around.
We did two missions (and I got to do both spacewalk roles!)
We talked with a rocket engine engineer that worked with Werner Von Braun and designed Saturn V and shuttle engines.
We did the multi-axis trainer.
We did F-18 simulators (those are the only vids I didn’t post because they have a low excitement-to-length ratio.
I spun up to 3.2 G in a centrifuge.
So head on over and check out some of the Space Camp Awesomeness.