Sunday, July 10, 2011
The Academites woke up bright and early Sunday morning to conquer the local-Ohioan wonder, Cedar Point. The Academites, friends, and a few other NASA interns set off seeking thrills.
Upon arrival, sunscreen was slathered and the group sprinted to Top Thrill Dragster to start the day off right. The lines were impressively short for such a beautiful day, but they passed even quicker with endless rounds of Chopsticks and Ginger Tag.
17 seconds, 120 mph, and a 400 ft drop later the group stopped at Mantis. Next on the list of awesome to conquer was Millennium Force, the longest steel roller coaster in North America. This monster coaster had the longest line of the day, where the group had to wait a whopping 30 minutes.
Now that the best were mastered, they set off in search of more fun, including a sighting of a Rasta Banana and an exhibition of rope ladder prowess by the Climbing Bear Dog.
After so much awesome, the group stopped for some food. Most went the conservative (but tasty) route of chicken wings and breadsticks. In a bold move, Molly and Michael B. went all out with a leg from a turkey that rivaled Andrew’s. Due to the immense size of the beast, both had to tag in Michelle and Mike N. to finish up.
Everyone then hit up some water rides to cool off, but before they could experience the cooling relief of green sludge, a passenger in the log prior decided to pull a Cameron, getting a bloody nose. The Haz-Mat team was called, the ride was quarantined, and an employee with a small spray bottle and a sketchy hose sanitized the entire ride. Six empty cars went through the ride before the group was allowed to get on.
Later in the afternoon called for more thrill rides and roller coasters, including the Skyhawk. In a freak event, which was completely uncorrelated with Molly’s travelling karma, this ride also broke down with the Academites waiting in line. Rather than leaving the line and pursuing other things or staying in line to wait out the repairs, the group decided instead to take the best of both worlds.
At the dueling coaster Gemini, the group split between the Red and Blue trains for some competition. On the ride the Academites proved their awesomeness by high fiving between the two trains and in the last moment the Red train pulled ahead for a photo finish.
The group finished off the day strong with more coasters and thrill rides, and wrapped up their evening at a local Applebee’s. Exhausted and sun-burnt, they returned to the Studio Plus for some rare shut-eye.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Everyone was pretty wiped out from a long awesome day at Cedar Point, and so Monday morning was a groggy one. Logan tried to exit the Studio Plus via one of the hotel rooms at the end of the hall instead of the exit. Cameron and Mike J. tried to charge up the morning by changing the breakfast location to an alcove of couches; but the tired Academites weren’t feeling the change. Interestingly enough, breakfast conversation meandered toward the writing of this very document. Since Logan had to skip breakfast that morning and miss the California trip later in the week, the rest of the Academy joked about tailoring the upcoming California quotes to make Logan feel bad. From there everyone went and had a productive day. With the assistance of some strange wild berry Oreos, the afternoon’s RAP session flew by. After a short break, the Academy reconvened in the Studio Plus Conference Room, where our guest Mark Hyatt presented about In-Situ Resource Utilization. The honored guest and the Space Academy chowed down on some awesome Chipotle burritos, except for Cameron, who unfortunately got tacos, but these suited him well as his adopted nickname for the 10 weeks happens to be Taco. After Mark Hyatt left for the evening, the Academites decided that stopping at two meetings would be weak sauce and so met for a third time, this time about the upcoming PHAME presentation to R&T Management.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Tuesday was another one of those days where actual work with a PI would be scarce. The day kicked off with a lecture on the exploration of Mars by Michelle’s mentor, Dr. Geoff Landis (LINK TO tour summary). After a brief lunch, the Academites headed off to another tour in the Propulsion group. Here they gazed upon combustion chambers, saw the NEXT engine that had been functioning non-stop since June 2005, and a large cryogenic chamber on a tour that contained an impressive number of grated areas. After what was left of work, the Academites joined other interns at the collegiate-programs intern picnic. They mingled with other interns, played an intense volleyball tournament and got culturious on the basketball court. The group led a tactical strike of WalMart for packing and group project supplies. The night closed with some PHAME-ous work and packing for California.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Space Academy rolled out of the Studio Plus a little late on Wednesday, but that was to be expected given the day’s packed schedule. Before the day could begin in earnest, however, the Space Academy made CNN-related small talk over breakfast, discussing political topics and uses for skin. After breakfast, Space walked over to the Administration building for the Academy presentation to Research and Technology (R&T) Directorate Management. The Space Academy, entirely in suits, beasted their presentation. They received a great gesture of support from R&T Director Dr. Jih-Fen Lei. After the Space presentation, the Aeronautics Academy presented their three group projects. It was great to see Aero’s hard work, as none of the Space Academites had been sure of what the Aeros were up to. After another awesome group picture, Space finally hit their offices for a short few hours of personal project work.
At 2 p.m., Space was on the move again! Everyone met up at the hangar and took a couple of NASA shuttles to Cleveland airport, where the Academites made another attempt at airport security. One would think that these budding rocket scientists could figure out how to make it through the TSA unscathed, but alas, every group has an Achilles’ heel. David had a capital-L moment, while Michelle got selected for “further screening.” At the Cleveland airport, the group learned how to play Bang, but that was as far as they got before boarding. At 3 p.m. EST, Space boarded their plane to Charlotte, where they were scheduled to stop for an hour before flying to LAX, where they would be chowing down on In-N-Out Burger before 9PM PST. Not so fast. In classic Glenn ’11 style, the group stretched out their travel. First, a storm front came through and shut down most of the airports along the East Coast. The Academites’ plane tried to make it to Charlotte, circling for an hour before running low on fuel and diverting to Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina. After sitting on the tarmac in SoCar (so close!) for over two hours, and changing to a later flight while on the runway, the plane finally arrived in Charlotte, just in time for the Academites to sprint across yet another airport to barely make the perfectly delayed second flight. The flight to LAX was a long one, so as many Academites as possible passed out to catch up on rest. The plane landed around 12:30 a.m. PST (that’s over 12 hours onboard planes for the day, but who’s counting), almost in time for In-N-Out Burger, but the group missed it by that much. The adventure continued as the Academites had awesome service at Dollar Rent-A-Car, found 2 matching killer rides (baby blue Crown Victoria with headrests the size of Georgia, just in case you were wondering), rocked a moderately sketchy Burger King, then drove over to Super 8 Pasadena, where everyone passed out around 2 a.m.
Thursday July 14, 2011
Thursday began all too early and the Academites loaded up in their caravan of cerulean Crown Vics to visit JPL. Here they arrived to a mob of matching polos, who turned out to be the Ames Space Academy for Exploration. Awkward mingling and a forgetting of names ensued while waiting for the tour to start. The morning held the more official tour, with a brief history of JPL, a video narrated by the good Dr. Henry Jones (or Harrison Ford), and a wonderfully worded response by the tour guide to an awkward religion question by a HAM radio group from Ohio. The tour group then proceeded to various deserted sites that once held the Mars Science Laboratory. They again marveled at the rover Curiosity’s (not at all) simple landing mechanism, which is being considered for the PHAME project’s landing.
Lunch at JPL was an exciting experience. David’s eyes glittered with excitement at a make-your-own pizza station at one of the three cafeterias. Either that, or he was still covered in birthday glitter, we aren’t quite sure. We continued socializing with Ames over lunch, slowly realizing the awesomeness of our counterparts.
After lunch the Academites began the not-so-official tour, where the Academites were taken around to various labs by NASA Academy alumni. These included seeing the agile ATHLETE (All Terain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer), a trip to the mars surface (which is surprisingly fragile), and a NASA gift shop.
Power nap guys? Yes please! The Academites returned to the hotel to nap like David before heading out to dinner with the Ames Academy. Unfortunately, by the time everyone had hoofed it to the dining location, the restaurant had turned 21-and-up. Luckily, a location that would sit 20+ people was in the neighborhood. Dinner was followed by Gelato and an examination of SoCal culture.
The Glenn Academy then shamelessly used the Ames Academy for their hot tub, which can fit way more than three people. Inter-academy bonding ensued to end out the night. The Glenn Academy eventually staggered back to the Super 8 for a little rest.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday, Friday began with an early morning drive out to the desert, so of course everyone got to choose whether they wanted to kick it in the front seat or sit in the back seat. Luckily, the Academites had already developed a thorough shotgun-quiz bowl system, so no one wasted too much time making their mind up, wondering which seat could they take. This tactic left more time for partyin’, partyin’, (yeah), particularly in the back of Andrew’s car, where Mike N. was able to find good pillows for the long ride. The Crown Vic brigade arrived to Edward’s AFB a little early, but Edwards was not at all ready for them. Due to a little confusion, Space spent a while waiting in a small guard shack with two of the funniest guards in the business. Mike N. and David continued their naps while the rest of the Academites picked up life lessons from the two guards. After finally receiving clearance, the Academy proceeded to NASA Dryden, and awaited their tour. Some hit up the visitor center and gift shop where the store manager kindly extended a 10% NASA discount to the Academy, so the Academites took the opportunity to buy all kinds of items; even underwear! After an hour and a half, the Academites, now joined by the Aeros and the Ames Academy, resorted to building human pyramids. Sensing further shenanigans, the Dryden staff herded everyone into a conference room. After a two-hour delay waiting for a bus, the walking tour commenced. At Dryden, the Academies got to see all types of cool stuff, such as old F-18s, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, and one of the first lifting body test vehicles. See the tour notes for the full rundown.
The Ames Academy introduced a competition the Glenn Academy could not refuse; put-pocketing. The tour concluded with a shower of business cards popping up in the strangest of places. After a brief stop at the most efficient Subway ever, the Crown Vic brigade rolled out to Mojave, where they almost drove straight to Scaled Composites. At Scaled, the group got an awesome look at SpaceShip2 and WhiteKnight2. Scaled proved to be a very inspiring tour; the one new flight-tested vehicle per year concept is a bit of a breakneck speed. Accompanying the Academies on the Scaled tour was Academy alum Will Pomerantz and his wife Diana. Will is the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Galactic after working for five years at the X PRIZE Foundation. Will used his connections to get the Academies a spontaneous tour at Masten Space Systems. Masten was pretty amazing; it showed the Academites how a few people in a small space can produce awesome space hardware. After Masten, the Crown Vics (and the Academites) were pretty thirsty, so everyone loaded up on fluids before heading back across the desert to LA.
The Crown Vic brigade crossed LA County, traveling all the way to Santa Monica, where they set up shop in Santa Monica Hostel. After changing, the group headed out to the Academy and alumni gathering at Busby’s West, a bar that was close to the lodging of the (Ames) Academy. After making the short trip, the Academites joined in with the other Academies in a private room in the back of the bar. Everyone had a great time mingling with other Academy members and alumni of the program. After some epic ping pong and other games, everyone started filing out. The Academites didn’t want the party to end, so they joined the Ames Academy at their place for some more games. After a dominant showing in the ever popular “Sheena Game” and a faux Mexican standoff the Academites plus some folks from Ames Academy decided to check out the Promenade on Third Street; as they had heard it was the place to be. A short taxi ride later, they got out to find… not much. But they took it easy, as they were on Third Street. After a walk around to make sure they weren’t at the wrong place, they filed into Yankee Doodle to let the good times roll. And roll they did for fifteen minutes. Misinformed and saddened about the early closing time, everyone filed out. Refusing to let Third Street be a total fail, the group sat down on the street and entertained themselves and passers-by with “Robot Chicken”. One passerby even tried to join the game, but got confused when everyone didn’t hiss back. The game fell apart eventually mostly due to tiredness and some shoe incidents. For the Acadamites, it was exit, stage left even.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Thus began Saturday. The cool kids decided to have crepes for breakfast while others ate at the hostel.
The hostel was left, the road was hit, and off to Spacex they went. The tour of Space X took the group past Elon Musk’s desk (where, if Logan asks, we all shook his hand) into the shop to see all of the work being done, even on a Saturday morning. A caffeine bar in the shop caused the entire group to re-evaluate their future career plans. Well, that and a cutting edge, hands on work environment friendly to young, motivated engineers. The Academites minds were truly blown by the experience.
The California adventure continued when a majority of the group’s had their first taste of In-N-Out Burger. Andrew was consulted as to how to order the perfect meal and all ate to greasy heaven before heading to Venice Beach.
The group was joined by Molly’s mom at the new hostel in Venice Beach. A musical interlude was provided by the Academites, a badly-tuned piano, and a “borrowed” guitar and djembe as the group checked in.
The Space Academy was joined by Santiago, Big David, and Glenn Academy ’09 alum Jon Barr and his wife Kayt as they began the quest for Griffith Observatory, a journey that would prove arduous and epic. A bus, walk, train, bus, and hiking fail later, Molly’s mom was sent back to San Diego and the Academites were trudging up the side of a mountain in inappropriate climbing attire on the search for an elusive hiking trail. Three cops later, the Academites ended up at Griffith Observatory without finding the trail. They gaped at the stars, discovered their weight on Jupiter, and got photographed by foreigners.
Armando then came to their rescue, picking them up in the 15-passenger Chariot of Charity and the Glenn Academies went in search of Korean barbecue. Due to seating issues, the group split between two restaurants and the groups tested their grilling prowess. Arguments ensued as to which place had better barbecue, but the original place won, hands down.
Stuffed to max capacity, the group drove down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, stopping only long enough to see a couple stars along the walk. The Chariot of Charity carried the Space Academy back to their hostel, where the youngest and the oldest went into a coma and others mingled with some interesting foreigners. After getting yelled at by hostel management for being quieter than the street, they moved inside to the common room before finally calling it a night.