By: MaryBeth and Kristin
Sunday – July 27, 2008
The day started out with most of us waking up very early to be rocket scientists. Instead of 7:30 am, Mehran, Tom, Ephraim, MaryBeth, Sabrina and Kristin left for the North Olmsted Community Park at 8:15. The cars were packed and we were on our way. Our first launch of the Dart went rather higher than our launch the previous night had been with the A engine – so much so that Mehran, Kristin and Ephraim had to fetch it from the tree on the other side of the park. They had some help from a man who had a bigger rock and a better string than the novice rocketeers did. With this assistance, they came back to the DPF (Dart Processing Facility, two large tarps) to re-engineer the parachute. While a main component of the rocket was being fixed, Sabrina drove Tom’s car back to the Stud to get ready for church. The parachute was repaired and two more ground launches took place. We decided that the C engines were powerful enough to start working on the tethered launch. We had the platform all set to go: igniters, plugs, and cameras. We got our helium tank out and proceeded to fill up the balloon. Or at least attempt to fill the balloon. The helium we had was not enough to even get the balloon to 2 ft in diameter. We tied off the balloon as best we can without sealing it. Ephraim called Rick but he got Rick’s answering machine great. The pressure in the tank is the same as the pressure in the balloon so we are stuck.
While we hoped to hear back from Rick, Mehran drove Kristin and MaryBeth back to the Stud to pick up Tom’s car. Kristin went to grab sunscreen and a hat because it was super hot on the DPF floor, as the tarps were superbly reflective. When we got back to the park, Tom was missing and Ephraim just received a call from Rick saying to meet at 100th Bomber Group Restaurant because then he would go to Glenn and refill the tank. Mehran and Ephraim headed off but not before we learned that Tom was at a party store seeing how much it would be for helium and/or balloons.
Kristin and MaryBeth started getting a little anxious due to the fact that it was hot and they were rather hungry. As MaryBeth got out some granola bars, Tom came back from the party store and the three of them shared some grub and stories. We moved from one softball field to another because a game was starting. Mehran and Ephraim came back to the park about 40 minutes later. We untied the balloon and began filling it up with helium. The tank ran out when the balloon was about 2.75 ft in diameter. We couldn’t believe it. We called Rick again and he said he would fill the tank again. We asked him if we could get two tanks and he agreed. MaryBeth, Tom and Kristin headed out to the Bomber Group and met Rick in a sexy blue Chevy Cobalt. Rick, wearing his mulching clothes, took our empty tank and said to come back in a half hour. He’d have two helium tanks ready for us. Tom, Kristin and MaryBeth headed back to North Olmsted and stopped at a gas station to get drinks and power bars. Mehran called to say that the balloon lost a good amount of helium. They then picked up the tanks from Rick and thanked him again. They decided not to ask Rick again, even if it wasn’t enough unless they wanted to do some mulch laying.
Upon arrival at the park, Ephraim and Mehran looked quite famished and dehydrated but first things first. We hooked up the helium to the balloon and it was growing. We switched to the next tank and the balloon only reached 4 feet in diameter before the helium was gone. There was not enough helium in the balloon to lift the launch platform even without the wireless igniter and cameras. Ephraim and Mehran drank and ate their goodies while we decided what to do about the current situation. Tom thought we should go to Factory Card Party Outlet and get 3 18" helium balloons for $8. Kristin and MaryBeth waited in the park holding the balloon and the launch platform. They tried to stay in the shade of the balloon but to no avail. Tom and Ephraim came back almost an hour later with these huge plastic bags containing inflated balloons. Ephraim runs back to the car to go pick up more balloons from the store. Kristin begins tying balloons to the large 4ft. red balloon with Tom’s help. MaryBeth walks to the parking lot to help Ephraim with more balloons and he goes back to the store. Mehran and Ephraim return with more balloons for a total of 36-18" balloons. After attaching all of these balloons to the launch platform and making a huge mess of ribbons, we still don’t have enough lift for the wireless igniter or the cameras. The Academyites decide to go with a wired launch. We call Jay, Kim and Sabrina but Kim is working on stuff and Sabrina is still hanging out with her church folks. Jay arrives as we struggle to keep the balloon and everything else from shifting in the wind. It’s still just too heavy, so we decide to take the plastic bags off all the balloons, but it creates so much static that we all got shocked several times. We send the contraption up, and the balloon hit at about 50 ft and the platform was at 45 ft. Tom was wondering when to flip the switch to ignite the rocket. He wasn’t sure when to do it but Jay said "Go!" and the rocket ignited. It blasted right through the large red balloon. It kept going and going. Finally, the Dart returned to the ground. The launch was successful. Jay became our photographer as we posed with the now tested successful hardware.
Someone suggested a ground launch and so another C engine was popped up into the rocket. We didn’t really check the flight path of the rocket before doing this launch. Sadly, the rocket landed on top of the Halleen Chevrolet car dealership. Tom, Kristin and Jay went to go look for the rocket while Ephraim, Mehran and MaryBeth decided to pack up the DPF. Three guys around our age come over and ask what we were doing. Ephraim explained it to them and they’re like, "Okay, so what are you doing?" Whatever, we just told you what we were doing. Tom, Kristin and Jay came back with no rocket. Jay took one of the helium tanks and heads back to the Stud. We finished cleaning up, took some pictures with the balloons and decided to give the balloons to all the kids in the park.
We walked all the stuff to the cars and then tried and separate the balloons from the bird’s nest of ribbon. In the process, Mehran took two of the multi-colored balloons and tied them to the Jeep, and Ephraim punched Tom in the nose while trying to get a balloon out. Kristin, Tom, Ephraim, Mehran and MaryBeth walked, drawing on balloons and handing them out. However, as they walked under pine trees and there were many balloon casualties due to the sharp needles. We handed out our last balloons and asked to take a picture with those in the sandbox, now proud balloon owners. As we prepared for the picture, the balloon owners in the sandbox let go of their balloons, leaving us to be just sketchy young folks hanging out in the sandbox. We found a kid who still has a balloon and begged him to be in the picture.
As we head back to the Stud at 6:45 pm, we realize just how hungry we actually are. After a quick freshen up, we convinced Ephraim to come to dinner with us at Applebee’s. Kim said she didn’t want to go to dinner; she has too much food to finish. Jay was too busy with work and Sabrina still wasn’t back yet from church. At the restaurant, the waitress asked Kristin if her group needed any high chairs or booster seats, to which she gave a clipped "No." Tom treated us all to an appetizer and we all tried to relax after being in the sun all day. MaryBeth and Ephraim pretty much got the same meal, it was rather uncanny. Tom tried to return stuff to Home Depot, but they were closed. When arriving back from Applebee’s there was talk of how the distance they run seems shorter than what it should be. Sabrina arrived back at the Stud bringing a lot of food from the lady she goes to church with. She played with her kids and got to exercise using the Wii.
MaryBeth made a phone call and then fell asleep. It seemed to be a trend because Tom sat down on Mehran’s bed, then Mehran and then Ephraim all sat on Mehran’s bed. They started talking and within minutes they fell asleep together on Mehran’s bed. Ephraim came into MaryBeth and Sabrina’s room a little later and talked about the group project.
Monday – July 28, 2008
Today started off like any other Monday, except we were running a tad late. Every Glenntern except Tom and Ephraim strolled out of their luxurious abode at around 7:25 am. We were on our way to Glenn to meet up with Tom and Ephraim, who went to Home Depot, when Jay received a call. Kristin had forgotten her badge so they’d have to make a quick detour to the Stud. Eventually all the Academyites ended up eating breakfast together. At breakfast, we discuss the presidential chopper (Marine 1) sitting in the hangar.
Tom, Ephraim, Kristin, Sabrina, MaryBeth and Jay went to look at the chopper while Mehran drove Kim to work. We can’t see the chopper because we can’t get a hold of any one, especially either of the pilots. While we were gawking outside of the hangar, security drove over and told Tom to delete any pictures he’d taken. We headed off to work for a morning that went by pretty quickly. At lunch time, no one was sure of the car situation and we all waited around until MaryBeth got into Jay’s car. Everyone else follows suit. MaryBeth got confirmation from the Lorain County Fairgrounds that we could use their premises as a launch site. Receipts are turned in to Ila at OAI for group project reimbursement and the afternoon continues at NASA. Kristin, MaryBeth and Tom leave early to see if they can get Dart back from the Halleen Chevrolet dealership. Surprisingly enough, it was at the service desk. The receptionist had initially been scared that the rocket was still on fire, but after we disabused her of that notion, the dearlership was very helpful and understanding. After rocket retrieval, they headed to Giant Eagle before Panera. Ephraim rode home with Jay despite numerous attempts from Mehran to get him. Kim, Sabrina and the other Glennies headed to Panera to hear Vince Bilardo speak about Ares 1-X. During dinner both Tom and MaryBeth felt really dizzy and blamed it upon the room, which was frigidly cold. Vince Bilardo’s talk was quite interesting and he discussed his dreams of being an astronaut and the path that led him up to this point in his life. The Academyites asked a lot of questions about how to go from being a student and working your way up in an organization to a program manager or director position.
Mehran, Kim and Sabrina headed to Giant Eagle after Panera while the rest of started on the huge mountain of work we had. Upon his return, Kristin and Mehran began working on the launch pad for the Arrow launches. Tom and Sabrina primed Arrow and Ephraim was a busy kid helping out everybody else. Tom, MaryBeth and Ephraim had an executive meeting about launch sites while Sabrina pretended she was the karate kid with the rocket painting stick as her bo-staff. MaryBeth then helped Sabrina paint the rocket by holding the stick and Sabrina spray painting. Sabrina waited for what we thought was 15 minutes and touched the tip of the rocket only to get paint on her hands. Kim came to see the mama jama rocket and stick which reminded MaryBeth of the hot dog roaster invented by Mehran in Pennsylvania. Ephraim and Kristin shared their history of satellites info with MaryBeth and Sabrina. The design and concept team had a late night working on the rocket, electronics and platform.
Tuesday – July 29, 2008
Today started off like any other day, except there were three drivers. Jay has some issues like going out to lunch and things so he wouldn’t be able to drive anyone except in the morning. Breakfast was fine, still no apple cinnamon oatmeal. We finished it last week and it’s doubtful it will be replenished before Friday. After a breakfast where weddings, music and President Bush were discussed, the Glennterns headed off to work despite Marine One still being parked in the Hangar. Jay was taken out to lunch by his office at Wild Mango and MaryBeth went to Chick-Fil-A with other interns and her awesome secretary while everyone else went home for lunch. After lunch, the Arrow launch was decided to take place at 8:30 am tomorrow morning in Rick’s friend’s field. Kristin worked that afternoon on building the launch pad in building 110, making it substantially sturdier than it had been previously.
Tuesday evening was our final RAP session. We had planned for a group meeting starting before the RAP session, but since Ephraim, Jay, and Sabrina came back late from work after staying late to watch Air Force One take off, we just started the RAP session first. This week, there were lots and lots of chairs in the conference room but only one table. Tom and Ephraim read the weekly summary, and everyone got really nervous about the amount of work that still had to be done. After getting through the week’s logistics as quickly as possible and tallying up money for the final time, the Academyites scurried back to work to finish the preparations for the next day’s launch and individual project reports and presentations.
Wednesday – July 30, 2008
We again took three cars to Glenn on Wednesday because there was a lot of stuff to be carried to the launch. Tom and Ephraim made a likety-split trip to Walmart for latex gloves and extra balloons, in case we ran into the same problem as before, not having enough lift from the big balloon. After a tense breakfast, Kim, Jay, and Sabrina headed off to their offices. Kristin, Tom, Ephraim, Mary Beth, and Mehran took a stop in Building 110 to look for Rick. Mary Beth and Kristin went to the restroom and Mehran followed the girls right into the Ladies’ Room. It didn’t even dawn on him. We eventually found Rick, who was getting us helium and bringing it to the launch site, and followed his car out to Penfield, Ohio. We really hoped that he had put the helium tanks in the back of the car, because we couldn’t see them from inside Mehran’s Jeep. Echo Charlie attempted to resurrect the Washington DC walkie-talkie chat with Mehran. Just as we got off the highway, it started to rain lightly. As we passed farm after open farm, we hoped that the launch area would have some real open space. But we all got really nervous when Rick turned into a wooded area with a long, gravel driveway over a stream. Mehran nearly ran over a small dog, which he said was "as big as a rat."
We meet Sheri, who is Rick’s friend and owner of the farm. We all internally groan, though, when we realize that the "farm" is a somewhat narrow strip of open area surrounded by trees. If we can get the rocket to shoot straight down the alleyway, we will be in the clear, but there’s a good chance that it will land in the trees somewhere. We spread out the tarps and set up the APF (Arrow Processing Facility), but it was raining enough that we set up most of the rocket inside the barn. The weather seemed like it was clearing a bit, so we went outside and readied the platform and the rocket, and began to fill the balloon. As it got bigger and bigger, it got harder and harder to control, and we nearly lost it to the winds a few times. Finally, the balloon was big enough, and we slowly let it go until it was over the platform, supporting it. Just as we were about to launch, though, the winds started to pick up a lot. The balloon and the platform began to bounce horribly, and the launch rod bent at a strong angle. As the wind was so strong, we decided to pack up and head into the barn and wait out the rain.
After getting the 8.5 foot balloon successfully into the barn without popping it on the garage door hardware, we dried off the pieces of the rocket and decided to take the flight computer out of the rocket to save weight on the rocket and therefore reduce the torque on the launch rod. When everything dried out a bit, we went back to the field and readied all the rocket parts. The balloon went up and up smoothly, without bending the launch rod, and the two tether lines we had helped keep it steady. As soon as it was pointed down the field, Ephraim shouted, "Fire!" but there was a few-second delay on the wireless igniter, so the plaftform shifted slightly to the right. The rocket took off and the parachute opened, but it landed off in the trees somewhere!
MaryBeth and Ephraim packed up and headed back to Glenn in Tom’s car to get some work done for their individual projects. Sheri bought pizza and after some unfruitful searching by Rick, we piled into a Ranger, that was just bigger than a golf cart but much more powerful, and went out weed whacking through the woods. The insects were terrible – we all were getting bitten. However, we found the rocket in a pond of one of the neighbors! It was a very manicured pond, too, and their dog barked at us, obviously upset that there were intruders in his yard, but there was no-one home, so we fished out our rocket and went back to the barn. Tom and Rick were in the back of the Ranger on the tailgate and had to lie down to avoid getting hit by all the brush.
Back at the barn, Mehran, Tom, and Kristin debated what to do. The weather had cleared up, so they decided to dry out the rocket and give it another shot with the flight computer in, this time. After an hour spent untangling tether lines and drying out parachutes, the group headed back to the APF for another go. With reduced crew this time, it was more difficult to accurately point the balloon, and some slight winds meant the rocket kept bending the launch rod, as it now had the flight computer in it. We finally just fired it, and it went to almost the same location as before. Sherri, Tom, and Rick jumped on the cars to try to go find it, as Mehran and Kristin had fun deflating the helium balloon and talking like munchkins and cleaning up.
Sherri came back with bad news, they hadn’t found the rocket yet, but would keep looking, and she left again. Rick returned to say they had found the rocket, but were still looking for the camera. Most everything else put in order, Kristin and Mehran joined Sherri back out to the bush to look for the camera. It looked like a crime scene area, and poor Tom, who had been left behind to continue searching and mark the spot, had been bitten by lots of bugs! The rocket had been completely broken apart from a hard impact to the tree, and the camera had completely sheared off of its zip ties. After about half an hour of searching, and nearly giving up, Sherri found the camera! We vowed next time to paint the camera orange to make it easier to find then black. We returned to the barn, packed everything into Mehran’s Jeep somewhat snugly, and headed back to the Stud. We missed the exit, and had to make another trip around. We returned around 7 PM, and quickly took showers and ate some dinner before heading back to our laptops to try to finish our papers and projects.
Thursday – July 31, 2008
Thursday morning had us heading out late – we were all tired from staying up late, and heading out of the Stud had seemed to get later and later every day. Kristin accused Jay of taking the last regular oatmeals, so he offered to give them to her and take the Maple Sugar variety instead, but she was just playing detective and didn’t want any. The Glennterns headed off for their last real day at work, probably working on presentations, as that afternoon was dry runs. Only Tom, Kristin, and Jay headed back to the stud for lunch.
The afternoon went by quickly as we all made dry runs over in building 49, and picked up our reimbursement checks for various expenses throughout the summer. Mehran and Jay, as the last two left in building 49, presented Dr. Kankam with a signed photograph of all of the eight Glennterns white-water rafting, which he was happy to receive but rather confused as to why he was getting it on a Thursday. The rounds were made to pick everyone up at 5, and we headed back to the Stud. Jay dropped Sabrina off at the Mall across the street. Tom, MaryBeth, Ephraim, and Kristin headed to the gas station to reimburse fuel points at the Get Go and Tom got gas for $1.80 per gallon. However, it was fraught with adventure as we were unsure he would have enough fuel to get to the gas station, and then again enough time to get back to the Stud before we all went out to dinner. There was some confusion as to whether we were going to “Get Go”, “Geico” or to have a chat with a “gecko”. Funnily enough, as we got gas at the Get Go, there was a billboard across the street for Geico with a gecko on it.
Upon returning to the Stud, the Glennterns readied their stuff and headed out to Buca de Beppo’s, a family-style Italian restaurant. After much discussion, we ordered two large pizzas, one margherita style and one with lots of toppings, and chicken alfredo. Amazingly, though there was lots and lots of food, we nearly finished all of it. Jay surprised all of us by treating us to dinner, and we thanked him profusely.With satisfied stomachs, but fearful of food coma, Tom, MaryBeth, Mehran, and Kim headed to Starbucks for some caffeine. We called for a tentative group meeting at 11 PM, when hopefully everyone would be done with their individual reports, but 11 came and went and everyone was still working on their own projects. Growing increasingly nervous, many of the Glennterns worked through the night with short naps and breaks for food. Not sure when to rightfully say that the day had really become Friday, everyone showered and readied up for our final presentations.
Friday – August 1st, 2008
Officially Friday morning, as we were leaving the Stud, we piled as much of our rocket memorabilia into the cars as we could and headed off for our last breakfast. Everyone was tense, however, because we had no group presentation ready at all! Kristin made a tentative outline for what we would talk about, when, and no-one really ate very much as everyone had their laptops out. We headed to building 3, the administrative building, to set up our presentations and get used to the sound system. Kristin put together her platforms one last time. Then, finally, the presentations started. All the girls went first – Kim, Kristin, Sabrina, and MaryBeth, and then the guys followed: Tom, Ephraim, and finally Mehran. Despite severe sleep deprivation, we all acquitted ourselves well with good presentations and answering of questions. In between each presentation, we tried to snatch a few seconds to practice our parts for the group presentation and get slides together. We had about an hour for lunch, and lunch tickets, for the first and only time, that we could get reimbursed from the cafeteria with. Jay, Sabrina, and Kim headed to the cafeteria to get lunch, while Kristin, Mary Beth, Tom, and Mehran worked on putting the slides in order. Ephraim went to lunch with his mentor. As the presentation was nearly put together (thank goodness!), Kristin went the cafeteria to grab lunch and buy a birthday present for a friend. Mary Beth, Tom, and Mehran, however, had thought she had merely gone to the bathroom and had stayed in building three to wait for her, and were rather indignant about missing lunch when she showed back up again twenty minutes later. We brought all our accoutrements to the stage to help showcase our presentation. We began by explaining the history of satellites, and then went into our conceptual design and our experiments, showing some of the videos we had taken from the ground, on the platforms, and on the rockets themselves. Ray Lugo even came in for a few minutes to watch a bit of the presentation! Our thirty-minute presentation ended up taking nearly fifty minutes by the time all the questions were through.
After our presentation was over, Jay passed us back the surveys we had filled out even back before we had arrived at the academy, to see how we had grown and changed since then. Then Dr. Kankam gave us a short speech about how proud he was of the work we had done that summer. He presented Jay with a gift, and presented the rest of us with our Academy certificates and our NAAA (NASA Academy Alumni Assocation) pins. We then surprised Dr. Kankam by presenting him with a collage of many of our summer exploits and fun times, which he was very pleased to receive. After packing everything up, we headed back to our offices to finish up our individual project and group project papers, and clean up our offices. Kristin was compiling the group project paper with assistance from Ephraim, so they took longer to exit building 301 than the rest of the group, who were “busy” ghost-riding in the parking lot. Finally, at 5:30, we were all done and headed back to the stud, honking all the way to the gate. We got back to the Stud, changed out of our work suits, into comfortable clothes, and headed to Jay’s room to watch our Academy video that Jay had put together from all our adventures.
The movie began with the speech of John Kennedy’s that told the world that the US would go to the moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard. We saw clips from our opening dinner, team building, all of our trips, hanging out at Glenn or at the Stud, and having a good time. We all laughed over MaryBeth’s random dances and good times, sad to know that it was almost at an end but thankful for the good times we had had. After the movies were over, some of us began packing a bit and we all signed one another’s profile books so in case we ever all get famous, we have each other’s autographs. Jay had Sabrina gather her things, and the rest of us said goodbye to her as she got in Jay’s car with her massive, massive suitcase that must have weighed 80 lbs, and they drove to the Cleveland bus depot. Kim started packing as soon as the movies were over and kept packing until late at night. Ephraim was picked up by a friend that was nearby to hang out for a bit. Kristin, MaryBeth, Mehran, and Tom were all hungry though, and after hanging out trying to decide what to do, eventually made their way over to Best Buy where MaryBeth, Kristin, and Mehran all purchased external hard drives. We then started driving around, looking for somewhere to eat, as we were rather hungry, having only eaten a nervous breakfast or a mediocre or nonexistent lunch. We headed to Red Robin, a gourmet burger place, where the four of us sat in a booth, MaryBeth and Tom on one side, and Mehran and Kristin on the other. The waitress asked if we had ever been to Red Robin before, which MaryBeth and Tom had, and Kristin and Mehran had not. We all ordered burgers, which were very delicious, and we finally got the story of how the long process went of Mehran becoming a United States citizen. We were all so full we didn’t even really touch the extra basket of “bottomless fries” the waitress brought for us. Judging by how we were sitting, and that Kristin and Mehran hadn’t been to Red Robin before, but MaryBeth and Tom had, the waitress assumed that the four of us were on a double date and tried to split the bill for us in two. Maybe she thought that Tom and Mehran would be gentlemanly and pay for the bills. However, we asked her to split the bill our four ways, as usual.
Now considerably later, the four of us all headed back to the Stud. Everyone started packing/falling asleep from our late night of little sleep the night before. Jay had stepped into the guy’s room to start sharing pictures, but they had fallen asleep, when the hotel phone rang. It was Ephraim’s parents with an emergency, so Jay tried to wake Ephraim up. However, he slept-walked for a few minutes until he really woke up and then helped his parents fix an internet problem. After Kristin finished packing up her stuff, she and Jay talked about the staffing position and how the academy had gone as a whole. Finally, the academy was asleep, and only final packing, goodbyes and departures remained.
Back at the stud…
Mary Beth was picked up by her mom. Ephraim and Jay went to UPS to ship some of Ephraim’s stuff back to avoid the weight limit for bags at the airport. After that Mehran, Ephraim, Jay, Cassie and Tom went to Luna’s for breakfast in the afternoon. They had a great time re-capping some of the summer’s events. They had to leave in a hurry since Ephraim had only about an hour before his flight was to depart. Mehran had one final last mini-bathroom adventure and was greeted with a round of applause from the rest of us waiting for him outside. Ephraim took a few last pictures, one of which included Tom, Jay, and Mehran standing by their cars, Sexy Blue, Racing Red, and Khaki Green, respectively. They all said their goodbyes with the manly hugs with the one hand shake and the other arm around the back. Then Jay took Ephraim away to catch his plane. Mehran said to Tom as they get into their cars, "It’s been great." They gave each other a grin and head out their separate ways… it was over.