Friday, April 16, 2010

Fare-thee-well, Houston.

Nine days and nine nights. Four hotel rooms. Three enormous boxes unpacked. Two experiments fabricated and tested. Two test readiness reviews before one large group of NASA researchers and engineers. Twelve doses of motion sickness medication. Two reduced gravity research flights. Two meals at Freebirds World Burritos. Three enormous boxes repacked. One Mo lost in the packaging material. One Mo retrieved from the packaging material. Thirty gigabytes of pictures and video.

One amazing (and possibly life-changing) experience shared among twelve students, three BSU faculty members, and three NASA Principal Investigators.

The Boise State University Microgravity Team is only seven hours from their Houston departure. Although their luggage is roughly the same weight as when they arrived (plus or minus some souvenirs), everyone on the team is packing home something they did not arrive with: hands on NASA research to carry on with them through NASA internships, graduate school, and the rest of their undergraduate education. This was no where near a "vacation" and can't be described adequately without the aid of the thirty billion bytes of picture and video data recorded during the trip. Here's the latest and latter end of the expedition:

"Once in a lifetime," says Andrew, "once in a lifetime."


Full-scale mock up of the shuttle orbiter with an open cargo bay in Building 9.


Mission Control during live communication with the International Space Station and STS-131. Only moments before President Obama's address at Kennedy Space Center regarding NASA and the immediate future of the space program.


Flight Director, Mo, in the original Mission Control.


The only transmitter to receive and broadcast communication from a human on a celestial body other than Earth.


Mike works on the International Space Station at the virtual reality lab at the Johnson Space Center. In addition to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, astronauts train for EVA missions in a virtual reality environment.


That's a rocket.
And that's Andrew.


The team was evacuated during a tour of the Space Station mock-up due to a fire drill. Luckily, the evacuation area is clearly labeled.


Surprise splash. I'm fairly certain I see a shark fin back there...



BSU engineering: playing in the sand is second nature. So is writing with our feet.


Mo, we understand that this week was exhausting, but we have to put the Wayne Kerr Impedance Analyzer in that box. We'll find you a more appropriate shoe box when we get back to Boise. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flight Day #2




Flight crew for Day 2


It was a sweet success for the Lunar Traction Team having fixed our experiment we were able to retrieve the data we needed. Although not as much as we hoped for. The Impedance Team also a success and we look forward to conclusions made from each experiment.



Left: Keith, Middle: Pam, Right: Mike

Left: Brian, Middle: Don, Right: Jordan



video
The View From Outside the Plane

The weather wasn't looking very promising this morning and we were worried that they would have to turn around and come back. Yes they still would have flown another day but today is always better than tomorrow. But the plane took off without any delays and all was well.

"BOISE!".............."STATE!"

My fingers are too big for these buttons.

Everyone seemed very much distracted by Don's shoes.


video

Brian, we call him the lanky Tom Cruise.


video

Zero Gravity and the Impedance Team = Chaos

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flight Day #1

Everyone is pretty much jacked.


Leslie and Mo getting serious about the flight. Don't mess with them.


Dan Isla even made it from JPL!


Impedance team ground crew (Jake, Pam and Keith) prepare experiment for the flight crew.


Andrew, Mo, Travis, Barbara, and Bob... moments before their first lunar-G parabola


Representing the enginerds at B-town.


This flight was absolutely no fun at all.


What to do while computer is collecting data?? Hmmmmm...


Travis hanging out sideways while being inspected by the flight Doc.


Why does everyone else look so serious?


SCIENCE!!


Awesome.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ready to Fly!

Over the weekend we worked extremely hard to get the experiments fully ready for the TRR (Test Readiness Review), and it paid off! The experiments look great and all problems were solved.

Tomorrow is the first day of flight on our good ship the Zero G.

Today we got our flight suits.

We also got a tour of high altitude airplanes in the flight hanger by a veteran astronaut.

We also loaded the experiments on the plane. Tomorrow on the Traction team students Alex and Leslie will be flying with principle investigator Pedro. On the Impedance team, students Andrew and Travis will be flying with Professor Dr. Hay. Also, Mo gets to fly with the MIT team.

Also, over the weekend we found a bit of time to have some fun. We ran in the Yuri's 5k run and some people even won awards.

That night we continued the Yuri's celebration in downtown Houston with Yuri's Night.

Some of the Star Wars characters showed up which made the night even better.

We're all very excited for the next two days where we get to actually fly on the Zero G plane and run our experiments.

~Brian

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 3 - Physiological Training @ NBL

Hello everyone! On Friday (10-April-2010) the team went to the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory to undergo high altitude hypoxia training inside the hyperbaric chamber. This pre-flight training is meant to make everyone aware of their personal hypoxia symptoms. Hypoxia is when your body does not get enough oxygen, typically at high elevations. NASA simulates this by placing everyone in a chamber and sucking the air out until equivalent to 25,000 ft. altitude air pressure. Everyone that will be flying on Tuesday/Wednesday (13/14-April-2010) must receive certification from this training.

Afterward, we were lucky enough to tour the Neutral Buoyancy tank, located in the same building. This is the largest swimming pool in the world that houses a full-scale model of the Space Shuttle cargo bay and International Space Station used to train astronauts. Here are a few of the pictures, enjoy!

-Andrew

At 7:00 am, both teams encounter 4.5 hours of mental stimulation during the high-altitude training lectures. Everyone was excited to be one step closer to flight day.

The teams, and Impedance Team mentor Keith (from an undisclosed Lab), eat lunch outside the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) before heading inside for high altitude training.

The studious scholars making up the BSU microgravity team receive a brief on what to expect in the hyperbaric chamber.

Jordan was the first to be equipped with the oxygen mask for our high altitude training.


Dr. Hay (left) and Dr. Plumlee (right) are just about as excited as the students to enter the hyperbaric chamber for hypoxia training.

Travis (left) and Andrew (right) test out their chamber flight oxygen masks.

Full scale representation of the Space Shuttle's cargo bay used by astronauts during training in the Neutral Buoyancy Tank. The International Space Station model takes up the rest of the pool.

The neutral buoyancy tank is the largest indoor pool in the world at 202 ft. x 102 ft. x 40 ft. This tank holds 6.2 million gallons of water.

Barbara explaining to Andrew and Leslie what every pod on the International Space Station is used for.


Jake checks out the Space Station mockup in the Neutral Buoyancy Tank. Barbara said the thing above his left shoulder is a robot called "Dexter" that helps perform work on the outside of the International Space Station.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Electronics Friday

Most of BSU's team members are currently at the Sonny Carter Training Facility taking their chamber flight as this post is being written! They've already spent the morning in physiological training class, and will be taking a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab after the chamber flight is complete. I am looking forward to hearing their stories of this exciting day later!

For the rest of the ground team members (Mallory and Tommy, and Matt tele-advising from Boise) and myself, we've spent a somewhat more relaxed and thankfully productive morning working on the Traction Team's electronics.

After yesterday's switching regulator mishap, the board that was monitoring the encoders and accelerometers needed to be reworked. We bought a new power supply, and are using Mallory's microcontroller to fabricate a new board that will allow us to continue with the experiment by Tuesday's flight.

(Above: New 250 Watt micro ATX computer power supply for sensor electronics, Below: The two position sensors and their filmstrip sensor tape)

Also today: while stopping by Ellington Field to bring our experiment back to the hotel before the weekend, the BSU Traction Team earned its Structural Analysis green check mark!


One step closer to flight days!
~Alex