Monday, November 21, 2011

An Absurd Adventurer in Space (Camp!) Part 2

Read about Caitlin's Day 1 Adventures at the Advanced Space Academy HERE!

Day 2 (part 1) (August 29, 2011)

Today was simply amazing! I got up around 6AM and had breakfast – biscuits, bacon, and French toast (not exactly healthy, but it was good) and then we got to go get our flight suits. The guy who was giving them asked what size we were and I didn’t quite understand the fit of a flight suit, seeing as how I have yet to try one on until today. Eventually he just let us try them all on until we found our size (turns out, I’m a small) and then we took a group photo in them. We then got started on Alpha Mission.

For this mission, I was “Mission Specialist 1” which means that I was on the orbiter and would be doing repairs in the Payload Bay Area. The Payload Bay is part of the orbiter and it is open, allowing for repairs, but it can also be closed and used for storage. The area is exactly the same size as a Greyhound Bus. Once Mission Control gave us the OK for launch, my partner and I began our pre-flight physicals where we had to record our blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Also, our blue flight suits are worn throughout every mission. Then, I climbed up to the cockpit for takeoff, which was controlled by our two pilots.

At T+5 minutes, my partner and I headed down to the middeck where we suited up to head to Payload Bay. We had to take off the flight suit, put on an ice vest, then the white flight suit, then the boots. After that we put on white cloth gloves and then our outer gloves. The headset was put on and then finally our helmet. Despite the ice vest and the fan in our helmet, it was still extremely hot in that suit. I then had to climb up the ladder and out of the orbiter to the Payload Bay. I was strapped onto a robotic arm that I controlled with a control pad and had to follow Mission Control’s instructions on how to fix the satellite. Basically I had to go up, plug in my
power supply, and follow the instructions of which buttons and switches to press. It took me FOREVER to get the plug in because you have to put it in and twist which was extremely difficult with those huge gloves on. Then I had to remove the antenna and hand it to Mission Specialist 2 who gave me a new one to replace it with. It was fun using the arm to get around but it was tricky. PS – you actually have to say things like ”Roger”, “copy”, “go”, “no-go”, and say when things are “nominal” or “not nominal.”

Then I returned to the orbiter, took my gear off and prepared for re-entry and landing. After that we ate lunch and I had some delicious grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and sherbet. Next there was training for our Bravo mission before we got to work on the rockets we are building. We get to spray paint them so I’m thinking pale pink with black polka dots! We didn’t have much time to work on them because then we had to go to the IMAX Theater to see “Hubble.” It was awesome! The screen was way bigger than I thought it would be so it really felt like you were in space. I loved watching the rocket blastoff and seeing how graceful the astronauts manage to be even when while making repairs. After that we went to a briefing on companies who do private space flights so I made sure to take a ton of notes because I WILL do that someday. Then we ate supper and I had lasagna and garlic bread. I didn’t want to eat too much because I knew I was scuba diving afterwards and I was a bit nervous.

Come back soon to check out Caitlin's scuba diving adventure!!