Monday, December 31, 2007

If you're a runner, jogger, or a walker....

I've stumbled across this nifty online tool that I will begin to use before my runs. WalkJogRun is an online site that allows you to map out running/jogging/walking routes. It lets you save them for later reference and share with others. Similar online tools include theUSA Track and Field and Nike's Plus Program. However, my favorite aspect of WalkJogRun is that after you enter the zip code of interest, you can then filter the routes based on distance, duration, and even difficulty level. You can even tell it your intended walking or running speeds and it recalculates based on that! Very cool tools!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winter hasn't started in Florida....

I'm so jealous of anyone who is having fun in the snow. I wanted to go skiing for the holidays, but with the launch being scrubbed, last minute ski plans are a little costly. I was going to drive up to North Carolina to hit some slopes up there, but after looking at weather reports, they had rain and warmer temperatures. So I decided not to take a chance with slushy snow. I have to go to Seattle in April, so maybe there will still be snow at Crystal Mountain.

I've been off since the 24th and don't have to go back to work until January 2nd. I've had some time to get things organized and start working on my 2008 goals. Today I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the GRE study guide as I will be taking the test in March. After I studied for a bit, I went kayaking at De Leon Springs. I had so much fun and since it's about 80 degrees over here, it was definitely a day to spend outdoor. At the springs, they also have a restaurant called the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. The awesome thing about this place is that they bring two different types of pancake batter and toppings...but you make your own pancakes on the griddle at your table. When I got home, I went for a long bike ride to work off all the pancakes I ate! :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Update on STS-122 Launch

Yesterday, NASA gave engineers the 'ok' to start removing the components of the suspect feed-through connector built into the wall of Atlantis' External Tank. We are definitely not launching on January 10th, but there is still not a final date set as we are still troubleshooting the problem. The removed components are going to undergo some more cryogenic testing. Aside from cryogenic testing, NASA is additionally looking at a soldering fix Lockheed made a while back to correct a similar sensor issue in the Centaur stage used by unmanned Atlas rockets.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Infamous Feed-Through Connector.....

Well at least now we know that the cause from the last couple of scrubs was due to a critical three-part "feed-through" connector. The feed-through connector leads the wires that carries the sensor data from the inside of the liquid hydrogen tank in the cryogenic fluid to the exterior of the tank. We're hoping to find out today how long it would take to fix this issue. Another thing to keep in mind is that our launch window is only open until January 13.

But so has been approved for workers to prepare in removing foam around the connector on the external fuel tank.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

ECO Sensor test today

I've been receiving updates on how the test is going. It looks like we have found which sensor is being problematic. Later today we should have a better look on the time required to fix the sensor and see if we can still meet a Jan. 10 launch!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Let's try for January 10th.....

So in efforts allow workers more time off during the holidays, NASA is delaying the launch of Atlantis for January 10.

The delay will allow workers to take time off during Christmas and New Years, which is considered important very important given the high workloads crews have been under during last week's launch scrubs. The delay won't affect plans to conduct a tanking test of the orbiter's External Tank (ET), still scheduled for Tuesday, in an effort to track down the root cause of the sensor problems.

Missions are the kind of events that you really have to plan around. I purposely didn't make plans to be with my family out in Washington this year, thinking I'd be supporting landing by now. But, now that they have called off are WAY TOO expensive to purchase now.....and and a couple of buddies are family-less for the holidays. But honestly, this is the way it goes, and it's all worth it in the end when we launch and support the mission in Houston. At least tickets will be cheaper after the holidays for family visits. :)

Hope everyone enjoys the holidays wherever you may be spending it....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Boeing is awarded the Ares I Instrument Unit Avionics (IUA) contract!!!

Today, NASA announced that The Boeing Company has been awarded an initial NASA contract valued at approximately $265 million to produce the Ares I crew launch vehicle's instrument unit avionics (IUA). The award follows Boeing's selection as the Ares I upper stage production contractor in August.

The IUA provides the guidance, navigation and control hardware for the new Ares I crew launch vehicle, serving as the "brains" behind the rocket's ascent. The Ares I launches the Orion crew exploration vehicle, which will join other elements of NASA's Constellation program to help propel astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Boeing will produce three IUA flight test units and six production units, with an option to produce four additional units per year from 2014 to 2016. The first delivery of the avionics unit is expected in 2012 as NASA wants to launch astronauts into orbit and then shoot for the moon by 2020.

Help donate RICE to the hungry!!!!

Ok, this website is for reals and legit...I did my research on it before I posted it on here. You seriously have to check it out! The webiste is:

For each word you get correct, 20 grains of rice are donated through the United Nations to help end world hunger!

Where we're headed with STS-122

Next Tuesday, December 18th, Atlantis's External Tank (ET) undergo a cryogenics test. The ET will be filled with supercold hydrogen to test the low-level sensors. They're pretty certain that sensor(s) will fail during the test, however, some test instrumentation will be hooked up near a control unit in the shuttle's aft engine compartment to hook up test instrumentation that should help locate any bad wiring or connectors in all the cabling between the control unit box and the sensors at the base of the ET. Launch is still set to no earlier than Janaury 2nd. But we should have a better direction of where we're headed with a fix and a launch date once we determine the root cause from the test.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's no Space Shuttle....but it's still a launch!

Some pictures of mockup Orion Crew Module

About a week ago or so I posted some pictures I found on a NASA blog of the mockup Orion Crew Module. Here are two more pictures.

NASA Dryden's Fabrication Branch constructed the mockup of the Orion crew module. More simplified than the actual spacecraft, the Orion mockup is the actual size of the real thing, inside and out. Two pad abort and four ascent abort flight tests of the launch abort system are planned, all unmanned, with the first scheduled for 2008 and continuing through 2011.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

STS-122 launch postponed to January

"Launch of Atlantis has been postponed to January, NASA officials have decided. The December launch period ends this week and managers do not expect to reach a resolution to the sensor problems by then. The next liftoff attempt could come as early as Jan. 2 around 5:45 a.m. EST."

I am sure we will be able to fix all issues in time for a January launch. Hopefully we will not have weather issues during that time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Engine Cut-Off Sensors

It looks like Saturday will be the earliest attempt for the next launch. We will definitely know a decision by this afternoon. For those who aren't familiar with the Engine Cut-Off (ECO) sensors, here's a brief overview on how critical they are.

Sensors can "fail wet" or "fail dry." Failing in the wet state is considered acceptable since the shuttle is launched with more propellant than is actually required. If the sensors fail wet, the engines would continue to run and the shuttle's flight computer system presumably would shut the sensors down based on meeting orbital requirements.

However, if two sensors fail in a dry state, the flight computers would be misled into believing the tank was nearly empty and the main engines would be ordered to shut down early. Unless it happened extremely late in the climb to space, that could trigger a dangerous, untried abort scenario. A launch could end in an extreme tragedy if engines cut out too early to too late.

Here's a good schematic of the ECO sensors and their locations:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

STS-122 Launch Scrubbed for today! :(

"NASA officials are assessing their options for a future launch attempt of Atlantis to deliver the European Space Agency's Columbus science laboratory module to the space station. The current plan calls for another try tomorrow, after further troubleshooting on the fuel sensor system. Tomorrow's launch time would be 4:09 p.m. EST."

Today was a perfect day for weather too!! Tomorrow and the day after looks like we have a 40% chance of weather prohibiting launch! Well, lets hope for the best!

Happy Launch Day! Go Atlantis!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Final Debris Walkdown before launch!!

I am just getting back from helping out with the final debris walkdown at the launch pad. At around 8:30, the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) was rolled back from around Space Shuttle Atlantis. I had the most incredible view of the Shuttle once the RSS retracted.

So here are some pictures from tonight. The first one is an awesome picture of Space Shuttle Atlantis. We performed the debris walkdown on the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) and then moved on to the pad surface. In the next picture is me picking up whatever type of foreign object debris I found. The following picture is from when I was down inside the FLAME TRENCH!! Not a place anyone would want to be in tomorrow! Enjoy the rest of the pictures in the slide show. Now I'm going to bed so I can be well rested to support launch tomorrow!! More pictures to follow!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Watch this AWESOME "Earth-rise" and "Earth-set"!

Ok, so footage like this is what sparked my interest in wanting to become an astronaut in the first place. Check out this video from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) taken by the HD camera of the KAGUYA, a lunar explorer. Watching this video sure makes me want to be up there.


Video 2: EARTH-SET

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Can't wait for March!

I'm in such a great mood today. I bought a Christmas tree and decorated it tonight. I'll at least get to enjoy it for a little while before I have to leave for Houston next week for mission imagery support. HOPEFULLY, I will get to enjoy the tree for Christmas as well. I'm on landing support for Atlantis. If we do not have favorable weather in Florida for landing, the orbiter could land at Edwards Air Force Base in California if they have acceptable landing conditions. So there is a possibility that I may need to work close to the holiday break.

The next highlight of my day was registering for my SCUBA certification class! The place I went to had a holiday special I couldn't turn down. The classes last four weeks but I won't be starting until March. I had to pick a month where I didn't already have travel/missions going on because you really don't want to miss the classes. So January and February were out for me. I'm very excited for this potential new hobby!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back to being BUSY!!!!

Well, I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday. I completely finished all revisions to my research proposal and incorporated comments from my committee chairman. It looks like I will be registering for MY LAST CLASS at Embry Riddle in January! I also received the application for graduation form from my advisor, so I am well on track to graduate with my first Master's in May 2008!!

So in the meantime, I have been thinking..WHAT NEXT!? Well, I have been looking at some other graduate schools and am currently eyeballing University of Southern California's Masters in Biomedical Engineering and University of Washington's Masters in Aerospace Engineering. They offer both degrees through a distance learning network and that seemed to have worked out very well for my current Masters. I'm still not decided on what degree track I want to pursue, but I have at least until next February to completely decide. Since I haven't taken the GRE yet, I scheduled it yesterday for March 1, 2008.

So...I will currently be working on studying for the GRE, my final research for graduation, getting SCUBA certified, AND working on my resume for the Astronaut Candidate Program!!

I will also be doing some school presentations in January for Ridley Park High School and Merion Elementary School in Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Orion Crew Module Test Article

I recently visited a NASA blog and Chris from NASA Edge posted these pictures of the Orion crew module test article that is currently being built.

"In September 2008, NASA will be conducting the first Pad Abort flight test. They are calling it Pad Abort 1. This will take place in White Sands, New Mexico. The primary objective is to test the Launch Abort System or LAS. The LAS will be the most expensive part of the Orion spacecraft that hopefully will never be used. The LAS essentially covers the Orion crew module. Pad Abort 1 will simulate how the LAS will function in case something happens to the Ares 1 launch vehicle at the pad. The Pad Abort 1 test will consist of the Orion crew module flight test article and the launch abort system."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Should we go to the moon and Mars?

On November 9th, 2007, the Orlando Sentinel posted a Friday Forum question of "Should we go to the moon and Mars?"

It was a question of determining if our space program was heading in the right direction. I felt the need to give my feedback and the response was published today at:,0,5366252.story

I highly encourage you to watch the video and read some of the comments others left, and think of what your answer may be to this question.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Boeing to ship Orion developmental heat shield to NASA

Advanced Network and Space Systems material and process engineer Elizabeth Chu inspects the Thermal Protection System Manufacturing Demonstration Unit developed for NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle project. Advanced Systems was awarded a contract last year to develop a prototype heat shield to protect NASA astronauts from extreme heat during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere upon returning from lunar and low-Earth-orbit missions. The work was performed at Boeing's facility in Huntington Beach, California.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Shuttle Atlantis Rolls Out Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, the shuttle stack rolls out to the launch pad around 4:00 am!!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Discovery gets ready to go into OPF 3

After a successful STS-120 mission, Discovery prepares to enter Orbiter Processing Facility 3. It will undergo many inspections and procedures in preparation of the vehicle's next flight in April 2008!

Monday, November 05, 2007

NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Contest for Students

The NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition for middle and junior high school students is now accepting entries. The competition consists of two separate topics, each with a limit of 500 words. The first topic challenges students to describe how they benefit in their everyday lives from space technologies built by NASA over the last 50 years. The second topic requires students to imagine how their everyday lives will have changed because of NASA space technology in the next 50 years.

Students may submit two separate essays, each responding to a separate topic. Participants must be U.S. students in grades 5-9 and under the age of 15. An optional notice of intent is due on Dec. 7, 2007. Final entries are due on or before Jan. 7, 2008.


Any U.S. student enrolled in an accredited middle school, junior high school or home school (under the age of 15) in the U.S. or its territories is eligible to enter the competition for cash prizes. Non-U.S. citizens and students in international locations can enter as well, but they are not eligible for cash prizes. Trophies and certificates will be awarded to each winner, regardless of citizenship.

First prize: $5,000 college scholarship and four VIP trips to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the STS-125 shuttle launch.
Second prize: $2,500 college scholarship.
Third prize: $1,000 college scholarship.
Ten regional winners will receive "Regional Winner" trophies.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Atlantis leaves for the VAB!

This morning at 7:04 am, Atlantis left for the VAB in preparation of assembling the shuttle stack!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Videos from today at the Shuttle Landing Facility

Day 1 of the 2007 World Space Expo

I have been volunteering some of my time in preparation of the events of World Space Expo and today was the first day of the spectacular event! Below are some of the highlights of my day. I can't wait for tomorrow's aerial Salute to 50 Years in Space.

I met Lt. Col. Kevin Robbins who is the commander/leader of the USAF Thunderbirds! Below is a photo of him with his F-16 Thunderbird "parked" at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Then there were the two F-22 Raptors. My favorite!!! I got to get upclose to the aircraft and meet the pilots!! There was a major cool factor seeing the aircraft at the Shuttle Landing Facility and I know the pilots are excited about flight over Kennedy Space Center. I will upload some videos later tonight of some of the aircraft coming in on the runway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My day at the KSC Press Site

Today I was interviewed by various reporters. I was able to show some TPS materials and share what I do as an engineer in the Thermal Protection Systems group.

Below is a layout of the TPS materials I displayed and talked about.

The highlight of my day was meeting the young students that named that US Space Station Module 'Harmony'. Harmony is the US module that will serve as the attachment point for new European and Japanese laboratories. Naming the module was a nationawide student competition. The schools that selected 'Harmony' were:

Paul Cummins' 8th grade class at Browne Academy, Alexandria, Va.

Sue Wilson's 3rd grade class at Buchanan Elementary School, Baton Rouge, La.

Brigette Berry's 8th grade class at League City Intermediate School, League City, Texas

Bradley Neu's 9th grade science class at Lubbock High School, Lubbock, Texas

Yocum Russell's 3rd grade class at West Navarre Intermediate School, Navarre, Fla.

David Dexheimer's students at the World Group Home School, Monona, Wis.

Below are some pictures on me showing the students the TPS of the Space Shuttle Orbiter!

1 day until launch!

Let's just hope the weather at KSC will be in our favor!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I miei nuovi amici italiani!!!

Tonight I met my new friends from Italy that are anxiously awaiting the STS-120 launch on Tuesday. We went to dinner at the Italian Courtyard in Cocoa Beach. We all had a great time tonight conversing and they graciously presented me with a gift that was very much appreciated (below). Along with the wall clock was a card signed by them all that said "...cause an astronaut cannot be late on her launch day..."

I am humbled by the people who believe in me and motivate me in pursuing my dream in becoming an astronaut. I will be submitting my application in we'll see. :)


Friday, October 19, 2007

3 days until launch!

I have many great things to look forward to this coming week!

A group from Italy is here to see the STS-120 launch and show their support to the crew and especially ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli. The group is associated with Back in June, I was interviewed by Marco Zambianchi and a webcast was made available at Well, they are here in Cape Canaveral and I will be meeting them for dinner tomorrow night. I am very excited to talk to them and meet them!

This week I completed one more class for my master's program which leaves only my research to complete. I decided to take a little more time in revising certain chapters and will officially enroll in my last class in December, which means being complete with the Master's program in April 2008.

Monday I will be interviewed by various television networks about the work I do in the Thermal Protection Systems group. The interviews will take place at the KSC press site. So who knows, you may see me on t.v!

As soon as Discovery takes off from KSC, I will be taking off to Houston to support on-orbit imagery inspections for Discovery's RCC and wing leading edge. This will be my first mission in supporting that group. Then, I should be getting back just in time for Atlantis to roll over to the VAB. Processing on Atlantis continues and we're really down to crunch time in getting things done in time.

What a week to look forward too!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Space Shuttle Discovery at the pad!

I've been working on a paper for school and I'm almost complete! My paper is on the available on-orbit repair methods, how they came about, and the applicability for each one.

Space shuttle Discovery arrived at Launch Pad 39A this afternoon (by ~1:15 p.m.). The shuttle began its slow 3.4-mile journey from the VAB to the pad on top of the crawler transporter at 6:47 a.m.

Something you'd want to check out is World Space Expo will be coming to Kennedy Space Center on November 1 - 4, 2007. It's going to be an awesome event that will be celebrating our 50 years in space. Check out the website and try to make it out to this event as a lot of great participants will be there! Next week I will start contributing to the team that is making this event even possible! So expect updates!!

I won't be supporting mission imagery for the next mission (STS-120), but next week I will be traveling to Houston for an imagery simulation for the LESS/RCC group. During Atlantis's STS-122 mission, I will be in Houston supporting imagery inspections of the wing leading edge, nose cap, and the foward External Tank attachment point. The simulation will get me aquainted with the procedures of documenting anything we find that is different from pre-flight images. What we look for during every mission are damages/discrepancies that could potentially effect the Thermal Protection System. Below is an example of an image that was downlinked during STS-121. Now what you see here in this picture is not a damage, but bird poop that was very noticeable. :) (Bird poop burns up during re-entry)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Will I be applying? OF COURSE!

So I have been asked if I am going to be applying for the astronaut candidate slot....well of course! I'd like to personally thank those who left inspiring comments for me to apply. I encourage those who are contemplating on applying to just do it!

So get this....the required standing height minimum is 62 inches. I am 62.5. I was close on that one. Phew!!! During my senior year of college, I was thinking about going into the Navy or the Air Force to become a pilot. I couldn't go into the Navy because I didn't have the perfect 20/20 vision. The Air Force wouldn't take me because I was 0.5 inch short of the standing and sitting height requirement. Oh least I am okay to apply for the astronaut candidate position.

I am projecting on getting my application and paperwork in by mid February. The cutoff for applications is July 1, 2008.

I do have some good news. I have finals coming up in about two weeks for a class I am currently taking, which leaves only my research to be completed. During my last school term, I wrote my proposal for my graduate research project. Once your proposal is approved, you have to search for two board members to support your research. When I wrote my proposal, I was little disappointed in the direction my research topic was going. I had my topic in mind but had to change based on comments from the class and professor. The topic I had last term was comparing the public affairs methods used to inform the public by NASA and various military branches. It just wasn't the way I really wanted to go. My main concern was to evaluate how NASA was communicating to the public, not the military. After talking to a previous professor, it sounds like my original intentions were right on track. He and another colleague of his will be supporting my research!!! Now, I will be soley researching NASA's Public Affairs methods on communicating the importance of space exploration and how effective they are to the public. The term to complete my research will begin November 7, 2007, which means I will be complete with my Masters February 19, 2008!!!

After talking to my manager, I will not be going to Houston to support on-orbit imagery inspection for STS-120. As vehicle lead, I will need to stay to help process Atlantis (OV-104) get ready for transfer to the VAB. I will however, get to go out to Houston for STS-122 (launch December 6th)!!!