22 Jan

NASA’s Space Shuttle – From Top to Bottom (Infographic)

I found this pretty cool Infographic below about the Space Shuttle (via Space.com).

I like to remember and share the special time I spent working in the Space Shuttle program. It was an awesome program, people, and manned-space transportation system. One of the coolest areas of the whole system is the Launch Pad, and the little room called the White Room; scroll down towards the middle of the Infographic and you will see where it is located. Back in STS-60 I had the chance to spend time up there in the White Room (Launch Pad 39A) while Discovery was being prepared for the following day’s launch — a cool February morning.

A good summary of my time in the space program is documented here: Looking back at the Space Shuttle Program. And a short video that I took of the last Space Shuttle launch is here: Launch of STS-135 Atlantis (final mission of the Space Shuttle); you can see/listen and feel everyone’s excitement. Some of my last contributions to the Space Shuttle included the I/O profile design in support of GPS (which displaced TACANs) and preliminary work towards the very cool Glass Cockpit, photographed below.

My brother (who still works at NASA) was chief engineer for the heat tiles (thermal protection system or TPS). We both are Silver Snoopy recipients for our contributions to the manned space program; I am not sure how many brothers are there who have received a Silver Snoopy and/or who have worked together on the same space mission (I bet very few!).

Awesome times, and great memories… there is nothing like the space program (private or not).

Godspeed to the next generation of Astronauts, and to the private and government-funded space programs. And I may sound biased here, but I cannot wait to see Blue Origin (which I almost joined back in 2005) and its New Shepard make it to space.

A graphical representative of NASA’s space shuttle.

Source Space.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration


27 Aug

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong (2012)

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong — aerospace engineer, U.S. Navy pilot, test pilot, American astronaut, the first person to walk on the Moon, and university professor.

And thank you, Sir Neil Armstrong, as you were one of my sources of inspiration when I was a kid — on space and science — and what humans can accomplish; reach the stars! You and your crew, and the rest of the Apollo program, inspired many and it is safe to say that it led to my interest and love for space, the USA space program, and technology in general.

Thank you,

13 Jul

Launch of STS-135 Atlantis (final mission of the Space Shuttle)

Video of the last Space Shuttle launch (Atlantis , STS-135) as I saw it on July 8th, 2011…

(thanks to James Daniels for the video editing/rotation effects)

This is from 7 miles way. If you listen carefully, you can hear the double-boom as the vehicle breaks the sound barrier.

This is the last time my code gets to fly to space, so it was pretty special for me to go see this launch happening…

Related to this see Looking back at the Space Shuttle Program.

09 Feb

Last Space Shuttle night launch and the end of the USA manned space program in 2010

Space Shuttle Endeavor lists off from laucn pad 39A

Yesterday Feb 8, 2010 was the last scheduled Space Shuttle night launch. STS-130 on board Endeavour. Night launches are spectacular. I should have made plans to go see that. My brother did.

Next there are only 5 3 missions left for the space shuttle fleet.

And not only the space shuttle program has been canceled, our moon program has been canceled as well, without any real plan behind it except ideas. In short, it seems the USA administration has cancelled/killed the manned program completely while military spending has been increased; what is wrong with that picture? Plenty.

And to keep others from saying the manned space program hasn’t been really killed, the president has thrown 2 bones at NASA: 1) increased NASA budget (but no real plan behind it) and 2) extended the operational life of the space station, except there is a problem with that.

Yes, the space station operations have been expanded to 2020, but our astronauts won’t have any capability to reach the space station, except by hitchhiking with the Russians or other. Not that I have anything against the Russians with their great minds and who have been leaders in the space program, but having no answer on how the USA will get to space except depending on other countries is just sad.

And ironically, while the USA has canceled the moon program, the Iranians are claiming they are planning to go after it…

The Russians and Chinese and now the Iranians, seem will rule the space program — at least they have the vision (and it all starts with vision). The USA manned space program seems to be more and more on the hands of the private sector-lead endeavors; maybe, I hope.

So there goes, the aerospace engineering minds of the USA, “no place” to go — and I wonder if they will end up on other countries building their national space programs? I hope some of those engineers have entrepreneurship spirit and go start their own aerospace firms.

I’m proud of my time working in the Space Shuttle program, the awesome people that I worked with, the software that I wrote that flew and still flies, the twenty-something missions that I supported at the Mission Evaluation Room, my Silver Snoopy, and each time the bird flew was/is so exciting, and together with other thousands of people helped keep the manned space program going, flying and leading the way… There is NOTHING like working in the space program.

If am very concerned for the next generation of aerospace engineers, many going to school right now, my nephew being one and the son of a good friend of mine another, and I bet are confused, asking to themselves “…what the hell; should I really continue to follow my dreams? What should I do?”. That concerns me a whole lot…

Let’s see what will happen next…


Image source: NASA via the EPOCH Times

20 Nov

Obama’s NASA Dilemma

Great article on Obama’s NASA Dilemma (The Technology Review).

“When president-elect Barack Obama takes office in January, he will be faced with a rare situation. Within his first 100 days, he will have to decide the fate of America’s space program.”


“As president, Obama will support the development of this vital new platform to ensure that the United States’ reliance on foreign space capabilities is limited to the minimum possible time period,” the document stated. “The [Orion] CEV will be the backbone of future missions, and is being designed with technology that is already proven and available.”


“In addition, investing in space exploration could help the next president deliver on promises of creating jobs in high-tech industries during the current economic crisis. “One way to look at the space program in these economic times is that it is a jobs program,” AIAA’s Bell says. “It would be bad to encourage people to go into science and technology and then get rid of one of the agencies that is the primary employer for those types of people.”

My take is that the Space Program is important, as it creates jobs, and expertise and knowledge in science, math and engineering, in operations and other areas, which are all extremely important skills for our future, and which are skills that are applicable beyond the space program itself… A good example close to the readers of this blog is the “deep space Internet” (Disruption-Tolerant Networking) test, a “new” network protocol that was recently tested:

“(DTN is a) …software protocol, which must be able to withstand delays, disruptions and disconnections in space, was designed in partnership with Vint Cerf, a vice president at Internet search giant Google.”

I’m sure some of that innovation on (wireless) network robustness and reliability will be applicable to our own wireless networks here on Earth…


14 Nov

Endeavour / STS-126 night launch

A beautiful night launch of the Shuttle Shuttle Endeavour and the STS-126 mission (PDF)… See the launch in High Definition, or in standard definition version on Spacevidcast.com‘s YouTube channel.

In Endeavour’s payload bay, the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo is packed full of about 14,500 pounds of equipment and supplies, making it one of the heaviest modules in shuttle history.

Also included in the payload, are additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet, an exercise device and other household-type equipment.

The prime objective of the 15-day mission is to prepare the International Space Station to accommodate six members for long-duration stays.

Four planned spacewalks will focus on servicing the station’s two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, or SARJ, which are needed to track the sun for electric power.

Endeavour and its crew are set to land at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after more than two weeks in space.

Follow the mission on NASA TV.