Sunday, June 17, 2012

Space Shuttle, Mercury and Paper Airplanes

Today is Father's Day, at least in the United States. It's a day of appreciating one's father, and in our family it is one of two days every year when I get to have breakfast in bed. It is a day of reflection about my relationship with my kids and as pertaining to this blog, pondering whether my interest in space rubs off on them.

In 2010 we bought our kids a special calendar, where every day can be folded and/or cut into a different paper airplane. They were nine years old and it seemed like something they would take on and enjoy. They did (for a short time, at least) and then the calendar got "stuck" in some date fairly close to the beginning of the year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My NASTAR Experience - Ground Training for Space Launch

One week in March I got to live a bit of my space aspiration. No, I didn't go to space (I continued to ride spaceship Earth). What I did was to go through two segments of commercial astronaut training. After AGSOL near Boston it was time for NASTAR near Philadelphia. Over three days I went up to a simulated 25,000ft altitude in a hypobaric chamber and went on simulated flights that exposed me to real 3.5Gz, 6Gx and most exciting of all, a virtual ride on SpaceShipTwo.

NASTAR is a place that trains many types of people, from fighter jet pilots to aspiring astronauts and space tourists. Over the past five years, after being spun-off of a manufacturing facility for centrifuges, altitude chambers and simulators, it formed several training programs around suborbital flight. The one I went through with seven other men and women was Suborbital Scientist Training, meant for people who will not only go to space as tourists, but will actually need to function in the few minutes of weightlessness rather than just admire the view. My plan B is to win the lottery...