Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Team Carthage had a good first flight day. Erin, Joe, and Sam were able to collect good data and certainly made the most of their experience. For those of you who are Facebook friends, keep an eye out for Joe's zero gravity video.

Later in the afternoon, astronaut Barbara Morgan gave a presentation on her time in space on the STS-118 shuttle mission in 2007. Apart from the description of her work on the shuttle and the International Space Station, she also described the creamy, velvety blackness of space, the abundance of stars, and the incredible beauty of a sunrise from orbit. Barbara was genuine when she encouraged all of us to keep trying and keep working for our dreams... namely that of being an astronaut.

Barbara Morgan has been an inspiration to me since elementary school, when my classmates and I sang a song about Christa McAullife. I think that is when I first knew that I want to be an astronaut. It was incredible to meet and have several conversations with Barbara on this trip. She is a delightful woman and I appreciate the time that I have been able to spend with one of my idols. If you are reading this Barbara, I just want to say thank you!

Please wish us a good flight again tomorrow!

Barbara Morgan with Team Carthage

Monday, March 30, 2009

TRR: Test Readiness Review

The original "Weightless Wonder" KC-135... footage for Apollo 13 was filmed on this aircraft.

In order for our team to fly, we need to pass a Test Readiness Review. A large group of engineers, pilots, and safety personnel have been reviewing our proposals and documents, and will come to each table to critique our rig. If the rig is classed as unsafe for flight, a team cannot pass the TRR and cannot fly.

Team Carthage was a little worried about passing the TRR, yet fortunately for us, our rig had no problems and has been cleared for flight! Wish us luck tomorrow as we send our first crew of flyers up on the Zero Gravity aircraft.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Dusty

Carthage Microgravity Team Rig

3 of our team members (Joe, Sam, and Brad) got up bright and early to head out to physiological training while the rest of us journeyed over to the hangar at Ellington Field to work on the rig. We had planned to get some more testing done and run through in flight procedures; however, upon pumping down one of the drums, we soon discovered that a second expensive butterfly valve was no longer working. Isa, Erin, Dr. Crosby, and I spent all day trying different ways to get these valves to work. By the end of the workday, we were all feeling pretty frustrated. We spent some time in a hardware store hoping to find some smidgen of inspiration and hope.

We picked up the others from physio training at the NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Lab) where NASA houses a 4ft deep 102ft by 202ft 6.2 million gallon swimming pool where the astronauts train. Our team had a fun experience in the hypobaric chamber where they underwent oxygen deprivation to see what their symptoms of hypoxia are.

Later in the evening, we were picked up by astronaut Barbara Morgan (STS-118 backup and Challenger shuttle backup for Crista McAullife). We had a great time hanging out with her and her Boise State Microgravity team.

Today and tomorrow we are not allowed to work on our rig as the hangar is closed to us. Sunday should prove to be exciting though. The STS-119 astronaut welcome home party will be held in our hangar at Ellington, and we are invited to attend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hello Houston

After weeks of late nights and hard work, our experimental rig passed our ground tests and has safely arrived at Ellington Field in Houston. Today, we will all make the same journey via plane. I am excited to have this opportunity again (not to mention bask in warmer weather); however, I cannot help feeling slightly anxious, because there are still more tests to pass, and more work to be done. I have confidence though, because we have a strong and energetic team this year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have supported us throughout this endeavor. We appreciate all of the advice, assistance, and words of encouragement. Thank you thank you thank you!

Please feel free to ask questions and make comments. Pictures and experiences will be posted over the next two weeks, so check back frequently.