National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Week 10

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The previous night’s antics required a late start to the morning, despite the amount of work that was quickly piling up. One person who shall not be named (cough, Mike N.) even decided to sleep past 6 p.m., awaking only briefly to seek nourishment and then to return to hibernation mode in Room Cave Alpha. Lunch was procured by Michael B., Logan, and Mike N. at the local grease-fest joint Brown Bag Burgers. It was their first time at this epic eatery, however, some say that it was a good thing that it took so long to discover this joint. Barton remained behind to mooch some Wi-Fi while Logan and Mike N. continued on to visit Home Deport, switching out some batteries, and towards PetSmart where the two stood watching the doggie daycare for an undisclosed period of time. Los Dos Amigos finally left the pet store after thinking long and hard about actually buying a lizard for Andrew.

In the afternoon, the interns worked mostly by themselves on their individual and group papers and posters. Others distracted themselves from the impending doom of the final week by playing ping pong in the soft grass. The weather was nearly ideal for launch, mocking our inability to launch PHAME due to setbacks in the electronics.

Toward dusk, Michelle ran around the hotel in a form of procrastination, demanding to record videos. First to fall prey to her nagging was the team that had lost the scavenger hunt. They begrudgingly made newspaper hats and stomped behind the StudioPlus to record their music video, much to the bemusement of a father and son playing catch in the nearby parking lot. Having been roped into taping the video, David made his directorial debut. A New York Times review says David’s directing has shown “a very promising start” and is a “great fallback career if aerospace doesn’t pan out for him.”

Then Michelle started recording her movie. Unfortunately, Mike N.’s star performance was not consistent. Also struggling with the one-liners was David “sad face, then angry.” But the real show-stopper was a very sleep-deprived Johnston who insisted on preparing for his scenes with a “radish in the wind” monologue.

Monday, August 8, 2011

And so began a week of barely any sleep whatsoever…

Monday morning started off for the Academites like many other mornings, groggy and slow moving. However, upon reaching the Glenn cafeteria, it was realized that breakfasts this week were going to be out of this world. Because a few people had been eating a speedier, more humble breakfast in past weeks, they had slowly accumulated an extra dollar or two. As a result, the line for the breakfast grill was longer than ever seen before. The Academites then feasted on everything from easy-over eggs, up to three strips of bacon (whoa!), and the most glorious omelets ever to exist. Ever.

The workday went well, with the Academites trying hard to finish both their individual projects and the looming group project. Because the crew planned on launching PHAME (just about every potential day), they had decided to pass up the original deadline for their poster, and just print it themselves a day before the presentation. This resulted in a madman rush to trim down individual sections and make it look as beautiful as possible.

For lunch, the Space and Aero Academites had the opportunity to sit down with Director and Deputy Director of the NASA Glenn Research and Technology Directorate; Dr. Jih-Fen Lei and Dr. George Schmidt. The lunch was fun and informal, with everyone sharing their favorite times and some recommendations for future Academies.

At 4:30 p.m., the Academites’ very last RAP session began and some say it was the fastest session this world has seen. From there, the workday ended for only some of the Academites. Mike J. claimed he would be staying “super late”; however, Logan and Mike N. found him lounging on the couch, strumming away on his guitar, happy as a clam (in high tide, which I had looked up because I had no clue where that idiom came from). Los tres amigos, featuring David hoofed it back to Brown Bag Burgers for round two. Looking back, two consecutive days of grease dripping burgers was probably an awful idea…especially how a few comas were almost immediately induced. After some short naps, a handful of the Academites moved the party to the Harry Buffalo where they mooched Wi-Fi and hung out working on their laptops like all the cool kids do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No go for launch today. But weather conditions on Wednesday look favorable…

Here starts the mad dash to the finish. With the poster session on Wednesday morning and the intended launch on Wednesday afternoon, everyone wanted to get in as much work as possible in order to focus on the PHAME paper after launching. The only distraction the interns allowed themselves was a talk given by Dr. George Schmidt about current space exploration capabilities and what technologies (basically all of them) we needed to develop in order to conduct manned missions far from Earth. He focused on a general model that allowed a mission to be adapted to whichever celestial body was popular in the fickle political sphere, be it an asteroid, Mars, or return to the moon.

After work, Barton went to brown bag again. What was he thinking?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For the Academites, Wednesday, August 10th was the longest day of the entire summer. See, the Academites had already stayed up exceptionally late the night before, planning to launch just after lunch. This meant that the electronics team was still working into the wee hours of the morning and the rest of the team had spent their time working on the report, writing and running through launch procedures and loading the cars. The weather looked exceptional and we were ready to launch (or so we thought).

The day started well though; with omelet feasts and bacon galore due to saving a few extra dollars over the course of the summer. The summer intern poster presentation began at 9:30 a.m. and came rather quickly. Each of the Academites, as well as all other NASA Glenn summer interns, presented their summer work in an open auditorium. This allowed people to meander down aisles discussing what was learned and discovered over the short 10 week period. As a matter of fact, people got to know each other’s projects exceptionally well because of the super-tight aisles and steady noise level. But besides that, the presentation went very well and business cards were actually handed out to those interested in pursuing PHAME, or at least following it.

As alluded to earlier, the launch was planned for immediately after lunch, but this was not the case. The electronics team had unfortunately not been able to finish the complex programming and circuitry required of the GPS triggered drop mechanism. Furthermore, the weather took a turn for the worse, with increasing wind speed and cloud cover. In a game time decision, the team decided to scrub this launch and aim for an all or nothing (go or no-go, who knows what it really means now) launch at 7 a.m. the following morning. This meant that the Academites would be leaving the StudioPlus for 3:30 a.m., launching, (hopefully) recovering it in time, then returning to work before noon. The weather looked to be the best it had ever been for a launch and the Academites agreed upon the plan and returned to their individual work.

After the workday at Glenn ended, it picked back up at the StudioPlus. Home cooked meals were made out of anything left in the cabinets. Cameron cooked up nine, yes nine, chicken patties for a just a few people. Despite the laws of physics, Mike N. “made something out of nothing” and threw some peas, buttered noodles, and roasted garlic together for a surprisingly just-okay meal.

The team then convened in the StudioPlus conference room for one of the most productive events in the room. They then proceeded to put together the final report for the group project until midnight; at which point in time, a meeting was held to go over the final launch procedures. This meeting proved extremely helpful, pointing out bottlenecks in the procedures and missing components. When all was said and done, a final check for components in the car was performed and some of the group went to sleep. Logan and Mike N., instead drove to Walmart and procured some snacks, some required materials, and some not so required materials. A few people decided to stay up a little later, and Cameron even planned to pull an all-nighter.

However, at around about 1:30 a.m., Mike J. called with bad news; the electronics package was incomplete and wouldn’t be ready for launch. The group discussed still launching the following day but it was unanimously decided that to accomplish our project’s objectives, we would have to launch later, when the cut-down mechanism was ready. It was a sad evening for the Space Academy, but with every failure, there’s still opportunity and with such a motivated group, I don’t think a single person thought that this project was “over.” The Space Academy plans to launch within the following month, with Mike J., Logan, and Mike N. because they live the closest to Cleveland.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good grief. The interns had almost no time to wallow in self-pity as they sprinted to finish their papers before the noon-on-Friday deadline. Also today was the University Programs luncheon at the surprisingly well-to-do and spacious 100th Bomb Group Restaurant. Dr. Howard Ross gave a great talk about the unintended effects of space research. At the conclusion of the luncheon, everyone received certificates for our research participation and escaped outside only to have the rather unflattering group photograph inside the certificate buckle in the sun.

The interns continued working past close of business, either at Glenn or Studio, to finish the last (or in a few unfortunate cases, to start the first) sections of the papers. The most productive group settled in for a long night in the stuffy StudioPlus conference room. The productive team of Michael B., Cameron, Molly, and post-nap-number-one Michelle worked furiously, swapping AIAA formatting tips and pausing only to antagonize the cat. Eventually Michael B. then Michelle, followed by Molly left to grab a few winks but Cameron was the only soul brave enough to pull an all-nighter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday began in a slight haze, one that was especially hazy for some people despite being the last day of work. In fact, Mike N. resembled Mike J. in saltiness because of his sore throat, lack of sleep, and an eyeglasses tragedy. However as the day began and continued, the sun came out and the cafeteria staff was especially awesome that morning. The Academites expressed their thanks to Rhonda, Michelle, and Charlene and they said we were the best group they’ve had so far. We’re not ones to brag either but we’ll just let the size of our sandwiches and omelets do the talking.

The day continued with everyone finishing their individual reports and projects by noon, and some to an extended time at 3:00 p.m. Following the theme of the summer, there was a last-minute rush to finish editing the group project final report. After successfully turning in their papers, the Academites then said goodbye to their coworkers and PI’s. It was at this time that they finished an epic summer internship, and all left the Glenn Research Center with satisfied smiles on their faces, knowing that each of them had truly accomplished something special.

Some of the Academites planned for the night ahead and power napped for a short period of time before leaving for a local favorite, Papa Nicks, for the last supper. Pizza’s were ordered, delicious food was consumed and final stories were shared with great company. As if the dining experience wasn’t already incredible, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” came on the airwaves. Not a single word was sung at first, as every member had just listened and was captured by this awe inspiring music. Then, like a choir of angels, each of the Academy members joined in on the chorus and shared something special.

Back at the StudioPlus, the projector was organized. Here, the Academites joined in on the premiere viewing of The Space Academy (2011) by Andrew Harner, featuring…well you know. After one solid hour of genius editing and hilarious non-scripted awesomeness, the showing was interrupted by the Academites who wanted to show their gratitude to Andrew. The film then continued as well as the rest of the night. I’m going to leave it at that, because this night doesn’t need any more explanation; it was just one of the most nostalgic, memorable, terrific nights, ever.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The day of reckoning. Our ten weeks together were finally at an end and the truth could no longer be ignored. Slowly but surely, the eight interns trickled out of the StudioPlus, never to return. But they did all promise to see one another, soon at the launch and later at a conference to share their findings. First to go was Molly, Daphne secured firmly under arm, for an unpleasant trip through airport security. Then Michael B. finished packing his car and left at his usual top speed because, whether walking or driving, this kid always goes 5 mph faster than everyone else. As their last meal together, Michelle and Room Alpha made delicious BLTs for lunch.

Before being driven to the airport by Logan, David said his good-byes but tried to run away before he had to say good-bye to Pop-Pop a.k.a. Mike J. The emotional parting of father and son left many onlookers in tears. Andrew took Cameron and Mike N. to the airport, via the post office to ship stuff home. Once Johnston left for the looong drive across town, Michelle and Andrew were left alone in the eerily quiet hotel. Taking advantage of the suddenly speedy internet, Michelle got Andrew addicted to watching Wilfred. Then, having heard the great reviews, they got Brown Bag Burgers on the way to the airport. (Kudos to Mike N. via Johnston for recommending the Bandito, a burger with guacamole and chipotle sauce.)

Here end arguably the ten best weeks of our lives. May their experiences bestow each of us guidance to an uncertain future; joyful memories in trying times; and, most of all, enduring friendships.