Skip to main content

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 crewed 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 human 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.

Comments

  1. Glad your prior training has helped you out! You'll do great!
    -Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are pretty much my hero :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. At least you won't have to swim to escape. Missing your notes, Jeff isn't so complete...
    -Dave

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Who has two thumbs and loves comments? Nerdy April!!! Type one out and hit publish!

Popular posts from this blog

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 i

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. Controlling ISS during the 61S Soyuz docking! 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

The Diabetes Transportation System DTS-T1

I was looking forward to the Space Shuttle launch on Monday, then it was pushed to Wednesday and now it is scheduled for Thursday due to several electrical issues from a main engine computer controller. Ironically, our little MH-47G (due to start testing on Monday originally) has been having it's own issues and it is still unclear exactly when we will start testing. And all of this uncertainty, schedule changes, and issue-working reminds me of my little friend Diabetes [come on, you knew that was coming :-)]. Even with hard work, super awesome bolusing skills [ check out Holly's blog today, the number crunching is very impressive] and constant blood sugar checks, Diabetes can still be unpredictable, necessitate schedule changes, and cause the carrier to work through the issues. I have been lucky today, even after a late-night cocktail last night, I woke up this morning at 112, and before lunch I was an amazing 113. I love being steady like that, cruising along with hardly an
01 09 10