Apr 16th 2018 by JSCNASA • 47 Questions • 7697 Points
Thank you for all of your questions! We're signing off shortly, but you learn more about our latest announcements below.
Flight Director applications are open until April 17, and the International Space Station flight control team just released a new e-book that offers an inside look at operations. Learn more: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-nasa-e-book-offers-inside-look-at-space-station-flight-controllers
Participants: Flight Director and Lead Author/Executive Editor of e-book Robert Dempsey, Flight Director Dina Contella, Flight Director David Korth, Flight Director Michael Lammers, Flight Director Courtenay McMillan, Flight Director Emily Nelson, Flight Director Royce Renfrew, Flight Director Brian Smith, and Flight Director Ed Van Cise Proof: https://twitter.com/NASA_Johnson/status/985263394105196545
How many hours do you have in Kerbal Space Program? Thanks for the AMA, great breakfast reading.
Not enough! That is a great program to play around with and introduce challenging concepts. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight
What type of experience should a candidate focus on for their resume?
Nice name AchieveOrbit! Well there are all kinds of experiences that we look for to work in Mission Control. Generally math and sciences work best, usually aerospace, but it is not a hard and fast rule. We had had English majors work here. We mainly look for smart people who are willing to work hard and are very curious. We then train people what they need to know. Dr. Bob
So I'm really bad at math, pretty bad at science. Can I come visit though?
Of course! David Korth - Odyssey Flight
We don't all have PhD's (well except for our illustrious executive editor that is . Dr. Bob Dempsey has his degree in Astrophysics).
Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight
What will be the purpose of going back to the moon ? Is it just a "training facility" to prepare for mars ? I was wondering if its worth the effort
As an operations person, we have learned a tremendous amount just by keeping people in low earth orbit on Space Station. It was very challenging, for example, to get the Urine Processing Assembly fine tuned.
I know that a future mission to the moon (or anywhere outside of low earth orbit) would generate a tremendous amount of practical experience that would be applicable to the longer flight to Mars.
Mike Lammers Saturn Flight
In the time since the space race, much of the public has lost interest in space exploration. What do you think needs to happen to spark the same kind of interest in space exploration today?
I think the progress the commercial companies are making, and the fact that we're getting closer to making spaceflight an adventure 'regular' people can take part in will certainly help folks get more excited. In mission control we're continuing to partner with a wide variety of commercial companies and the ISS program provides a good destination to help further develop and expand the spaceflight community with the goal of enabling space access for all.
Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight
How often does the ISS need to maneuver to miss being hit?
In the past couple of years we (ISS) haven't had to maneuver to avoid debris (crossing fingers) but we have had years where we had to perform several in one year. However, as Saturn Flight notes, we do get many notifications every year and have a system designed to determine probability and likelihood of conjunctions. David Korth - Odyssey Flight
What is your thought process like when you encounter a situation that you have not trained for? Can you give us an example of a time that this happened for you?
Hi, lauren_91. I was on console when we were faced with an issue during a space walk (EVA) when a crew member's helmet started filling with water. We train extensively for EVAs and try to deal with suit and space walk anomalies. In this case, no-one had ever encountered such a failure. However, during training, we did cover situations where the crew's life might be in danger and how to go about terminating a space walk. We drew upon these lessons to work out a plan to get the crew (Luca) back inside the airlock safely. David Korth - Odyssey Flight
Is it posible to live on Mars?
Can a Candian join NASA? I read that NASA is part of USA's department of defense, so it only allows American citizens to work for them. Is that true?
- That's the goal
- To be a federal employee yes. If you just mean working at the Johnson Space Center then no. We have people from all over the world working here in the International Program that is ISS.
Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight
Have any of you picked out any prime real estate on Mars yet?
As a kid, I was given a certificate for a 1 square foot area on Mars. I have no idea which square foot it is but I hope its near water. David Korth - Odyssey Flight
"Hi my name is Solly -I am 12yrs old and I live in Pennsylvania. Thank you for answering questions. What is the best way to become an astronaut? "
Hi, Solly. I am from Pennsylvania too. My team name is Liberty Flight because I grew up in the Philadelphia area. The best way to become an astronaut is to first find something you love to do. You have to work very hard to become an astronaut and loving what you do will help you persevere and compete. Stay focused and learn all you can about NASA and human spaceflight. Brian Smith, Liberty Flight.
What are your plans to de-orbit International Space Station? Can she be kept up beyond 2024 and be placed in some low maintenance orbit for future generations to experiment on?
Hey, RonDunE. We have worked with our international partners on a plan to deal with de-orbiting the space station in the event of a contingency that would render the ISS unsafe for crew habitation. The basic idea is to target re-entry of the station over the South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area (SPOUA) to minimize casualties. David Korth - Odyssey Flight
Something I’ve always been curious about is how much planning actually goes into a spacewalk and why are they so long?
Sure I’m sure it takes a ton of effort to get in and out of their suits, but I would think from a human performance standpoint having a break would help an astronaut to maintain peak performance when they need to be focused.
Thanks for the question. Sometimes planning for a spacewalk can take many months, with the instructors training the crew in many facilities. That could include training in our large pool, training in vacuum chambers, and training a facility devoted to building the actual spaceflight hardware. Sometimes, we can perform a spacewalk with much less preparation if we have to, but the crew is often less efficient and can run into problems that we hadn't prepared for. It does take a lot of effort to get into and out of spacesuits and depressing the airlock to vacuum and back up again. This cycle increases risk for our crew in terms of potential for getting "the bends." We carefully plan the ending of the EVA at about 6 hours and 30 minutes to manage both consumables like oxygen and also ensure our crewmembers are not too tired to continue. - Dina Contella, Steel Flight
Is there some particular event you were involved with that stands out as a "This is why I do this" moment?
Liam Kennedy Inventor of the ISS-Above
I was the lead Flight Director for the SpaceX CRS-9 mission that brought the International Docking Adapter (IDA) to ISS in 2016. When we were trying to remove the IDA from Dragon's trunk, the tether on one of the bolts got caught on a handrail. It effectively tied the IDA into the Trunk. My amazing team of ROBOs, OSOs, the MER (Engineers), Canadian robotic experts, and SpaceX flight controllers and engineers worked together to very carefully and slowly untangle. There's no option to do a spacewalk inside the Trunk so we only had the SPDM robot, controlled by my ROBO flight controller, to get it unsnagged. Leading an amazing team to overcome challenges like that - that's why I do this. - Ed (Carbon Flight)
What was it like during the flood of Hurricane Harvey? I heard some folks slept there.
Thanks. Keep up the good work.
Yes, there were a number of us camped out in Mission Control - flight controllers, along with security and center ops folks to keep the lights on. Plus there was a large team testing the James Webb Space Telescope across the street. It was tough - especially since most of us, including the crew onboard ISS, were wondering how our homes were faring.
After the storm passed, the work really started - folks pitched in to help colleagues and neighbors. It was a crazy couple of weeks - and many folks are still recovering.
Thanks for the question! Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight
Courtenay, I thought this was filmed in MCC that day... https://youtu.be/fV1HkTTlZ_I - Ed (Carbon Flight)
If I join your work force do y'all promise to tell me about the aliens?
Yes. David Korth - Odyssey Flight
What's worse, the fake moon landing conspiracy theory, or the flat earth conspiracy theory?
They're both pretty wrong.
Here's some live video of our nice round Earth: https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ESRS/HDEV/
And here's our ISS in front of the moon: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2147.html
Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight
I read an article recently on how NASA over worked their employees 16 hours a day until they did a small mutiny to change that (they've been all let go after it), my question is: Are there times when it you guys feel like you're not being paid enough or that you're being over worked? If so, how do you think NASA can accomodate to it in the near future?
Thanks again for showing up, I love all the work you science nerds do!
I think you are thinking of what was called the "Skylab Mutiny", which occurred when Mission Control oversubscribed the astronauts on the Skylab space station in the early 70's.
We drew from that event (and earlier in ISS) to keep the ISS crew to an 8.5 hour workday and try to give them as much schedule flexibility as possible because they become more efficient when they control their own time. For future missions, the more flexibility the crew can be given in general the better off they are, although it's not always possible due to coordination with the ground, critical events, etc.
Mike Lammers Saturn Flight
What is the meaning of life? Just kidding, based on your experiences, what leadership qualities have you found to be most effective toward completing a mission and keeping morale high in crisis situations? I'm a mechanical engineering student going into the air force after I graduate so I'm just curious
Patience and teamwork skills are incredibly important. "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is a great mantra for this job. - Ed (Carbon Flight)
Currently taking my dynamics course for my aerospace engineering degree and absolutely loving it. My professor recommends graduate school since dynamics plays a huge role in the aerospace industry. Is this true and do you recommend it? I do really want to go into graduate school but finances is the elephant in the room.
I love dynamics! But you know what else plays a huge role in the aerospace industry? BS Aerospace Engineers! A lot of us started our career after finishing undergrad, and then found our way to a grad program after learning it partly on the job. Both paths work, it's just a matter of what will work for you.
Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight
I know there have been many lessons learned over the years from the various programs. Have there been any lessons learned from ISS that have changed the way mission control operates?
Oh yes, we learn new lessons every day!
For example, shorter spaceflights (think the Space Shuttle) put the entire crew on a tight timeline down to the minute.
This still works for certain activities (like a spacewalk). We've found, however, that the more a crew can "self schedule" and control what they do during the day the more efficient they become. We give them a job jar of activities to work called the "task list".
If you take a look at the book, there are a lot more details on the crew scheduling and many other things we have learned!
Mike Lammers Saturn Flight.
This job is not a walk in the park. But we have spent our careers training for it. I find the Mission Control part of the job to be less stressful than some of the other parts of the job - it is a leadership role where we have to give a lot of presentations, lead large meetings, and making a lot of decisions outside of the control center on a constant basis. But, the trade off is that this job is extremely rewarding! Dina Contella, Steel Flight
Can the astronauts aboard ISS take new pictures of Uranus?
Unfortunately, the Nikon cameras they use likely cannot resolve a 6th magnitude celestial object. :-;
Mike Lammers Saturn Flight
What movie had the most accurate depiction of NASA flight control?
Apollo 13! We use that for training new flight controllers. And it is just an awesomely fun movie! Dr. Bob Galileo Flight
Launches are really complicated to plan. This is an extremely dangerous phase of flight since only a small perturbation or system failure can lead to an explosion. And if people are on it that makes it tougher. Chapter 5 details how much time it takes to plan a mission to give you a feel - years. I have been working on one of the new crewed vehicles - the Boeing Starliner - and we have been planning the choreography of the first launch for a bout 4 years. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight
My initial goal in life was to be an astronaut (partially cause CapCom always sounded cool as a kid) but being 26 now and still having 2 years til my Aerospace bachelors has made me reevaluate options.
I grew up in houston and want to be involved in manned space flight. I was wondering what qualifications are necessary to land in mission control in general? I know theres a training room of sorts but I never knew the selection process for it.
A BS in math or science. And 26 is not too old and you never know. But working in Mission Control is really cool. In fact there have been fewer Flight Directors than astronauts - so it is actually more rare! Dr. Bob Galileo Flight
What’s the most sweaty experience you’ve experienced during a launch of any kind?
bordsskiva, I had a chance to watch a Soyuz launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. I was told it would be cold and windy but that evening the weather was unseasonably warm so i sweated a lot in my sweater and coat! It's usually rather cold out on the kosmodrome. David Korth - Odyssey Flight