Monday, June 1, 2015

April's Flight Controller Quest

This afternoon/evening is my first "solo" shift as an Attitude Determination and Control Officer in Mission Control. Ohmygosh I'm so excited/nervous/anxious/NASA(!!!!!)...so excited I wrote you a poem. It's a poem by an engineer, so don't get too excited ;-) But I assure you my ISS flying skills are much better than my poem-writing skills. Also, I may be flying ISS over a city near you, check it out here
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I never imagined they would pick me, 
By heck and by golly I was an ADCO trainee!
Two years ago I stood out from the rest, 
But then came the learning, training and tests.

Oral exams for the four CMGs, 
Workbooks to study the two GNCs. 
Then came the part about two RGAs, 
And how we get power from the sun's rays. 

Wait, wait, wait....let's start at the beginning...here's what it means to be an ADCO - poem style:

Tom-Tom and Garmin work for cars and jets,
That's right, you guessed it...we fly with GPS.
Four antennas feed data to two boxes,
A way to navigate - even for rockets.

You won't hear Betty telling you to turn right, 
Or that you'll want to keep left at the fork - slight. 
We interpret the data here on the ground, 
To make sure the orbit is generally round. 

Two little black boxes, called the RGAs, 
Fill in the data, help us to propagate.
They may be small, and triangular in shape,
But inside they have lasers that define rate!

Together these instruments help us to fly, 
They send us data from up in the sky. 
We determine orbit parameters, 
State and attitude of astro-travelers.

To keep the correct orientation, 
We have to balance the entire space station. 
Four CMGs use properties of science, 
Stabilize ISS, decrease prop reliance. 

External torques can cause ADCO concern, 
Leaks, thrusters and arrays - it's a lot to learn. 
Simulations help us train a LoAC,
By the end you could say, "Hey, she has a knack!"

Its not over yet, we have some computers,
A hellofa lot of them, it's not a rumor!
As ADCO we focus on two GNCs, 
When they operate right, our minds are at ease. 

These compys perform tons of calculations,
Filtering, vibrations, and some summations.  
They run loops, check systems, and send commands, 
The details are difficult to understand. 

Then we gather the brain cells we can muster, 
To learn about the Russian Segment's thrusters. 
There are a bunch, and their logic is complex,
But useful to avoid space debris objects. 

Working on console is more than technical, 
It requires good comm, and being flexible. 
Discipline, teamwork, toughness, confidence,
Responsibility, vigilance, and competence. 

So that's what I do in Mission Control, 
Keep 'er straight and level (avoid barrel rolls).
It's quite the dream job - its mine anyway, 
I just want to jump up and shout, "Hurray!!"

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The Acronyms (in order of appearance):
- ADCO: Attitude Determination and Control Officer
- CMG: Control Moment Gyroscope
- GNC: Guidance, Navigation and Control Computer
- RGA: Rate Gyro Assembly (each made up of 3 Ring Laser Gyros)
- GPS: Global Positioning System
- Prop: Propulsion
- ISS: International Space Station
- LoAC: Loss of Attitude Control (a big failure ADCO must know how to recover from)