Thursday, June 5, 2014

11 Months at NASA

This week will mark my 11th month at NASA. Holy cow.

We are stretching into the 90s here in Texas, with nearly equal humidity marks. It's hot and humid and the sun stays up forevaaaa. But on the days its not raining I enjoy driving to work in my Miata with the top down, soaking up the sun, and feeling on top of the world when I pull into the "Christopher Kraft" Mission Control Center parking lot. 

This month I accomplished a lot in my training flow. I had three mini sims, two lesson checkouts and a segment review (kind of like several lesson checkouts in one). As far as mini sims go I am now in the "intermediate" level, so I don't have a mentor sitting next to me which means I'm flying the ISS solo (!). Even though they only last for four hours once a week, I feel completely drained when I walk out. A "normal" day on console can quickly turn into a firestorm of activity depending on the malfunctions our instructors put in. 

Rocket science also complicates things, like communication within the flight control team and to the Flight Director. Other systems deal with fairly routine equipment: valves, cooling loops, power systems, computers. But as ADCO, we are stuck trying to explain why our attitude knowledge may have errors or why we need rate sensors in order to control attitude or why other disciplines care about good attitude (power generation and communication mostly). It's not always as black and white as batteries or computer statuses. But I'm working on it. And I'm learning. 

If only it was this easy...

I should be finishing up all of my "knowledge" type training this month and moving into the "planning segment". It turns out the space station is fairly good at controlling itself under normal circumstances, which means my job as an ADCO in the middle of the night is heavy on the planning (reboosts, dockings, undockings, spacewalks, etc). But I'm ok with that...I would rather have something to stay busy than to just stare at data for 8 hours while every other normal person is sleeping ;-)

These summer days also have me missing Huntsville. I just received the Space and Rocket Center's Pass the Torch lecture series email and it made me sad that I would be missing out on interesting talks from the Director of the Kennedy Space Center and the Space Launch System Program Manager. I also miss using the Saturn V as a landmark and volunteering at the SCUBA tank. But I'm trying to get used to this Houston thing...bugs, cowboys and all. 

Today's Nerdy Tip: Check out this website to sign up for e-mail alerts about when the Space Station will be passing over you! Fingers crossed I will be at the controls someday soon!