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. :)

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