3 days completed! The time goes so quick. Today was our longest by far. 0700 start and 20:30 finish. In that time we fitted a whole lot in…
First up was our shuttle mission where we had to start-up, launch, dock wih the ISS, open the cargo doors, push out our mission specialists who repaired something outside, perform a few experiments in space, undock, re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, and then land…or something like that.
I was the pilot who sits in the right hand seat. Our commander, Sarah, was in the left hand seat. Behind me were 2 mission specialists. In the ISS were 2 payload specialists who did the experiments – they made some kind of goo. On the ground was Mission Control and the people there were playing the role of Flight Director, Capcom, Inco, Prop, Cato, & Mission Scientist. I’ll tell you what these mean one day…
Oh, by the way, this isn’t real. We had 2 hours training for this. The real astronauts have 2 years.
As pilot, I had to plug a lot of information into the computer as well as go through the checklist and toggling switches. The Commander was doing this as well.
We memorised a fair bit but there were still panels that we had to search for.
The checklists kept coming and all the time the mission clock was counting down.
There were panels in front, panels to the right, panels to the left, and panels above…they were really hard to read.
Sarah, the Commander, was fantastic. This was her 2nd time to space camp. She was a good leader and her eyesight was fantastic. She could read panels on my side of the cabin!
Our orbiter was called ‘Discovery’. It was fun talking to Mission Control…’Capcon, this is Discovery, we are go on main engine auto sequence start’…nah, didn’t really say that.
But I did get to land it! The airstrip was Kennedy Space Center on runway 33. A normal aircraft comes in on a glide slope of 3 degrees or so. This comes in 7 times steeper…and it comes in hot!
After that, we headed to a different part of the complex which is called ‘Aviation Challenge’; here there is an aquatic facility where they have pseudo training for water type situations eg: if your aircraft ditches, or you have to parachute into water. This is a highly controlled environment but it was fun.
A view of the area where the activities took place…
The fuselage that 6 people sit in. What happens is that they lower it into the water then rotate it slightly so that the exit is under water. Its easy to get out of and at no time is the whole thing underwater so its quite safe.
The fuselage after lowering and just before rotating:
Out we come…we had to number off.
The instructors then allocated roles. I was ‘normal’ along with someone else. The other 4 students had injuries or conditions such as broken legs, arms and even amnesia after a head knock. It was fun but those helmets always hurt (especially with a hat on underneath) and the life vest rises up around your ears.
We then went on to the zip line parachute entry into the water. You do this backwards and it is really quite pleasant except the harness has to be done up really tight…and I mean really tight…ouch.
You step back…
…and enjoy the ride.
The Adventure Challenge area has all these old jet aircraft. My favourite was there. The Americans call it the Aardvark. We call it the Pig.
An old Navy Corsair (not the WWII Corsair)
And no retired jet aircraft display is complete without an F-14 Tomcat.
From there we went to a different part of the complex where we had a go on the 1/6th gravity simulator (you are 5/6 lighter). We had to bunny hop, crab walk and run.
Then it was on to the MAT or multi axis trainer. What can be said about this…either you like it or hate it.
Strangely you don’t get sick so I liked it. You get spun in 3 directions, sometimes with violent direction changes.
The thing is spectacular to watch…I find gimbals fascinating, especially the condition called ‘gimbal lock’ which is what they struggled with on Apollo 13.
Finally, it was back into the classroom to do an activity on building a lunar base. Each team was given a facility to design and build. Our facility was a telescope. It had to be self-sustaining ie: generate its own electricity, have a medical facility, as well as other constraints and requirements. Teams then had to present a 2 minute talk. Again, it was not a chore and turned out to be a lot of fun.
And that’s one day’s worth of fun at Space Camp. Tomorrow is the Lunar Mission, some lectures on International and Commercial Space, and launching of our rockets.
I’ll end up with a close-up of my flight suit which I get to keep. Our name tags are worn upside-down and won’t be righted until graduation which is on Monday.