Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fitting the Mold

Alright, I've only just completed day two of my new job, we'll call it "ADCO Flight Controller In Training". Today I managed to get the fancy-ear-piece-headset thing on after about 10 minutes, sat in the back room during a six hour EVA, only got lost in Building 4S once, and continued reading about the system I will one day get to control (fingers crossed).

While I'm confident I will eventually come to love this job, its interactions with manned spaceflight, the challenge of orbital mechanics, and a great group of fellow controllers and mentors...I'm feeling this constant flux of emotions. On one hand I am super excited and amazingly humbled to be here, in Houston, at the heart of manned spaceflight, entering the doors of the Chris Kraft Mission Control Center daily and soaking up the aura of mission operations. On the other hand, the training required to simply be an operator is a bit daunting. In two weeks I will start "Boot Camp" which is a common class schedule for all of us in OC-8 (operator class 8). We will learn all of the general knowledge about station and be tested weekly. Some of these tests are knowledge tests in the form of an oral board. Yikes. After that we move to learning the intricacies of our specific systems, in my case the Attitude Determination and Control elements of station, then tested on those in various forms. When we have passed all of that, we move into the "mini-sims" which help us get familiar with talking on and listening to all of the communication "loops" (its a little confusing to figure out which loops to listen to, which ones you should transmit on, which ones people will call you on, etc). And, once I have passed on the mini-sims I will move on to the integrated sims (as close to the real thing as you can get apparently).

It's a lot to get through, a lot of studying, a lot of criticism, and a lot of hard work with the motivation being a seat in the Flight Control Room (FCR, pronounced in NASA land "fiker"). After my last job of little to no formal training ("Hey kid climb in that helicopter, make sure the pilots do this, and write down every time you see this happen"..."ok"), it is just a whole different world.

And I hope I fit the mold.