Saturday, December 14, 2013

Work Woes and Other News

Whew! This week wrapped up my first grad school class, English Language Studies. For my final paper, which I turned in last Saturday, I had to write a 15-18 page literary analysis paper. It sounded really daunting at the beginning of the class, and finding sources was a little challenging, but I ended up with I think a pretty good final product (that clocked in at the full 18 pages... filling a length requirement has never really been an issue for me). The paper is worth 30% of our grade, so it could make all the difference for my final grade. Now, I just have to keep checking back for my grade... and keep my fingers crossed.
Next semester, which starts Jan 6th, I'll be taking a Nonfiction Fundamentals writing class. It sounds fun, I hope that it is!

Meanwhile, we've been training for the Austin Half on 2/16. Last weekend we ran 8 miles! Our neighborhood is pretty small, and the side streets surrounding it don't have sidewalks or a shoulder. We manage runs up to 4 miles just looping around the neighborhood in various patterns, but for longer runs we cross the major street in front of our neighborhood (at a light, of course). Then we have a nice wide shoulder for awhile, and then some good sidewalks, for our out and back run. Aside from waiting for lights (4 each way) we do a good job of running the whole way, so I'm feeling good about the upcoming race. But the real test will be while in VA for Christmas... I had to stock up on cold weather running gear to prepare.

Work has also been busy. In October, I was designated as the lead SPARTAN for the Cygnus flight that's supposed to launch on Wednesday. It's Orbital Sciences' second flight to the ISS, their first official cargo resupply mission (the first was a demo). Read more about Cygnus Orb-1 here.
As flight lead for my group for the mission, I was involved in planning, coordination, and some flight specific sims to practice the timeline.

Also, I was recently designated as lead for a stage EVA planned for August. Again my goal is to plan, sim, coordinate, and eventually execute this EVA. And we've had another big software project come to a close that required many meetings and lots of documentation.

And then, just when I thought it couldn't get any busier... this happened:

That was Wednesday morning. I was almost called in to help with the loop restart but someone beat me to the chair by about 1 minute.
Funny story: I had just opened my Chobani and stirred it around when someone came by my desk looking for someone to head to MCC and help. My computer was still booting so I hadn't seen the email yet. I rushed off immediately to help, and having no way to seal my yogurt but not wanting to abandon my breakfast, I ran across JSC with an open yogurt (spoon still stuck in it) in my hand. Note to self, read email before opening yogurt.
Since they had all the hands they needed when I arrived, I headed back to the office for some (unrelated) meetings. At the time, it looked like a transient undertemp that could be easily fixed, so we mostly went about our normal work. Then...
Realizing that the restart was not so simple, the team began troubleshooting while also keeping an eye on thermal clocks. In the end, while external cooling was restored (power converters outside of ISS get cooling this way), internal cooling could not be restored. Temps in the external loop must be above the freezing point of water before being allowed to collect heat from the modules to prevent the water in the internal coolant loops from freezing, expanding, and rupturing; the loop was far too cold to allow this due to the malfunctioning valve.
The rest of the day (and the next 2) was a blur of random meetings. There are impacts to the Cygnus  mission (Launch Commit Criteria we don't meet due to loss of redundancy) plus lots of work to go around our group. On Thursday I ended up staying until 9 pm (so grateful to the kind coworker who offered to bring us food while we toiled, I ate a slice of pizza in about 4 bites I was so hungry) testing various troubleshooting options and verifying procedures in the simulator.

Now I'm sleep shifting, which is why I have time to write you the worlds longest story about work and life. Saturday night I begin a 6-night (...or more?) stint on the overnight shift (11pm to 8am). This was my regularly scheduled week on console, but its shaping up to be a lot busier than I was initially expecting. That's life in the manned spaceflight business I suppose.

If you are interested in more on the developing failure story, see these links:
Spaceflight 101
NASA Official Site
JSC Twitter is updating a lot

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