Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ISS: Playing with fire

Astronaut Don Pettit at the SLICE equipment.

Up in the world's space outpost, astronauts and cosmonauts of Expedition 30 continue their research and experiments with living in space. Yesterday, astronaut Don Pettit worked on SLICE, the Structure and Liftoff In Combustion Experiment. SLICE allows astronauts and scientists to examine how flames behave in the microgravity of Earth orbit. The information gained by these tests will help engineers invent new equipment for fire safety which will benefit living in space, as well as potential benefits in fire control on Earth. This work will also help in pollution control and fuel efficiency in combustion engines.

Interviews with the press aboard the ISS. Don Pettit on left, Andre Kuipers on right.

During interviews with reporters, Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers drank tea using specially designed glasses that allow humans to drink normally rather than have to sip liquid from plastic bags. After years of drinking from bags, this is a small but pretty cool step for living in space.

Other activities continued as normal aboard ISS: experiments with liquids and gasses in microgravity, computer and station maintenance, and astronaut physical workouts to control bone mass deterioration. Three of the crew practiced emergency evacuation procedures using the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft. Unloading continues from the Progress 46 supply spacecraft which docked at the station in January. Supplies from the module will continue to be unloaded, and eventually the module will be filled with trash, waste and garbage so it can be jettisoned later to burn up in the atmosphere.

What's next for ISS? On Wednesday the ISS will fire up its thrusters to boost its orbit a little bit. On March 9, the European Space Agency will launch another cargo spaceship (ATV-3) to the station. This craft has been nicknamed, "Edoardo Amaldi."

Blast Off! Atlas 5 Lifts Navy Satellite

Atlas lifts off from LC-41. Credit: SpaceFlight Now.

The MUOS 1 Mobile Communications Satellite was lifted into orbit Friday afternoon from Cape Canaveral at 3:15 pm MST. The US Navy will use the satellite to improve communications between ships and naval ground forces. MUOS 1 is built by Lockheed.

MUOS satellite graphic, credit Lockheed.

This was the 200th launch of the Centaur second-stage rocket system, which carries the satellites from the first stage Atlas rocket to an orbit before releasing the payload. Congratulations Centaur!

The Atlas 5 rocket is a joint project between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, under the organization of United Space Alliance. This rocket is under consideration of being man-rated to carry the new CST-100 crew capsule, currently being developed. This combination would be used to ferry astronauts to the ISS and back to Earth. It is also a possible launcher for the Dream Chaser, under development by Sierra Nevada Space Systems. The DreamChaser resembles a lifting-body design.

Dream Chaser- Atlas 5 configuration computer model. Credit Sierra Nevada Space Systems.

No doubt we'll be seeing more of the Atlas-5 in the competition for low-Earth-orbit capsules. In the meantime the Atlas 5 is very successful at delivering payloads into space. One of the spacecraft launched by an Atlas 5 is the New Horizon explorer, currently more than halfway to the dwarf planet Pluto! Another interesting payload is the Air Force's new X-37B unmanned robot shuttle, which is still on a mysterious mission in orbit.

Posted by
Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Imaginarium on a Cold Winter's Day

Hello Troops,

Snow in the County and a white curtain draped across the sky brings winter to the Imaginarium.
What better way to worship the divine in man than through his music.

And with that said, we venture further into the human capacity to create something from nothing. To make order out of chaos. To practice the essence of imagination.

The blending of old and new school advertising.

It's been a part of nature all along.....

Never a dull moment for the practioners of the Imaginative Arts.


A trick I perform on demand. Book early for you birthday party entertainment.

Volkswagon had the idea first.

The Truth in nearly every American home.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Doggie Droppings. Hanne and Bridger at the Park and the Art of Sitting Quietly

The One Thing in Life We Can Truly Rely On

Have you ever stopped to wonder what one Space Center Overnight Camp is worth in doggie droppings? It's not the typical topic one would hear discussed at supper. The query has never been brought up at the Space Center, not even once in all our twenty-one years. A university economics class might be able to come up with answer - albeit doubtful.

Let's put our best thinking to the solution. One Overnight Camp carries a value of $43.00 United States dollars. That number is easily understood. The number is also understood in foreign currencies; for example:

Euro: 32.06
Russian Ruble: 1256.30
Japanese Yen: 3243.24

These numbers allow parents to budget. With $43.00 they could fill their gas tank or send a child to an overnight camp. But, back to the question at hand, how many doggie droppings equal $43.00? A full zip lock bag? A full garbage bag? Perhaps a full pickup truck? I wouldn't give you a bright shiny nickle for any of it. I don't think you could gather enough doggie droppings to balance the scales at $43.00.

You're asking where this is heading? Let me set the stage. It's 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning. I've dismissed the campers. I'm standing in the gym near the exit thanking the campers as they leave. A boy approaches with sleeping bag and pillow in tow.

"Mr. Williamson, I want you to know that this camp was worth 3 HOURS OF DOG POOP!"

I've been here for every overnight camp held at the Space Center since it opened in November 1990. That's 21 years worth if you're trying to do the math. His statement comparing our camp to dog poop was a first.

"What do you mean?" I asked. He stopped in the gym's doorway.

"I had to scoop up dog poop for 3 hours to earn enough money to come to this camp, and I'D DO IT AGAIN. It was worth it!"

I thanked the young man and up the hall he went, unaware of the smile he left sprawled across my face.

Troops, I could retire from the Space Center right now completely satisfied, because for the first time in my Space Center career I finally understand the true value of what we've created. The next time a parent asks me about our camp experience I'll say, "It's worth three hours of poop scooping."

Hanne and Bridger
at the Technology Fair

See Hanne at the Technology Fair?
See Bridger at the Technology Fair?
See Hanne and Bridger both at the Technology Fair?
Hanne and Bridger like science and technology.
Hanne and Bridger like the Space Center.

"Can we like them both at the same time?" Bridger asked one day while they were swinging at the park.

"Sure we can Bridger!" Hanne replied as she pumped her swing higher and ever so higher.

"But we live so far away in Boston and the Space Center is in Utah. How is it possible?" Bridger was confused. Bridger gets confused sometimes. His mother told him not to think so much. Bridger tired. It confused him.

"How can't I think so much?" Bridger shouted back to his mother one day while standing in the middle of the road wondering if the strips of paint painted down the center were equal distant from both curbs. "My brain has a brain of its own and it won't cooperate."

"God give me strength." Bridger's mother mumbled under her breath. Everyone standing on the curb heard her. Bridger's mother is a good church going woman who believes God can work miracles. She is often heard saying things like, "It will be a miracle if........" when she talks to her friends about Bridger.

"Come back to us Bridger!" Hanne shouted from high above. She knew when Bridger was lost in his thoughts. "Let's bring the Space Center here." Hanne pumped her swing higher and ever so higher.

"Stop confusing me Hanne. We can't bring the Space Center here." Bridger got off the swing to go off and pout. Besides, Hanne was too high and seeing high things scares him.

"Don't go pout and don't get confused. We won't bring the whole Space Center here. Let's show what the Space Center does. You see, that isn't so hard is it?" Hanne prepared to jump.

Bridger stopped and thought. He understood what she meant.

"Hanne you're so smart," he shouted. "We show what the Space Center does!"

"Hanne is smart and brave!" Hanne screamed before launching herself into the air and landing in the wood chips.

Hanne and Bridger laid down in the grass and thought and thought. Hanne talked. Bridger asked for a turn to talk. Hanne agreed. Bridger got to talk as well.

This is Hanne and Bridger at the MIT Techfair with their Space Center display.

Hanne did so much work setting up the display. Hanne likes to work. Hanne is a good worker. Ask her yourself if you don't believe me.

Bridger was distracted. Cool things distract Bridger. Hanne scolded Bridger for not helping. Bridger said he was sorry and promised to be a better boy. Hanne gritted her teeth. She does that a lot when she is with Bridger.

Hanne and Bridger's brilliant display at the MIT Technology Fair. Hanne and Bridger did good. Hanne and Bridger are good friends of the Space Center.

(Note: Thanks to Bridger and Hanne for highlighting the Space Center's work at the MIT Techfair. Bridger and Hanne were both outstanding volunteers at the Space Center through their high school years. It is good to keep in touch as they continue following their dreams)

The Art of Sitting Quietly
Lessons offered upon request

I was asked once what I do when I get home from a full day at the Space Center.
"I like to sit quietly," I replied. I do it professionally.

There are very few people who do it better than me. Sitting Quietly practitioners can be found in all parts of the world. You see us on park benches, in restaurants, at church, at the mall and in schools. We may look asleep, but don't let that fool you. Experts in the field have developed techniques to trick the mind into staying partly awake while still being able to transcend time and space into the imaginarium of dreams and inspirations.

I invite all to join us. Learn the benefits of Sitting Quietly. Free yourselves from the modern world. Find a bench. Sit down. Close your eyes and see where your mind takes you. I offer free lessons to anyone with a serious interest.

Have a Great Weekend!
Mr. Williamson

P.S. Bridger found a friend. One of his mother's miracles came true!

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Quiet on the Northern Front

A Letter from the Front

The troops are bedding down for the night. Two sit by a small fire using their kit spoons to surgically remove the last drops of juice from their tins of pork and beans. A few others quietly read letters from home by flashlight. One not so fortunate soldier stands above us with rifle at the ready. He drew midnight sentry duty. Imagination's foes inhabit the fields to the north, across the heavily barb wired No Man's Land. My bed roll waits while I finish this letter.

Tonight we proudly serve with Cedar Ridge Elementary's first and second platoons. These young soldiers, mostly 5th grade with a few 6th, are wildly enthusiastic to wear the Federation's colors. So enthusiastic, I was just notified by Lt. Jon Parker that I may need to visit the barracks and put the fear of a very tired instructor who has been at work since 7:00 A.M. this morning and desperate for a few hours of shut eye into them.

"Let's wait until lights out and see how they do," Lt. Jon said.

It's 12:01 A.M. Lights have been out for awhile. No word from Jon. Perhaps these young ones are cooperating. I hope so. They don't know what awaits them tomorrow. Shortly after dawn they will face an ensemble of some of the Universe's greatest villains, Masters of Disaster all.

We've had a busy week here in the trenches. Big classes filled our field trip slots. Add to the mix a slew of after school missions, a full Overnight Camp and a fully booked Saturday and you have a tired staff and ships in need of some rest. At least I won't have to do the 6:00 A.M. Walmart donut run. This is Mr. Daymont's weekend for that.

The only thing left to do is place a wager. I'm betting I'll be woken up by two boys tonight. Homesickness is commonly seen in our new 5th grade campers. Over all I'm able to convice half of those stricken to stay and show Mom and Dad they are big boys. The other half go home. Nearly all return in the morning.

That being said, I'll end this letter, shut down the computer and see what dreams may come.

Mr. W.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finally- A Serious Space Debris Plan Developed by the Swiss.

CleanSpaceOne plan. From the article on Parabolic Arc:

"That wasn't a laser blast... something hit us!" - paraphrasing a certain space smuggler.

Orbiting the Earth at present are tens of thousands of satellites, pieces of satellites and rockets, and fragments of space programs that have been placed there over the last fifty years. NASA uses radar to track 16,000+ items which could potentially cause damage to functioning satellites and spacecraft. Every now and then, even here on SpaceRubble we comment on the ISS needing to use thrusters to play "dodgeball" with a dangerous piece of debris. Lately, more and more space programs are considering the danger from all this wreckage in space.

Here come the Swiss! According to the article "Swiss Developing Way of Taking Out SPace Trash" on the website Parabolic Arc, the Swiss Space Agency has found a niche to master: ridding Earth orbit of non-functional satellites. CleanSpaceOne is a trash-intercepting satellite which will match orbits with a piece of debris, carefully approach and grapple with the object, then alter its orbit so the two will burn up in the atmosphere in re-entry.

At a cost of over 10 million Swiss Franks, each mission will be initially very expensive just to remove a dead satellite. Space Program planners will have to start including costs for eventual "disposal" at the end of their planned missions. At least this will be a start of the very necessary clean up of Earth orbit. Perhaps it will inspire others to find less expensive ways to deal with the problem. CleanSpaceOne is expected to be tested within the next three years.

Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Monday, February 20, 2012

50 Years Ago Today - Friendship 7 Orbits the Earth! A First for the American Space Program

Mercury Atlas 6 blasts off from LC-14.

by Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

After several disappointing weather delays and equipment failure postponements, NASA finally had a good day and launched the third mission of the Mercury program. The previous two missions launched Alan Shephard and Gus Grissom on short sub-orbital flights over the Atlantic. The Redstone rocket used on the previous flights were simply not powerful enough to place the Mercury capsule into an orbital flight, so the heavier Atlas ICBM was converted and "man-rated" to lift the astronauts into space.

Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Mercury-Redstone missions had taken place from Launch Complex 5. With the more powerful Atlas rocket, operations were established at Launch Complex 14. Mission Control was performed from blast-proof domed bunkers near the pad. For this mission, radio ships at sea joined with radio stations around the world to maintain NASA's communications with the orbiting astronaut.

Astronaut Glenn enters the capsule. In the background is "pad leader" Gunther Wendt, overseeing launch tower operations.

John Glenn was a Marine officer who had flown combat missions in World War Two and the Korean War. As a test pilot, he had flown many types of aircraft and set speed records in the F-8U-1 Crusader jet. His backup for this mission was Scott Carpenter, a naval aviator who had served in the Korean War and flew surveillance missions near Soviet installations.

The ride to orbit was a bumpy one, but after the escape tower jettisoned with the booster engines the ride smoothed out. At last the capsule separated and Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth at 17, 544 miles per hour. Mission Control gave him the positive outlook that he was "go" for seven orbits at least.

In-flight picture of Glenn in the capsule.

During the flight, Glenn reported on his visual range of the Earth' surface, and at one moment was startled to see hundreds of tiny bight objects swarm around the capsule. He described them as like "fireflies" which the press picked up on immediately and speculated about possible life in space. The fireflies would be an object of investigation on the next Mercury flight. In the photo above, you can also see a curved mirror placed on Glenn's chest. This was included so that the camera in the capsule could also see the reflection of the capsule instrument panel. Also during the flight, there were problems with the temperature warming up too much in Glenn's spacesuit. He had to carefully maintain a balance between suit control settings and the temperature settings inside the capsule.

After an orbit, controllers determined a possible problem with the landing bag system. A computer light indicated that the landing cushion bag had deployed. If true, this could have cause problems with the positioning of the heat shield necessary for re-entry. Flight Director Chris Kraft consulted with flight engineers and they determined that Glenn should not eject the retro-rocket pack, attached to the heat shield with metal straps. Jettisoning the pack could cause the heat shield to slip off, and Glenn would be killed as the capsule experienced severe re-entry heat. Mercury pilot Wally Schirra, one of the astronauts yet to fly, was capsule communicator stationed at California, delivered the procedure plan to Glenn, who fully understood the possible danger.

Computer-generated model of Friendship 7 as it would have looked in orbit. The retro-engine pack with its straps visible on the left of the craft. Image by James R. Bassett.

During re-entry, the retro pack heated up and melted. Glowing pieces flew past the window, as Glenn exclaimed that "that's a real fireball outside." Glenn worried at times that he might be seeing pieces of the heat shield melting and falling away, but the heat shield held fine. As scientists would later determine, the landing bag indicator itself had been faulty, and there never was real danger to the craft. But the mission controllers did not know this at the time.

The parachutes opened as expected and Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean. Glenn was about 40 miles from the expected landing zone. Not bad for America's first re-entry after orbit. The destroyer USS Noel quickly found glenn and hoisted him and the capsule out of the water.

Glenn would later receive a ticker-tape parade in New York and would received by President Kennedy and given a medal. But stepping out of the capsule onto the deck of the destroyer, his words were "It was hot in there!"

Normally I would have a bunch more NASA photos of the event in this blog. Unfortunately, the NASA image archives are compromised today, perhaps due to unusually high Internet traffic on this very memorable occasion. SO, I've decided to place a few pics from my trip to KSC last year and I'll post more pictures later.

Memorial plaque and sign at LC-14. As the sign points out, all the Mercury-Atlas flights took place from this complex.

At the Mercury Seven Sculpture. This location is located at the entrance road to the launch complex. That's me on the left, and my Uncle John Daymont, who patiently posed with me while the tour bus driver graciously took the picture. The Cape Canaveral AF Base tour is fantastic, but they only do it once per day IF there are no launches that day.

Distant picture of what's left of LC-14. The Atlas rocket would be trucked up the ramp from the right and then tilted into position into a large Gantry tower on the left. Compare this with the LC-14 picture previous.

Control bunker at LC-14. Supposedly blast proof in case the Atlas missile were to explode on the pad. Sometimes they did during testing!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Weekend at the Space Center and Imaginarium

85 lb Mark successful swindles $2.00 from
Space Center Director Mr. Williamson.

I bet the money feeling very confident Volunteer Mark S. from Pleasant Grove wouldn't be able to move the massively heavy Galileo simulator 6 inches on his own.

"A Fool and his money are soon parted," Mark said. He spit into his hands, moved to the nose of the ship and pushed. A blood curdling scream released from his lungs. The Galileo didn't budge. Mark stopped pushing and ran to the toilet fearing he'd dislodged an intestine or something.

I was accepting congratulations from several onlookers on making the correct call that an 85 pound boy couldn't move the Galileo on his own when Mark came back looking more determined than ever.

"Stand back!" he shouted. He braced himself up against the front of the ship and pushed! The laughter disappeared when the ship shuddered. The Galileo moved! Mark stopped, examined the situation and smiled.

"I know her secret," he said. Once again Mark took a position against the ship's nose. He pushed then released, then pushed and released. He was rocking the ship like one does to get his car out of a snow drift.

Mark was victorious and I am out $2.00. I'll just have to give up a couple Big Chills but it was well worth it. Mark is the Man.

Nicole and Josh on their Maiden Voyages

Today we celebrated the elevation of Nichole VandenBos and Josh Anderson to the positions of Professor. Professon VandeBos will assume the post of Professor of the Magellanic Order. Professor Anderson will assume the post of Professor of the Most High Odysseus Rights. Both are graduates of Toadwarts School of Space and Elementary Wizardry.

Professor VandeBos was recently pardoned by the Ministry of Magic for her participation in He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned's attempted coup d'├ętat against the Ministry. Her claim that the strike she lead against the Norwegian Trolls on the night of November 12th was done under the influence of a bewitching curse cast by the aforementioned miscreant. The jury agreed and issued the pardon, largely on the testimony of her sister, Professor Brittney VandeBos - well known defender of Muggles and Speaker on Muggle Causes in the Ministry.

Professor Anderson's mostly unremarkable career since his graduation from Toadwarts will work in his favor, according to Mr. Williamson who spoke at their investiture ceremony.

"Professor Anderson will be working under Director Christine Grosland's omnipotent eye and authoritative presence. It comes as no surprise that her distended personality eclipses the life force of all who find themselves working in her department. Someone of Professor Anderson's demeanour will find a home in that omnipresent shadow."

Director Zac reaches out to shake Nichole's hand after crowning her Professor of the Magellanic Order

The ceremony was completed when Nichole accepted his appointment and their hands met. Contrary to widespread rumors spread by the OWL netword, sparks did not fly.

Nicole proudly shows her new Flight Director's Shirt. Nicole is the Magellan's newest ordained Flight Director. Welcome to the Navy Blues Nicole!!

The Magellan's final score of this weekend's Overnight Camp. A 1.11 is awesome. Good job to Nicole and her staff.

A special congratulations to Josh Anderson. Josh's campers gave him a perfect 1 in all areas. Josh took the Flight Director's Award

In celebration of Nicole and Josh's first solo Overnight Camps, I shot some random video of them at work towards the end of their missions this morning. This is your peek behind the wall into what it takes to make the magic. You'll notice it is similar to the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz except we have a wall separating us from our guests.

9 Month Old Attends Space Center Camp!

Not only did nine month old Mauree successfully complete a Space Center Camp, she is also a successful 5th grade student at Barratt Elementary School in American Fork. Look at her birthday as listed on her Rank Paper above if you don't believe me. Nabil filled this in for her at sign in last night. Mind you, it was tricky keeping the staff and other campers from stepping on her as she crawled around the ship trying to get her work done. Oh, there were also some problems with spitting up.

Have a Great Weekend!
Mr. Williamson

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another Great Group from Barratt Elementary

Hello Troops,
This is my weekly telegram from the front.
Tonight we are hosting our second Overnight Camp with students from Barratt Elementary School in American Fork.

I see smiles on the faces of the staff and volunteers. Smiles are a good thing. They tell me the staff and volunteers are enjoying themselves. This kind of job satisfaction comes from various sources.

  1. I've given them a hefty raise, which didn't happen. I don't set the pay rates - the school district does. The money they get from here will barely cover a couple gallons of gas, a Big Chill and an apple fritter.
  2. They've recently received a promotion. Which didn't happen.
  3. They see me in an uncharacteristically jovial, jolly and fanciful mood, which is highly unlikely for an Overnight Camp. Ask anyone that works at the Space Center. They will tell you that Mr. Williamson is at his most unapproachable self on an Overnight Camp.
  4. This leaves the campers from Barratt Elementary as the source of the staff and volunteer's happiness. Once again, we have awesome kids from Barratt - a tribute to their upbringing. I will also add that they attend a great school with superb teachers like Mrs. Leinweber. Karen and I taught together for a few years - a couple decades ago here at Central.

Now, enough said for tonight. The staff sleeping in the Odyssey are on the verge of being classified "Out of Control". I take action when my patience needle spans the dial and parks in the "Out of Control" section. It's almost there.

Mr. W.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Wishes to Everyone.

Hello Troops,
A Happy Valentine's Day to our Space Center staff, volunteers and campers! I sent Mr. Howell,our resident florist, out early this morning with flowers for our favorite staff, volunteers and campers, but word has it he missed the bus to the Imaginarium's Wonderland Station. So if you see a forlorn unkempt florist sitting at a bus stop holding a bouquet of flowers, please stop and offer him a ride. And if your flower doesn't arrive, remember it's the thought that counts, right?

A Day Spent Pushing the Very Limits of Society's Norms

Caution, the following pictures may not be suitable for younger audiences. These pictures show a sheer disregard for law and order. They portray people flaunting the established order. The anti social behavior illustrated in these pictures prompted Scandinavian governments to ban them outright.

Viewer discretion is advised.

Sticking it to The Man at the Lunch Table.

Don't tell me where I can and can't tear open my ketchup packet.
Rebel with a Cause is what they call me!

Shocking isn't it? Afterwords the can was left on the table for
someone else to clean up!
Rudeness on an Industrial Scale!

I know, this one photograph caused you to wince.
I hesitated to include it, but felt it was my duty as an honorary member of the 99%
to show the 1% what we are capable of doing when pushed to the breaking point.

This stopped the queue dead in its tracks at the Grocery Store. The Management was brought in to sort out the confusion. I won't include the vulgar language spewed by the sheep waiting in line.

Admit it, you secretly wish you had the guts and mental fortitude to pull off something like this.

And Finally, Just For You on this Day Celebrating all that's right with Love

The Story of my Life

Happy Valentine's Day from the Space Education Center!

Mr. Williamson