Skip to main content

In the Thick of Manned Spaceflight

It's been a little less than 5 months since I passed my final simulation to become a certified Attitude Determination and Control Officer for the International Space Station. As I was typing up a blurb for my manager the other day it really hit me how many cool things I have already been a part of.

For starters, by the end of this month I will have accumulated over 225 hours of "console time" flying the space station, or supporting from the backroom (although the majority of the time was just me, sitting in mission control, in the middle of the night, keeping her straight and level). In that time I supported an "Optimal Propellant Maneuver" (i.e. flipping the space station around for a docking), a Russian Solar Array Efficiency test, several thruster disable periods required for robotic operations, and the install of HTV-5 (a Japanese cargo vehicle currently attached to ISS). I have also met several astronauts who serve as the "CAPCOM" position (they talk to the astronauts onboard), and even received a call from one of the crew members currently on orbit. Yes, you heard that right, I received a personal call from space, how many people can say that?! And maybe most rewarding, I have enjoyed receiving texts or emails from friends and family when they see the ISS fly over them, knowing I'm at the helm!

I'm here, in mission control, at NASA Johnson Space Center, in the thick of manned spaceflight. I honestly never thought I would have an opportunity like this, and I'm so thankful to be a small part of this amazing adventure.

A picture I snapped during some of the HTV robotic operations. This was my first "dynamic" activity alone, we had a thruster disable to support the activity. 


Any one else out there feel like their heart is full, like their job really represents their greatest passion?!

Comments

  1. Working on airplanes is all I ever wanted to do, and working on aircraft that fly through the sky at 450 plus mph with over 150 regular people on board who are not worried about the soundness of the aircraft is quite exciting. Dad.

    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…

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.


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 on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…

International Travel with Type 1 Diabetes

Whew! Back from one international trip and on to another next week! I will admit my eyes roll every time I get the "we're gunna need to pat you down" talk at TSA, but international travel is a whole different animal. I thought it might be fun to see what goes through my brain and into my bags for these types of trips!


I wouldn't be a NASA Flight Controller if I wasn't good at planning, the key to international travel as a T1D is PLANNING!

3 months prior

Assess supplies. Mine come in 90-days supplies so I like to inventory at least 3 months prior and make a plan to order more early if the trip is going to coincide with the end of my 90-day stock. In my experience supply companies are usually pretty good about adjusting orders as needed if you tell them the reason for the early request - just mention you have an international trip coming up and want to make sure to have plenty of supplies (and backups!) in time. Request a loaner insulin pump. It's likely the comp…
01 09 10