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Houston, We Have a Podcast. Episode 51: Airspace

Gary Jordan (Host): Houston We Have a Podcast. Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 51: Airspace. I’m Gary Jordan, and I’ll be your host today. On this podcast, we bring in the experts — NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts — many of whom work in human spaceflight. But there’s another part of the NASA story that’s often forgotten, and yet it’s right in the name NASA itself, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. So today, we’re talking about that first part, aeronautics. With me today is Harry Roberts, Flight Operation Supervisor for the Aircraft Operations Division out at Ellington Field Airport. That’s kind of close to here at the Johnson Space Center. We talk about the operations out at Ellington Field and the aircraft itself that helped to make human spaceflight possible. So with no further delay, let’s go light speed and jump right ahead to our talk with Mr. Harry Roberts. Enjoy. Harry Roberts, who is the Flight Operation Supervisor for the Aircraft Operations Division out at Ellington Field Airport, who talks to us about aeronautics at NASA; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as, the operations out at Ellington Field and the aircraft itself that helped to make human spaceflight possible. Harry Roberts, who is the Flight Operation Supervisor for the Aircraft Operations Division out at Ellington Field Airport, talks to us about aeronautics at NASA; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as, the operations out at Ellington Field and the aircraft itself that helped to make human spaceflight possible. [ Music ] Host: All right, Harry. Thanks for taking the time to come on the podcast today. This is an interesting episode because it’s not something you would sort of think of, like, right off the bat. Like, you think NASA, you think space, but there’s a whole story about aircraft, right? It’s actually in the name — National Aeronautics and Space Administration. So I appreciate you coming on. Harry Roberts: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. Host: All right, so let’s first set the scene. We’re talking about the Ellington Field Airport. Usually, I mean, we talked to a lot of people here at the Johnson Space Center, but Ellington’s, like, part of Johnson, but it’s not a Johnson property. So what’s the story there with Ellington Field? Harry Roberts: Right, so Ellington Field is essentially an airfield where we’re allowed to do all of our aircraft operations. Host: Okay. Harry Roberts: And the aircraft operations would extend from the T-38, which is basically for the astronaut space flight readiness training program. We have our Gulfstream aircrafts, so a G-3 and a G-5, out there. Our WB-57. And then, also, when the Guppy comes into town, that’s where we’re going to store it. Host: So it’s kind of the house for– Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: All of these [inaudible]. That’s where they’re, you have them there. That’s where they stay. That’s where they’re maintained. So it’s kind of like a base of operations. You need the space because you need runways and stuff. So who else do you share Ellington Field with? Is it just NASA, or do you, is it for other things? Harry Roberts: No. Actually, so it’s a joint reserve base. So you have Army National Guard out there. We have the Air Force National Guard, which operates a couple different aircraft to include the F-16’s and some UAVs. And then, we also have just a regular fixed-base operations center, which is for civilian aircrafts. So they have a general aviation flight school there also. Host: So military. You got NASA planes. You got civilian planes. So it’s not like your typical airport. Like, if you were going to take a flight, I don’ know, if you were to book a flight and take it on like a 7, I don’t know, 737, whatever, aircraft, this is totally different. This is just a smaller airport. What other kinds of cool aircraft do you see? I mean, I remember seeing helicopters there sometimes too. Harry Roberts: Yeah. So the Air National Guard will occasionally operate the– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Apache Longbow. And then, one of the other people I forgot to mention was the Coast Guard, so they’ll operate their helicopters that are there in support of different operations. Host: Nice, okay. So aircraft operations, the, where this sort of fits into the story of NASA — how does that work in relation to the Johnson Space Center? Harry Roberts: Right, so Aircraft Operations Division falls under the Flight Operations Directorate, and so we play our role in that we are there to support the astronauts in order to get them trained and ready for spaceflight readiness. Host: Trained how? What are you training them for? Harry Roberts: So all sorts of things. The great thing about the T-38 and the aircrafts that they primarily operate out of is that it facilitates them learning a bunch of different aspects, from crew coordination and communication inside and outside as well as, you know, just the ability the manipulate different things. One interesting fact right now: The astronaut or the astronaut candidates are actually there down in the maintenance area, and they’re actually turning wrenches and working on the aircrafts that they go out and fly. So it’s pretty neat, and they learn a lot in that aspect because not only do they fly the aircraft and learn about it from that aspect, but they also get to turn the wrenches because it’s, when you’re on the Space Station, you can’t exactly have a, you know, a callout and say, hey, can you guys come up here and fix this? They have to facilitate all that on their own too. Host: So it’s kind of immersing yourself in this world of — that’s 1 thing I always am just totally fascinated by with astronauts is you’re absolutely right. You’re not just spacewalking and flying around in space. No, you are there to do everything. You are the research, you’re the researcher. You’re the scientist. You’re the plumber. [laughs] You’re everything. You’ve maintained this spacecraft. I mean, you have plenty of support from the ground, but it’s ultimately going to be you, like you said, turning the wrench. Harry Roberts: Absolutely, yeah. So they get to learn all those things here on Earth, right, before they get to go practice it in space. And it provides another opportunity that is a little bit different than a simulator. A simulator, you kind of know that there’s not a whole lot of repercussions there to come out of it because it is a simulator. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: But when you’re in a airplane and you’re operating it out there, it’s a fluid dynamic environment. Things are constantly changing, whether it’s the weather, or your fuel state, or, you know, the, in the engine and how it’s operating. You have to be able to adapt to those changes real time. And there’s no better platform to provide that than, a lot of times, actually being in an aircraft. Host: Is it the sense of kind of accountability maybe, that ultimately it’s your hands turning this aircraft, so you have to make sure you put the care into it because it’s going to be you flying it? Harry Roberts: Absolutely. Accountability, and I also think kind of like an appreciation, right. You know, you take a lot of people who aren’t used to that, and they’ve kind of spent a lot of time in the academic environment. And now, you get to put them in a different environment that they might not necessarily feel comfortable with. So they get to explore that before it’s game time, if you will — you know, being either on one of our vehicles or on the Space Station. Host: So let’s just dive right into the aircraft. We’re already hinting at one of them, the T-38, and this is the one that astronauts are, quote, unquote, “training” in and doing some of the maintenance, but then ultimately flying. So what is the T-38? What’s the history there? Harry Roberts: So the T-38 originated as a Air Force training aircraft, right. So in order to go onto any of the follow-on jet aircrafts, they had to start off there. And we adopted it in the early ’60’s and have been using it ever since. Host: [laughs] Okay, so it’s an older piece of equipment, then. Harry Roberts: It is, yeah. Some of the airframes that we have out there have been out there since the early capsule days. Host: You can actually, it’s kind of impressive, actually, that they’re still running. Props to the maintenance guys that actually keep the planes going, then. Harry Roberts: Absolutely. We have a fantastic maintenance department that’s been countless hours kind of out there turning the wrenches, keeping the aircraft well maintained and ready to go for everyday flight requirements that we have. Host: So why was the T-38 the plane that was selected in the ’60’s? What’s good about that, this particular plane you can train on? Harry Roberts: It’s provided a lot of different things, one of which is redundancy, right. You have 2 engines, which is, if you talk to a lot of fighter aircraft pilots, they’re going to tell you, you know, 2 is always better than 1, but it also provides you a very simple platform on which to operate from because, as you get into other more complex systems like the F-16 or the F-18, it can get very difficult when you’re talking about even a simple system like the hydraulic system or the environmental control system. It gets really complicated. But here in the T-38, it’s actually pretty simplistic. So it makes it, 1, easier to maintain, and then, 2, easy for the astronauts to kind of come in to learn and then go out and operate almost immediately. Host: So are the, are all astronauts flying these jets, or is it mainly the pilots that are really grabbing the stick? Or, I guess, I don’t know. Harry Roberts: So right now, it is the pilots that are primarily responsible for safety of flight and aircraft control, but we do offer the RCQs, so the rear cockpit qualified individuals. So they’re going to have the opportunity to kind of learn the aircraft. There’s a stick in the back also, so if they had the opportunity, they could absolutely fly the aircraft from the back. So it’s, I’m more than positive it’s been done before. Host: So I’m trying to imagine the shape of this plane. I’m imagining sort of a tiny jet, right. It’s a fairly small aircraft, right, compared to other jets that you would probably fly. And so the benefit of that is, what kind of environment is good for an astronaut to really immerse themself in for the T-38? Is it altitude, speed, acceleration? Harry Roberts: It’s kind of all of those things– Host: Okay. Harry Roberts: Because it provides that environment that is a little bit different, right. You’re taking, again, people who might not be used to this, and you’re putting the helmet on them. You’re putting a mask on them. So it’s a little bit restrictive. So then, they start to get used to those kinds of things. The speed at which it travels and, you know, manipulates. And then, additionally, you also have your gravitational forces that can be put upon the astronauts while they’re operating inside the aircraft. And so that’s something that can help them kind of get used to the environment that they’re about to go into, right. The, I think it was one of the astronauts that I’d talked about in the past, how her experiences in the plane, and how she’d been exposed to those things, and how to operate in a very dynamic situation in which the aircraft was maneuvering, it helped facilitate her being able to perform well while she was, you know, on the shuttle as well as when they were going up into the Space Station, so. Host: Oh, so you sort of, I guess training your body to realize what’s to come for a spaceflight. Oh, man. You know, I’m going to feel g-forces this way, and that’s how it feels being really high, and I got to make sure I breathe this way. So you’re sort of conditioning your body to really get ready for that next step, which is going to space. Harry Roberts: Right, conditioning your body as well as probably training your mind to start thinking outside the box and develop those problem-solving skills that you might not necessarily be adapt to utilizing. And, you know, really think ahead of what it is that you’re about to do. So when the astronauts are on an EVA, for example, thinking about how much fuel that they have in the aircraft to kind of translate to how much oxygen they have in their suit while they’re on that EVA. They have to manage that. They also have to think about, okay, this is how much I have left. This is when I need to start thinking about, you know, coming back inside and what I need to start doing to facilitate all those different things. Host: So what’s like a typical flight? If you were to hop into the back of a T-38 and say, okay, now’s your training? So where are you going? What are you doing? For how long? Harry Roberts: So we have various different phases that we put them through. Initially, when they come through, they get, essentially, it’s called contacts. It’s familiarization with the aircraft just to get the basic feel for it. And after that, they go to a navigation phase, which is going to be instruments. They learn how to navigate on the airways because it doesn’t operate the same as an interstate system down here on Earth. And then, after that, they move into an air navigation phase, which is where they’ll go to several different facilities or bases, fly out of there, and then come back. And then, finally, they do a formation phase. So they’ll actually fly in close proximity to another aircraft. Host: Oh, okay. So there’s several phases in a single flight, or is it like a step-by-step, like– Harry Roberts: Step by step, usually. Host: Okay. Harry Roberts: So we work them up to those various phases, but– Host: I see. Harry Roberts: In any given flight, it could be different. It just depends on where that particular individual is. So if some of the astronauts here complete, then they might go and use a T-38, say, to go to talk to someone for SpaceX, or that’s what the commercial crew’s doing, right. They’ll go talk to someone out there at SpaceX, or they’ll go use it to visit the facility at Kennedy and see what’s going on over there. It just kind of helps us, 1, get them going where they need to go, but then, at the same time, they get to train while they’re going up in that aircraft. Host: Oh, I see. Okay, so it’s kind of like, instead of, you know, booking like a commercial flight and just going to visit the center, now you can get some training on the way to your destination. Harry Roberts: Right. Host: Oh, okay. And they, and several destinations, I guess, right? So Kennedy was one of them. You can go out to, is it Hawthorne in California where you’re going to see SpaceX, or is it– Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: Also in Kennedy? Harry Roberts: Well, so it just depends on where they’re at and what they’re trying to do, right. So for example, we have, we’re dropping off some of the components out to the Kennedy Space Station, or, sorry, the Kennedy Center. So that way, they can see what’s going on out there. Then, they’ll go out to Long Beach is actually where they land to go visit SpaceX out in California and stuff like that. Host: Yeah, I was just there a couple weeks ago, so I’m trying to familiarize myself with the area. Okay, so Long Beach Airport. That makes sense. So I guess astronauts are — are they the primary users of the T-38, or are there other pilots that are using them? Harry Roberts: Those are the primary users for the T-38. We have instructor pilots that teach, but, primarily, it’s going to be the astronauts who are utilizing the aircraft the most. Host: Okay. Do you really take them through the wringer at any given point? Because you said there was an element of problem-solving that goes into whenever you’re an astronaut on these planes. Maybe, do you take them through a run where something’s going wrong and you have to have some kind of snap judgment to say, this is the right call? Or any kind of, I don’t know, contingency situations, something like that? Harry Roberts: Sure, so we have simulators. Host: Oh, okay. Harry Roberts: And then, what we’ll utilize that simulator for is emergency procedures. So it gets them familiarized with a checklist, as well as how to operate it, and then start making those judgments and decisions on the ground. And we can kind of amp up the scenario. It’s fully graphics as far as being able to see outside the cockpit and stuff like that. So it provides that realism that is kind of often absent in some of the simulations, but, at the same time, it allows us to kind of utilize it as a teaching environment as opposed to, this is going to be a catastrophic event if you don’t absolutely get this right right now. Host: Yeah. Are the simulators out at Ellington Field too, then? Harry Roberts: They’re actually here on site. Host: Oh, really? Oh, I want to — where are they? I want to check them out. [laughter] I’d like to take a ride for them. I mean, not in sort of any kind of problem. I would probably freak out. But just to see what it’s like to fly inside. It’s always so cool going out to Ellington Field because you just hear the jets going by all the time, and it’s really, it’s kind of a cool environment. Harry Roberts: Absolutely, yeah. It’s my favorite part of coming in to work every day. Host: [laughs] Yeah. Hearing jets, and helicopters, and all kinds of cool aircraft going by. You know, I’m kind of blown away by the fact that these planes are from the ’60’s. I’m sure there’s been some upgrades over the past that really help you to maintain them, right? Harry Roberts: Sure. So the T-38’s start out, obviously, they have a series, and so the A model was the very first one, and we’ve upgraded since then. We’re actually the T-38 November, so N. We’ve done significant upgrades to the avionics with inside the aircraft. For the most part, a lot of it has remained the same. There were some modifications that were done to the air inlets. So we actually changed the way they were designed, and the Air Force actually adopted them because they still fly the T-38 for their jet training. And then, we made some other modifications along the way. As far as different systems, they obviously get upgraded, and we had to change with the times. We’re still making more upgrades as far as different systems would have to operate with the FAA and stuff like that. Host: Really getting your use out of it, though, if it’s a 1960’s plane. That’s not bad. Harry Roberts: Absolutely. Host: So if you’re an astronaut training for the T-38, you’re learning these new upgrades. How often are you coming back to sort of just maintain your familiarization with the aircraft? Harry Roberts: So each of the astronauts, whether they’re the pilots or they’re sitting in the back, have a quarterly requirement that they’re required to maintain a certain number of hours each quarter. Host: I see. Harry Roberts: So they have to get those quarterly requirements and then also maintain a certain number of landings if you’re actually the pilot. So they come back pretty often. Host: Yeah. [laughs] I wish I had a quarterly requirement to fly a plane. I would love flying so much, but, I don’t know. I guess if you’re answering media calls, it’s not exactly the same as flying in space. Harry Roberts: Correct. Host: All right, so the T-38 is one of them that you — actually, you have a couple of them, right? How many T-38’s do you have? Harry Roberts: We have several. So it just– Host: Oh, okay. Harry Roberts: However many are operational that day, it kind of depends due to the maintenance cycle, but we have quite a few T-38’s out there. It’s pretty impressive. Host: Yeah. And you have to maintain all of them. How about that? So you have this section of Ellington Airport that’s dedicated to NASA. You got, you know, you’re sharing the space, and you got the T-38’s over here. Another aircraft you have are, is it 2 Gulfstream aircraft, right? Two– Harry Roberts: Correct, yeah. Host: Gulfstream planes? Harry Roberts: Yeah, the G-5 and the G-3. Host: Awesome, okay. So what are they used for? Harry Roberts: So each of those are used for primarily science missions. The G-5 we recently acquired, and we were using that almost exclusively for the direct return mission. So each time the astronauts come back from the Station and they land in Kazakhstan, we actually go there, pick them up in the G-5, and, that way, we can return them within 24 hours. So that way, all the data collection can be quickly acquired as opposed to having them come, you know, say, via commercial or something like that. Plus, it just facilitates them being able to have an environment that’s a little bit more comfortable for them on their return home because, as you know, it can be a pretty arduous adventure out there for 6 months to a year on the station and then coming back. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: And then, the G-3, we also use that in place of the G-5 to do the direct return mission, but we also have different missions that we do. They actually just got back from it’s called OMG, so Oceans Melting Greenland. And they go out to the polar ice caps, and they do some kind of mapping with a, essentially, they have a pod that goes and, around. They have specific lines that they go back and forth over Greenland, and they map the differential between what the ice is now and what it’s been in the past. I think it’s been going on for about 2 years now, so it’s pretty interesting. Host: Wow. I guess how often are they doing that, flying out to Greenland? Harry Roberts: So they do that particular mission at least once a year. It’s typically, we actually just got back, so it’s late February, early March, and then, after that, occasionally, it happens in the fall. But primarily, we’ve been supporting the one in the springtime. Host: Have you gone on any of those flights and seen– Harry Roberts: I haven’t myself, no. Host: Ah, that would be cool. Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: So I know Gulfstreams are, it’s actually a — Gulfstream is a company. Gulfstream Aerospace, right? And they build private jets. Harry Roberts: Right. Host: So this, it sounds like this is not your typical private jet if it’s being used for science and direct return missions. So if I’m imagining a G-5, I imagine a sort of, like, lounge area, right, [laughs] with a bar. This is not that, right? So what’s the, what’s inside the G-5? Harry Roberts: Yeah, it’s not so much Mad Men 1965 [laughs] aircraft, but, so on the direct return mission, we’ll actually modify each of the aircraft to kind of adapt to whatever mission it’s going to support. So for the direct return mission, we can actually, when we had 2 astronauts coming back, we had 2 beds in there. So that way, they can lay down on the beds. Host: Oh, yeah. Harry Roberts: There’s different medical things in there, so that way, they can be attended to while they’re actually coming back if they have any kind of issues. Obviously, it has a laboratory on board and then some other things so that way they can have kind of, like, a kitchen, a galley, essentially. And then, if we’re doing a science mission, we’ll alter that, and then we’ll take out those beds or we’ll take out some of the chairs, and we’ll roll on pallets of just basically computer equipment and say, okay, here we’ll affix it to the floor inside the aircraft, and then the scientists essentially are sitting in a very comfortable chair while they operate their computer system that’s sitting right in front of them to do whatever it is that they’re, whatever data collection they’re trying to achieve. Host: So it’s kind of, it’s not really customized on the inside at all. You’re really just using the plane because I guess it’s fast and it’s, you can, easily modified, so you can switch it to whatever you want. And especially, you said the, for the direct return missions, now you have this plane that’s dedicated to, from a scientific perspective, getting these astronauts back to do medical testing, to make sure they have enough rest. That makes a lot of sense. Harry Roberts: Yeah. Well, we do some other modifications. So the G-3 has a tube essentially on the back of it to drop sonobuoys out of it. So they would drop the sonobuoys on some of the Greenland missions to measure the water temperature and see, okay, how much is the temperature of the northern oceans actually rising? And then, identify that information. Additionally, we’re going to put nadir windows inside the G-5. And so those windows will provide the scientists utilize optical measuring instruments, so that way, they can gather some other data for whatever missions that they might be doing. Host: Nadir windows. That’s a very nautical way of saying like a window on the ground, a window on the floor, right. [laughs] Harry Roberts: Yeah, absolutely. Host: And the, I guess you can actually drop, you can drop stuff into the ocean too. Okay, that’s cool. Do you need a public affairs officer for a science mission or a G-5 mission? Harry Roberts: I actually just saw a story last night on the news, and they were talking about one of the other research centers that sent out their aircraft, a P-3– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: To go to this exact mission, so maybe there’s a chance for you in the future. Host: [laughs] All right. Just keep me in mind. [laughs] So science. You got the direct return missions. Now, you’re maintaining this aircraft too, right? So what are you doing to maintain and to sort of make sure it’s going to be, it’s going to work when you need it to work? Harry Roberts: Right. So there’s different phases of inspection that it has to go through based on how many flight hours it’s actually done and completed. So based on those different kind of requirements, we’ll go ahead and initiate whatever maintenance requirements that we have to do. It’s really nice that we’re able to do a lot of that stuff in house, and we’ve kind of coordinated with manufacturers of the engine as well as, you know, just different components [inaudible] the aircraft. Inside of AOD, there’s actually a lot of different people. So there’s the maintenance team, the operations team, the engineering team. And so to get things changed, we really just have to kind of go down the hall and say, hey, this is something that we’d like to adjust or change inside the aircraft. Is that a possibility? And then, the team of engineers goes to work, and then start to figure it out. You know, hey, is this going to fit inside the aircraft? Are the engines capable of supporting this as far as electronic loads? Just different things like that. So it’s actually really interesting to see how this all works and kind of comes together, and it’s all organic in house as opposed to a lot of different corporations that would have to kind of outsource this to whoever actually manufactured those particular components. Host: Yeah. And you can justify it by saying that this is something that you’re doing pretty often, right? So you got a couple flights per year for, that you got to go over to Kazakhstan. And for a crew return, you got [inaudible] science missions that you’re doing too. So there’s a use case for it. So those are 2 aircraft, T-38. I’m just going to go through the aircraft. I’m just going to– Harry Roberts: Sure. Host: So we got the Gulfstream and, or 2 Gulfstreams and the T-38’s. One that is always so cool to talk about is WB-57. And that one’s the high-altitude plane. Very unique looking. It’s got super big wings, and it’s known because it can fly super high, right. Is it technically in space when it’s flying? I don’t know what, where’s the threshold for space is? Is it 60,000? I don’t know. Harry Roberts: Yeah. I think it’s just underneath, but they do wear pressure suits because of the altitude at which they’re operating at. And if you had a loss of cabin pressure and you’re flying at that altitude, the air is just so thin, the usual time of consciousness is microseconds, probably, at that point. Host: Oh, wow. Harry Roberts: So you would need to be inside that pressure suit in order to function at that altitude. Yeah, no, that is probably one of the more interesting planes. The giant wings on it were not the original ones. They were actually a little bit different as far as shape, but they started to notice the amount of structural damage that was occurring in aircraft that all just probably [inaudible]. The engineers who built that probably did not anticipate it still flying well into the [laughs] 2010’s into the 2020’s. So– Host: So it’s another old aircraft, then? Harry Roberts: Absolutely, yeah. That, one of the aircraft, NASA 927, is actually, was in the boneyard, in Davis-Monthan, for 41 years before we brought it back to life after 2 years, and it is now one of the, one of our aircraft that is actually flying. So after, it’s one of the longest stints inside the boneyard and to be brought back. Host: The WB-57? Harry Roberts: That particular one, NASA 927, yes. Host: Okay, that particular — oh, because there’s only a few of them, right? Harry Roberts: Right. We only have 3. Host: Okay. Are they the only 3 in the world, or– Harry Roberts: They are the only 3 that are continuing to operate at this time for high-altitude research. Host: Wow. So 41 years in the boneyard. Does that mean it’s just sitting somewhere completely unattended for 41 years? Harry Roberts: Yeah, they do some kind of essentially setting up so that way it can kind of go into this long-term storage, but they’re, they probably don’t anticipate that it’s ever really going to get brought back. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: And if they do, it’s in a much lesser capacity than what this one is actually operating at. It’s definitely getting its work done. Host: Yeah, for sure. So you got new wings on it, like you said, but it’s doing high-altitude flights. Is that the main purpose of it? Is it science? Is it training? Harry Roberts: So there’s a lot of science. So they kind of, I think, originally, back in the early days of the WB, they were doing some research to identify whether or not this, the radiation levels up at that altitude, what they were like, and kind of, how do we get that information? How do we collect this data, right? And so you can actually go to the source, 60,000 feet, 65,000, and collect that information. Some of the cooler things that it’s done is, during the solar eclipse, we had 2 of them that tracked right underneath the actual path of totality, and it was– Host: Oh, that’s awesome. Harry Roberts: To give the scientists back on Earth a little bit longer view, right, because in whatever particular spot you were on within that path, you had a very short window that you were actually able to observe the solar eclipse. But here– Host: Right, in the totality, it was like 2 minutes, right? Harry Roberts: Right. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Yeah. But here we were able to track it, and we had 1 aircraft essentially separated by a couple miles on side that, on that path, and as it traveled along that path, we’re able to kind of monitor and capture all the data, so it was pretty interesting. Host: So how long were you able to extend your total amount of time in– Harry Roberts: I think it was– Host: Totality? Harry Roberts: About 8 minutes, which is– Host: Eight minutes? Harry Roberts: Pretty good, yeah. Host: Yeah, quadruple. Harry Roberts: Yeah, and some of the other things. So after the shuttle accident with the Columbia, they were able to identify, hey, this was something that happened when the space shuttle was already on its way up during the ascent. So we couldn’t actually see what fell off the space shuttle, and we couldn’t see how it impacted. So what they came up with is they’re like, hey, we’re going to put some cameras on this aircraft, and we can fly it at such an altitude that we can actually observe the space shuttle as it goes through its ascent, and then gather that information, see if there’s anything going on that we might not be able to identify initially. So we’d have that information right after launch as opposed to having to wait until, you know, during reentry. Host: So after return to flight after Columbia, you were flying WB-57’s out at launch at Kennedy. Harry Roberts: Correct. Host: Oh, okay. And observing, oh, I guess you had a lot of time, right, because you were flying high-altitude planes, so you had some, you had a good view for quite some time until it passed 60,000, I guess. Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: Or maybe even beyond that? Could it tilt up? I don’t know where the camera was. Harry Roberts: Well, it can tilt up, but I’m, you’re still not going to be able to look down at it once it passes you, but you can– Host: Oh, yeah. Harry Roberts: Still see it’s going to give you a much better view than, you know, because at that point, the atmosphere is so thin, so it gives you a much better, unobstructed view of kind of the space [inaudible] that point. Host: So it was pretty operational for a while after return to flight. It was used for shuttle missions, and you got some cool science opportunities there that you can do. What else can the, is the WB-57 used for? Is it a trainer aircraft at all where astronauts are getting suited up inside? Harry Roberts: So some of the astronauts have gotten suited up in it, and that’s– Host: Oh. Harry Roberts: Just to kind of, you know, see what the pressure suit environment is going to be like and see all that stuff as opposed to, again, it just gives you a different simulation, right. They can go to the NBL, but it’s going to be a little bit different to put on that suit and be in a situation like that. So some of the astronauts have gotten in it and had the opportunity to kind of go and fly, so it’s been pretty cool for them. Host: Wow, yeah. What are the, have you ridden in it? Harry Roberts: No. Host: Oh, man. [laughs] You should. You’re– Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: Leading the charge. You go, oh, hey, I got to do this for research purposes, right? Harry Roberts: Absolutely, yeah. Research purposes. Host: Well, what do the astronauts say about it? What do they take away from it? Harry Roberts: It’s just a unique opportunity and experience to kind of get that feeling ahead of time, right. There’s always that opportunity where you’re going to sit in the seat, and there’s no time like game time, essentially. But this provides you the opportunity to kind of do it before you get there. So it provides them a little bit of a foundation to kind of build off of. Host: I see, okay. I’ve seen some suit-up activities. It’s pretty cool what the pilots have to do to actually get prepared to go in a WB-57. They actually sit down, and you have some, I don’t know, technicians or some experts who are there helping you to put the gloves on, and put the helmet on, and make sure everything is sealed, and then you get, like, this little, looks like a suitcase, I think, but it’s, is it your oxygen, or the pressure itself, or– Harry Roberts: Yeah, so it’s circulating the oxygen with– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Inside the suit. So the aviation life support system guys are there helping them get suited, put it all on, make sure that the system checks out. They actually do a pressure check. So they inflate the suit to make sure that there’s no leaks. And then, they actually take all the air out. So that way, they can say, hey, are you still able to breathe off of the oxygen that’s being supplied to you at this point? And then, after they, they walk to the aircraft. That system that they’re carrying with them is actually kind of 2 piece in that it allows them to have circulation while they’re out there because, as you know, during the summertime here in Houston, it gets really warm. [laughs] So even though we’ll take them in a truck, and drive them to the aircraft, and get them inside as quickly as possible, it can still get pretty hot in that suit. So they definitely want to keep that as cool as possible. Host: Oh, I can imagine. I’ve actually seen them, in order to take a drink in the pressure suit, they, it’s different because it’s not like you can just pull back your mask and start sucking away at the drink bag. They actually have a straw that they put through the helmet, right. And it’s like that’s how they get it through their pressure suit. Harry Roberts: Yep. Host: Yeah, that’s interesting way to take a drink, but, yeah, I guess if you’re cool and you need some, or you’re hot and you need a way to cool off, that’s a good way to do it. Another aircraft that is particularly interesting is one called the Super Guppy. So what’s this one? Harry Roberts: So the Super Guppy is kind of an amalgamation of a bunch of different aircraft. So essentially, what they did is they had a problem, and we have to transport these various pieces of equipment, and it started back in the early capsule days. They’re like, how do we get this stuff from where it is now kind of all over the country back to, you know, either Kennedy, or Houston, or something like that to do the science and the research on it and also put it all together? And so they kind of came up with this aircraft, and it’s just various pieces of a bunch of different aircrafts that they assembled together, and they said, okay, this is, you know, what we’re going to go with. And now, you have the Super Guppy, and it’s [laughs] — this is the last of I think 4 Super Guppies that they built. So it is, again, another old aircraft, but it’s proven extremely useful, and it’s been huge. I mean, it’s already provided mission support for EM-1. Next week, it’s going to deliver some components for EM-2. So yeah. That’s one of the things I’ve had to learn here is the acronyms. So it moved the Multipurpose Crew Vehicle Stage Adapter last week for EM-1, and now it’s going to move the heat shield skin for EM-2 next week. Host: Okay, so the purpose of this aircraft — and you said it’s like a amalgamation I think was the word you used — of several different aircraft. And I’m imagining, if you were to imagine like the central tube of a — and I’m not good with aircraft terms, so just, you know, stay with me [laughs] — it’s the central tube of a aircraft, it’s like the front is just kind of blown up like a balloon almost, right. So it looks like a flying manatee. I don’t know. [laughs] Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: I don’t know what’s a good comparison. Harry Roberts: That’s probably good, yeah, because it’s — the replacement aircraft for that is called the Super Beluga. Host: Super Beluga. [laughs] Harry Roberts: So I guess manatee would be pretty good. No, essentially– Host: Oh, a beluga whale. Harry Roberts: What they did is, so the fuselage– Host: Fuselage. There it is. Harry Roberts: Is, yeah, the fuselage is going to be the main tube portion, and then, essentially, what they did is the upper top portion of the fuselage, they kind of expanded it as well as elongated it. So that way, it would kind of fit whatever was going to be in there. I think it’s about 25 feet in diameter inside. We can actually fit all sorts of different things. So they do more than just move various components of, like, Orion around. They actually move around T-38’s that are broken and– Host: Whoa. Harry Roberts: If it’s broken beyond the point that it can actually fly, then we can actually load it up in the Super Guppy and then move it to wherever we’re going to do our long-term maintenance on it. It’s moved an MB-22 fuselage, which is the Marine Corps and Air Force’s Osprey aircraft, the tiltrotor aircraft. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: So that fuselage, it’s moved that. So it’s done quite a few different things, but– Host: Osprey’s a cool aircraft, right. That’s the one that sort of takes off like a helicopter, and then propellers move from the top sort of forward– Harry Roberts: Right. Host: And you can turn it pretty much into a plane. It’s like a hybrid helicopter plane. It’s a pretty cool aircraft. So you pretty much, the benefit of the Super Guppy is it’s got such this weird shape that you can put stuff inside and transport it that wouldn’t fit inside of another aircraft. That’s the benefit of it. Harry Roberts: Right. It’s not going to fit inside of another aircraft or it would take too long or be too much of a pain or a hassle to kind of facilitate moving it on any kind of traditional rail or, you know, road, kind of logistical means. So– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Or it would just be too dangerous, or maybe they don’t want to move it because it’s too high value of an asset to have it be– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Out on the road, right. So they’ll go ahead and put it in the Super Guppy and then move it that way. Host: Yeah. If you’re taking about like a expensive space piece of equipment, one that’s certified for flight, you don’t want to start over from the beginning if it gets a couple scratches on the rail. You want to put it into this nice aircraft that’s going — you know that this thing is going to transport it efficiently and safely to its destination. That makes a lot of sense. Harry Roberts: Yep. Host: Yeah. Like you said, for high-value stuff. So I’m guessing — a lot of these aircraft that we’re talking about are relatively old, right? The T-38, the Super Guppy, the WB-57 — all these older aircraft that you constantly have to maintain. So how do you make sure that they are ready to fly? Harry Roberts: So again, you know, it’s just a brilliant maintenance team that does a lot of the heavy lifting on that aspect. So the Super Guppy resides out in El Paso typically when it’s not here in Houston or out supporting other missions. And out there, they’re doing the maintenance to kind of get it ready. And then, also, being out in El Paso, the dry desert climate kind of makes it a little bit easier on the aircraft. Older aircraft in particular like to, like that environment a lot better than they, the humidity of, say, Houston. Host: Yeah. So I’m imagining if you leave like a bicycle out here in Houston, you get like a matter of time before the chains rust. [laughs] So, okay, it’s the same thing with aircraft. So you got all these old aircraft. Are those, is that the primary aircraft that you have here, or is there more that maybe you’ve had and have since gone? I know one of them was actually the C-9 I think was one of them. Harry Roberts: Right, so the C-9, which was utilized for zero-gravity training. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: And then, before that, we had a KC-135, and they utilized that to support the, they called that one the vomit comet, right, so that’s where that name came from. And that was just to do various parabolas out over the water, and they would simulate zero-g, they would simulate lunar gravity. So they could do different things and essentially allow the astronauts opportunity to kind of get some exposure to that kind of environment as opposed to having to wait until they got in space to actually experience it. So it’s pretty interesting. Host: Yeah, learned how to move around. I did have the pleasure of riding on — I don’t think it was the C-9 — but it was when the education office was doing microgravity flights for students. That was the program that they had a while back. I think it was called Reduced Gravity Program. I actually was an intern there and got to ride with my mentor, who was in charge of the program because I had been helping along with it. Unbelievable experience, and it is so weird to try to get used to it. But what’s interesting is, so the, it does this parabolic flight where it goes up, and it’s at like the peak of that parabola that you experience zero gravity. And then, when you go down, you experience 2 g’s. And it’s, you’re experiencing zero gravity for only like a couple seconds at a time. And we did I think 30, 32, I think it was 32 parabolas. I did not, it did not take long for me to sort of get adjusted. It’s incredible how quickly the body can adjust to a completely new environment, something that is never experienced before. Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: Pretty cool stuff. Harry Roberts: Yeah, so when I used to fly just experiencing, you know, different kinds of g levels at whatever time in the aircraft, it was always pretty astounding to me and how my body quickly adapted. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: And how there would be things that I’d be doing inside the aircraft that I was like, oh, wow, I can’t believe we were just, you know, at 5 g’s at that particular moment, and now my body was acting and reacting in a normal capacity as opposed to any other time, where you’re just walking around on Earth in a 1-g environment. So it was pretty interesting. Host: So are you a pilot too, or did you just ride on the aircraft when you were experiencing this? Harry Roberts: So I was a, before coming to NASA, I was actually in the military for 11 years. I served in the United States Marine Corps as a naval flight officer. Host: All right. Harry Roberts: And so I was on the EA-6B Prowler, and I got to do that for a couple years. And then, after that, I taught at flight school down in Navy Pensacola, so it’s been pretty interesting for me. Host: Okay, so you — what’s the Prowler? What’s that aircraft? Harry Roberts: The EA-6B Prowler is an electronic attack aircraft. Host: Okay. Harry Roberts: So its essential and primary mission was to deny and delay the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Host: What? [laughs] Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: That’s straight-up sci-fi, man. Harry Roberts: After that, it gets pretty complicated, so. Host: [laughs] Okay. We’ll just stop there. Okay, pretty cool. So you experienced a lot of different forces on your body during some of those flights. Five g’s — that’s got to feel pretty intense. Harry Roberts: Yeah. So when you’re kind of experiencing it, you don’t really notice it. Host: Really? Harry Roberts: There’s this one time that we actually pulled more than 5 g’s, and I had no idea. The adrenaline was rushing so much at that point that I didn’t even really notice it. And then, there was another time that I remember I was kind of had my arms on the canopy rail, and I looked away for a second, and it was at that moment that the aircraft turned, we initiated a pretty strong pull, we pulled about 7 g’s, and I was like, okay, no big problem. And later that day, my wife was asking me, she was like, “Hey, where’s that bruise on your arm, where did that come from?” And I had to think about it for a second, and then I remembered where I had my arms, there was a little lever there, and so that level had actually put an indention into my arm and caused it to bruise after that 7 g’s, so. Host: Oh, wow, because it was 7 g’s of force being applied to your side right there. Harry Roberts: Yep. Host: And you didn’t even know it. Harry Roberts: I had no idea. Host: [laughs] How does it sort of feel like? How would you describe the feeling of extra g’s? For those who haven’t ridden on a plane. I’ve felt 2 g’s. I mean, you could probably compare it to like a roller coaster ride or something, but the feeling of having additional gravitational forces on your body. Harry Roberts: Probably say you don’t notice it too, too much because you’re typically sitting down, and you’re not going to notice it a whole lot until you try and maneuver or move some kind of appendage on your body. Then, that’s when you notice. You’re like, oh, wow, my head feels very, very heavy right now. [laughs] Or, why does it feel like my arm is lifting a 60-pound weight so I can press this button? It’s at that point that you actually start to recognize it, and you’re like, oh, wow, this is kind of painful. And then, before you know it, it’s over, usually, so. Host: I guess looking straight is probably a good method whenever you’re flying and experiencing these g’s. I imagine if you’re turning your head just left to right or up and down and trying to look over — I know, I mean, I, just doing like a roller coaster ride, one of the many reasons I probably couldn’t be an astronaut/pilot is I get terrible motion sickness. So even like turning over to the side would be, I guess with those gravitation forces, would sort of induce nausea to a point. Harry Roberts: It can, but, again, you know, you’re talking about how the body reacts and kind of adapts– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Pretty quickly. Once you get used to that environment, it becomes kind of second nature to you, and you get used to it pretty quickly. A lot of the training that we do is to kind of prepare your body for those kinds of things. So we incorporate that into the various training aspects. We do a centrifuge training, and they’re used to, one of the sets in there is you actually turn your head to the left, and you are anticipating there’s going to be some kind of gravitational force. And it goes basically from 0 to about 6 and a half, upwards of I want to say almost 9 g’s. And then, at that point, you’re supposed to be able to execute the Hick maneuver in order to maintain consciousness as well as keep the blood inside of your upper body as well as inside of your brain. And then, after that, you’re like, oh, okay. You start to learn how to deal with all these different things and how to kind of operate within that environment as opposed to, you know, just being, having it slammed into you immediately on day 1. So we kind of baby step people through those processes. Host: What’s that maneuver? You said the Hick maneuver? Is that what you said? Harry Roberts: Hick maneuver, yeah. So essentially, you’re squeezing all your lower extremities in order to keep the blood from just pooling in your feet. And then, you’re also kind of adjusting the way you breathe and essentially making a “hick” sound. And that’s closing off your throat and kind of the, all the main arteries that run up to your brain. So that way, you can squeeze that blood back into your brain. Host: Wow, you’re literally forcing, okay, you’re forcing the blood up. How do you squeeze your legs? Are you doing it with your hands, or are you just, like, flexing? Harry Roberts: You’re just flexing. So you’re taught to kind, like, squeeze from the bottom up. So you’ll squeeze your calf muscles and your thighs, your glutes, and then you’ll just try and keep all that as tense as possible. And then, while you’re doing that, you’re doing the Hick maneuver. So in addition to kind of keeping that blood flow up inside of your brain, you’re also keeping the air inside of your body because it’s a huge exertion on behalf of whatever that individual is to kind of do all these things. So you have to hold all that air because it’s real easy to kind of let it all out because we’re just used to breathing in a 1-g environment, right? And now, [inaudible]. So you kind of have to monitor that, maintain it. Otherwise, it can be lights out real quick. Host: I can see how you would probably want to practice that maneuver and get pretty good at because in the event that you would need to pull a serious amount of g’s — I know in the future, one of the things they’re looking at is, for example, talking about Orion, you already hinted at EM-1, EM-2, some of these Orion missions, for crew flights, they’re going to have an abort system on top. And you’re already on top of the largest rocket in the world, the Space Launch System. But then, if you want to escape the largest rocket in the world, you have to have a really, a lot of force in a very short amount of time that’s going to pull you away, and you’re going to experience some significant g’s there. So I can see how if you, in an abort scenario particularly, you would really want to master that technique. I know while you were describing what you had to do, I almost passed out. So the fact that I’m talking right now is pretty amazing. [laughter] So we got aircraft operations at Ellington Field, and while we’re on the top of just Ellington and Johnson Space Center, kind of to give the whole perspective of what’s going on here in Houston because I don’t think we’ve talked about it before on the podcast, I don’t think. Yeah, so we got the Johnson Space Center, which is next Clear Lake, right. Then, we got a little bit more northish is Ellington Field. But we also have something called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, right? Harry Roberts: Right. Host: Which is pretty close to Ellington Field. Harry Roberts: Yeah. I’d probably say it’s kind of in between the both of us. So like from the flight line over to Ellington, you can kind of look over and see on site. It’d be a lot quicker if I could just walk across probably as opposed to driving over here. But, yeah, you can see the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and then the rest of some of the buildings are kind of faint in the distance. But, yeah, you can definitely see it out there. Host: Yeah, and that’s, the, I guess you can call it the giant pool. Harry Roberts: Yes. Harry Roberts: And that’s where they simulate extravehicular activities, suiting up in a space suit, and going for a space walk. Full-scale markups in the pool. You can pretty much get a feeling. Just like you can get a feeling for g’s and get a feeling for this flight simulation sort of feeling within the T-38, you can get a feeling for what it’s going to be like to do a space walk in the pool. That’s probably one of the best simulators we have for what the actual thing is going to be like. And I think White Sands Test Facility is also part of the story, right? Host: Yeah, but I would have to kind of do a little bit more research to kind of get the information on that one. Harry Roberts: Me too. Yeah, we’ll have to bring someone on to talk about that, but that’s sort of the, I think that’s, that pretty much is Johnson Space Center. It’s mainly those facilities and probably a couple other things here and there. But everyone working together for human spaceflight, pretty much. So you said you had a military background. What other sort of, I guess most of the [laughs] flight instructors and folks out at Ellington are going to have some sort of military or pilot background, right? Host: Right. So as far as the research pilots, we typically recruit those individuals who have had a experience, 1, in a jet aircraft, and then, 2, as an instructor because it’s going to be their primary role and function. Every one of our research pilots goes on to eventually become some kind of other pilot in addition to that, whether it’s on the WB, or the Gulfstream, or the Super Guppy. Harry Roberts: Yeah. Host: But, yeah, we typically recruit military pilots to be the research pilots out of there, so it’s probably one of the few opportunities that you get to fly after the military in a jet aircraft and get to do a lot of the things that you did before, so. Harry Roberts: So is there elements of collaboration? Because we’re not the only NASA center that has aircrafts. Like, there’s actually I think Armstrong Spaceflight Center over at Edwards Air Face in, Edwards Air Base, there it is, in California. They have some aircrafts out there too. Is there elements of collaboration there? Host: Yeah, so, actually, the Glenn Research Center, they just came down with a T-34, which is a turboprop aircraft, and were able to get some of the astronauts in there, and simulate some spin training, and then get them the opportunity to kind of sit in the front seat and experience what it’s like to fly from the front because it’s a little bit easier to maneuver and fly in that particular aircraft. And then, we also have, we’re going to interact with Armstrong. We’re going to help support them. They’re going to bring down some Hornets to do the quiet sonic boom technology. They’re going to be part of that development, so we’re going to be helping them and supporting in that role. Host: Quiet sonic boom, that’s pretty cool. Harry Roberts: It’s, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you say it out loud, but then– Host: [laughs] Quiet sonic thump, maybe? Harry Roberts: Yeah, so that’s the idea is– Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: Turning a sonic boom into a sonic thump, right. Host: Yeah. Harry Roberts: And then, 1, facilitate travel kind of across the United States commercially with that technology, but also, as far as spaceflight, right. If you got to see the audio from SpaceX when they landed those 2 rockets simultaneously– Host: Oh, yeah. Harry Roberts: There was actually a pretty loud sonic boom whenever they came back. You could hear it in one of the videos that I saw. So, you know, developing all that stuff, it’s going to be key for future exploration in flight like that, especially since you’re going to bring it back to the United States. Host: That’s right. Yeah, that’d be cool if supersonic flight can be just a little bit quieter. I mean, I would love to go to Europe in, like, 2 hours. That would be pretty cool. [laughs] Harry Roberts: Yeah, I’m sure everybody would love that. Host: Yeah. [laughs] That’d be pretty great. All right, well, Harry, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sort of telling the story of this aeronautics element to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Appreciate you coming on. Harry Roberts: Thanks for having me. [ Music ] Host: Hey, thanks for sticking around. So today we talked about aircraft operations and the Ellington Field part. That is the whole story of the NASA Johnson Space Center. I don’t think we’ve addressed this on a previous episode, but we just sort of label it as an episode because it kind of helps us keep track of how many we’ve done so we can brag about it later. But really, you don’t really have to listen to them in order. So there’s a lot of other topics that you can cover on Houston We Have a Podcast. We talk to a lot of different people — astronauts, scientists, engineers, flight directors, flight controllers, pilots — all these different, cool people with honestly amazingly stories, amazing stories. So you can go back and listen to any episode in any order. Otherwise, there’s plenty of other NASA podcasts you can listen to. We got Gravity Assist out at headquarters hosted by Dr. Jim Green that’s about planetary science and our friends over at Ames Research Center for the NASA in Silicon Valley Podcast. They talk about the some of the research that goes aboard the International Space Station. On social media, you can follow the NASA Johnson Space Center accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can use the hashtag #asknasa on one of those platforms to submit an idea or maybe a question for the podcast, and maybe we’ll turn it into an entire episode or maybe even answer it in the beginning for a future episode. So this podcast was recorded on April 10th, 2018 thanks to Alex Perryman, Kelly Humphries, Lori Wheaton, Pat Ryan, Bill Stafford, and Brandi Dean. And thanks again to Mr. Harry Roberts for coming on the show. We’ll be back next week.

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hwhap_Ep21_Microgravity University

>> HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PODCAST. WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL PODCAST OF THE NASA JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, EPISODE 21: MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY. I’M GARY JORDAN AND I’LL BE YOUR HOST TODAY. SO THIS IS THE PODCAST WHERE WE BRING IN THE EXPERTS– NASA SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, ASTRONAUTS, SOMETIMES EDUCATORS– ALL TO LET YOU KNOW ALL THE COOLEST INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN SPACE. SO TODAY WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE WAY STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS ARE INVOLVED AT NASA WITH MIKE McGLONE. HE’S AN EDUCATION SPECIALIST HERE AT THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER HERE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS. AND WE HAD A GREAT DISCUSSION ABOUT THE DIFFERENT PROGRAMS HERE AND HOW THEY INFLUENCE STUDENTS TO PURSUE CAREERS IN STEM AND STEAM FIELDS, INCLUDING CAREERS HERE AT AMERICA’S SPACE AGENCY. SO WITH NO FURTHER DELAY, LET’S GO LIGHTSPEED AND JUMP RIGHT AHEAD TO OUR TALK WITH MR. MIKE McGLONE. ENJOY. [ MUSIC ] >> T MINUS FIVE SECONDS AND COUNTING– MARK. [ INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER ] >> HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PODCAST. [ MUSIC ] >> OKAY, WELL THERE’S SOME– IS MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY– SO I WAS DOING SOME RESEARCH, JUST TO UNDERSTAND KIND OF THE WHOLE THING. MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY IS LIKE A PARENT BRAND SORT OF? >> YES. >> THAT KIND OF OVERARCHES? AND MICRO-G NExT IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS, RIGHT? >> THAT’S RIGHT. MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY IS AN OVERARCHING– IT’S JUST AN UMBRELLA. IT’S NOT REALLY AN ORGANIZATION, BUT IT ACTUALLY STARTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO WITH– CALLED RGOs– REDUCED GRAVITY OPPORTUNITIES. >> AH. >> IT WAS WHERE TEACHERS AND EDUCATORS AND EVEN STUDENTS DESIGNED EXPERIMENTS TO THEN COME FLY ON THE C-9 AIRCRAFT, THE VOMIT COMET. >> YEAH! >> AND DO THOSE KINDS OF TESTS. BUT AS THAT PROGRAM PHASED OFF, THEY LOOKED AT OTHER OPPORTUNITIES, AND THAT’S WHY WE’VE LOOKED AT LIKE MICRO-G NExT WITH THE MBL, OR NOW MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY FOR EDUCATORS, WHICH OUR CURRENT ACTIVITY HAS BEEN FOCUSED OVER ON THE PRECISION AIR BEARING FLOOR, THE PABF OVER IN BUILDING 9, THE SPACE VEHICLE MOCKUP FACILITY. >> AH, OKAY. SO WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THAT FACILITY, THEN, THAT LETS YOU DO THE CHALLENGES, I GUESS? >> WELL, THE PRECISION AIR BEARING FLOOR, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IS– IF YOU’VE BEEN OVER THERE, IT’S A LARGE… STEEL PLATE, IT LOOKS LIKE. >> OKAY. >> POLISHED, HIGHLY FLATTENED TO WITHIN– I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY MICROMETERS FLAT IT IS FOR THE DISTANCE IT IS, BUT IT BASICALLY WORKS LIKE A REVERSE AIR HOCKEY TABLE, IF YOU EVER PLAYED ON ONE OF THOSE. >> YEAH! >> YEAH, AT AN ARCADE OR SOMETHING. BUT INSTEAD OF AIR BLOWING UP THROUGH THE FLOOR, WHATEVER ITEM YOU HAVE SITS ON PADS, THAT THE AIR IS THEN BLOWN DOWN TO LIFT IT UP AND GIVE IT A NEAR FRICTIONLESS KIND OF SURFACE. SO THAT ALLOWS US TO DO MICROGRAVITY IN TWO DIMENSIONS. >> OH, OKAY. VERY COOL. SO WHAT– I’M TRYING TO IMAGINE WHAT KIND OF MICROGRAVITY YOU CAN DO IN THAT TWO-DIMENSIONAL ENVIRONMENT. WHAT’S A CHALLENGE THAT YOU CAN DO? >> WELL, THE CHALLENGE THAT WE’VE COME UP WITH, WE USED LAST YEAR– WE’RE USING IT AGAIN THIS YEAR– IS WE’RE DOING A SIMULATION THAT’S VERY SIMILAR TO ONE THING THAT WE DO ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, WHERE WE’RE LAUNCHING SMALL CUBESATS INTO ORBIT AROUND EARTH. WE’RE TAKING IT A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY IN THAT WE’RE LOOKING AT A MOVING SATELLITE TRYING TO LAUNCH A SMALL SATELLITE INTO ORBIT AROUND MARS. IT’S AN ORBITAL INSERTION. SO IF YOU CAN IMAGINE A MOVING OBJECT THAT HELD YOUR SATELLITE MOVING AWAY FROM A TARGET THAT’S MOVING ALMOST LEFT TO RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, AND FIRING AN OBJECT TO HIT A TARGET– VERY CHALLENGING. >> YEAH. SO IT’S KIND OF LIKE TARGET PRACTICE, I GUESS, BUT IN TWO DIMENSIONS AND IN MICROGRAVITY KIND OF THING? >> RIGHT. AND OTHER THAN STANDING STILL AND HITTING A TARGET, YOU’RE MOVING AS WELL. >> OH. >> SO YOU’VE GOT THREE DIFFERENT MOTIONS ACTUALLY GOING ON. >> WOW. AND IT’S REALLY TO SIMULATE REAL ORBITAL INSERTIONS, THAT KIND OF THING? >> YES, VERY SIMILAR. >> OKAY, VERY COOL. >> AND ADDING IN THE ROBOTICS TO IT, BECAUSE IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE AUTONOMOUS– ONCE THEY SAY, “GO, TURN ON THE AIR,” EVERYTHING BEGINS TO MOVE, THEN IT HAS TO RESPOND ON ITS OWN. SO THERE’S ROBOTICS INVOLVED WITH IT AS WELL. >> ALL RIGHT. ALL RIGHT, LET’S PULL BACK JUST A LITTLE BIT, BECAUSE MICROGRAVITY– WE’RE KIND OF GETTING INTO THE– LIKE ALREADY SOME OF THE CHALLENGES, BUT I WANT TO GET LIKE A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY– JUST WHAT IT IS, AND WHO DOES IT, WHO PARTICIPATES, THAT KIND OF THING. SO WHAT’S LIKE THE OVERARCHING DESCRIPTION OF MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY? >> OKAY, WELL, MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY FOR EDUCATORS– MGUE– I’LL TRY TO REFER TO IT AS THAT– >> ALL RIGHT. >> –IS AN OPPORTUNITY– WELL, ACTUALLY– ANYWAY, IT’S IN THE SECOND YEAR. LAST YEAR WAS OUR INAUGURAL YEAR. WE’VE ONLY MADE A FEW CHANGES TO IT THIS YEAR, AND I’M TALKING ABOUT THOSE. BUT IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATORS AND NOW STUDENTS INVOLVED THIS YEAR TO BRING THIS DEVICE TO MEET THIS CHALLENGE I JUST TALKED ABOUT. >> MM-HMM. >> TO DESIGN AND BUILD THAT BACK HOME AND THEN SEND A VISITING TEAM HERE TO JOHNSON SPACE CENTER TO TEST IT THERE ON THE PABF. SO THAT DESIGN CHALLENGE REALLY BRINGS IN ALL ACROSS ALL THE COMPONENTS OF STEM– SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS. WE’RE REALLY TRYING TO REACH OUT AND ENGAGE STUDENTS WITH. >> YEAH. >> AND GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ALL THAT TO BEAR ON A VERY CHALLENGING, AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCE, AND THEN BRING A TEAM HERE TO ACTUALLY TEST IT IN OUR UNIQUE FACILITY. SO IT’S A BIGGER TEAM BACK HOME THAN GETS TO COME, BUT IT’S– WE’RE INVITING ACTUALLY TWO EDUCATORS AND FOUR STUDENTS– HIGH SCHOOL AGED STUDENTS– TO ACTUALLY COME HERE AND DO THE TESTING. >> HMM. AND IT’S THE EDUCATORS FROM THAT SCHOOL ON THE CENTER? >> EDUCATORS FROM THAT SCHOOL. I USE THE TERM EDUCATOR AS OPPOSED TO TEACHER BECAUSE IT’S OPEN TO– IT COULD BE A SCHOOL, SCHOOL DISTRICT. IT COULD BE TIED IN WITH INFORMAL EDUCATION AS WELL, SO IT COULD BE WITH A SCIENCE MUSEUM OR LIKE A 4-H OR A SCOUTING UNIT, BECAUSE THOSE ARE EDUCATION PROGRAMS THAT HAVE STEM OUTREACH AS WELL. SO OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO TAKE THAT ON. >> ALL RIGHT, COOL. SO WHAT KINDS OF– WHAT WAS LAST YEAR LIKE? WHAT– HOW WAS THE SETUP? WHO CAME, AND THEN WHO PARTICIPATED? WHAT WAS THE CHALLENGE? >> THE CHALLENGE WAS VERY SIMILAR, AGAIN, SO WHAT WE’RE DOING AGAIN THIS YEAR. WHAT WAS DIFFERENT WAS THAT THE TEAMS THAT CAME WERE ONLY EDUCATORS– TEAMS OF FIVE EDUCATORS CAME. WE HAD THEM FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I BELIEVE– IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, WE HAD 9 STATES REPRESENTED– NO, THAT’S NOT CORRECT– 12 STATES WERE REPRESENTED, INCLUDING PUERTO RICO. >> ALL RIGHT. >> AND THOSE WERE WORKING– WE HAD A VARIETY OF TEAMS. SOME OF THEM WERE WORKING WITH ONE SCHOOL OR ONE PROGRAM. WE HAD SOME THAT WERE WORKING ACROSS THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. AND WE WOULD HAVE ONE TEAM THAT WAS MADE UP OF FIVE TEACHERS, CAME FROM FIVE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY– FROM CALIFORNIA TO NEW YORK. >> HMM. >> YEAH, THAT WAS AN INTERESTING CHALLENGE FOR THEM– NOT ONLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING FOR US ON THE ENGINEERING, BUT JUST THEIR LEARNING HOW TO COLLABORATE TOGETHER WAS A BIG CHALLENGE FOR THEM. WE HAD A LOCAL TEAM HERE FROM CLEAR LAKE ISD AS WELL, SO IT WAS QUITE A DIVERSE GROUP. >> YEAH, DEFINITELY, ALL ACROSS THE BOARD. SO THEN, THE WHOLE THING WAS– ONCE YOU GOT– I GUESS YOU PUT FORWARD A PROPOSAL OR SOMETHING, RIGHT, TO PARTICIPATE? IS THAT KIND OF HOW IT STARTS? >> RIGHT, THAT’S HOW IT STARTS. WE SEND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHALLENGE AND THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS. AND YOU KNOW, THERE’S A LOT OF SAFETY THAT THEY HAVE TO COVER TO BE ABLE TO COME WORK IN BUILDING 9, THE SPACE VEHICLE MOCKUP FACILITY, AND WORK ON THE PABF. SO WE SEND OUT ALL THAT INFORMATION AND INVITE TEAMS, AND I GUESS SCHOOLS, SCHOOL DISTRICTS, INFORMAL GROUPS, OR SOME COMBINATION THEREOF TO SEND IN A PROPOSAL. AND THEN WE REVIEW THOSE. WE REVIEW THEM FROM BOTH A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT, SOME OF OUR SUPPORT FOLKS IN BUILDING 9 WILL READ IT FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT. AND THEN WE’LL ALSO READ THE EDUCATION SIDE, BECAUSE IT IS AN EDUCATION EVENT AND OUTREACH AND THOSE THINGS. SO WE READ IT FROM AN EDUCATOR POINT OF VIEW, AND OUR TOP TEN TEAMS WILL GET THE INVITATION TO COME DOWN AND PARTICIPATE. >> OH, OKAY. SO ANYONE WRITES THE PROPOSAL, ANYONE KIND OF PUTS THIS TOGETHER, AND THEN IT’S UP TO YOU TO DECIDE WHO’S GOING TO COME DOWN HERE FOR THE COMPETITION. >> THAT’S RIGHT. IT’S A NATIONWIDE COMPETITIVE PROPOSAL PROCESS. WE READ THEM, WE DO A NICE– WE GIVE THEM A RUBRIC SO THEY KNOW WHAT WE’RE EXPECTING AND WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR, ALL THOSE CRITERIA. AND THEN WE DO THE READING– WE ALWAYS MAKE SURE THERE’S TWO PEOPLE THAT READ IT IN EACH SECTION JUST TO MAKE IT FAIR. AND THEN THEY JUST GET SIMPLY RANKED, AND THE TOP TEN WILL GET THE INVITE. >> ALL RIGHT. SO THEN ONCE THEY COME HERE, WHAT’S THAT WHOLE SETUP? NOW YOU’VE GOT IT NARROWED DOWN TO LIKE THE BEST OF THE BEST TEAMS. SO ONCE THEY COME HERE, WHAT’S THAT WEEK LOOK LIKE? >> OH, THAT WEEK IS VERY, VERY FUN AND VERY, VERY BUSY, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE. THEY WILL COME IN, WE’LL GIVE THEM A CHANCE– WE’VE GOT TO GET THEM ORIENTED, OF COURSE, TO JOHNSON SPACE CENTER AND THE ENVIRONMENT HERE. SO THEY’LL GET A SAFETY BRIEFING THEY HAVE TO GO TO. AND EVEN THOUGH WE’VE READ ABOUT IT, NOW EVERYBODY CAN ACTUALLY GET HANDS-ON AND LOOK AT IT. SO THEY’LL GO THROUGH A QUICK SAFETY REVIEW. WE’LL MAKE SURE THEY CAN WORK ON THE PRECISION AIR BEARING FLOOR, AND THEN WE’LL GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO TEST THOSE. WE’LL GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO GO BACK AND MAYBE MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS, AND COME BACK AND TEST IT AGAIN OVER THE WEEK. THAT’S THE GIST OF WHY WE WANT THEM TO BE HERE, IS TO ACTUALLY GO THROUGH THAT PROCESS. >> TO TEST IT OUT FOR LIKE THE REAL THING, RIGHT? >> RIGHT, YEAH, GET A REAL TEST. NOT IN A COMPETITIVE NATURE FROM ONE TO ANOTHER, BUT FOR THEMSELVES, JUST TRYING TO BE SUCCESSFUL, GOING THROUGH THAT ENGINEERING PROCESS. BUT THE OTHER THINGS WE’LL DO THROUGHOUT THE WEEK– WE’LL GIVE THEM TOURS OF THE OVERALL JSC FACILITY. >> OH. >> WE’LL WANT TO GIVE THEM SOME UNIQUE EXPERIENCES– I’M NOT SURE WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS YEAR, BUT LAST YEAR WE GAVE THE TEACHERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO A SIMULATION IN BUILDING 16 ON ONE OF THE DOCKING SIMULATORS. THEY GOT TO RIDE ON THE MARS EXPLORATION VEHICLE. THEY ALSO GOT AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET ON THE PARTIAL GRAVITY SIMULATOR, OR POGO, OVER IN BUILDING 9, WHICH IS THE OLD PNEUMATIC– THEY PUT YOU IN A HARNESS AND TAKE THE LOAD OFF SO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ON A SPACEWALK. >> WOW. >> SO THEY DID A LOT OF THINGS I’VE NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO DO MYSELF. IT WAS A WONDERFUL WEEK. I HAD FUN JUST WATCHING THEM. >> YEAH, SOUNDS LIKE THE MICROGRAVITY PART OF MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY YOU’RE TAKING TO THE FULLEST EXTENT, RIGHT, REALLY PUTTING THEM IN A SITUATION WHERE THEY’RE EXPERIENCING IT, WHERE WHATEVER THEY’RE DESIGNING IS EXPERIENCING THIS MICROGRAVITY, IT’S SIMULATING IT, RIGHT? >> EXACTLY. AND EVEN BEYOND THAT, USING IT BACK IN THEIR CLASSROOM, TEACHING ABOUT MICROGRAVITY IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. AND THAT BRINGS IN SO MANY THINGS FOR TEACHERS AS FAR AS NEWTON’S LAWS, AND FORCE, AND MOTION, AND ENERGY, AND ALL THOSE THINGS THEY HAVE TO TEACH, BUT THINKING ABOUT IT FROM A STANDPOINT THAT THEY OFTEN DON’T THINK ABOUT IN THE CLASSROOM, IS FROM THAT MICROGRAVITY ENVIRONMENT. >> YEAH, THAT’S TRUE, BECAUSE MAYBE THEY DON’T, YOU KNOW– EVEN WITHOUT STUDYING IT, IT’S KIND OF HARD TO GRASP, RIGHT? THE IDEA THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST KNOW THAT EVERYTHING GOES DOWN. YOU JUST KNOW THAT YOU HAVE, YOU KNOW, APPLES FALL ON YOUR HEAD. AND WHEN I’M SITTING IN THIS CHAIR, THE CHAIR’S GOING TO STAY ON THE GROUND, RIGHT, IT’S NOT GOING TO FLOAT UPWARDS AND GO TOWARDS THE CEILING. BUT IT’S THIS WHOLE DIFFERENT MINDSET WHEN IT COMES TO MICROGRAVITY AND HOW THAT APPLIES TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION. >> IT REALLY IS, AND IT REALLY HAS TO PUT THEM IN THAT MINDSET. YOU KNOW, YOU– LIKE WHAT YOU SAID. IN OUR DAY TO DAY SITUATION, WE DON’T DEAL WITH THAT. HERE ON CENTER, WE MAY EVEN TALK TO ASTRONAUTS AND WATCH ALL THE VIDEOS THAT COME DOWN FROM THE ISS, OR– BUT UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY WORK AND HAVE TO WORK IN THAT ENVIRONMENT WHERE THE FRICTION– THE THINGS THAT WE DEAL WITH KIND OF UNMASK THAT REAL MICROGRAVITY ENVIRONMENT, IT’S HARD TO DO. YOU KNOW, YOU MAY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, BUT UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY START TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING WORK IN ONE OF THOSE SIMULATED ENVIRONMENTS WHERE– I’M SURE I’M ON BOARD AS WELL– IT’S A REAL CHALLENGE. >> OH, YEAH. AND KIND OF, YOU KNOW, AS PART OF THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY’RE HERE. ACTUALLY, IS PART OF THE EXPERIENCE KIND OF STUDYING WHAT THE ASTRONAUTS ARE DOING ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION AS PART OF MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY? ARE YOU CONNECTING WITH THEM, OR STUDYING VIDEOS, OR DOING ANYTHING THAT SORT OF EMULATES WHAT YOU CAN FIND ON STATION? >> WELL, NOT DIRECTLY WITH THIS PARTICULAR EXPERIMENT– OR EXPERIENCE, PARDON ME. IN A WAY, IT IS VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE ASTRONAUTS ARE EXPERIENCING, BECAUSE THEY ARE ONBOARD WORKING THROUGH– THEY’RE THE PERSON UP THERE THAT IS ACTUALLY OPERATING ALL THE EXPERIMENTS THAT ARE ONBOARD, OR DOING EXPERIMENTS– OFTENTIMES, THOUGH, THEY EXPERIMENT THEMSELVES WITH THE HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY THAT GOES ON. SO IN ESSENCE, THAT’S KIND OF WHAT OUR VISITING TEAM IS. AND WE DO TRY TO MAKE THIS PARALLEL IS THEY’RE REPRESENTING THIS WHOLE TEAM, WHETHER IT’S BACK AT THEIR SCHOOL, OR DISTRICT, OR THEIR ORGANIZATION. SO THEY HAVE THIS TEAM THAT IS COMING HERE TO DO THIS TEST AND MAKE WHAT ADJUSTMENTS– AND I PROBABLY SHOULD’VE MENTIONED THIS BEFOREHAND, BUT THEY’RE REALLY GOING TO CONTINUE THAT COMMUNICATION THROUGHOUT. SO IF THEY– WHEN THEY GO THROUGH THEIR FIRST ROUNDS OF TESTS, AND MAYBE THEY FIND THAT IT DOESN’T QUITE WORK THE WAY THEY THOUGHT IT WAS, WE WANT TO GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO FIX IT, BUT NOT JUST THE TEAM HERE. WE WANT THEM COMMUNICATING WITH THE TEAM BACK HOME TO ACTUALLY MAKE SOME OF THOSE ADJUSTMENTS. AND THAT WAS SOMETHING LAST YEAR THAT THE TEACHERS FOUND– IT’S GOING TO BE INTERESTING THIS YEAR WITH THE STUDENTS INVOLVED, HOW THIS IS GOING TO WORK OUT. BUT WITH THE TEACHERS LAST YEAR, IT WAS FUN TO WATCH THEM COMMUNICATING WITH THEIR CLASSES BACK HOME. BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT WAS THE STUDENT THAT WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT KNEW HOW TO REALLY PROGRAM IT OF HOW IT WAS GOING. IT WASN’T JUST THE TEACHERS. SO THEY WERE HAVING TO TELL THEM TO CHANGE THIS PARAMETER OR THIS SETTING AND THEN DOWNLOAD IT TO THEIR DEVICE AND THEN DO IT. IT WAS SOME INTERESTING FACETIME CONVERSATIONS THAT I OVERHEARD AND WATCHED THEM DOING, AND HOLDING UP THEIR CAMERAS, SHOWING THE DEVICES AND HEARING ALL THE STUDENTS– “YOU SHOULD DO THIS.” “NO, YOU SHOULD DO THIS.” “NO, LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.” BECAUSE THEY’RE TRYING TO DO IT VERY QUICKLY, SO SOMETIMES IT SEEMED LIKE CHAOS, BUT IT REALLY WORKED OUT WELL AND WAS VERY EXCITING TO WATCH HOW ENGAGED THOSE STUDENTS WERE. BECAUSE WE WERE ALSO LIVE STREAMING IT BACK TO THEM AS WELL SO THEY COULD WATCH THROUGH USTREAM AN OVERHEAD VIEW OF EACH ONE OF THOSE TESTS. >> WHOA, OKAY. THERE’S A LOT MORE GOING ON HERE. >> OH, THERE’S TONS OF STUFF. IT’S HARD TO EVEN THINK OF ALL THE LAYERS THAT ARE GOING ON WITH THIS AS WELL. >> YEAH, YEAH, I’M TRYING TO GET A FULL PICTURE. SO NOW YOU HAVE– WHAT’S THE SETUP OF THIS GIANT AIR HOCKEY TABLE? IS IT JUST LIKE A BIG SQUARE? IS THAT KIND OF HOW IT IS? >> IT’S A LARGE RECTANGLE. >> OKAY, ALL RIGHT. >> PROBABLY THE SIZE… I WISH I COULD REMEMBER THE DIMENSIONS OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. IT IS– OH, I’D SAY IT’S ROUGHLY 20 BY 40 FEET, ROUGHLY. >> OKAY, OKAY. SO DEFINITELY RECTANGULAR. AND THEN ALL OF THE TEAMS ARE AROUND IT? ARE THEY– >> WELL, THERE’S ONLY REALLY ROOM TO BRING ONE TEAM UP AT A TIME WITH THE OPERATORS, THE FOLKS IN BUILDING 9 THAT ACTUALLY OPERATE IT. >> OKAY. >> THE OTHER TEAMS ARE SITTING ON THE FLOOR THERE IN BUILDING 9 JUST OFF THERE, BUT WE’RE ACTUALLY USING THAT VIDEO STREAM SO THEY CAN WATCH IT ON A TV. IT’S JUST DOWN BELOW– THEY’RE NOT TOO FAR AWAY, BUT THERE’S JUST NOT ENOUGH ROOM. BECAUSE IT’S ELEVATED– IT’S ABOUT FOUR FEET UP OFF THE MAIN FLOOR. >> OH, OKAY. >> SO THE CATWALK ALONG THERE, THERE’S REALLY ROOM FOR ONE TEAM AT A TIME. SO– YOU KNOW, WE REALLY WISH WE HAD A LARGE GALLERY AND COULD GET LOTS OF FOLKS UP THERE, BUT IT’S RATHER HARD TO DO. >> I SEE. YEAH, AND THEN SO ON THE FLOOR, THEY HAVE THEIR PHONES OUT OR SOMETHING AND ARE SKYPING OR FACETIMING REAL TIME. >> EXACTLY. >> LIKE THEY’RE MISSION CONTROL, I GUESS. >> A PHONE, OR AN iPAD, OR I’VE HAD THEM HOLDING UP WHOLE LAPTOPS TRYING TO GET THE RIGHT ANGLE TO GET IT ON THEIR CAMERA AS WELL. SO YEAH, IT WAS FUN TO WATCH THE DIFFERENT APPROACH EACH TEAM TOOK TO KEEPING UP WITH THAT CONNECTION. AND LAST YEAR, ONE THING WE WERE ABLE TO DO– UNFORTUNATELY WE WON’T THIS YEAR BECAUSE THE RESOURCES ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO US, BUT ONCE THEY COMPLETED THEIR TEST, THEY GOT A CHANCE TO DO A DIRECT VIDEO CONFERENCING LINK WITH THEIR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS BACK HOME AFTERWARDS. AND I KNOW A NUMBER OF THOSE SCHOOLS HAVE WHOLE ASSEMBLIES DURING THAT HOUR OF TESTING THAT THEY HAD– AT LEAST ON DAY ONE. >> OH, WOW. >> SO ONE DAY WE GO BACK AND ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW IT FELT TO BE THERE, ABOUT THE WHOLE ENVIRONMENT, AND THAT WAS REALLY A FUN THING TO ADD LAST YEAR. >> YEAH, TO ADD THAT– I GUESS TO GET A LARGER AUDIENCE TO KIND OF EXPERIENCE IT. >> IT WAS, AND WE HOPE THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN THIS YEAR. BUT WITHOUT THAT DIRECT VIDEO CONFERENCING RESOURCE WE HAVE, WE’RE REALLY RELYING ON THE TEAMS TO MAKE THAT UP WITH THEIR OWN. THEY WERE DOING IT SOMEWHAT LAST YEAR, WHICH IS [ INDISTINCT ]. WE’VE ASKED THEM THIS YEAR JUST TO MAKE IT MORE PART OF THEIR PLAN, AND TO PLAN ON THAT KIND OF CONNECTION. >> YEAH, REALLY, BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST LIKE PLANNING FOR JUST AN OPERATION, LIKE A REAL MISSION HERE AT MISSION CONTROL, TOO, BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT THE FOLKS ON THE GROUND, RIGHT, QUOTE “THE GROUND” SUPPORTING THE ASTRONAUTS UP IN SPACE. KIND OF LIKE THAT, RIGHT? YOU’VE GOT YOUR MISSION TEAM UP HERE DOING THIS TO MICROGRAVITY TEAM, BUT THEN YOU’VE GOT FOLKS BACK HOME HELPING YOU OUT. >> EXACTLY, IT IS EXACTLY LIKE THAT SETUP WE HAVE HERE BETWEEN MISSION CONTROL AND THE FOLKS ON STATION. AND REALLY, IT TOOK SOMEONE BETWEEN THEIR FIRST DAY ONE OF TESTING TO THEIR DAY TWO TO ACTUALLY FIGURE SOME OF THAT OUT WITH THEIR TESTS. YOU KNOW, WE DIDN’T LAY IT ALL OUT IN FRONT OF THEM. IT WAS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE. >> YEAH. >> SO A LOT OF THEM MADE THAT CONNECTION THE SECOND TIME AROUND, AND YOU SAW CHANGES LIKE KIND OF RANDOMLY CHANGING THIS, AND IT CAME DOWN– ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU SAW THEM WORKING WITH CHECKLISTS AND ALL THESE OTHER THINGS THAT YOU– YOU KNOW, WE KIND OF EXPECT TO HAVE ON A MISSION. SO THEY LEARNED ON THE FLY, WHICH WAS GREAT. >> YEAH, AND THAT’S EXACTLY RIGHT. SO IT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF IT IS– YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY IT’S PLANNED AHEAD OF TIME, RIGHT? HOW LONG UNTIL YOU START PLANNING THE MISSION UNTIL THE MISSION ACTUALLY HAPPENS? LIKE, HOW LONG IS THAT STRETCH OF TIME FOR MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY? OR MAYBE APPLICATION TO MISSION. >> WELL, THE APPLICATIONS HAVE BEEN OUT. THEY’LL BE DUE DECEMBER 13th FOR THIS NEXT GO AROUND. >> ALL RIGHT. >> GIVE US THE HOLIDAYS, A COUPLE WEEKS TO READ THEM AND EVALUATE THEM. WE HOPE TO HAVE EVERYBODY LINED UP WITH THEIR ACCEPTANCE LETTERS BY MID-JANUARY, ABOUT THE 15th. SO FROM THERE UNTIL MARCH 15th, THEY HAVE ABOUT TWO MONTHS IS ALL, TO DESIGN AND– TO FINISH BUILDING IT. SO THEY’VE GOT A PROPOSAL ALREADY. >> SURE. >> OF COURSE, EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT FROM PAPER TO ACTUALLY BUILDING, THERE’S ALWAYS CHANGES. >> YEAH, YEAH. >> BUT SO THEY HAVE IDEAS IN MIND, BUT THEY’VE REALLY GOT EIGHT WEEKS, PROBABLY, TO JUST FINISH DESIGNING, BUILD IT, AND SEND IT DOWN HERE TO US AND BE PREPARED FOR ALL THIS. SO IT TURNS AROUND PRETTY QUICKLY. THE END OF– EACH TEAM THEN GETS A CHANCE TO COME FOR ONE WEEK. WE ACTUALLY HAVE TWO TEST WEEKS, SO FIVE TEAMS EACH OF THOSE WEEKS OF THE TEN THAT ARE INVITED. AND SO– YEAH, IT’S A VERY FAST TURNAROUND. AND THEN EVEN– THERE’S FOLLOW-UP, BECAUSE WE EXPECT THEM TO GO BACK, PULL EVERYTHING THEY DID, THEIR NOTES, ANY DATA THAT THEY TOOK, TO PULL THAT ALL TOGETHER INTO A SUMMARY REPORT WHICH THEN THEY’LL SHARE BACK WITH US AS WELL. WE’LL DO THAT REMOTELY AFTER THE EXPERIENCE. >> ALL RIGHT, SO IT’S GOING TO BE PRETTY QUICK AFTER THE HOLIDAYS HERE. >> IT IS. >> 2018’S GOING TO BE RAPID, LIKE A REALLY QUICK START TO THE YEAR. >> IT IS– IT’S COME VERY QUICKLY, AND GETTING ALL THAT STUFF SET UP, YOU KNOW, WORKING WITH BUILDING 9 AND GETTING THE WORD OUT. YEAH, IT’S A VERY BUSY TIME FOR ME RIGHT NOW. >> YEAH, FOR SURE. ALL RIGHT, WELL, WE’RE GOING TO PUT THIS OUT BEFORE THAT DECEMBER 13th DATE FOR SURE SO MAYBE YOU’LL GET A COUPLE EXTRA APPLICATIONS. >> WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. >> YEAH, I’M HOPING YOU’RE HAPPY, OTHERWISE YOU KNOW, SITTING OVER THE HOLIDAYS AND READING ALL OF THESE PROPOSALS. I HOPE I’M NOT PUTTING TOO MUCH WORK ON YOU. BUT WHERE’S THAT WEBSITE THEY CAN GO TO SUBMIT THEIR PROPOSAL? >> THE WEBSITE IS A VERY SIMPLE ONE TO GO TO. IT IS GO.NASA.GOVNASAMGUE. THAT’S N-A-S-A-M-G-U-E. >> ALL RIGHT, MGUE IS MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY, BUT JUST CONDENSED? >> CONDENSED, YEAH. >> ALL RIGHT, MGUE. OR YOU COULD PROBABLY JUST– YOU COULD PROBABLY JUST SEARCH MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY, RIGHT? >> MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY FOR EDUCATORS WILL TAKE YOU STRAIGHT TO US. YOU DO WANT TO ADD THAT FOR EDUCATORS, BECAUSE IF NOT, YOU’LL WANT TO PUT THAT OVERARCHING– YOU CAN FIND IT FROM THERE AS WELL. >> OKAY. [ LAUGHTER ] >> WE WANT TO MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. >> OH, YEAH, DEFINITELY. WOW, ALL RIGHT, WELL, IT’S GOING TO BE A FUN TIME FOR THEM. SO, OKAY, WE TALKED ABOUT THE CHALLENGE ITSELF, AND WE DID KIND OF ALLUDE TO SOME OF THE STUFF THEY’RE GOING TO SEE. I KIND OF WANT TO GO BACK THERE, BECAUSE SOME OF THE THINGS I’M KIND OF JEALOUS. I FEEL LIKE I HAVEN’T EVEN DONE SOME OF THESE THINGS THAT THE STUDENTS ARE GOING TO DO. SO WHAT’S THE– THE FIRST ONE WAS THE SIMULATOR, RIGHT? WHAT WAS THAT ONE? >> THEY WORKED WITH BUILDING 16, ONE OF THE ENGINEERING SIMULATORS THERE, LAST YEAR. I BELIEVE THE ONE– BECAUSE I DIDN’T GET TO GO DO IT, EITHER, SO I’M JEALOUS AS WELL. BUT THEY GOT TO DO, I BELIEVE, ONE OF THE DOCKING SIMULATORS. >> AS IF YOU WERE LIKE DRIVING IT, OR AS IF LIKE YOU WERE TRYING TO CAPTURE A CARGO VEHICLE? >> I BELIEVE THIS WAS ONE WHERE IT WAS TRYING TO CAPTURE A CARGO VEHICLE OVER THERE. AND I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE BEEN OVER IN BUILDING 16 WHERE THEY DO THE– THEY HAVE THE DOME PROJECTION OF THE– IT’S KIND OF LIKE A VR SETTING, TO A DEGREE. >> OKAY. >> NOT WITH THE GOGGLES, BUT JUST TRYING TO PUT YOU IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. YOU’RE AT A STATION THAT LOOKS LIKE ONBOARD, AND THEN THEY SURROUND YOU WITH A DOME OF PROJECTIONS. >> OH, YEAH. WE ACTUALLY JUST TALKED ABOUT THAT LAST WEEK ON LAST WEEK’S EPISODE WITH SHANE KIMBROUGH. WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THAT VERY SIMULATOR, BECAUSE THAT’S THE SAME SIMULATOR THAT HE USED TO PRACTICE ROBOTIC ARM OPERATIONS. >> EXACTLY. >> SO IT WAS THAT? THAT’S WHAT IT WAS? >> YEAH, I MEAN, THESE FACILITIES ARE THE SAME ONES THAT OUR ASTRONAUTS TRAIN IN. >> THERE YOU GO. HOW ABOUT THAT? IT’S PRETTY COOL, FROM WHAT THEY DESCRIBE. AGAIN, IT’S ON THE BUCKET LIST FOR ME HERE. I STILL HAVEN’T DONE IT, BUT IT’S LITERALLY A PROJECTION OF THE EARTH, SO IT LOOKS LIKE WHENEVER YOU’RE TRAINING YOU’RE INSIDE THE CUPOLA. YOU’RE INSIDE THE SAME MODULE ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION WITH RELATIVELY THE SAME VIEW THAT THEY HAVE. OBVIOUSLY, AS SHANE KIMBROUGH SAID, IT WAS NOT THE REAL THING, BUT IT IS PRETTY CLOSE. >> IT IS PRETTY CLOSE. WELL, AS I WAS SAYING, I HAVEN’T SEEN IT RECENTLY, BUT IT’S A VERY NICE SIMULATION. >> YEAH, AND THEN YOU PRACTICE DOING THE ROBOTIC ARMS THINGS. AND THEY GET NO TRAINING, RIGHT? DO THEY ACTUALLY GO IN AND DRIVE IT? DO THEY ACTUALLY RUN THE SIMULATION? OR DO THEY JUST WATCH IT? >> NO, THEY ACTUALLY GO IN AND GET A CHANCE TO– NOT FOR A LONG AMOUNT OF TIME. THEY USUALLY GO IN, THEIR WHOLE TEAM OF FIVE OR SIX, SO THEY’LL EACH TAKE A QUICK TURN ON DOING IT. SO THEY EACH GET THAT HANDS-ON OPPORTUNITY. >> YEAH. WOW, ALL RIGHT. AGAIN, SUPER JEALOUS. >> I AGREE. LIKE I SAID, I DIDN’T HAVE A CHANCE TO DO THOSE, EITHER. >> OKAY, SO WHAT’S SOME OF THE OTHER COOL STUFF THEY’RE GOING TO SEE? >> WELL, DEFINITELY WHEN THEY COME DOWN HERE, WE WANT TO GIVE THEM THE CHANCE TO SEE MISSION CONTROL. >> OH, YEAH. >> BUILDING 9– OF COURSE, THEY’RE ALWAYS WORKING THERE. I MEAN, I THINK IT’S ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS. IF YOU GO ON THE TOUR FROM SPACE CENTER, HOUSTON OR ANYWHERE, IT’S ALWAYS ON THE TOUR. BUT THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF DIFFERENCE FROM BEING UP ON THE CATWALK WHERE THE VISITORS ARE AND BEING ACTUALLY ON THE FLOOR WORKING FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS. >> YEAH. >> SO MISSION– THEY ALSO GET TO DO POGO THERE, THE PARTIAL GRAVITY SIMULATOR. >> THAT’S RIGHT. >> THIS IS ONE THAT WE’VE DONE IN THE PAST. THE ROBOTICS GROUP, WHICH HAS ALSO BEEN THERE, HAS BEEN GREAT TO WORK WITH. AS I SAID, LAST YEAR THEY GAVE THE PARTICIPANTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A RIDE– THEY DIDN’T GET TO DRIVE, BUT IT’S STILL A FUN RIDE IN THE MARS EXPLORATION VEHICLE– YOU KNOW, THE LITTLE CAR THAT WAS A JOINT PROJECT WITH, I BELIEVE, GM THAT CAN DRIVE SIDEWAYS OR SIT AND SPIN IN ONE SPOT. >> OH, YEAH, THE MRV, YEAH. YEAH, THE MRV. SO THAT’S A FUN ONE, BECAUSE IT’S LITERALLY OMNI-DIRECTIONAL DRIVING. >> EXACTLY. >> SO YOU CAN SPIN, AND GO SIDEWAYS, AND– THAT’S A COOL CAR. >> THEY GIVE EVERYBODY A CHANCE TO RIDE IN THAT. YOU KNOW, PERHAPS WE’LL DO THAT AGAIN, OR GET A CHANCE AT ONE OF THE SUVs THAT ARE OVER THERE. >> AH, YEAH. >> DON’T KNOW– AGAIN, WE’RE STILL NOT– A FEW THINGS WE’VE STILL GOT TO NAIL DOWN BETWEEN NOW AND MARCH, BUT THERE’S DEFINITELY SO MANY NEAT THINGS TO DO HERE. WE’LL GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO SEE THE SATURN V OVER IN THE SATURN V BUILDING, WHICH IS ALWAYS IMPRESSIVE. BECAUSE WE’VE FOUND THAT MOST OF THE FOLKS THAT ARE COMING HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE. >> YEAH. >> SO AS I SAID, LAST YEAR WE DID HAVE A TEAM FROM THE LOCAL CLEAR CREEK SCHOOL DISTRICT, BUT OTHER THAN THAT, EVERYBODY WAS REALLY THEIR FIRST TIME TO JOHNSON SPACE CENTER. >> YEAH. >> SO IT’S AMAZING. >> WE MIGHT TAKE THAT A LITTLE BIT FOR GRANTED, BECAUSE WE GO INTO WORK EVERY DAY AND PASS LITERALLY ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST ROCKETS IF NOT THE LARGEST ROCKET– I’M GOING TO HAVE TO DOUBLE CHECK ON THAT. BUT THAT WAS THE ROCKET THAT TOOK US TO THE MOON, JUST LAYING ON ITS SIDE, JUST– YOU KNOW, AS WE’RE DRIVING BY. AND IT’S SO COOL TO– IT’S LIKE A HIKE TO WALK FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER AND SEE THE WHOLE THING. BUT IT’S DEFINITELY ONE OF THE COOL THINGS TO SEE. MISSION CONTROL, DEFINITELY. POGO, THAT’S A GOOD ONE, TOO, BECAUSE YOU’RE KIND OF SUSPENDED ON A STRING THAT SORT OF SIMULATES, RIGHT, SIMULATES– >> IT DOES. IT USES– THE [ INDISTINCT ] AND TAKES THE LOAD OFF SO THAT YOU’RE SUSPENDED AND ACTUALLY FEELING WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON A SPACEWALK. >> RIGHT. >> AND THEY SET UP A NICE LITTLE SIMULATION TO USE HANDHOLDS AND MOVE THROUGH TWO OR THREE PLACES AND DO A– TRY TO MAKE A CONNECTION OF A CABLE INTO A SOCKET, WHICH, AGAIN, IF YOU’RE NOT USED TO THAT– YOU KNOW, WHEN WE’RE SITTING HERE SOMEWHERE, OH, LET’S JUST GRAB IT AND PUT IT IN THERE. WELL, YOU’RE PUSHING AGAINST THE FLOOR AND ALL THESE OTHER THINGS THAT AREN’T MOVING. WELL, ALL OF A SUDDEN, EVERYTHING’S MOVING. YOU TAKE THE TINIEST PUSH ON THAT, AND YOU’RE GOING THE OTHER DIRECTION ALL OF A SUDDEN. >> THAT’S RIGHT. MICROGRAVITY. >> MICROGRAVITY AT WORK. IF YOU’RE NOT USED TO IT, IT’S DIFFERENT, WHICH I’M SURE YOU VISIT WITH SOME ASTRONAUTS, THEY’LL ALWAYS TELL YOU THAT. BUT– SO THIS GIVES US FOLKS DOWN HERE ON EARTH A LITTLE PEEK INTO WHAT THAT’S LIKE. >> THAT’S PRETTY COOL. YEAH, NO, THAT’S TRUE. YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT TAKING IT BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM– NEWTON’S LAW OF ANYTHING IN MOTION WILL STAY IN MOTION UNLESS ACTED ON BY ANOTHER FORCE. >> THAT’S RIGHT, OR THAT ACTION AND REACTION– THAT’S THE ONE THAT REALLY GETS YOU ON THAT SPACEWALK. >> AH, I SEE. >> A LITTLE PUSH HERE, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU’RE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM IF YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL. >> THAT’S TRUE. YOU KNOW, TALKING WITH DIFFERENT ASTRONAUTS, OBVIOUSLY, BUT THEN EXTRAVEHICULAR ACTIVITY SPECIALISTS, TOO, THE TRICK IS THE SLOWER, THE BETTER, RIGHT? BECAUSE IF YOU MOVE TOO FAST, THEN IT’S EXACTLY THAT– YOU’RE ALREADY IN MOTION. NOW YOU HAVE TO STOP. >> RIGHT. >> SO YOU KNOW, UNDERSTANDING THAT WHOLE THING. AND NOW YOU’VE GOT THIS 300-POUND SPACESUIT THAT EVEN IN MICROGRAVITY DOESN’T WEIGH THAT MUCH, BUT IT’S STILL A MASS THAT YOU’VE GOT TO CARRY WITH YOU WHENEVER YOU’RE MOVING. >> GOT TO CARRY WITH YOU, GOT TO STOP IT, GOT TO START IT. >> YEAH. >> YEAH, MASS IS STILL MASS NO MATTER WHERE YOU’RE AT. >> EXACTLY. DOES THAT KIND OF TRANSLATE INTO THE CHALLENGE, TOO? IS THERE LIKE UNDERSTANDING MASS AND HOW IT INTERACTS WITH THIS WHOLE SETUP HERE? >> IT REALLY DOES BECAUSE MOMENTUM– YOU GET INTO FORCE OF MOTION, YOU GOT ALL THESE OTHER THINGS– MOMENTUM AND ENERGY– THAT GO INTO IT AS WELL. AND THAT’S ONE THING THAT THEY DO GET A CHANCE TO WORK WITH. OF COURSE, THE WHOLE DEVICE HAS SOME MASS TO IT, BUT SINCE THEY’RE– IF YOU THINK ABOUT FROM AN OLD PHYSICS CLASS ABOUT– TALKING ABOUT MOMENTUM, YOU KNOW, MAYBE SHOOTING A CANNON AND THE BIGGER CANNON WILL SHOOT THE SAME SIZE BALL FURTHER JUST BECAUSE OF THE MASS DIFFERENCES. >> OH, YEAH. >> THEN YOU GET A CHANCE TO ADJUST SOME OF THE MASSES ON THE LAUNCHING DEVICE, THAT THEIR SLED IS CONNECTED TO. SO THEY HAVE TO TAKE THAT INTO ACCOUNT. YOU KNOW, LIKE YOU MENTIONED EARLIER, THERE’S A LOT OF DIFFERENT FACETS TO THIS THAT THEY REALLY THINK THROUGH. >> YEAH. >> AND THAT’S ALSO WHY WE FOCUSED THAT HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL FOR THEM TO TAKE THAT THOSE THAT MAY HAVE HAD THE PHYSICS OR TECHNOLOGY CLASS THAT AT LEAST HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THIS AT A LITTLE HIGHER LEVEL. >> DEFINITELY. >> DOESN’T MEAN MIDDLE SCHOOL CAN’T BE INVOLVED, BUT IT’S– THERE’S SOME PRETTY GOOD SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING IN HERE. >> SO THAT– I KIND OF WANT TO EXPLORE THOSE LAYERS A LITTLE BIT MORE ACTUALLY, BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE– WHAT ARE THEY DESIGNING? WHAT ARE THEY BRINGING TO THE TABLE? AND THEN, WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT ARE HERE THAT THEY HAVE TO INTERACT WITH? LIKE, WHAT’S THE WHOLE CHALLENGE THEN? >> WELL, THE DEVICE THAT THEY’RE BRINGING– WE PROVIDE THEM WITH A– AND THIS IS SIMILAR TO A NUMBER OF DESIGN CHALLENGES THAT ARE OUT THERE IN DIFFERENT PLACES, IS WE PROVIDE THEM WITH A KIT OF SOME BASIC SIMPLE MATERIALS. THAT IS FROM CARDBOARD, TO SOME DOWEL RODS, SOME SMALL PIECES OF WOOD, SPRINGS, RUBBER BANDS, BUNGEE CORDS. THING THAT’LL GIVE YOU THE BASICS OF A DEVICE BECAUSE IN ESSENCE YOU’RE PUTTING TOGETHER THIS LAUNCHING DEVICE. WE CALL IT THE SATELLITE LAUNCHING EXPERIMENTAL DEVICE, OR SLED. >> OH, SO YOU’RE BUILDING A LAUNCHING DEVICE? >> THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE BUILDING. >> GOT IT. >> THE DEVICE IS ACTUALLY GOING TO SHOOT A SATELLITE. IN THIS CASE, WE USE A– ONE OF THOSE LITTLE AIR HOCKEY BALLS YOU CAN KIND OF LIKE BOUNCE AROUND THE KITCHEN. >> LIKE A DISK? >> YEAH, THE DISK THAT’S ABOUT 6-INCHES ACROSS, IT BLOWS AIR DOWN, AND YOU CAN BAT IT AROUND. >> YEAH. >> THAT’S THE SATELLITE THAT THEY’RE TRYING TO LAUNCH FROM THEIR DEVICE INTO THE TARGET. THAT’S ACTUALLY OUR SATELLITE IN THIS. >> THE SATELLITE IS THE HOCKEY DISK? >> IT’S THE HOCKEY DISK. >> OKAY, COOL. >> SO IT’S GOING TO MOVE VERY EASILY ACROSS THAT HIGHLY POLISHED STEEL FLOOR OF THE PABF. SO THEY’RE BUILDING A DEVICE THAT’S GOING TO LAUNCH THAT, TRYING TO HIT THIS SMALL INSERTION TARGET THAT’S MOVING. >> OH, THE INSERTION TARGET IS MOVING! >> YEAH, IT’S MOVING AT THEM, MOVING– HITTING A MOVING TARGET. THAT’S WHY IT’S– THERE’S A LOT TO THIS. >> YEAH. WOW! OKAY. >> SO THEY’VE GOT TO DECIDE, YOU KNOW, HOW TO LAUNCH THIS, HOW FAST IT NEEDS TO GO, WHICH DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH ENERGY THE INPUT IS SO THEY WANT TO USE RUBBER BANDS OR SPRINGS OR SOMETHING MORE HEAVY DUTY. THEY DO GET A CHANCE TO ENHANCE THAT KIT THAT WE GIVE THEM WITH SOME THINGS THEY HAVE THERE AS WELL, ABOUT 20%. IT’S 80/20 ROUGH GUIDELINE FOR THEM TO USE WHAT WE’VE PROVIDED AND THEN DESIGN FROM THEIR OWN MATERIALS THAT THEY HAVE. >> MM-HMM. >> AND TO ME, THE HARDEST PART FOR THEM IS TO DECIDE HOW TO MAKE THAT AUTONOMOUS. YOU KNOW, DECIDE WHAT MECHANISM THEY’RE GOING TO USE TO RELEASE IT AT THE RIGHT TIME AT THE RIGHT SPEED TO HIT THAT TARGET. LAST YEAR, WE HAD SOMEONE THAT BUILT HER OWN BREADBOARDS. WE HAD SOME THAT USED THE LEGO MINDSTORM ROBOT TO ACTUALLY LAUNCH IT– SOMETHING THEY ALREADY HAD AT THEIR SCHOOL. >> YEAH. >> AND THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS THAT OTHER TEAMS OUT THERE WILL FIND TO MAKE USE OF. USUALLY ONE OF THE FUNNEST PARTS FOR ME IS SEEING THE DIFFERENT DESIGNS THAT THESE TEAMS COME UP WITH. >> YEAH. A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT DESIGNS FOR EXACTLY THE SAME TASK. >> EXACTLY. >> BUT, MAY THE BEST DESIGN WIN, I GUESS. >> EXACTLY. AND, ONCE YOU ACTUALLY– IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN IN ONE OF THESE, IT’S NOT JUST THE DESIGN IT’S EXECUTING THAT DESIGN. SO IT’S ALSO BUILDING IT SO THAT IT WILL WITHSTAND THAT LAUNCH AND ET CETERA. SO YOU’VE GOT TO PUT SOME DURABILITY INTO IT AS WELL. >> KIND OF HARD WITH CARDBOARD AND RUBBER BANDS. >> IT IS, BUT THEY FIND MORE WAYS. >> ALL RIGHT. >> WE HAD A TEAM LAST YEAR THAT TOOK THE CARDBOARD BOX WE SENT THEM, WHICH WE DIDN’T REALLY HAVE IN MIND AT THE TIME FOR THEM TO USE, BUT THEY USED IT AS THEIR BASES AND FIBERGLASSED IT. >> OH! ALL RIGHT, THERE YOU GO. WAY MORE STRUCTURALLY SOUND. EXACTLY. SO, USING THAT– USING THEIR OWN CREATIVITY IS REALLY KEY TO THIS. >> YEAH, DEFINITELY. WOW. SO THE FIRST– SO THEY’RE HERE FOR A WHOLE WEEK THEN, AND THIS CHALLENGE IS– IS IT– YOU SAID THERE’S A LOT OF TESTING INVOLVED IN THE BEGINNING, RIGHT? YOU’RE KIND OF– JUST KIND OF PRACTICING AND– >> THERE IS. IT’S OVER A WEEK, SO THEY COME IN ON A MONDAY. >> YEAH. >> THEY GET A CHANCE THAT FIRST DAY, ONCE THEY GO THROUGH THE SAFETY REVIEWS, SPEND AN HOUR TESTING IT ON THE FLOOR. WHICH DEPENDING ON HOW WELL IT PERFORMS, WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENTS THEY MAKE. THEY CAN GET 1 SHOT IN TO 20 OR 30, DEPENDING ON HOW WELL IT WORKS. >> YEAH. WE’VE GOT TO WORK IN THAT TIME FOR THEIR EXPERIENCES AS WELL. TOURS, THE THINGS THAT WE WILL DO. >> YEAH. >> AND THEN, A CHANCE TO DOING THE MODIFICATIONS THEY NEED. AND THEN, THEY ALSO GET A CHANCE THEN– AND THAT’S PROBABLY ON WEDNESDAY. THEN ON THURSDAY, THEY’LL GET A CHANCE TO WORK THROUGH IT AGAIN AND SEE IF THE MODIFICATIONS THEY’VE MADE WORK BETTER AND THEY’LL HAVE A BETTER– ANOTHER HOUR ON THE FLOOR TO GET AS MANY SHOTS IN AS THEY CAN AND SEE WHAT SUCCESSES THEY HAVE. >> MM-HMM. >> BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS NOT THAT THEY CAN DO IT ONCE, BUT THAT YOU CAN DO IT REPEATEDLY, YOU KNOW, FAIRLY QUICKLY. >> YEAH. >> WE GET THEM COMPETING AGAINST THEMSELVES, HOW MANY TIMES CAN THEY HIT THE TARGET, SO TO SPEAK. >> YEAH. >> AND THEN, WE’LL ASK THEM TO DO A QUICK SUMMARY HERE LOCALLY, SHARE KIND OF A SHOWCASE WHAT THEY’VE LEARNED THROUGHOUT THE WEEK, WHICH WE’LL INVITE THE JSC COMMUNITY TO COME AND PARTICIPATE IN AS WELL. >> OH, REALLY? >> LIKE WE DO WITH A LOT OF THESE ACTIVITIES, YEAH. >> COOL. SO, REAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS FROM HERE AT THE CENTER COME AND CHECK IT OUT. >> THEY’LL HAVE THAT OPEN INVITE. >> ALL RIGHT, COOL. SO THEY HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO KIND OF REFINE EVERYTHING AND PRACTICE, BECAUSE THEY COME HERE ON A MONDAY AND BY– >> BY FRIDAY, THEY’RE DONE AND HEADED HOME [ INDISTINCT, 33:33] THAT SHOWCASE. >> YEAH. >> SO THEY– REALLY, THEY GET TO SPEND ABOUT OUT OF THAT 2-3 HOURS ON THE FLOOR. >> WOW. >> SO BETWEEN ALL THE TEAMS IT’S A LOT OF TIME, BUT AN INDIVIDUAL TEAM GETS ABOUT 2 HOURS ON THE FLOOR IS ALL. >> OH, THAT’S RIGHT, BECAUSE– OH, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SHARE. I DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THAT. >> GOT TO SHARE. YEAH, GOT TO SHARE. >> YOU GOT TO SHARE THE FLOOR. OKAY. WOW, THAT’S SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE. YEAH, I HAD NO IDEA THAT THAT WAS SOMETHING– YOU KNOW, BECAUSE I– WHEN I– IN HIGH SCHOOL, I REMEMBER DABBLING IN ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT FIELDS, RIGHT? >> RIGHT. >> BECAUSE HIGH SCHOOL IS KIND OF THE TIME WHERE YOU TRY TO FIGURE THAT OUT, RIGHT? “OKAY, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?” >> EXACTLY. >> SO YOU KIND OF DO SOME CHALLENGES OVER HERE, SOME THINGS. DO YOU FIND THAT THE STUDENTS ARE MORE SORT OF SET ON, “YEAH, YOU KNOW WHAT? SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING IS FOR ME?” OR DO YOU FIND THEM KIND OF THIS IS ANOTHER STEP ON THEIR EXPLORATORY MISSION OF WHAT THEY WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES? >> BEING THE FIRST TIME WE’LL HAVE STUDENTS HERE, MY GUESS IS THAT WE WILL FIND MOST OF THE ONES THAT ARE COMING HERE ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING. >> YEAH. >> BUT, I’M SURE THAT THERE ARE A LOT THAT ARE ON THE TEAM BACK HOME THAT ARE STILL CHECKING THINGS OUT. >> YEAH. >> AND I’M ALSO SAYING THAT FROM MY EXPERIENCE. I’M A FORMER CLASSROOM TEACHER. I TAUGHT PHYSICS AND WAS A ROBOTICS COACH. >> ALL RIGHT. >> SO THERE’S SO MANY FACETS TO THIS PROGRAM AS WELL. YOU KNOW, WE GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO DESIGN THEIR OWN TEAM PATCH, YOU KNOW, OR LIKE A MISSION PATCH AND SUCH THAT YOU CAN REALLY BRING IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS. MATTER OF FACT, I WAS– ONE OF OUR TEACHERS LAST YEAR WAS ACTUALLY THE FRENCH TEACHER THAT WAS INVOLVED. >> HUH. >> BUT SHE WAS ALSO INTERESTED IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AND SHE FOUND WAYS THOUGH TO WORK THIS INTO HER FRENCH CURRICULUM AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS. YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU GET CREATIVE THERE’S LOTS OF CONNECTIONS YOU CAN MAKE, BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED. >> OUI. >> BUT YOU KNOW, FOR THE STUDENTS, IT’LL BE INTERESTING TO SEE THIS YEAR AS WE– BECAUSE WE WILL SURVEY THEM BEFORE AND AFTERWARDS IF THIS CHANGES THEIR FEELING ABOUT STEM CAREERS OR– BE IT SCIENCE, OR ENGINEERING, OR TECHNOLOGY, OR WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE, WE WILL ASK THAT QUESTION SO WE’LL HAVE SOME BETTER DATA LATER. >> DEFINITELY. NO, THIS IS– IT’S KIND OF THE MISSION OF WHY WE DO NASA– EDUCATION HERE AT NASA IS TO KIND OF– IS THAT FAIR TO SAY? IS THAT THIS KIND OF HELPS INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION? >> THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO. I MEAN, THAT’S WHAT THESE ARE ALL ABOUT, NOT ONLY INSPIRE THOSE STUDENTS, BUT GIVE THE TEACHERS THAT ARE WORKING WITH THEM THE TOOLS TO HELP NOT ONLY THE STUDENTS THEY BRING THIS TIME BUT STUDENTS IN THE FUTURE. >> YEAH. >> THEY GET A CHANCE TO DO THIS, OR THEY CAN GO DO SOMETHING SIMILAR ON THEIR OWN. >> YEAH. SO THAT’S– MAYBE LESSON PLANS ARE A PART OF THIS, RIGHT? OR IS THAT ANOTHER PART OF NASA EDUCATION, THERE ARE LESSON PLANS? >> IT REALLY IS– WE DON’T NECESSARILY DESIGN A LOT OF LESSON PLANS HERE PER SE. >> OH. >> WE DO PROVIDE A LOT OF [ INDISTINCT, 36:21] AND MATERIAL. WE TALKED ABOUT, YOU KNOW, MICROGRAVITY EARLIER AND LEARNING ABOUT THAT. >> YEAH. >> AND WE HAVE AN ENTIRE LESSON GUIDE ON MICROGRAVITY, DEMONSTRATIONS AND LESSONS THAT THEY CAN USE, WHICH WE’LL BE SHARING WITH THE EDUCATORS, OF COURSE. >> COOL. >> BUT, WHAT WE’RE REALLY TRYING TO DO IS GET THEM ENGAGED IN THESE UNIQUE EXPERIENCES AND REALLY GIVE THEM THAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM AND THEIR STUDENTS TO EXPERIENCE IT AND WORK THAT INTO THEIR LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT AS AN EDUCATOR. >> YEAH. OH, OKAY. RIGHT, BECAUSE YOU GOT EDUCATORS HERE, RIGHT? THE FRENCH TEACHER. >> THAT’S RIGHT. >> AND YOU GOT OTHER FOLKS COMING THAT ARE GOING TO APPLY THIS, RIGHT? >> THAT’S RIGHT. >> THAT’S VERY COOL. >> AND THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS WE FOUND LAST YEAR IS THAT THEY FOUND SO MANY WAYS TO DO– THIS IS SOMETHING IN EDUCATIONS THAT’S CALLED THE PROJECT-BASED LEARNING. >> HMM. >> AND A LOT OF THEM ARE NOT, YOU KNOW, THEY MAY DO THIS ON A SMALL SCALE, BUT THEY FOUND THIS IS A WAY THAT THEY CAN DO MORE LARGER PROBLEM-BASED LESSONS BACK HOME. IT GAVE THEM THE COURAGE TO GO HOME AND DO THAT, THE KNOWLEDGE TO DO IT. IT WAS QUITE A DEAL. ONE STORY I WANT TO SHARE THAT I THOUGHT WAS JUST SO MOTIVATING TO ME AS WELL THAT IT’S IMPORTANT WE DO THESE IS WE HAD A TEACHER DOING A GREAT JOB, HAVING FUN, IT WAS OBVIOUS. BUT WAS, FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, WAS ACTUALLY SHOCKED THAT THEY– IN THE WEEK, HE’S GIVING US A BREAKDOWN OF WHAT HE’D LEARNED IS, YOU KNOW, ALMOST– I CAN’T QUOTE HIM EXACTLY, BUT BASICALLY WHAT HE WAS SAYING WAS HE HAD HAD SUCH A TREMENDOUS EXPERIENCE HERE AND LEARNED SO MUCH MORE ABOUT WHAT HE COULD SHARE WITH STUDENTS THAT HE DECIDED NOT TO RETIRE AND CONTINUE TO TEACH. >> WOW! HOW ABOUT THAT. >> YEAH, IT IS VERY INSPIRING WHAT THEY’RE ABLE TO DO HERE AND WHAT THEY’RE ABLE TO TAKE BACK AND SHARE. >> A NEW WAVE OF INSPIRATION. >> EXACTLY. >> THAT’S PRETTY COOL. >> SO IT’S NOT JUST THE YOUNG KIDS WE’RE INSPIRING, IT’S THOSE DEDICATED EDUCATORS OUT THERE AS WELL. >> YEAH, DECIDED TO STICK AROUND. THAT’S AWESOME, NOT EVEN RETIRE. THAT’S REALLY COOL. I COULD TOTALLY AGREE WITH THE PROJECT-BASED LEARNING, TOO, BECAUSE I’M THINKING– WHILE YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THAT I WAS THINKING ABOUT EXPERIENCES IN HIGH SCHOOL AND EARLIER THAN THAT EVEN WHERE– I THINK THE LESSONS, WHEN IT COMES TO LIKE ACTUAL LESSONS THAT I LEARNED AND THINGS I LEARNED IN SCHOOL. THE THINGS I TAKE AWAY THE MOST ARE WHENEVER THERE WAS SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC THAT I HAD TO DO. IT WAS A TASK, RIGHT, THAT YOU HAD TO START AND THEN FINISH. AND THROUGH THAT WHOLE THING YOU SORT OF CAN PULL BACK AND LEARN THAT BROADER PIECE OF INFORMATION, THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF WHY YOU WERE DOING THAT PROJECT. >> RIGHT. THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. WE ALL KNOW IT WORKS BEST, BUT SOMETIMES MAKING IT– PUTTING IT IN ACTION IS NOT THE EASIEST THING TO DO. >> YEAH. >> SO THIS GIVES EDUCATORS A CHANCE TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT AND GIVES STUDENTS A LARGE IMMERSION INTO THIS KIND OF ACTIVITY. >> DEFINITELY. WELL, WHAT ABOUT YOU, MIKE? BECAUSE YOU– YOU’RE HERE AS A– ARE YOU CONSIDERED A NASA EDUCATOR, IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE? OR DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT JOB TITLE? >> THAT’S BASICALLY MY JOB TITLE, A NASA EDUCATION SPECIALIST. >> EDUCATION SPECIALIST, YEAH. >> DO A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS, DESIGN THIS EXPERIENCE THAT WE’RE GETTING READY TO PUT TOGETHER, WHICH WILL INVOLVE SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS, COORDINATE ALL OF THAT. SO I’M KIND OF A PROGRAM MANAGER IN A WAY. >> YEAH. >> BUT, HAVE TO BRING THE EDUCATION VALUE TO IT, WHICH IS I THINK WHY AS A FORMER CLASSROOM EDUCATOR IT’S– EXCUSE ME, THAT’S A REQUIREMENT FOR MY JOB. >> YEAH. HOW’D YOU– HOW DID THAT CAREER PATH GO? HOW’D YOU GET FROM HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATOR TO THE PHYSICS TEACHER ALL THE WAY TO NASA? HOW’D THAT GO? >> WELL, ACTUALLY, I WAS TRAINED AS AN EDUCATOR IN COLLEGE, BUT WENT OFF IN ANOTHER DIRECTION WITH A NON-PROFIT FOR A WHILE. BUT I WAS COMING BACK INTO EDUCATION I KNEW THAT I NEEDED TO REFINE MY SCIENCE SKILLS AGAIN. YOU KNOW, ANYTHING GETS A LITTLE RUSTY WHEN YOU DON’T USE IT. SO I WAS LOOKING FOR SOME SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES TO– I DIDN’T WANT TO JUST GO BACK TO SCHOOL, BUT I KNEW IF I LOOKED I COULD PROBABLY FIND SOME OPPORTUNITIES. AND FORTUNATELY, ACTUALLY JOHNSON SPACE CENTER THERE WERE SOME OPPORTUNITIES TO COME DOWN AND BE A MENTOR FOR ACTUALLY THAT– SPEND A WEEK HERE AT JOHNSON SPACE CENTER AND WORK WITH STUDENTS AND THAT’S WHEN I FOUND ALL OF THE NEAT THINGS THAT WERE GOING ON HERE. >> YEAH. >> AND DID THAT, GOT ME HOOKED ON NASA, AGAIN. BECAUSE I REMEMBER THE MOON LANDING, SO YOU KNOW, IT’S ALWAYS BEEN THERE IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, BUT WHAT COULD IT DO FOR EDUCATION? >> RIGHT. >> EXCUSE ME. AND ONCE I FOUND OUT THERE WERE OPPORTUNITIES I STARTED LOOKING FOR MORE AND I FOUND THEM. I HAD OPPORTUNITIES TO GO INTO DIFFERENT THINGS. AND FINALLY, I FOUND OUT, “HEY, THERE’S A JOB. I CAN ACTUALLY GO DO THIS.” I APPLIED AND A COUPLE YEARS LATER I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH AND HERE I AM. YOU KNOW, IT WAS A JOURNEY ITSELF. >> YEAH. >> BUT I’M GLAD I’M HERE. IT IS VERY INSPIRING TO GET TO WORK WITH ALL THESE EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS OUT THERE. >> DEFINITELY. YEAH, I WAS A STUDENT MYSELF WHEN I FIRST GOT HERE AND TRANSITIONED MORE TOWARDS THE MENTOR ROLE. AND SO, I CAN APPRECIATE ALL THIS STUFF THAT YOU’RE DOING, BECAUSE I LIVED IT. I WAS THERE. I WAS DEFINITELY INSPIRED TO COME WORK HERE THROUGH THE INTERNSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIPS AND ALL THE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES, TOO. I WORKED WITH– DID A ROTATION IN EDUCATION, ACTUALLY WORKING ON VARIOUS PROGRAMS THERE. >> OKAY. >> WHAT WAS– AND I ACTUALLY DID REDUCED GRAVITY. THAT WAS ONE OF THE PROGRAMS I WORKED WITH. >> OKAY. >> HAS WAS ANOTHER ONE. SO WHAT’S– DO YOU WORK WITH HAS AT ALL? >> I REALLY WORK WITH THEM JUST A LITTLE BIT, USUALLY HELPING THEM DURING THE SUMMER WHEN THEY HAVE SOME STUDENTS HERE WHEN THEY NEED EXTRA ESCORTS FOR SOME OF THEIR TOURS AND ALL. BUT, AS I MENTIONED, THAT PROGRAM THAT I FIRST HAD THE SUMMER TO COME AND WORK FOR A WEEK, THAT WAS THE FIRST YEAR THAT THEY DID HAS. >> REALLY? >> IT WAS, AND I WAS A MENTOR FOR ONE OF THOSE WEEKS DURING THAT INITIAL YEAR FOR HIGH SCHOOL AEROSPACE SCHOLARS. SO YEAH, I’VE WORKED WITH THEM OFF AND ON THROUGHOUT THE YEARS AS WELL. >> ALL RIGHT. HAS IT CHANGED? HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE ITS INCEPTION? >> IT HAS. A LOT OF IT IS THE SAME. THEY’VE REFINED REALLY WHAT’S TO ME THE DIFFERENCE IS, THEN IT WAS A CHANCE TO– STUDENTS JUST CAME AND SPENT THE WEEK HERE AND HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE. BUT THEY’VE ADDED A LOT OF PRE-WORK THAT THE STUDENTS NEED TO DO, AN ONLINE COURSE, ACTUALLY, AND PREPARATION FOR COMING HERE. >> THAT’S RIGHT. >> AND THAT’S MADE IT A DEEPER EXPERIENCE FOR THE STUDENTS. THAT’S BEEN A GREAT ADDITION TO IT. >> YEAH. AND JUST TO PULL BACK EVEN FURTHER JUST FOR THE LISTENERS SAKE, IT’S HIGH SCHOOL AEROSPACE SCHOLAR, RIGHT? >> RIGHT. >> THAT’S HAS. AND IT’S ANOTHER– IT’S KIND OF LIKE MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY WHERE IT’S A CHALLENGE BASED COURSE AND YOU COME HERE FOR A WEEK AND DO THE CHALLENGE, RIGHT? >> THAT’S RIGHT. IT’S A SERIES OF SMALLER CHALLENGES THAT THEY DO. LIKE, IT’S DESIGNING AND BUILDING A ROCKET, A SMALL ROBOT. SO IT’S A BUNCH OF SMALL CHALLENGES THAT THEY DO. I BELIEVE ALMOST A DAILY KIND OF FOCUS CHALLENGE THAT THEY DO. AGAIN, NOT WORKING WITH IT DIRECTLY I DON’T WANT TO TALK TOO MUCH. >> OH, YEAH. >> BUT, IT DEFINITELY DOES HAVE THOSE ELEMENTS LIKE OUR LARGE CHALLENGE FOR MGUE HAS BUT JUST ON A LITTLE SMALLER SCALE. >> YEAH, JUST FROM MENTORING IT, I KNOW THAT THEY– AT LEAST FOR WHEN I WAS MENTORING IT, THEY DID LIKE A MARS ROBOTICS CHALLENGE AND YOU HAD TO DESIGN A ROVER. AND THEN, DO THIS COMPETITION WHERE YOU KIND OF HAD THIS MAT THAT WAS YOUR MARS, RIGHT. >> RIGHT. >> YOUR MARTIAN SURFACE AND THEY HAD ROCKS AND LITTLE SHINY PIECES OF WATER, I GUESS. AND YOU HAD TO COLLECT AS MUCH AS YOU COULD, BRING IT BACK TO YOUR HOME BASE, AND THEN HOWEVER MUCH YOU COLLECTED THEN THAT’S HOW YOU WON. AND THAT WAS THE COMPETITION. IT WAS PRETTY COOL. >> IT IS, AND THAT SOUNDS VERY SIMILAR TO THE– THERE’S A VERSION THAT’S FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS. >> OH. >> AND THAT’S DEFINITELY WHAT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AEROSPACE SCHOLARS DOES, OR WHAT WE REFER TO AS NCAS. >> NCAS, OKAY. >> YEAH. >> IS THAT FOR TEXAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR IS THAT ACROSS– >> THAT ONE’S NATIONWIDE. >> NATIONWIDE. ALL RIGHT, COOL. >> AND ACTUALLY, THEY DO THAT ONE IN MULTIPLE NASA CENTERS. >> WOW. EDUCATION HAS QUITE A FEW PROGRAMS GOING ON, HUH? >> IT SURE DOES. >> YEAH, THAT’S QUITE A FEW. I KNOW JUST UNDER THE MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY, WE TALKED ABOUT THIS COMPETITION HERE. BUT THEN ALSO, WE KIND OF SKIMMED IT OVER, BUT MICRO-G NExT IS ANOTHER ONE, RIGHT? THAT’S– >> RIGHT, MICRO-G NExT IS ANOTHER ONE. THAT ONE’S AGAIN FOCUSED AT GRADUATE OR UNDERGRADUATE COLLEGE LEVEL STUDENTS. >> OH, OKAY. >> AND IT IS FOCUSED ON– THEY WORK WITH THE ENGINEERING TEAM THAT WORKS ON SPACEWALKING TOOLS. >> ALL RIGHT. >> SO THEY’RE GIVEN A CHALLENGE OR TWO. THEY CHOOSE WHICH ONE THAT THEY WANT, BUT USUALLY THERE’S TWO OPTIONS THAT GO OUT IN THE PROPOSAL. THEY CHOOSE WHICH ONE THEY WANT TO WORK ON, THEY DEVELOP THAT, AND THEN THEY GET A CHANCE TO BRING IT HERE AND THEY WORK UP A TEST THAT’S ACTUALLY PERFORMED IN THE NEUTRAL BUOYANCY LAB. >> MM-HMM. >> STUDENTS DON’T GET TO GO ACTUALLY DIVE IN PUT IT– THEY WORK WITH THE DIVERS OUT THERE. >> DARN. >> AGAIN, ONE OF THOSE, “AH, SHUCKS, CAN’T DO THAT.” BUT THEY’RE THERE, THEY’RE WATCHING IT RIGHT ON THE MONITORS, THEY’RE GETTING FEEDBACK FROM THE DIVERS ABOUT HOW WELL IT WORKED, HOW EASILY– WHAT THE EASE WITH WHICH THEY WERE ABLE TO UTILIZE THE TOOL. >> YEAH. >> SO THEY GET ALL THAT SAME ENGINEERING FEEDBACK VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE ENGINEERS HERE DO. >> YEAH. WOW, OKAY, COOL. SO YEAH, A LOT OF THESE CHALLENGES ARE KIND OF BASED OFF OF LITERALLY WHAT IS DONE HERE AT NASA. >> OH, DEFINITELY. IT REALLY NEEDS TO BE TIED INTO WHAT WE’RE DOING, EITHER RUNNING PARALLEL, LIKE WE MENTIONED WHAT WE’RE DOING IS VERY SIMILAR TO LAUNCHING THE CUBESATS ON THE ISS. >> YEAH. >> AND IT’S VERY SIMILAR TO A MISSION, WORKING WITH MISSION CONTROL. BUT AS YOU GET INTO THE MICRO-G NExT AND SOME OF THE OTHERS, IT IS VERY MUCH WHAT THEY’RE– WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO BE DESIGNING IS A TOOL THAT MAYBE THAT DESIGN WORKS ITS WAY INTO A REAL TOOL. >> OH, WOW. HAVE YOU SEEN– HAVE YOU SEEN EXAMPLES OF THAT? HAVE YOU SEEN EXAMPLES OF STUDENT RUN PROJECTS THAT GOT FIT INTO LIKE REAL– >> ACTUALLY, THERE’S SEVERAL, AND LET ME THROW IN ANOTHER PROGRAM, THROW IT OUT THERE. >> YEAH. >> IT’S CALLED HUNCH. >> OKAY. >> I CANNOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT THAT ACRONYM STANDS FOR, BUT IT’S BASICALLY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DESIGNING SPACE HARDWARE. >> OKAY. >> AND A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT THINGS. THEY’VE ACTUALLY DONE SOME DIFFERENT CHALLENGES ON SPACE HARDWARE. THEY’VE ALSO DONE A FOOD CHALLENGE WHERE THEY ACTUALLY COME UP WITH A NEW RECIPE WORKING WITH THE FOOD LAB ON THAT. >> SWEET. >> ONE THING THEY’RE TESTING RIGHT NOW ON BOARD SPACE STATION ARE– IS FOOTWEAR. >> OH. >> TO– I’M NOT SURE WHAT YOU WOULD CALL IT, A SLIP-ON BOOTY, A MOCCASIN– A SPACE MOCCASIN, WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE. >> SPACE MOCCASIN SOUNDS PRETTY COOL. >> YEAH, THERE YOU GO. BECAUSE YOU GOT TO PROTECT YOUR FEET UP THERE, BUT SOME OF THE– BUT WHEN YOU’RE– WHAT I UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM IS, WHEN THEY LOCK IN ON SOME OF THE HANDHOLDS OR FOOTHOLDS, WE’RE NOT USED TO HAVING THE TOPS OF OUR FEET IN THAT SITUATION, RUBBING SOME SORE SPOTS. SO THEY’VE DEVELOPED THESE SPACE MOCCASINS, WE’LL GO AHEAD AND USE THAT TERM. AND THEY’RE TESTING THOSE RIGHT NOW ON BOARD TO SEE HOW WELL THEY WORK AND THEY’LL GET FEEDBACK FROM THE GUYS ON ORBIT– THE GUYS AND GALS ON ORBIT AND SEE HOW WELL THEY WORK OR MAKE MODIFICATIONS AND TRY IT AGAIN. >> THAT IS SO TRUE, BECAUSE THEY DO A TON OF SCIENCE ALL THE TIME, THEY’RE WORKING ALL THE TIME, 200 EXPERIMENTS GOING ON IN ANY 6 MONTH INCREMENT. THERE’S JUST SO MUCH WORK TO BE DONE, INCLUDING MAINTENANCE AND ALL THAT, BUT YOU DON’T THINK ABOUT YOU’RE– YOU KNOW, YOU’RE NOT WALKING, YOU’RE WORKING WITH YOUR HANDS AND YOUR FEET ARE LOCKED INTO THESE HANDRAILS ALL THE TIME, CONSTANTLY JAMMING INTO THESE METAL HANDRAILS. OF COURSE THEY’RE GOING TO GET SORE. >> RIGHT. >> THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. WOW, ALL RIGHT. CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT THESE SPACE MOCCASINS ARE GOING TO BE. >> YEAH, THAT’S WHAT– I KNOW THEY’VE WORKED ON THE DINING TABLES AND A NUMBER OF OTHER– DIDN’T BRUSH UP ON THAT, BUT THAT’S A GREAT PROJECT AS WELL, AND IT’S CALLED HUNCH. >> COOL. YEAH. ALL RIGHT, YEAH. THE DAY TO DAY STUFF, THAT SOUNDS PRETTY COOL TO WORK ON THAT. >> THAT’S RIGHT. >> ALL RIGHT. >> THERE’S ONE THING YOU MENTIONED EARLIER, IF I CAN THROW OUT THERE. >> YEAH, SURE. >> YOU TALKED ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE AN INTERN AND OTHERS HOW YOU WERE MENTORED. >> YEAH. >> YOU WENT THROUGH THAT PROGRAM. AND THAT’S ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT WE GET WITH THE MICROGRAVITY TEAMS THAT’LL BE INVITED TO COME DOWN HERE DURING THEIR DESIGN AND BUILDING. AND ACTUALLY, WHILE THEY’RE TESTING HERE, WE’RE RECRUITING NASA JSC PERSONNEL TO BE MENTORS TO WORK WITH THEM THROUGHOUT THAT PROCESS, TO BE A TECHNICAL ADVISOR, COACH, YOU KNOW, MENTOR THROUGHOUT THIS AS WELL. OF COURSE, WHEN THEY’RE WORKING DESIGNING THEY’LL BE VISITING WITH THEM VIRTUALLY, YOU KNOW, EMAIL, OR WHATEVER THEY ARE DOING THERE. BUT WHEN THEY’RE ACTUALLY ON SITE THROUGHOUT THAT WEEK, ESPECIALLY DURING TESTING, WE’LL INVITE THEIR MENTORS TO BE THERE WITH THEM AND GO THROUGH THAT. AND THE MENTORS HAVE A LOT OF FUN WITH THAT AS WELL. >> I CAN IMAGINE, ESPECIALLY– I MEAN, YOU’RE WORKING THROUGH THESE CHALLENGES TOGETHER. JUST ANY KIND OF CHALLENGE-BASED THING, I CAN SEE ANYONE GETTING CHARGED ABOUT THAT KIND OF STUFF. THAT’S REALLY COOL. >> THEY ARE. YOU KNOW, THEY VOLUNTEER FOR IT. YO UKNOW, WE ASK FOR VOLUNTEERS, WE’RE IN THAT PROCESS RIGHT NOW. >> YEAH. >> SO WE JUST SHOUT IF ANYBODY WANTS TO VOLUNTEER FOR THAT. BUT, YEAH, THAT’S JUST ANOTHER LAYER THEY EXPERIENCE TO HAVE THAT NASA CONNECTION WITH A MENTOR AS WELL. >> YEAH. HEY, THAT’S PRETTY COOL. YOU’RE COMING TO NASA, YOU’RE SEEING ALL THE COOL STUFF, DOING REAL NASA CHALLENGES THAT ARE PERFECTLY APPLICABLE TO REAL SPACE FLIGHT, AND TALKING WITH NASA SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS ALONG THE WAY. >> RIGHT. >> AND DOING IT IN REAL NICE FACILITIES. >> AND DOING IT IN REAL NICE– >> ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I MEAN, WHAT ELSE COULD WE ADD TO THIS? >> ALL RIGHT, WELL, MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY. THIS IS THE PLACE TO GO IF YOU REALLY WANT THE TRUE NASA EXPERIENCE. SO I WANT TO KIND OF END WITH JUST THE OVERARCHING IDEA OF EDUCATION AT NASA. YOU KNOW, JUST TALKING ABOUT ALL OF THIS SEEMS PRETTY APPARENT, BUT IF YOU CAN KIND OF PUT LIKE A LITTLE– I GUESS, BECAUSE OF THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT COMING UP, A LITTLE STAR ON TOP OF THIS TREE, OR A LITTLE CHERRY ON THE FRUITCAKE. NOBODY LIKES FRUITCAKE, COME ON. YOU KNOW, WHAT IS THE WHOLE IDEA OF NASA EDUCATION, THE PURPOSE OF WHY WE DO IT? >> WELL, THE PURPOSE IS TO INSPIRE AND ENGAGE. WE WANT– IF WE’RE WILLING TO CONTINUE WITH EXPLORATION OF THE UNIVERSE IT’S GOING TO TAKE AN EDUCATED WORKFORCE WITH LOTS OF CREATIVE IDEAS AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT TAKES TO WORK OUT THERE, BECAUSE IT’S NOT EASY. IT’S NOT LIKE BEING HERE. IT’S A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT, IT’S LOTS OF DIFFERENT CHALLENGES THAT WE’RE LEARNING MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY. WE MAY THINK WE’VE SOLVED ONE, BUT WHEN WE DO WE DISCOVER THERE’S 20 MORE THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH. WHEREVER WE’RE GOING, BE IT TO LUNAR ORBIT OR TO MARS OR BEYOND, WHATEVER IT’LL BE WE’VE GOT TO HAVE PEOPLE THAT DO THAT THAT ARE INTERESTED IN THIS. SO THAT’S OUR JOB IS TO INSPIRE AND ENGAGE AND GET THOSE FOLKS IN THE PIPELINE SO THAT THEY CAN BE INVOLVED DOWN THE ROAD. >> ALL RIGHT. THAT WAS A PERFECT WAY OF WRAPPING IT UP, MIKE. >> I HOPE SO. >> VERY COOL. ALL RIGHT, WELL, STICK AROUND UNTIL AFTER THE MUSIC HERE AND WE’LL RECAP THAT WEBSITE FOR YOU OF WHERE YOU CAN APPLY TO SIGN-UP AND SEND YOUR PROPOSALS TO MIKE HERE FOR MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY AND ALL THE OTHER COOL STUFF. THERE’S MORE THAN JUST MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY, SO WE’LL KIND OF SHARE THAT, TOO. BUT, MIKE, THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING ON AND DESCRIBING ALL OF THIS– THESE COOL CHALLENGES AND THE GREAT EXPERIENCE THAT THE STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS ARE GOING TO COME DO. >> MY PLEASURE. I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. >> VERY COOL. [ MUSIC ] >> HOUSTON, GO AHEAD. >> TOP OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE. >> ROGER, ZERO-G AND I FEEL FINE. >> SHUTTLE HAS CLEARED THE TOWER. >> WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND. >> IT’S ACTUALLY A HUGE HONOR TO BREAK THE RECORD LIKE THIS. >> NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD. >> HOUSTON, WELCOME TO SPACE. >> HEY, THANKS FOR STICKING AROUND. SO AS PROMISED, HERE IS THE MAGIC LINK WHERE YOU CAN SUBMIT ALL OF YOUR GOOD IDEAS, YOUR PROPOSALS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY NEXT YEAR, AS MIKE SAID, IN MARCH. IF YOU GO TO GO.NASA.GOV/NASAMGUE, AND THAT’S N-A-S-A-M-G-U-E. MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY. SO THAT’S WHERE YOU CAN GO AND SUBMIT THE PROPOSAL AND FIND THAT EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PROGRAM. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW– OH, AND BY THE WAY, THAT’S DECEMBER 13th– DECEMBER 13th IS THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT THOSE PROPOSALS. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ALL OF THE OTHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS GOING ON, SOMETIMES THEY’RE KIND OF SCATTERED, SO YOU GOT THEM GOING ON ALL THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. SOME OF THEM ARE IN MARCH, LIKE THE MICROGRAVITY UNIVERSITY. I KNOW HAS, HIGH SCHOOL AEROSPACE SCHOLARS, IS IN MORE OF THE SUMMER. BUT THEY KIND OF GOT SPREAD OUT. BUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ALL OF THE EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND MAYBE YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE DEADLINE HERE BUT YOU WANT PARTICIPATE IN THE NEXT UPCOMING ONE GO TO NASA.GOV/EDUCATION AND YOU CAN GET A PRETTY GOOD LIST OF ALL THE ONES HERE AT THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, BUT ALSO ALL ACROSS THE SPACE AGENCY AT DIFFERENT CENTERS ACROSS THE U.S. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW SOME OF THE THINGS GOING ON TO SEE SOME PICTURES, IF YOU KIND OF DIDN’T REALLY UNDERSTAND KIND OF THE VISUALS– MIKE DID A PRETTY GOOD JOB OF ACTUALLY DESCRIBING THE VISUALS OF HOW EVERYTHING WAS SET UP, BUT IF YOU WANT TO SEE SOME OF THE PROGRAMS HERE JUST GO TO, ON SOCIAL MEDIA, @JSCEDUCATION. ON FACEBOOK IS WHERE YOU CAN FIND ALL THE STUFF GOING ON HERE AT THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER. @NASAEDU ON TWITTER IS WHERE YOU CAN FIND ALL OF THE EDUCATION PROGRAMS GOING ON ACROSS THE AGENCY. AND THEN, ALSO, WE’D LIKE TO SHARE THINGS ON THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER ACCOUNTS, SO LIKE WE SAY IN PREVIOUS EPISODES, NASA JOHNSON SPACE CENTER ON FACEBOOK, AND THEN @NASAJOHNSON ON INSTAGRAM, AND TWITTER IT’S THERE, TOO. SO IF YOU WANT TO ASK A QUESTION ABOUT THE SHOW, JUST USE THE HASHTAG #ASKNASA, OR IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT HOW TO APPLY OR ANY OF THE EDUCATION PROGRAMS USE #ASKNASA ON ANY ONE OF THOSE PLATFORMS AND GO AHEAD AND ASK A QUESTION. AND IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA FOR THIS SHOW JUST MAKE SURE TO MENTION IT THROUGH “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PODCAST.” THIS PODCAST WAS RECORDED ON NOVEMBER 20th, 2017. THANKS TO ALEX PERRYMAN, DYNAE FULLWOOD, AND STACEY WELCH. THANKS AGAIN TO MR. MIKE McGLONE FOR COMING ON THE SHOW. WE’LL BE BACK NEXT WEEK.