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!