One of the things that has been emphasized over and over this week is the importance of team. The Discovery astronauts we saw last weekend were quick to credit all those who contributed to the success of their mission, and the list was long indeed. While Boise State's flight teams will come home with some of the most impressive anecdotes, they could never have gotten near the plane without a lot of support and encouragement from the steadfast ground team, including Jeff Perkins, Bob Davidson and Matt McCrink (pictured above).
There are many more individuals and organizations that need to be formally thanked for contributing to this project (and they will be), but for now, we in Houston would like to recognize our vital teammates at home.
Jason Griswold, aka team "mom," wasn't able to join us as planned, but his name has been mentioned many times this week. We wish he was here.
Travis Dean was instrumental in fabricating the wheels, which are the heart of the experiment. He would have been here if not for a very joyous event in his life, which we're guessing is probably even more of a thrill than microgravity.
Don Plumlee helped a great deal in supervising the design and execution of the experiment's motor and mechanical structure, and he should know that despite a few glitches caused by crazy gravity, everything is working beautifully.
Jake Forseberg contributed his time and skills to several projects, including the emergency stop button on the experiment and the sweet logo on all of our team shirts. He is observing the action this time around and hopefully will get involved in future projects.
Kim Long is a wonder. She helped with everything, from the scheduling to the financing to the cheerful smiles whenever they were needed. She deserves some serious NASA swag from our favorite souvenir shop.
Andy Diehl made it possible for the team to reserve space in the engineering buildings every week and enabled telephone and Internet conferences with our NASA mentor, which were crucial to the execution of the project.
Margaret Scott and Michele Armstrong have been getting the word out on the home front, using the College of Engineering homepage as an ever-evolving billboard. Thanks also for all the creative and technical help with the blog. It is our window on the world.
To everyone else supporting this team, thank you, and stay tuned for a more extended note of gratitude.
Discovery commander Lee Archambault was just one of the incredible people we got to meet while in Houston. The thing they all seem to have in common is humility.
This odd looking fellow makes his home in one of the massive bays at JSC. He looks like he works out on the ARED ...
NASA is working on an ultimate off-road vehicle, and the team had a chance to see it and talk to one of the engineers working on it about the wheels being tested.
NASA's Danny Carraho is working on the electronic innards of lunar habitation prototypes like this one. Even though his work may not come to full fruition for many years, he is focused on today. "I can't think too far ahead or nothing would get done," he said.
The team presented Pedro with a plaque to commemorate and recognize his role in the project.
Seeing a full-sized model of the space shuttle made it clear that most of its bulk is for cargo. Now that the international space station is almost complete, it's one more reason to retire the vehicle that has brought so many astronauts to space and inspired so many Americans.
The Garn Scale
The Garn Scale is named for U.S. Senator Jake Garn, who flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery as a Payload Specialist in 1985. He was so ill that a sickness scale was created in his honor, one Garn being the highest unit of measure.
Boise State has a perfect record so far when it comes to the toughness of our stomachs. Not one of our team members got sick on the G-FORCE ONE (or while driving in Moby Van).
More Small Steps
Inside the Rocket Park where the Saturn V sleeps, there are wall-sized banners about NASA's plan to return to the moon. Most people don't realize that we haven't been back since the 1970s.
The Wisdom of Slinky
One of the most important elements of the Microgravity Program is educational outreach, and the teams all brought items that colorfully illustrate the effects of altered gravity. Slinky is a favorite.
Ryan Loves Lamp
He had steak and cheese. Lots of cheese.
Barbara was kind enough to take my picture on the upside of a parabola, when I was glued to the floor. Both that and the sensation of weightlessness were mind-expanding.
The team saved money by shipping Mallory to Houston in a pile of foam peanuts. (Kidding.)
Ryan is always prepared. Most fliers only bring three motion sickness receptacles, but sometimes a guy needs an extra (if only for style).
Alex Miller is a senior in materials science and engineering. He was a day-one flier and spent most of his time with his arms inside the experiment, dutifully collecting data (though he did take a break for a little Russian dancing). Alex says: "Lex Longa Vita Brevis (The Law is Long, Life is Short)," and "I like magnets."
Jim Browning is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. He has been advising the project from the beginning and will assist with the experiment on the day-two flight team (not to mention the extreme video of Mallory and Ryan). Jim says: "Have a good time learning."
Dan Isla is a senior in electrical and computer engineering. He is the overall project lead and a day-one flier who managed to get a few airborne somersaults into the mix. He is headed for a job with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory this year. Dan says: "Gravity is overrated."
Matt McCrink is a graduate student in mechanical engineering. He is the ground team lead and has been handling the "all-knowing, all-seeing" aspects of making the experiment work. He also has wind-resistant hair (though we're pretty sure it's flammable). Matt says: "Betting on teammates seems counterproductive ..."
Mallory Yates is a sophomore in materials science and engineering. She is an enthusiastic day-two flier and the team's personal entertainment center. She will be running the manual elements of the experiment as well as performing stunts to aid the team in future outreach efforts to young children who also are attracted to flashing lights and magnets. Mallory says: "High energy really can take you to space."
Ryan Bedell is a senior in electrical and computer engineering. He is a day-two flier focusing on the computational elements of the experiment (though we hope he'll do a couple cartwheels as well). Ryan says: "Accidental people are good people too."
Kyle Knori is a sophomore in materials science and engineering. Kyle is our alternate flier and an integral part of the ground team, focusing on human factors (aka safety issues). In anticipation of his flight on the G-FORCE ONE, Kyle says: "I just hope I don't puke."
Jeff Perkins is a graduate student in materials science and engineering. He is the safety manager of the ground team and a dedicated student of lunar dust. Jeff says: "I looooooove lunar dust."
Bob Davidson is a research professor in electrical and computer engineering. He is an alternate flier and ground team superstar in our Microgravity group, and according to astronaut Barbara Morgan (who knows a lot), he has been the heart and soul of the technical/operational aspects of this trip. Bob says: "Why doesn't this airport have a Starbucks?"
From the Ground
The team took a look around after loading the experiment onto the plane. The NASA educators have made it a point to remind us to stop and take a look around while in flight, to really let the experience sink in.
After some upside-down training at the Kemah Boardwalk, Alex got stuck. Clearly, he remained calm.
The Danger Zone
No explanation necessary.
NASA mentor Pedro H. Curiel making emergency equipment look good. He participated in the flight chamber training and is now an expert at the mysterious "valsalva" maneuver.
Dan on the Scene
During the Discovery crew return at Ellington Field, Dan got interviewed by local ABC affiliate Channel 13. The Boise State infiltration has begun.
A Familiar Face
Barbara took us to the Outpost, a notorious hangout for NASA folks (and we couldn't help but notice the decor). There was karaoke, a little move-busting and some impromptu quizzing from actual rocket scientists.
This B-57 long wing is used for high altitude research missions, and as you can see from the stickers, it has been around the block. Throughout the week at Ellington Field, this plane has been our hangar-mate.
The Water's Fine
After experiencing the flight chamber at NBL, some of the team members got to see the giant pool that is used for astronaut training. It looked almost like an underwater city.
Reinventing the Wheel
Despite some early bets on the tractor-style tread, a few believers are betting on the "Mallory," an ambitious design that incorporates a crescent shape.
Matt and Dan machined some custom pieces for the experiment, and they didn't lose any fingers.
20 years after its first flight, this vintage "motion sickness bag" still tells it like it is. The team was warned they may need a few during the flight days at Johnson Space Center. Yeah parabolas!
Ryan got serious during the hearing test, which took place in a tiny booth. We're pretty sure he passed.
The student flyers spent a fun afternoon with the 124th Medical Group of the 124th Wing of the Idaho Air National Guard. All were cleared for flight, and Dan even fixed the office TV.