Monday, July 22, 2013

A Week of Behind the Scenes Tours at NASA: Day 1

This week I am experiencing NASA's "Training Academy". The program is pre-boot camp and is designed to introduce simple topics, review NASA history and show off NASA's Johnson Space Center facilities. You probably don't want me to bore you with International Space Station architecture schematics or 3 hours worth of NASA history, so I will just show you pictures from the tour each day. 

Today's tour was close to my heart...the Mission Control Center. It is pretty much my bread and butter, or it is what will be putting bread and butter on my table for years to come.  We started out in the Apollo Flight Control Room. It is now a National Historic Landmark and NASA has restored the room back to its conditions during the Apollo 11 moon landing to give visitors an authentic feel for the 1960's era space program. 

Some trivia for those less-than-super-space-geeks that may be following along:

1) Do you remember those bank teller tubes that your mom used to put her checks into to send inside to the person at the window? Well, the Apollo flight control room had a similar system, used for "E-mail" messages to and from the front room and back room. It is rumored that items other than paper messages were sometimes transmitted (i.e. dead frogs, burritos, etc). 

2)  Another fun fact, I sat in this very room 13 years ago, when I was just 13. I remember feeling beyond excited that my uncle Howard had managed to get me in to this place and even took my picture at the Flight Director's chair (hopefully I will post the picture when I find it from the move!). As I walked through the room today I felt humbled. I have "made it". I sat in that chair 13 years ago as a kid, hoping to one day work at NASA, even as a puddknocker engineer, but here I am, on the cusp of being a real flight controller. The path to this point includes the Boeing retirees believing in me, hard work and a full ride scholarship, late nights to obtain an Aerospace Engineering degree, important experience as a Flight Test Engineer, support from my family, lots of risks...and courage. And being in that 1960's, drab room with a lingering smell of stale coffee and cigarettes is proof that dreams do come true.

 


We also stopped in the viewing gallery of the room I will work in someday...the ISS Mission Control Center. This room lives directly below the Apollo flight control room and is "modern"! I will live on the console in the far upper left corner (next to the ISS model) as an Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO)....someday! Look for me on the night shift, "Hi Mom!"