Skip to main content

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
______________________________________________


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!!"

______________________________________________

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)

Comments

  1. Congrats to you, Nerdy April, for all your hard work has paid off. I did get an email that it will be flying by tonight, so don't try to land it in our backyard! ha You will do a fine job on your own, just breathe! Congrats again! Aunt Vicki

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations April, You have made us so proud, knowing all the hard work and study that you've done over the last 10 years. Pinch yourself tomorrow when you drive under the NASA entry by those two T-38's. Dad & Mom

    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 is b…

Critical Space Item: Handle With Extreme Care

Someday I want to open a box. The box will be neatly wrapped up with an excessive amount of packaging. Its contents will have been years in the making, and even though it won't weigh much, this small box will represent a huge step forward.


As most flight hardware begins, the space-rated closed-loop insulin delivery and monitoring device inside the box will be sterile and stark. But as the batteries whir to life and insulin is placed within, it will become an extra appendage, an external pancreas, for this Type 1 astro-hopeful. Bluetooth connections will be made and doctors, hungry for telemetry from my bionic body, will be at the ready. We will rely on each other - he on I for his very existence, and I on him for my continued existence. Together we will make up one whole, completely functioning, Type 1 Diabetic astronaut.

Admittedly, this dream feels further and further from reality. I have lived with this disease just under 20 years now, and the cure has always been "just 5 …

On 20 years with Type 1 Diabetes

I think it's finally time to hit 'publish' on this post, considering it's been sitting here for, oh you know, like 2 weeks now ;-) Sometimes I "April" about things too much (this is Chris's term), and with my dad here for Christmas I realized that it's definitely a trait passed down, haha, love you dad!


To be honest, I never thought the day would come when I would say, "I've had Type 1 Diabetes for 20 years."

20 years ago a cure was 'just on the horizon' and as an 11 year old kid I took that phrase to heart - I had to. My continued existence was based solely on whatever the endocrinologist said - pancreas, insulin, autoimmune, blood sugar, islet cells, shots. I didn't know what I didn't know at that point. I had never heard of an insulin pump or glucose meter. Ketones and hyperglycemia were just big, meaningless words. Carb ratios and counting might as well have been formulas for travelling at light speed. I wasn't ov…
01 09 10