"It's just my

five days a week..."

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Why, yes it is, rocket science, and beyond

handy NASA and Space links:

News: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/index.html

Yahoo! News Search Results for space news

What You Need To Know About Astronomy & Space - Astronomy & Space Daily News

SPACE.com -- Something Amazing Every Day

Images: http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/index.html

Captain’s log STARDATE:

June 27, 2005

We here are getting ready to fly the Shuttle again, go @ RTF, Discovery!

We have the LMC cargo carrier in the back end, so its exciting to be flying again!

Below is an update on the Shuttle work I do that i got a couple weekends ago from the Lead Mechanical Engr i work with on the LMC.

The LMC, (spaceflight CARRIER hardware my group is flying on Shuttle Discovery),

had its mechanical installation into Discovery completed during the wee hours a few Saturday mornings ago.
The LMC is tucked into the back of the cargo bay ('lucky' bay 13) behind the MPLM and hard to get a good look at, especially w/PGHM (Payload Ground Handling Mechanism) in place, but my team i support included a few photos (size edited for email purposes).
Fortunately the camera was able to focus a little better than us after sixteen hours in the Payload Changeout Room(PCR) @ 0300 hrs.

In the attached PAD photos, the photo taken at three A.M. [Ialso included the shot 'brightened' to show the new ET]
at the KSC Shuttle launch PAD 39B are taken at the '255' (feet off the ground) level.
The picture shows the "stack" with
the Orbiter  hidden behind the RSS
These links  Space Shuttle Coordinate System, and as depicted graphically
can allow one to calculate where in the picture the Orbiter nose is at.

The PCR [where install payload/cargo ops occurred] is at the '135' level.

More on PCR and PGHM:
Launch on lucky July 13th.

Status from KSC Cargo Engineering:

Y-link  installation

(Y-link is the last piece we put on our hardware, it is a link that retstrains out LMC in the Y direction of the shuttle  (X is the central 'length-wise' axial 'roll' direction of the shuttle, Y is the sideways 'yaw' direction, Z is the up 'pitch' direction:

6/18/05 0300hrs - Completed the installation of the LMC y-link to the orbiter.  Post installation bond check performed on assembly and found acceptable.  LMC secured in the orbiter bay.  Special thanks to the GSFC personnel supporting the operation.

In the LMC photos, the white truss (bridge-girder-like) hardware is the LMC, the curved silver hardware is the (Italian-made & named) Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).

More about the MPLM:

and LMC cargo here:

LMC into the payload "TransCan" and to the PAD (links in reverse chron order):

STS-114 RETURN_TO_FLIGHT(RTF) mission overview:
Has a link to a movie clip of the STS-108 mission on-orbit,
that had a very similiar payload bay cargo configuration to this current mission STS-114,
the movie shows this LMC on RTF situated directly behind the MPLM.

Daily details of the Mission, by Flight Day(FD):
(landing is scheduled for 'Lucky' Flight Day 13)

December 25, 2004

Update for 7:00 p.m. EST Saturday, December 25: Russian Supply Ship Docks at ISS

http://www.spacedaily.com's File image of a Progress class Soyuz.

Our group's SEM Satchel Soyuz/Progress and International Space Station Page

ESA's Cassini-Huygens website

NASA - Cassini-Huygens: Close Encounter with Saturn


As of 12-23-04:

NASA Goddard is building the first Exploration Initiative spacecraft.



Lunar investigators


The six selected investigations and principal investigators (PI) for the LRO are:

n       Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA): Determines the global topography of the lunar surface at high resolution, measure landing site slopes and search for polar ices in shadowed regions. PI, David Smith, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.


n       Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC): Acquires targeted images of the lunar surface capable of resolving small-scale features that could be landing site hazards, as well as wide-angle images at multiple wavelengths of the lunar poles to document changing illumination conditions and potential resources. PI, Mark Robinson, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.


n       Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND): Maps the flux of neutrons from the lunar surface to search for evidence of water ice and provide measurements of the space radiation environment which can be useful for future human exploration. PI, Igor Mitrofanov, Institute for Space Research, and Federal Space Agency, Moscow.




n       Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment: Charts the temperature of the entire lunar surface at roughly 985 feet (300 meter) horizontal scales to identify cold-traps and potential ice deposits. PI, David Paige, University of California, Los Angeles.


n       Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP): Observes the entire lunar surface in the far ultraviolet. LAMP will search for surface ices and frosts in the polar regions and provide images of permanently shadowed regions illuminated only by starlight. PI, Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.


n       Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER): Investigates the effect of galactic cosmic rays on tissue-equivalent plastics as a constraint on models of biological response to background space radiation. PI, Harlan Spence, Boston University, Massachusetts.


Instrumentation provided by these selected measurement investigations will be the payload of the mission scheduled to launch in October 2008.


Eagle Lander 3D (EL3D) is an authentic simulation of the Apollo lunar landings



October 09, 2004:

Below are some pix from my most recent visit [March 2004] to KSC. 
We went in during second shift to OPF #3 to see
[and take digi-pix of] 
(OV-103 is "Orbital Vehicle - 103" aka Shuttle
Discovery, the one to RETURN TO FLIGHT on STS-114;
and then OPF #2 to see 
OV-105 is Shuttle Endeavour, the youngest of the
fleet, the one built from spare parts after Challenger
happened in Jan 1986) 
(I never saw the wings' carbon-carbon "leading edges"
removed like that)
(I never saw the cargo bay doors stripped down like that)


KSC Gators at the pond near the VPF:

Bobcats outside the MPPF at KSC



January 02, 2004



I truly enjoy working in HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT, but I am even more thrilled by the NASA ‘s recent advances including the SAMPLE RETURN STARDUST MISSION and ROBOTIC EXPLORATION via the MARS ROVER

The Get-Away-Special and the Space Experiment Module and SEM SATCHEL on Progress payloads I have been directly involved with flew the JPL Sample Return Experiments on top of the GAS and SEM canisters on numerous Shuttle Missions in the 1990’s. This effort has now culminated in the STARDUST mission use of the advanced material AEROGEL that just collected actual “Star Dust” today!

Dateline: December 31, 2003

Well, it’s been a trying year for me and the U.S. Human Space Program.

On February 1st, 2003, after a picture perfect STS-107 science mission with NASA Goddard’s  FREESTAR payload onboard Columbia, we lost Orbiter Columbia and her crew moments around nine a.m. in the sky above Texas.

As a result of the Columbia accident, in addition to losing FREESTAR,  we were dealt another blow:

-> As of October 1st, 2003, NASA killed the Hitchhiker program, which flew millions of “Science on Shuttle” miles from 1984 to 2003.

I believe a Hitchhiker may end up in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Annex @ Dulles, like its sister spacecraft payload that flew numerous times, Spartan.

The Shuttle upon its return to flight, will resume its original mission, safely ferrying cargo back and forth to the ISS. I am now working on flying External Carriers like the LMC that ferries cargo like Orbital Replacement Units and Payloads to support Operations of the International Space Station (ISS).


Cicero: "To stumble twice against the same stone is a proverbial disgrace."

"What's Past is Prologue" (The Tempest, Act II, Scene I - Shakespeare):

CHALLENGER ACCIDENT: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sts51l.html

COLUMBIA ACCIDENT: http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/home/index.html 

Space Shuttle RTF:



Things I work on now


As part of the development of the ISS:



I am on the team performing sustaining Payload Systems Engineering to the

 “L”ightweight “M”ission-Peculiar Experiment Support Structure (MPESS) “C”arrier

or LMC

a NASA International Space Station (ISS) Carrier.

The LMC is flying on STS-114 and STS-121 with an LMC each.

The first one will be flying an experiment where the astronauts will perform an EVA “spacewalk,”

and simulate repairing a Shuttle leading edge

then bring it back for superheated air impingement testing immediately upon landing.

The LMC  first flew an LMC on STS-108 - watch a movie here.


in support to:

NASA ISS External Carriers Office:


[via the NASA KSC Launch Services Program's "Program Integration Office" (VA-B)]


Space Shuttle Payload Carriers:


NSTS Cargo Requirements we adhere to

Also I am involved in:

Solar Science:

NASA "Living With a STAR" Space Environment Testbed (SET) Project:



James Webb Space Telescope:




Dateline February 2003

Our team worked closely and directly with the Crew of Columbia,

 I have been working nearly around the clock since sat Feb. 01, 2003 at about 9:16am EST when the contingency/data preservation was called for.


 In addition to having to generate the list of all our FREESTAR payload’s part numbers and serial numbers associated with them, I am now also in charge of gathering all the data related to the FREESTAR payload's development, test, integration and ops throughout the mission.


Very exhausted here. No schedule for this Shuttle Investigation work, its all ASAP. Our group is getting some calls from the field, literally, "...got this piece of debris with this number on it, is it yours Goddard?"


I got my tears out about knowing them, then losing them early on in the loss, in REAL TIME.  I was watching live on NASA TV sat a.m. at home. I was marveling to myself as COLUMBIA streaked over the California coast on the descent trajectory ground trace about how amazing it is that this vehicle screams across the USA in minutes at Mach 20+ to land on 15k ft of runway at 200+ mph.


I began to get apprehensive after Columbia’s vocal response, over about Nevada, after the plasma blackout, was very terse, as though the Commander/Crew were very busy dealing with a situation.


About the time they were over Dallas and weren’t responding to the multiple CAPCOM polls just after nine a.m., I could feel the Disaster unfolding in my heart in real time, just as I did with Challenger so much earlier in my career.


When Mission Control switched to Line Of Sight UHF comm[unication] frequency at Merritt Island FLA [because Columbia still didn't answer polls to her and the plasma blackout was long gone], I knew it then...when I switched on CNN from NASA TV after I heard a data preservation contingency called for by Mission Control, I headed straight in to work, pretty much haven’t left since...


Some of the damage we have seen points to failure modes involving loads due to accelerations of ~60g's; a horribly violent event.


DATELINE: March 2002

We finally got FREESTAR done and ready for Columbia!

March 05, 2001:
pix of Columbia on her last return to
KSC (in tact) as prep for the STS-107 flight:
[More pix of Columbia (and me) as she was a little
farther along in her STS-107 prep process in May 2001 are below].
Dateline May 2001

Look at me

in front of Orbiter Columbia as she was pushed out of OPF #1 (then over to one of the VAB High Bays for temporary storage).

This was done to make way for Orbiter Endeavour coming in on
ferry flight fresh from STS-100 landing at Edwards AFB a few days prior. Endeavour's STS-100 IMAX film and life science payloads had to be off-loaded ASAP. This dictated pushing Orbiter Columbia out of OPF bay #1 before its re-furb work was complete, as shown by its missing forward thruster steering systems and aft OMS pods.

I was busy doing work on Orbiter Discovery for STS-105 mission in OPF High Bay 2. Orbiter Atlantis was in OPF High Bay 3 across the street but I was too busy to go see her.

Seeing the oldest of the Space Shuttle fleet,
Columbia, pushed by out one afternoon of the OPF and over to the VAB, then the next morning watching the fly-around as the ferry loaded with OV-105 banked left east of the VAB and touches down on the 15k foot strip, then to see the youngest, Endeavour, the next day offloaded and rolled down the strip and then pushed into that OPF Columbia was rolled out of was worth the price of a college education! Gazing on three out of four of the Space Shuttle fleet in one week was, as is sold, priceless!

well worth the US Agony flight to Orlando filled with all the excited kids on their way to see Mickey!

Here's me working on the Orbiter Discovery for the STS-105 mission where we deployed the SIMPLESAT small SAT:




Dateline: STS-96 Mission timeframe: Here is a picture of

Me at work on the Space Shuttle

at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), FLA Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) High Bay #1, level 7 scaffolding, above the Port (left) side of the Space Shuttle Discovery's (Orbiter Vehicle 103, known as OV-103) cargo bay. I was there to participate in the installation operations of the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center payloads SVF-02 and STARSHINE on the Starboard (right) side of Bay 13 of Discovery. STARSHINE was deployed on Flight Day 10 of the STS-96 mission in May 1999. Watch a

clip of STARSHINE's successful deployment


during the mission.
Here's how to
see when a spacecraft is passing overhead of your city One can also use J-Pass to determine where a spacecraft is visible from Earth, or instead use the companion J-Track to see where above the Earth a spacecraft is, such as the Space Station. One can see what I can see here in Washington, DC currently. You must revise the location for where you are. Hey, why not follow along live with NASA TV with links provided at The Houston Chronicle's Space Chronicle.

If you have more
questions about STARSHINE, or to read more about these and other payloads I help fly, please visit the website for the organization I provide contractor support for:

NASA GSFC Shuttle Small Payloads Project

I provide this support through my employer, Swales Aerospace. They do really neat things! One of many things is designing the tools used by the Astronauts.

Here's a link to NASA KSC's OPF Operations that describes the portion of the Shuttle Payload Integration process that brought me there.


In the photo of me above, one can see the people working on the installation down in the cargo bay over my left shoulder. For my duties, the adage, "no news is good news" applies. I'm essentially there "on-call" to resolve configuration issues if the installation paperwork fails to match the hardware. Before I started working on the Shuttle, there were only a very few of such problems, but at about a $1M an hour of OPF processing time for a delay, one does not want any of these avoidable delays. After I'm finished with all the pre-handover checklists I perform on the payloads and the carrier hardware to ensure everything matches correctly, I'm able to occasionally take a breather during these now smooth operations and get my picture taken by the experimenters such as SVF-02 from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


In the above picture of me at KSC, the stowed Remote Manipulator System (RMS) "Shuttle Arm" is visible as a long white cylinder running along the Port side of the cargo bay, going from behind my right elbow and behind my left shoulder. Due to the extensive scaffolding utilized during Orbiter Integration operations in the OPF, the aft bulkhead of the cargo bay of Shuttle Discovery is the only readily visible portion of the cargo bay to the right of the crane hook. One can make out the ellipsoid (oval) contour where the cargo bay doors seal against the aft bulkhead.

Its always so enjoyable and awe-inspiring to be a part of these deliberately slow-paced union-shop operations, please take a live peek at various KSC ops here. With all the things that can and occasionally do go wrong, the pace is never too slow, though.

Thank you all for paying your taxes so I can do this for a living! ;^D

Some more background of my career in the
Space Biz:

After I received my BS in
Mechanical Engineering from Penn State in 1984, I got my first job at the then Morton Thiokol, Inc. outside of the small town of Brigham City, Utah about an hour north of Salt Lake City in rural Box Elder County. Thiokol develops solid rocket technology in the middle of the Utah desert there near Promontory Point including the booster rockets that provide about 90 percent of the thrust during the initial launch phase of the Space Shuttle's flight. These are the boosters that had the faulty O-ring joint design that has been determined to have caused the Challenger accident on January 28th, 1986. Here's the CBS News write-up of the controversial STS 51-L Accident. Working there from 1984 to 1987, I essentially saw the events leading up to that disaster from over the walls of my cubicle. What a horrible case study in the breakdown of the management decision processing of engineering data for a young engineer the entire experience was. I knew all the chief designers and managers involved in those ill-fated decisions. I remember seeing the, then head of Morton Thiokol public relations, now person that heads up the STARSHINE payload concept, Dr. Gil Moore, bravely facing the national media in the office lobby every morning in those grim years. It was a heart-breaking experience for me personally and us as team members as it was for all in the world who remember it. With every engineering decision I perform for the Shuttle program today, I still remember those fallen crew members and do my absolute best to ensure that never happens again.

I mainly worked on development of the
Shuttle boosters and on the primary boost stages and functional ordnance systems of the "Missile X" MX "Peacekeeper" InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and the "Trident D-5" Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), the cold war's "weapons of doom."

I enjoyed the challenges of the engineering development work very much, but, desiring a more urban lifestyle, one day I answered a McLean, VA "Beltway Bandit's" ad in the
Washington Post. I was hired over the phone and re-located to Adams Morgan/Kalorama Triangle/near Dupont Circle in the heart of Washington, DC to help build small satellites for Department of Defense purposes. It may seem funny that a blue collar city boy like me would work on so many conservative programs but it was a boom time in the "Raygun" 80's and I went where the job offers took me. So Labor Day Weekend 1987 I packed my car and headed back east to work on small satellites.

In July 1990, an Engineering Support Services position with the then McDonnell Douglas Corporation opened up to allow me to provide engineering support on the Space Shuttle for the
Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters in downtown Washington, DC. I jumped at the chance and now, after working the programmatic end of things at NASA HQ for three years, I have returned to the nuts and bolts of engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since March 1994. It is so fulfilling to help school kids as well as various experimenters within NASA and from around the world to fly their experiments on the Space Shuttle.

Being a then young engineer working just over the cubicle wall from the design team involved with the Challenger's ill-fated SRB's field joint, I carried the memory of that time with me to where I work now. The group I provide contractor support to now had
Spartan - Halley aboard 51-L so they also had worked directly with the crew during Crew Fam briefings that provided training on the deploy/retrieval ops and science objectives for SPTN-Halley. On one of my many visits to KSC for work since then, I remember finding out about the silo with the Challenger remains when we were working at a facility that was converted from performing Delta ELV payload Spin Testing to a Get-Away-Special payload processing facility on Cape Canaveral AFS property.

Driving by that area one day at lunch, all the feelings I had during the three years I spent at the then Morton Thiokol, Inc. in northern Utah before and following the Challenger Accident came rushing back. It was overwhelming. I still to this day well up inside hearing "go at Throttle Up." I pass through that fateful moment as I remember it each time a new mission does also. But that's why I continue do this work, to access that risk and take every step necessary to mitigate that risk and we keep flying, in honor of their memory.

I believe in my heart that the
51-L crew are there with every mission, lifting each crew through that threshold of the atmosphere to allow them to see the wonder of the universe and the breath-taking beauty of our delicate planet so perhaps we will all take time to marvel at and realize how fragile and precious life on Earth is.

More space-related links:

National Park Service “Man in Space”
Scientific American's "birds and the bee's"  in Space article
Aerospace Daily
Actual tales of living and working on board the Space Shuttle
The Future - RLVs and Space Tourism
 various Rocket Calculations
Orbit Calculations
Orbital Mechanics
Orbital Velocity and Period Calculator
Constants and Equations for Calculations
 Virtual Reality views of Spacecraft and Facilities
Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page
Space Awareness Alliance

 [SEM-04 experimenter’s] Hot List
From NASA Glenn RC:

Space Mechanisms Handbook
From NASA Headquarters:

NASA OSF Space Hotlist
NASA Center Libraries

Scientific and Engineering Links:

 Science in the Headlines
NASA's Space Science News
Fundamental Physical Constants
sciLINKS - Interactive science textbooks

Geek fun:

How Things Work
How Stuff Works
Rocketry Classroom demos
Build a Space Shuttle Glider

Books about Space I enjoyed:

Angle of Attack - The Race to the Moon
Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Flight to Another World
Rocket Boys
"Fundamentals of Astrodynamics"
Roger Bate, Donald Mueller, Jerry White
1971, Dover Press, 455pp (paperback). ISBN 0-486-60061-0

Music I would take into Space:
The Orb
Sun-synchronous: Dark Side of the Moon 'P-F'-flyer
2000 Light Years From Home - Rolling Stones
Third Stone from the Sun - Jimi Hendrix

This page is my "personal space" on the WWW.

My home page is:



partout moi