Monday, April 24, 2017

A week of Nerdy Space Adventures

Last week was a quiet one on the blog, for good reason - it was my first week on console as an ADCO Specialist!! Granted, the logistics of working console are nearly the same - I sit in FCR-1, I look at telemetry, I talk on "loops", but last week felt different simply because we accomplished so many cool things! In just a week's time we launched two rockets (one with cargo and one with people), followed them during free flight, flipped the space station backwards, docked a Soyuz with two new crewmembers, flipped the space station forwards and captured and berthed a cargo vehicle full of science and supplies. On top of all this we were accomplishing all of our 'nominal' tasks and planning for potential space debris after Cygnus was captured. Oh, and did I mention I had a newly certified Operator completing his cold on-the-job training with me?

I had Flight Rules pulled up, procedures at the ready and a slew of commands that I sent to the vehicle myself. I felt an incredible sense of responsibility.

Responsibility as defined by the Foundations of Flight Operations.


Honestly, it was a rewarding feeling. Don't get me wrong - everyone in FCR-1 day or night, Operator or Specialist feels a profound sense of responsibility, but now, as a Specialist my duties go beyond just safing the vehicle after an unexpected event - now I am challenged to think long term, to put together impacts for upcoming missions or spacewalks or reboosts or software transitions. I now have "on-call" shifts in case something happens and an extra set of hands is needed. I am trusted at the highest level to fly the space station, no matter what activity is happening.

I've never had a job that so clearly laid out what you are getting yourself into. Those "Foundations of Flight Operations" are literally plastered on the FCR-1 door as a you swipe your badge - a not-so-gentle reminder that stepping inside you are agreeing to have professional excellence via discipline, competence, confidence, responsibility, toughness, teamwork and vigilance. You can train and sim and prepare and read, but nothing quite braces you for those first few minutes every shift when you log in, pull up your data and realize your fingertips have command access to the world's most advanced machine.

In that moment your heart is weighted with the responsibility this job requires.

What an amazingly memorable first week as an ADCO Specialist!