Thursday, July 31, 2008

Visit with Astronaut Michael Gernhardt

Today in the Life Sciences Department, Astronaut Michael Gernhardt presented some absolutely awesome things he's been working on. He's the founder of Oceaneering Space Systems, a professional deep see diver, and currently NASA's lead for extravehicular physiology systems and performance projects. He gave us a great insight on his design for Small Pressurized Rovers (SPR) to be utilized for astronauts to explore the Moon's surface. I couldn't find a picture of the most updated conceptual design as he showed in his presentation today, but this is what an older design looks like: photo

He also brought in an EVA glove and older astronaut suit helmet that I just had to try on. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Week 5 at ISU

We all just arrived back to Barcelona from Madrid and checked-in to our new residence. Unlike the last residence, this building does not have air conditioning and we're all feeling it. It's pretty hot even with the window open. Tommorrow I am going to try to at least get a fan in the room.

Today I visited INTA and they toured us around their Astrobiology Center and the hangar where they fabricate UAV prototypes. Security was pretty tight and they wouldn't allow us to take our camera past the security gate, so I was unable to take any photos. However, I really enjoyed the visit and all they are involved in.

My new room

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A couple days in Madrid

Right after our exam we took a plane to Madrid. Today we had the opportunity to visit a center of the Eurpoean Space Agency (ESA). We visited the European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC). ESAC is a space science center located in Villanueva de la Ca├▒ada and conducts the operations for space-telescope and planetary missions. This site also has a castle ruin from the 15th century. How cool is that?!

Tomorrow I will be attending a site visit to Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, or the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA). INTA is a public institution specializing in aeronautics and aerospace research and development.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Study Break - Watching Fireworks Out My Window

I don't know what's being celebrated, but one thing that I love about being here in Barcelona is that I often get to see fireworks. This one was a good 15-minute display...and study break. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Pretend-Doctor For An Afternoon!

Today we completed all of our core lectures. We have completed 62 lectures in total and on Monday we have a big 4-hour exam on all the material. This weekend is completely devoted to studying.

After the last lecture we attended our department activity. Today in the Life Sciences department we received a hands-on introduction to space medicine. To help us understand the type of medical issues that astronauts could face during a mission, we began by practicing sutures on pig foot lacerations. We had some doctors present to help us get the stitching technique down. I think I did pretty good on my pig foot. :)

We then moved on to measuring heart rate and blood pressure with a buddy. Lastly, we looked into cardiac anatomy. When we venture on to long-duration human spaceflight, it is conditions like understanding human physiology and knowing how to perform surgery in space that the crew will have to be trained for. After listening and engaging in the lectures and activities of the Space Life Sciences department, it has really peaked my interest in becoming involved in the medical field.

Wish me luck on the exam!!! After the exam on Monday, the group heads to Madrid for some site visits. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Visit to Nuevas Tecnologias Espaciales (NTE)

The Life Sciences Department visited Nuevas Tecnologias Espaciales (NTE) today after the morning lectures. NTE is a small company that offers their expertise in the Space Life Sciences and Biomedical sectors.

Below is a picture of the Muscular Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES). MARES is developed by a consortia led by a company called Nuevas Tecnologias Espaciales (NTE). It is a strength measurement device for physiological research under microgravity conditions onboard the International Space Station (ISS). We were able to view the crew getting the qualifier model and flight model ready to send to NASA.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Visit to Lleida Airport Site

Today the students who will be writing a final report on the topic of Spaceports visited an airport construction site near Lleida. We will be creating a business plan specifically in this region to evaluate the location for a spaceport. Here are some pictures from today's visit.

The airport construction site!

With the Mayor of Lleida and the group of Spaceports!

The women of the group with the project co-chair..and me on the runway!

It's 1:28 am and we just got in from the bus ride back. It's definitely time for bed!

NASA has received my Astronaut Candidate Application

Someone was nice enough to scan what I received in the mail the other day back home. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week 4 at ISU

Tomorrow we have three lectures and right after the third one, the Spaceports team (my team project) will be going on a site visit to a city called Lleida. A new airport is planned for the town of Alguaire. The sponsors of our spaceports project are also the ones who are working with the development of the new airport. There is a possibility that we may do a case study as part of our project on whether a spaceport at this location is feasible.

I have also been assigned to the Space Life Sciences department which I am very happy about. I really am interested in the human body effects and other aspects that space activities will have in the space environment. We also get to do a SCUBA diving activity to simulate an astronaut training activity.

On Monday, we had three working sessions where we played out a scenario that one of our team members was an astronaut with particular symptoms. We had the manual that they use on the ISS to diagnose certain conditions. We were able to determine what medicine was required and had to think of how to deal with the astronaut's condition in the space environment. Our astronaut ended up having a urinary track infection.

A very cool tool we were able to use was the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) software. In space, there are times that someone may require an ultrasound in order to further diagnose a condition. But since not everyone on the crew may be a doctor, this software helps the astronauts determine where to position the scanner and how to tilt it to get a better view of a particular body part. The astronauts practice with this software as well to understand the output of the ultrasound machine as well. The picture below show Commander Leroy Chiao performing the ADUM Bone Scan on the knee of Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov during Expedition 10.

Send your name to space!

Send you name to the Moon on board a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
(Deadline is July 25, 2008)

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is the first mission in NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, a plan to return to the moon and then to travel to Mars and beyond. LRO will launch no earlier than November 24, 2008 with the objectives to finding safe landing sites, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment, and demonstrate new technology.

Submit your name using the form at the following website and it will be stored on a DVD and rocketed into space on board the Kepler spacecraft!
(Deadline is November 1, 2008)

Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of detecting Earth-size and smaller planets in the habitable zone of solar-like stars. The spacecraft is planned to be launched from Kennedy Space Center in February 2009. The spacecraft will be launched into orbit around the Sun, not the Earth, with an orbital period of 372 days. The spacecraft will slowly drift away from the Earth, such that in about 25 years it will be half an Earth orbit away, 300 million kilometers distant from the Earth, passing behind the Sun as viewed from Earth.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Galactic Suite: Space Resort

Yesterday, we visited the architectural center for Galactic Suite Limited. Galactic Suite is a planned space station intended for use as an orbital resort to be made operational in 2012. The 3-day stay will cost somewhere around $4 million per person. Included in the price is an 8-week intensive training course at a space camp on a tropic island. Velco will be available for the guests to stick to the walls around the hotel and showers are taken by entering a spa room filled with water bubbles. Space tourism is definitely increasing and there are people who are willing to pay this price. Check out there website:

Here are some pictures of their design center:

And now I'd like to post a picture for some of my friends from as they may know Laura as well. It was a coincidence that we met at ISU and knew the same people.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Astronaut Panel and Ambiguous Figures!

Weekly, the students of ISU attend panels which include some distinguished guests from different countries and backgrounds on some pretty interesting topics. Last week we attended a panel which was about Europe and where they are with Space. Being so tied in with NASA and their direction on spaceflight, it was great to hear the European Space Agency initiatives. Last night, I attended a panel in which the audience had an interactive discussion with ESA Astronaut Pedro Duque from Spain, CSA Astronaut Robert Thirsk, and former US Astronaut Jeff Hoffman. The panel was on the next 20 years of human spaceflight. Some great questions were asked by the audience and I threw one in there too!

So this brings me to my next topic! On top of our lectures we had to provide a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice of some advanced electives. Today we found out what elective we were assigned to and I was assigned to one titled ISS Educational Activity. I only knew a little bit about the elective before I went into it, but I am more than excited now!! So here's the gist of it.

Astronaut Robert Thirsk will be heading to the ISS in May 2009 for a 6-month stay to help out Expedition 19/20. Astronaut Frank DeWinne also be joining him. They will leave onboard a Russian Soyuz (19S). With the help of Dr. Guilles Clement, a renowned neuroscientist, we will be proposing an educational project for Astronaut Thirsk and DeWinne to perform. Our project will be to determine the effect the space environment has on the astronauts when they view 2D and 3D ambiguous figures. What are ambiguous figures? Figures that allow for more than one perceptual interpretation, each of which is accurate. So we need to fine-tune a software that will present the figures and record data they are selecting, develop crew procedures, and complete some other documentation by the end of the month. We're a team of about 15 students, and it is intended to have the ISU students of next summer interpret the data. Now, we're not certain that our project will get approved, but there is a pretty good chance. Today, Astronaut Thrisk and Dr. Guilles Clement were helping us in answering questions and listening to our suggestions. We're making good progress and I think we can definitely finish by the end of the month! Here are a couple of ambiguous figures that are pretty common:

Do the images change for you? How often does the image change for you?

The brain, and not the eye is the true organ of visual perception. In each of the illustrations, notice how difficult it is to see both images simultaneously. This difficulty arises because your perceptual system prefers to make only one interpretation at a time. Go brain power! :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Update on Astronaut Candidate Selection Process

I have a friend who recently attended a NASA conference and had a chance to meet with someone who knew a little of what is to come of the astronaut candidate selection process. Please keep in mind that I have not seen this officially released by NASA anywhere, but it at least provides an overview with some tentative dates. I just wanted to share this with everyone as I know there are many people out there who have applied this round and are probably wondering what happens next.

August 2008/September 2008
Initial application review
1st sweep to disqualify initial applicants just based on application information

October 2008
A couple hundred applicants asked to visit JSC
Two groups
Group 1: Mon – Wed
Group 2: Wed – Fri
Social event scheduled for Wednesday
Anthropometric measurements (need to meet Soyuz standards)
Panel interviews (7-9 people in the panel)

February/March 2009
Only about 40 applicants selected for 2nd visit
Two groups for week long medical (one group during one week and another group during a different week)
Full body MRI
CAT scan
Blood work, etc.
The final candidate group will be selected a couple of months after the final medical results.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

U.S Cultural Night

Tomorrow starts the beginning of week 3 at ISU. Tonight I am review the past two weeks of lectures as we have a big exam at the end of the month. On Friday we had a Cultural Night were selected countries give a 15 minute presentation about where they are from and about the culture of their respective country.

On Friday, the following countries presented: Austria, Turkey, Ireland, and the United States. Our presentation went really well and we passed out some NASA pins and space-related souvenirs. We also had some audience participation in doing the YMCA and the hokey pokey. We showed some line-dancing, went over some movies, music, and pop culture..oh and of course..sports, where we also tied in cheerleading. :)

Best of all were the fireworks we were able to find here in Barcelona. The fireworks ended the night perfectly and let us celebrate a belated 4th of July the right way! Everyone enjoyed all of the presentations and we really look forward to the upcoming ones.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Week 2 at ISU

We have only started week 2 and there is just a vast amount of information coming through that I need to start reviewing and studying for. On July 28th, we have a 4-hour exam that will cover all of the lectures and workshops we have been attending.

This week we are covering topics related to space telecommunications, the evolution of certain space activities, international space exploration, space life sciences, and satellite communication systems and regulations. (...and this is just to name a few of the lectures!!!) We also had a tutorial in a great software program called Satellite Tool Kit (STK). I used it before when I was in college, but it was good to revisit the program and understand the orbits once again.

Today we were assigned our team project. The students have been divided into three teams based on their top two choices of team project topics. The choices were Lunar X-Prize, Spaceports, and Volcanos. We found out our team assignments today and I am in Spaceports (which was my first choice). Now this is going to be what I will be focusing on during the entire month of August.

Specifically with the spaceports topic, we will generating a report that will propose viable models of commercial spaceports for space tourism. However, we need to get down to the details which will have to include international/national laws and regulations, economic benefit for the region, set requirements for air traffic zones, propellant storage, economic impact on the community, runway requirements for vehicles to be operated out of the spaceport...and the list goes on and on and on...

There are a total of 39 people in the group that will be compiling this report. We have been participating in some teamwork building skills and lectures and it has only really made me realize that this is going to be a big challenge for everyone. We all come from different backgrounds and have and different skill levels, but most importantly, a lot of the students here have had or are used to leadership positions. It will be a challenge for many to cooperate and work together with such a large group. Regardless, we are all excited about the topic and tomorrow is our first meeting as a group to start things off.

This Friday the students from the United States will be giving a 15 minute presentation at Cultural Night. We meet tomorrow to discuss what we're going to present. We were going to throw fireworks on July 4th, but it was really light outside before we all headed out to the Hard Rock Cafe. This Friday, we're definitely going to put on a show with our fireworks. :)

And now I leave you with a snapshot of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Poble Nou.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Internationally celebrating the 4th of July!

The days have been very, very, long with lectures. Tonight, the participants from the United States invited all the students to join us to celebrate the 4th of July. We were going to have a fireworks display, but it was still light outside at 9pm. This Friday, the students from the U.S will have a cultural night where we will have a 15 minute presentation for everyone on the United States culture. We decided to postpone the fireworks until then. Tonight we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe where they were celebrating the 4th of July as well. We could not make it a very late night as we still have to attend class tomorrow morning!!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

An Update from Barcelona...

You can imagine that Barcelona has been a bit rowdy as patriotic fans are thrilled about Spain winning the Euro 2008 Soccer Championships! Everyone was running around excited and throwing fireworks in the city.
Yesterday was our official Welcome Ceremony for all the participants of International Space University. Some students wore their cultural attire related to their country. 29 countries are being represented this summer and we're all having a great time getting to know one another. It is very interesting to be amongst so many cultures and customs and I am even learning more about cultures that I thought I already knew about. Here a couple of pictures of some friends from India, Germany, and England:

Today was the first day of lecture. The morning started off with a bus ride over to the campus of Universitat Polit├Ęcnica de Catalunya (UPC).

Today's lectures were on:
  • The Space Perspective by former astronaut and MIT professor Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
  • Policy Rationales for Space Activities by Dr. John Logsdon from George Washington University
  • Economic Rationale for Space Activities by Professor Patrick Cohendet from University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France.
  • Entrepreneurial Futures by Peter Diamandis who is chairman and CEO of X Prize Foundation, CEO and co-founder of Zero G Corp., and also one of the founders of the International Space University

    After the lectures, we didn't have any homework and I've been dying to visit La Sagrada I took the Metro with my friend Shaq and went to take a tour of the cathedral. When I climbed up the stairs from the Metro and turned around it was RIGHT THERE!! The view was breathtaking and it is amazing to see how beautiful and detailed Gaudi was in his design. Below is a little slide show during my tour inside the cathedral. It's only half way completed and they're hoping to have it completely restored by 2026.

    After the tour, I headed back to the residence as the 22 participants from Canada would like us all to celebrate Canada Day with them. However, I stopped at a small market and I had to take a picture of this basket. In the United States, we have baskets similar to these, but they don't have wheels on them. These were AWESOME!