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Hot OJT

Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts.

Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz.


The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…
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7 Places to Visit in Moscow

Moscow may not be at the top of your to-travel-to list, and honestly, without a work trip forcing my hand it probably wouldn't have been at the top of mine either. But the more time I spent in the city the more I grew to love its beauty. My whirlwind trip has me excited to read more about the cultural history and traditions and attempt to understand some of the misunderstood. I've rounded up my seven favorite spots to share today!

As a note - all of these spots are extremely accessible by the Moscow Metro system which was super cheap and incredibly reliable. Each ride is a flat charge - 38 Rubles while I was there (the exchange rate was about 65 Rubles to 1 dollar, so the rides were very affordable). The longest we ever waited for a train was maybe a little over a minute! I recommend getting a Troika card upon arriving in Moscow and reloading it as necessary!

1. Red Square No Moscow trip would be complete without a visit to Red Square. On somewhat of a whim our group decided …

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…

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…
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