Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Special sneak peek tour of Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit!

This past Saturday, June 22, my sister  got the chance of a lifetime to tour the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center one week before it opened, thanks to the Missile, Space, and Range Pioneers.

It was a truly amazing exhibit. Outside, the twin solid rocket boosters and external tank, which launch the shuttle our of orbit, stand. They are HUUUUGE and are quite the site to see.

Going inside, there are quotes and incredible images dedicated to the space shuttle program. It leads up to an auditorium where an awesome (but short) movie plays, outlining the origins of the space shuttle.

Following the movie, you get to witness incredible launches, before the gorgeous ship that is Atlantis is unveiled.

I was amazed by the exhibit; you can get surprisingly close to the orbiter. There is a Hubble Space Telescope mockup, a space shuttle engine, and more.

My sister and I also got to meet to Atlantis astronauts, Bob Springer and Tom Jones. They signed autographs for us (my sister was so excited, as it was the day before her birthday), and I also got a picture of Jim Springer with Gus Grissbear (named for Gus Grissom, his adventures will be chronicled on this blog!).

After meeting the astronauts, we saw the rest of the exhibit. Several modules of the International Space Station were re-created, including the Tranquility module and C.O.L.B.E.R.T treadmill, as well as the beloved space toilet. (There's no gravity to assist up there).

The tires from Atlantis from the last shuttle launch, STS-135, were also on display for people to touch and move! Being that these are still technically space artifacts made it a special treat.

Seeing Atlantis before its opening date was a true treat, and was quite the experience for both my sister and I. We are both so grateful for this opportunity, and send a million thanks to the Missile, Space, and Range Pioneers for the opportunity.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reaching for the stars: Astronaut class of 2013

This week, four women and four men were announced as the new 2013 class of astronaut candidates!

From left to right: Josh Cassada, Lt. Cmdr. Victor Glover, Lt. Col. Tyler Hague, Christina Hammock, Major Nicole Mann, Major Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, and Dr. Andrew Morgan
These highly qualified individuals were picked from an applicant pool of over 6,000- the second largest application response NASA has ever had. Congratulations to each of you selected!

You can hear more about the astronaut selection and other events from this week at NASA from this NASA Television "This Week @NASA" episode!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Missile, Space and Range Pioneers

So I have been pretty excited to announce this, but I am officially a part of the Missile, Space and Range Pioneers, located in Florida's very own Space Coast! Funnily enough, the Pioneers found me through this very blog. I had attended a banquet of theirs last year and blogged about it (post can be found here), and a couple months ago, they found the post. They liked my writing and asked for me to write for them, as well as work to advance their social media presence. I absolutely love working with the Pioneers.

I will be sharing a lot of what I write for them on my blog, but check out their website, like their facebook page and follow them on twitter as well for more stories and exclusives! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Seeing beyond the visible light spectrum

Recently, I discovered that NASA has a ton of multimedia available to bloggers about the James Webb Space Telescope, and as a space enthusiast, I knew I had to utilize these resources in a post.

Full scale JWST mockup

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a HUGE telescope slated to launch in 2018. It is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and has a different range of capabilities.

Webb vs Hubble primary mirror
Did I mention it was HUGE?! And those are just the mirrors!

Unlike Hubble, it can see "past" the visible light spectrum and into the infrared range of the light spectrum. This is really important because plenty of things in the universe are covered with dust that isn't penetrable by visible light, such as newly forming stars and planets, the center of the universe, and more. Infrared telescopes can penetrate the dust, however, and allow us to study things that we previously could not. Webb's giant mirror, pictured above, also give us capabilities to see further back in time to the earliest formations in our universe! It's pretty exciting stuff. (In fact, I was part of a group project a few years back and we made a rap and music video for JWST...If I can locate the video I'll be sure to share it!)

Here more about the James Webb Space Telescope in the below video, courtesy of NASA.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

STEM links of the week

GE Opens Two Jet Engine Plants as Next-Gen Aircraft Get Ready for Take-Off
Submitted by Billy, this article details the new plant openings and talks about the LEAF and GEnx advanced engines.

Metals Become Molecular-Like at the Atomic Scale, Reveal Materials Scientists

An experiment by Harsh Deep Chopra and The State University of New York at Buffalo has shown that on the atomic scale, metallic bonds act very differently between a dew number of atoms than from when they are in a bulk material.

3D printing takes to the stars

The first 3D printing experiment is launched on a zero-g flight!

Meet the heir apparent to the U.S. Army's Blackhawk helicopter

AVX is designing the military's new attack chopper- and it's pretty rad.

Canada Seeks to Rove Beyond the Space Station

The Canadian Space Agency is looking beyond the ISS and is looking to send rovers to Mars.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013

Last week, I wrote how I flew to Colorado for NSRC 2013, the conference for all people in the suborbital industry. It was an incredible conference, and arguably the most valuable conference I have been to thus far in my career.

I flew into Colorado Sunday morning, and was blown away by the beauty of the state. Visiting states like Colorado make me realize how geographically "un-dynamic" Florida is.

The poster sessions and reception were held Sunday night. Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado opened with welcoming words, then the reception started. This proved to be a key networking night for me. I met many professionals from all sorts of places, such as NASA, Southwest Research Institute, "twitter" (I met one of my favorite space reporters). I met many students as well, from undergrad through post-doc, whom I spent much of my time with over the next few days of the conference. Sunday night I also had the chance to sit inside XCOR's Lynx mockup! It was pretty cool.

Monday was the first "real" day of the conference. Dr. Alan Stern started the day off, then Dr. Scott Parazynski spoke. He was very inspirational and cool; not only is he a medical doctor, but he was also an astronaut, and climbed Mt. Everest twice, amongst other things. We also heard a great deal from XCOR Aerospace that day; I learned a lot about what they are doing with the Lynx for researchers like myself.

Monday night there was a public event held by Dr. Alan Stern, as well, talking about the importance of commercial space flight, and it was really great, especially with so many people of the public there and asking questions. One young boy was sitting in front of me and he was so excited by the presentation; it was really heart-warming. 

Tuesday was presentation day for me! I was the last presentation in the microgravity session. Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson's space company, had a good deal of time to speak about what they were doing and how SpaceShipTwo will have plenty of space and opportunities for researchers to fly their experiments. I also heard from Masten Space Systems on their company and their vertical launch systems. Finally was my presentation. After some technical difficulties (and then more technical difficulties), I presented my research. I did well enough to get an offer from Zero G Corporation to help fly my prototype, which was more than I was expecting, so I will say that presentation was successful!

I also met a wolf on Tuesday. No lie.

Wednesday was the last day of the conference. Before hearing from Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's (the Amazon guy) "ultra secret" space company, I listened to a panel on the research infrastructure at spaceports. This was very interesting to me, as Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fl is trying to gain spaceport status (and is only a couple miles from where I grew up). Then I heard Blue Origin, and for a tight-lipped company, I was quite impressed by some of the stuff they shared. They showed some really awesome test flights of their New Shepherd vehicle, which are available online here. NASA's Flight Opportunities Program and the Commercial Space Federation also spoke, before the closing remarks and closing "reception". This gave me a chance to say farewell to many of the amazing people I met over the duration of NSRC 2013, but my trip was far from over!

That night, I got to go on a late night tour of Colorado School of Mines, one of the schools I am considering for my graduate studies. Two of the school's most awesome students gave me a really good tour, and I learned all about their metallurgical and material science programs. I was very impressed by both the students and the school, and will definitely be applying when the time comes. 

Overall, my trip to Colorado was extremely successful with the contacts I've made, as well as offers and opportunities presented to me. It was the most beneficial conference I've been to thus far in my academic and research career, and am definitely looking forward to NSRC 2014.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Calling all builders, designers, inventors, and creative folk!!

As an engineering student, I love to build. As a person with a passion for space, I love NASA. As a person who is still a child at heart, I love Legos. What happens when these three glorious things come together?

Magic Science happens. 

NASA and Lego have teamed up in a contest for teens and adults everywhere (must be at least 13) called "NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build". This contest's goal is to design and build a vehicle based on an existing NASA Mission. Each design needs to be accompanied by a technical paper that describes how the existing NASA technology has been incorporated and changed in the design. 

There are multiple ways to win, but the contest ends July 31! 
You can read more about the contest here: 
NASA and Lego want you to design the future of flight for them

Or read the NASA release, rules, etc, from the NASA site here:
NASA Partners With the LEGO Group for Design and Build Contest

Happy building!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A mile closer to space (NSRC 2013 pt.1)

Greetings from Broomfield, Colorado!! I am currently at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC). 

I'm presenting at the conference on my research at UNF, "Experiment for peristaltic flow in microgravity". It's pretty much a small-scale bioreactor to study bone cells in space. (I can talk more about this in another post if people are interested.)

I am so excited about this trip. I've always wanted to go to Colorado, and I finally have the chance. Colorado is such a beautiful state; the weather is wonderful and the mountains are breathtaking.

Not only do I get to attend and present at the conference, but my research advisor for my materials research has gotten me in touch with former students of our school who are now at Colorado School of Mines, and I'll get to tour there. School of Mines is on my list of potential grad schools, so this will be a very awesome trip. 

The conference has been crazy awesome so far. I've met a lot of cool people in both academia and industry, and have heard a lot of inspiring and informative talks. I'll post more about the specifics of the conference proceedings (as well as my presentation!) in a later post.