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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Saturday on the Starship Apollo, A Fine Jaunt in a Tall Bridged Ship. Space News. Theater Imaginarium.

New Year's Eve.  While many made plans to bring in the new year, the staff and volunteers at many of the local space centers were hard at work creating memories for their guests.

Isaac and Alex DeBirk hard at it
Let the historical record show that the new USS Voyager's tactical screen was wired to the control room by ethernet cable on New Year's Eve 2016.  What a process but thankfully it's done. This new cable gives the Voyager staff the option of showing tactical scenes through the network (Flint system) or by cable (InfiniD Simple Scene).  My goal is to make the Voyager multiplatform.  Thank you InfiniD for making your system available to us.  

While they were busy navigating through ceilings and walls, I drove to Lakeview Academy in Saratoga Springs. Brandon Wright is the director of the Lakeview Space Center and was kind to invite me to enjoy some Apollo time with our good friends working on the Starship Apollo. 

Brandon directing the mission while his staff waited with baited breath for every word.

Have I mentioned that my favorite people on this planet are those serving in the Space Service whether it be Starfleet Command at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, Colonial Command at Lakeview, Canyon Grove, and Merit Academies, or Space Guard at Renaissance Academy?  These people are professionals at what they do and put their visiting crews first.  The atmosphere at the Lakeview Space Center is positive and inviting. The facility is state of the art with two of the valley's newest experiential simulators, Apollo and Artemis.  

I've done several posts on the two ships so I won't bore you with a rehash of the praise already given. What I want to do is highlight something really cool I've not shared with you before.  Brandon took me into the ship's rafters to show me this cool set up.  

"This is our all purpose alien world surface," Brandon explained proudly.  The little remote controlled planetary rover is controlled from the bridge. We've got cameras positioned so the crew can watch the rover on the ship's tactical screen as the operator steers it." 

This innovation is another example of how Lakeview Academy uses their three simulators to make their STEM based Utah State Core missions educational and fun.


Brandon invited me to the Apollo's bridge to look at another addition recently installed.
"This is the weapon's compartment complete with lock worn around the first officer's neck," he explained.  The compartment sits at the back of the bridge directly under the engineering loft.  

The Apollo and Artemis are identical. In my wanderings I found two hatchways into the bridge area. The hatch into the Medbay has a nice combo lock, perfect for staff, volunteers, and authorized crew.

While I was there the staff explained many of the features of the ship's new controls. They are cool. Their intuitive design makes flight directing easy. Using the new simulator controls, the flight director spends more time focused on the crew and not on the controls themselves. The new controls also make staffing easy. One person can pretty much run a 15 person ship alone.

Every student at Lakeview gets six missions in the simulators per year.  Each mission is written with a curriculum focus for their grade level all from the Utah State Core.  Rick Veasey, Lakeview's Principal, oversees the program to ensure his students are learning.  The teacher's help with the curriculum. The Lakeview program is a model for school centered experiential simulator education.
Great job Lakeview Academy, Brandon Wright, and Staff.  

The lower bridge of the Apollo as seen from the second deck Engineering

Space News
By Mark Daymont

ISS: Spacewalkers Replace Batteries, Part 1

Astronauts Peggy Whitson (L) and Shane Kimbrough (R) prepare to leave the airlock. There have been 196 spacewalks in support of the International Space Station so far.

On Friday, January 6th, astronauts from Expedition 50 of the ISS exited the Quest Airlock for a six and a half hour EVA to begin the four-year process of changing out the station's main batteries, which are reaching their serviceability lifespan. The new Li-Ion batteries were brought to the station on the Japanese HTV-6 cargo spacecraft on the external pallet. Using the stations remote-control arm, the batteries were removed from the craft and placed in the are of the exchange, which for this mission was the S4 segment of the main truss. There was a lot of work to do in preparation for this part of the battery exchange, both inside and out of the station. Relays and cables to affected station segments were checked, secured, and switched to other areas for the duration of the exchange.

Shane Kimbrough looks quite pleased to be performing his 3rd career spacewalk. Station solar panels in the background.

During the last week, ground controllers used one of the access arms to begin a series of shuffling old batteries from their home on the truss and replacing them with the new batteries stored in temporary positions on the truss. The purpose of this EVA was to finish certain installation tasks that could not be done with the robotic arms. It proves again how the human presence can never be completely removed from space activities for maximum efficiency. 

Astronaut Shane apparently enjoys selfies. Up there, who wouldn't?

Peggy Whitson during suit preparation. This was her 7th career EVA.

The EVA concluded with successful connections of three of the six replaced batteries. Part two of this EVA is scheduled for Friday January 13th, when Kimbrough goes outside again, this time with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, to complete the hookups for the remaining three batteries. The new lithium-ion batteries are a great improvement over the older nickel-hydrogen batteries. The old batteries will be moved by the robotic arm onto the storage pallet on the HTV-6. They will burn up when the HTV-6 is plunged into the atmosphere over the Pacific for disposal.

Theater Imaginarium
The week's best gifs edited for a general audience. Great for classroom rewards.

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