Space Camp Day 2 Part 2

Day 2 Part 2:

Photo by Michael Formichelli
Photo by Michael Formichelli
Just before Bravo Mission we were turned loose on the museum and the grounds of the center. My wife and I took a walk around the exhibits which included elements geared both towards adults and kids. One of the creepier ones, though also touching in a way, was the exhibit dedicated to Able and Baker—the monkeys that successfully rode up into space and returned making them the first animals to do so alive. The mission proved that humans could (most likely) survive a similar trip and so these little guys paved the way for us into orbit. (We wouldn't actually know until we did it, of course).

Bravo Mission:

As I mentioned in Day 1, I was assigned to the post of GNC (Guideance, Navigation, and Control Data) in Mission Control for Bravo Mission. My job was to monitor weather at the launch and landing sites, and to "calculate" and call out the maneuvers the shuttle needed to make while on the mission. The most fascinating part of this job was learning the flow of information at Mission Control. Only the CapCom (another position) talks to the shuttle directly, everyone else reports to other stations and never speaks directly to the crew. For example, I relayed information to the Flight Control, who then relayed it to the CapCom, etc. You might think this would introduce errors, much like the game "Telephone" does, but the system works quite well to avoid confusion on the shuttle where a small mistake could lead to a horrible death.

Space Shuttle Pathfinder- Photo by Michael Formichelli

Apologies, I don't have pictures for Bravo since I was pretty involved in what I was doing. Here, have this one of the shuttle Pathfinder instead—Yes, there really was a Space Shuttle Pathfinder, though it never went to space. It was used to make sure they had designed the shuttle correctly in terms of size of parts, etc.

After Bravo mission (yes, everyone lived again) we got to do one of the coolest things I've ever done: Use the Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT) and the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) trainer.

The MMU, in case you're wondering, is this thing:

Photo by Michael Formichelli

Me in the MMU- Photo by Eleanore Beck

Much like the device that simulated zero-gee during Alpha mission, this one simulates wearing a jet-pack in space. It was a lot of fun and gave quite a bit more control than the one I used for Alpha Mission. An interesting fun-fact about the MMU, NASA has all but discontinued using it due to the danger of getting a jet stuck in the "on" position. As you might imagine, this would result in something absolutely horrible happening, which is why astronauts use the "tether" method during space walks now.

The MAT was pure fun. It was originally designed to simulate an out-of-control capsule, and train astronauts to operate the machinery to regain control while in a wild spin. NASA discontinued this training when the capsules proved to be more stable than they thought. (Ironically, an out of control capsule incident did happen on one mission during a docking procedure between the US and the Soviets—after the training had been discontinued). 

Instead of talking about the MAT, I'm just going to leave this here: 
(Thank you to Eleanore Beck for the video)

Ellie's Rocket -Photo by Eleanore Beck

After our adventure on the MMU we (team Columbia) engaged in our rocket construction session. Each of us got to build and paint our own model rocket. The launch would happen on another day. For the time being we had dinner and then were brought over to the Aviation Challenge section of the facility for some training in fighter-plane combat and a walk around the grounds which included being able to stand beside some pretty awesome aircraft like the Harrier featured below.

A Harrier- One of my favorites. Photo by Michael Formichelli

Me in the Simulator- Photo by Eleanore Beck
 ...And so ended Day 2 of 4.


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