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Universal Constants in Moscow, Russia

I spent the last week or so in Moscow as part of a team discussing upcoming vehicle traffic to the International Space Station. We meet twice a year with our Russian counterparts (in Houston during springtime and Moscow during late summer/early fall) to work together on plans, review recent tests or anomalies and agree on updating processes for data exchange. This being my first trip to Moscow it was also a chance to see the Mission Control Center Moscow (MCC-M) and understand the mechanics of their mission control concept on a more personal level. 

Moscow's Mission Control Center is located in the town of Korolyov, renamed in 1996 to honor the "Chief Designer" of Russia's space program. Like many buildings in Moscow, there were no large signs indicating flight controllers were inside controlling the ISS.  The picture on the left above shows the extent of signage on the building! For lunch we ventured next door to a seemingly abandoned building - the only sign of lif…
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International Travel with Type 1 Diabetes

Whew! Back from one international trip and on to another next week! I will admit my eyes roll every time I get the "we're gunna need to pat you down" talk at TSA, but international travel is a whole different animal. I thought it might be fun to see what goes through my brain and into my bags for these types of trips!


I wouldn't be a NASA Flight Controller if I wasn't good at planning, the key to international travel as a T1D is PLANNING!

3 months prior

Assess supplies. Mine come in 90-days supplies so I like to inventory at least 3 months prior and make a plan to order more early if the trip is going to coincide with the end of my 90-day stock. In my experience supply companies are usually pretty good about adjusting orders as needed if you tell them the reason for the early request - just mention you have an international trip coming up and want to make sure to have plenty of supplies (and backups!) in time. Request a loaner insulin pump. It's likely the comp…

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution?

On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there is b…

11 Books to Celebrate Apollo 11

"Twelve, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence start. Six, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero, all engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11." - Jack King, NASA's "voice of launch control." He later said he was so excited that he said "engine" instead of "engines."

On July 16, 1969 - exactly 50 years ago today - at 9:32 am three men left Earth on an historic journey to the moon. Two of them reached the surface, 4 days and 250,000 miles later.

Since then hundreds of books have been written documenting the lunar trip, some by the astronauts themselves, others by diehard fans - some intended for the young and others intended for those who watched the mission in real time. I'm here today to present my 11 favorites on this, the Apollo 11 liftoff day! Drop a comment with your favorites!

Buzz Aldrin's Reaching for the Moon
A children's book with beautiful illustrations! I may be a bit biased - I got to meet Buz…

The Planning Shift

I am on the evening shift in mission control for the next few days. It's normally quiet - the astronauts are asleep (they run on Greenwich Mean Time), so our goal is to perform the final schedule verification and uplink any last minute documentation - it's lovingly called "the planning shift". Of course, we always have one eye on the data flowing from ISS to notice, what we engineers refer to as, "out-of-family" trends should they arise. 


I have listened to several astronaut debriefs once they're home safe on earth and one question that inevitably comes up, "Do you feel safe while you're sleeping?" I have never heard any answer but "yes" - they know teams around the world are dedicated to watching over their onboard systems and them 24/7. 
There are so many of us in the diabetes community on the "planning shift" - the quiet, behind the scenes minutia of the disease. 
This is a shout out to the parents of young T1Ds, vig…

How T1D is Like Mission Control: Toughness

This morning I rolled out of bed in a groggy haze - my alarm clock and the baby had gone off at the same time. As I reached for the monitor I heard (and felt) a muffled, "rip." The insulin pump site that had been hanging on by a thread had just ripped clean off my skin, and of course, there were 60 units left in the reservoir. Not to be outdone, just a second later the symphony of morning sounds continued - my insulin pump and phone app were alerting me of a low blood sugar. Par for the course, the wiener dog showed no mercy for my precarious situation - she chimed in with her own whiny chorus.

Toughness.

To many that description of my morning may seem extraordinary, but I'm here to tell you, diabetes doesn't take days off or give you a pass. Somehow it seeks out those moments when you are already weak from life in general and slaps you on the bum with it's two cents.

Toughness.

You see? Those alien worlds of T1D and human spaceflight really aren't all that d…

Type 1 Diabetes - IT life.

Nine years ago (9 years ago?!), I was still waiting for the black-box-doctors at the FAA to clear my Class III medical certificate - a requirement for my then-job flying on experimental Army helicopters. To 'pump' up my diabetes-dejected ego (ha), Dave let me tag along with him for his MH-47G proficiency simulator runs. That tiny taste into helicopter flight dynamics gave me so much appreciation for him - hovering is literally the.hardest.thing, I was tense the entire time and constantly felt like I was one small cyclic movement away from losing control. Even though I knew in the back of my mind we were in a (moving) simulator, my senses got lost in the weight of the flight controls, the movement on the screens, and the hard thumps when I hovered right into the ground.

At the end of the runs I asked him how he has the stamina to pilot this monster of a helicopter for literally 15 hours straight (these special ops versions can mid-air refuel). He sort of laughed, but his answer…
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