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The Art of Healing Through Space Exploration

January 2nd, 2019

Astronaut Kate Rubin sports ‘Courage’ at the International Space Station Center (ISS).

By Sumer Dene

The SpaceSuit Art PROJECT is a global collaboration of hospitals, volunteers, and the International Space Station aimed to help children battling cancer. The Spacesuit Art Project was founded by artist and writer Ian Cion, retired astronaut Nicole Stott, and the NASA ISS Program Communications team. Nicole Stott is deemed “The Artistic Astronaut,” as she is the first astronaut to watercolor in space. Stott has flown on two spaceflights and spent 104 days living and working in space on the ISS and Space Shuttle. Ian Cion was the founder and director of the Arts in Medicine program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, where he created a series of large-scale public works in collaboration with patients, families, staff, and community partners. Cion is now the exhibition and program manager at Rice University, Moody Center for the Arts. He coordinates and develops program initiatives for the arts center and supports development and implementation of exhibits. Stott and Cion are co-founders of the Space for Art Foundation, and recently concluded their 2nd Space for Art World Tour, which traveled to pediatric oncology hospitals in four countries – The Moscow Institute for Pediatric Oncology in Moscow, Russia; Gustave Roussy in Paris, France; Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Great Britain; and University Hospital Pediatric Oncology Clinic, Cologne, Germany. Children use their imagination to paint patches of inspirational artwork, which is later stitched together by volunteers at spacesuit company ILC Dover to form a spacesuit. The art spacesuits – Hope, Courage, Unity and Victory; and the two suits currently in work, Exploration and Dreamer, tell the stories of pediatric patients around the world.

The Spacesuit Art Project has partnerships with hospitals in over 30 countries and includes participation with all 5 ISS agencies; spacesuit companies in both the U.S. and Russia; creative artists such as Projekt Postcard founder Loli Lanas and Russian partner and founder of Unity Movement Foundation, Alena Kuzmenko; and more than 45 NASA and international astronauts. This support offers amazing opportunities for kids to reach their highest potential, even in the most dire of circumstances. The positive, interactive experience builds a community among patients, healthcare workers, creative artists, families, and offers children a sense of purpose, hope, and fulfillment. The Spacesuit Art Project wants to increase awareness of pediatric cancer, inspire space-theme art therapy programs around the world, and understand the profound connection between space exploration, technology, art, healing, unity, and the human spirit.

The Spacesuit Art project is partners with many organizations that integrate art, science and technology through education, collaboration, and innovation. “We’d like to bring pediatric cancer research to the ISS and create more arts and medicine programs in hospitals around the world. We’d also like to start additional art projects to continue the positive relationships we’ve built along the way,” Stott explains. The Spacesuit Art Project inspires creative new ideas globally, such as The Space for Art Foundation in the U.S. and the Unity Movement Foundation in Russia, formed to develop space-inspired art therapy programs, exhibits, and research. It has also led to Postcards to Space, artistic messages created by children and sent via an electronic art compilation to astronauts at the ISS, and Earthrise projects, a network of educational and research centers with a variety of space-related activities for all ages. Children at partnering hospitals were even able to visit mission control in Houston to ask questions to astronauts while in space. This encourages children to ask meaningful, imaginative questions and think beyond their circumstance to look forward to the future.

The Spacesuit Art project wants to raise awareness of pediatric cancer. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Society, cancer is the No. 1 cause of death by disease among children, but only 4% of federal government research funding goes to study it. We still don’t really know why children get cancer, although much of what we have learned to treat adult cancers, such as combination chemotherapy, was discovered from childhood cancer research.

Pediatric research has developed groundbreaking new therapies, interventions, vaccines, and diagnostic tests that have improved lives worldwide. Researchers are beginning to understand genetic mutations that might cause certain types of pediatric cancer. Immunotherapy and genomic medicine are inspirational fields of study dedicated to find individualized treatment methods for all cancer types. The Childhood Cancer Data Lab (CCDL) is accelerating the path to a cure by empowering health professionals to harness the power of large-scale collections of harmonized data. The mission is to find the cure for childhood cancer by allocating data and resources sufficiently.

“We can shift the role an artist plays by building interdisciplinary teams to utilize art in the field of health and exploration. As an explorer, it’s not just one path. It only matters how we communicate and integrate information to get to the same destination. Art gives kids [and adults] a sense of purpose, wonder and accomplishment. There is a commonality between astronauts and children who are battling cancer, they both require incredible strength and courage to overcome isolation, risk, and medical procedures. These spacesuits are made as a prayer for the kids and a celebration of life.” Cion adds.

The mission of the Spacesuit Art Project could not have been accomplished without the wonderful volunteers, such as the many space professionals like ILC Dover, NASA’s space suit engineers since the beginning of project Apollo, and Zvezda, the Russian space agencies spacesuit manufacturer.

ILC Dover and Zvezda generously donated time and talent to build the Hope and Unity and Victory suits for the Spacesuit Art Project. David Graziosi and many other engineers volunteered time and effort to work with children at hospitals and put together a cutting-edge spacesuit with paintings from thousands of pediatric patients around the world. “Interacting with the children at the hospital was life-changing. It showed me what’s important in life and also how short life can be.” Graziosi explained. Many people are inspired to join the Spacesuit Art Project and the other work of the Space for Art Foundation because of its impact on youth and the opportunity it gives to children and their families. Children recognize the universe and humankind as a whole, interconnected system. They are curious about the mysteries of life and naturally innocent. There’s no borders, boundaries or limits when everyone works together, there’s only opportunities to overcome obstacles in search for a cure.

Apollo legends see Historic Mission Control unveiled

December 1st, 2018

It was an historic sight – living legends who worked on the Apollo program reunited for a major milestone — the unveiling of restored Historic Mission Control consoles used to send humans to the Moon. The newly restored units arrived in a return flight to Ellington Airport by way of NASA’s Super Guppy.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center and NASA’s Johnson Space Center are leading the restoration of Historic Mission Control and this marked a major milestone in the ongoing campaign to restore a National Historic Landmark before Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary.

Designed to carry oversized cargo, the Super Guppy airlifted the consoles from the Cosmosphere, a space museum in Hutchinson, Kan. Luminaries of the Apollo program — Will Davidson, Ed Fendell, Robert Grilli, Milt Heflin, Denny Holt, James Kelly, Thomas Loe, Glynn Lunney, Merlin Merritt, Bill Moon, Bill Reeves, and Milt Windler – saw the restored consoles for the first time under a hangar at Ellington Airport.

Joining them were JSC Director Mark Geyer, Space Center Houston CEO William T. Harris, plus JSC Apollo Mission Control Restoration Project Manager Jim Thornton and Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly.

“We want to keep the legacy of the Apollo-era alive and preserve Historic Mission Control,” said Harris. “Thanks to the combined efforts of so many people, future generations can experience this iconic room exactly as it was when Neil Armstrong made his historic first steps on the Moon.”

Time had taken a toll on the Mission Operations Control Room, used during the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle eras, and it was in acute need of restoration. Furnishings such as carpeting, tile, paperwork, coffee cups and ashtrays in the room are being collected and restored to recreate the appearance of an active Apollo era Mission Control room — how the area looked the moment the first Moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985, the control room celebrates human space exploration and inspires people from around the world who visit. Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston and the City of Webster are working together to restore the room that made what seemed an inconceivable dream become a reality. Webster, a longtime supporter of Space Center Houston, gave a $3.5 million lead gift toward the $5 million restoration byThe Cosmosphere, which is restoring nearly two dozen consoles.

The restored Mission Control Room will be unveiled to the world in time for the Apollo 11 mission’s 50th anniversary and the City of Houston will host a month-long celebration, including a ribbon-cutting for the restored Mission Control room.

“On a Mission” campaign. Space Center Houston then led a 30-day funding campaign drawing more than 4,000 pledges from 15 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. The city of Webster matched the crowdfunding campaign gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $400,000 as a component of the lead gift. Current proceeds stand at approximately $4.5 million leaving $500,000 remaining to meet the $5 million On a Mission campaign goal.

NASA Is Born

November 1st, 2018

NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden, at left, and NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan, second from right, being sworn in as President Eisenhower, second from left, looks on. Image: NASA

On Oct. 1, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration officially opened for business. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act the previous July, creating NASA to lead America’s civilian space program in response to Soviet advances in space exploration.

The new agency incorporated elements of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, founded in 1915 to advance aeronautics research in the United States. NASA also absorbed three NACA research laboratories — Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Va., Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in Mountain View, Calif. and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio – as well as elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Ala., and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology. Over time, the agency established or incorporated additional centers and facilities to meet the growing needs of the nation’s space program. Today, 10 field centers across the nation work together to accomplish NASA’s varied missions.

President Eisenhower nominated T. Keith Glennan, president of Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, and Hugh L. Dryden, director of NACA, to be NASA administrator and deputy administrator, respectively. Glennan served until 1961, Dryden until 1965. The Dolley Madison House on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., served as the first headquarters of the new space agency (until 1961).

In April 1959, NASA introduced the seven Mercury astronauts to the world at an event in the house’s ballroom. As the agency grew, its headquarters relocated to more spacious accommodations in the nation’s capital.

Just 10 days after opening its doors, NASA launched its first spacecraft. Part of a program of lunar orbiters inherited from the U.S. Air Force, Pioneer 1 blasted off aboard a Thor-Able rocket from a fledgling launch facility at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Although it did not achieve its intended mission to orbit the Moon due to a rocket malfunction, Pioneer 1 did reach a then record altitude of about 70,000 miles. The probe returned scientific data confirming the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts until it burned up on reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere 43 hours after launch.

In the subsequent 60 years, NASA has launched spacecraft to unlock the mysteries of the universe, dispatched probes to make close up observations of every planet in the solar system, sent men on voyages to the Moon, and built a space station to maintain a permanent human presence in space.

Although NASA is best known for 60 years of engineering and scientific achievements, it originally came into being as a matter of national security. After the Soviets flew the first two Sputniks in 1957 and Sputnik 3 in 1958, the U.S. government saw space as an important new political, if not military, battlefield and began to lay the course for a long-term space plan.

“It was almost as if a bomb had fallen” on Capitol Hill, congressional staffer Eilene Galloway said in a 2000 oral history interview, “because we were so surprised that the Soviet Union was first. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had space projects in the International Geophysical Year, but our project was very small. It was a satellite that weighed a little more than three pounds, and the Soviet satellite [weighed 184 pounds and] really opened up outer space as the new environment, added to land, sea and air.”

Scientists pushed President Eisenhower to make any new agency charged with overseeing space exploration a civilian agency, fearing military control would mean research only into military priorities.

Congressional hearings on the matter, chaired by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX), began in November 1957 and continued for six weeks. Johnson asked Galloway, a defense analyst with the Legislative Reference Service, to summarize the congressional testimony. Her report, titled “The Problems of Congress in Formulating Outer Space Legislation,” recommended several options including creation of a new civilian agency to lead America’s space efforts.

On April 2, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a draft law to Congress that called for a civilian National Aeronautics and Space Agency, based on the existing National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics to oversee the U.S. space program. Twelve days later both the Senate and the House introduced versions of a bill to establish such an organization, with hearings beginning the next day. Galloway successfully lobbied to designate the new organization an administration rather than an agency to give it broader authority to coordinate with many other government agencies.

NASA History Overview

November 1st, 2018

A new era in space flight began on April 12, 1981, when Space Shuttle Columbia, or STS-1, soared into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is responsible for unique scientific and technological achievements in human spaceflight, aeronautics, space science, and space applications that have had widespread impacts on our nation and the world.

Forged in response to early Soviet space achievements, NASA was built on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and other government organizations, as the locus of U.S. civil aerospace research and development.

When NASA opened for business on Oct. 1, 1958, it accelerated the work already started on human and robotic spaceflight. NASA’s first high profile program was Project Mercury, an effort to learn if humans could survive in space. This was followed by Project Gemini, which used spacecraft built for two astronauts to perfect the capabilities needed for the national objective of a human trip to the Moon by the end of the 1960s.

Project Apollo achieved that objective in July 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission and expanded on it with five more successful lunar landing missions through 1972. After the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Projects of the mid-1970s, NASA’s human spaceflight efforts again resumed in 1981 with the Space Shuttle program that continued for 30 years. The shuttle was not only a breakthrough technology, but was essential to our next major step in space, the construction of the International Space Station.

Over the last 60 years NASA has continued to push the boundaries with cutting edge aeronautics research that has dramatically changed the way we build and fly airplanes. NASA has also completed the reconnaissance of our solar system, with intense investigation of all the planets. Using orbital spacecraft like the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has also dramatically changed our understanding of the universe around us, as well as our own planet.

NASA’s early work on launch vehicles, communication satellites, and weather satellites has fundamentally changed daily life and created whole new industries. As a catalyst for international cooperation, NASA has also changed how and why humanity conducts space exploration. Now, NASA is preparing to take humankind farther than ever before, as it helps to foster a robust commercial space economy near Earth, and pioneers further human and robotic exploration as we venture into deep space.

The NASA History Office Program publishes a quarterly newsletter, as well as an array of books (print and digital), hosts social media, provides fellowships, and runs the Historical Reference Collection (our version of an archive) to assist the public in finding more information on aeronautical and space history. In addition, the staff produces the Aeronautics and Space Report of the President.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 directs NASA to produce an annual report that includes a “comprehensive description of the programmed activities and the accomplishments of all agencies of the United States in the field of aeronautics and space activities” during the preceding year.

Leidos nears its 50th anniversary while NASA celebrates its 60th

November 1st, 2018

Leidos’ Benjamin.T.D.Minish, Jon Reyna, Wesley Tarkington and Carlos Aguilar. Photo: Moonbridge Media

By Xander Thomas

Leidos is a relatively new company name for some, but not altogether a new company. In fact, it has a 50-year anniversary coming up in 2019 — just after the 60th anniversary of NASA this year. And it has a long history in the space industry.

“At Leidos, our mission is to make the world safer, healthier and more efficient through the application of information technology, engineering and science,” Leidos NASA programs division manager Nan Hardin said.

The Fortune 500 company, she explains, is actually a combination of Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) and national security and commercial portions of SAIC before the company’s split in 2013, both entities with a legacy of technical support to NASA and the space industry.

“Through our heritage and deep understanding of the customer’s mission, we have built a track record of success at NASA centers and within the engineering and scientific community” Hardin said.

A resident of Houston, Hardin manages the Leidos teams supporting the Cargo Mission Contract, the Integrated Mission Operations Contract, the Human Health and Performance Contract and the Research Engineering Mission Integration Services Contract.

SECOND GENERATION
Many Leidos employees supporting today’s NASA contracts are the second generation to do so.

Jon Reyna, a quality team lead, explains that on the current Cargo Mission Contract they “plan, coordinate, prepare and pack standardized containers for all of the International Space Station cargo missions at NASA, international partners and commercial hardware vehicles.”

“We have different layout requirements for each vehicle, so there are no two cargo missions that are alike,” Reyna said. The cargo, he said, usually includes things like food, clothing, crew provisions, soft goods, computer hardware and other electronics gear, batteries, cameras, and experiments.

Reyna’s father also worked for NASA; he was involved in working with mission patch designs and on documentation for flight controls as a graphic artist. His dad worked for multiple NASA contractors and retired at the end of the shuttle contract.

Tyler Minish and Kimberly Johnson, both with the Integrated Mission Operations Contract that is known as the plan/train/fly contract, also followed in their parents’ footsteps.

Both of Minish’s parents worked right here in Houston at the Johnson Space Center. His mother worked in the reconfiguration group, helping train astronauts. She helped with the computer programs of the motion simulators, and later moved over to help support the International Space Station. His father first worked writing software for the shuttle motion simulators before moving into the crew training office and then to the International Space Station. Minish’s father still works in the mission controls center.

In similar fashion, Johnson calls herself a “second gen space cadet” because her mother worked for NASA during the Apollo/Gemini era as a secretary for the engineering director in the Space and Life Sciences Directorate.

Kimberly Johnson of the plan/train/fly contract with a cold stow box.

Johnson was hired on in 1992 by Lockheed Martin, and over the course of her career, she was a crew procedures engineer helping write and format flight data file documentation on shuttle missions. “I got to watch the astronauts get trained and execute the procedures that I was a part of,” she said.

When she was hired, she was a Russian technical specialist flight controller, and she said that being a part of the generation when the U.S. and Russia worked together was a great feeling, knowing that previous tensions between the countries prevented the collaboration.

Like Minish and Johnson, Wes Tarkington is also a 2nd generation employee. His father worked at Johnson Space Center for 33 years. He had been hired early in the Gemini program, worked through Apollo, and was part of Space Station Freedom when it was transferred to Virginia. His family almost moved up there, Tarkington said, but instead, his father transferred to a different department and became mission manager for the Space Shuttle Program.

Tarkington currently supports the Human Health and Performance contract, which provides medical health services in support of all the astronauts.
“In my current role within the human health performance contract, I manage a task order that includes support services and personnel for NASA’s crew health and safety program and also includes NASA’s integrated medical model, lifetime surveillance of astronaut health program and the life sciences data archive,” He said.

He described his role saying he has a team of medical, scientists, and PhDs who monitor and try to identify common conditions that have occurred with crew members as a result of their exposure to space flight.

PROUD MOMENTS
Tarkington said that one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is getting the “Treat Astronauts Act” signed into law. Basically, this bill gives astronauts a legal right to medical care beyond their time working in space flight, in case of any issues that the work may have caused. In return, NASA retains the data over what damage may or may not be caused for use with future flight crews.

Another one of Tarkington’s favorite memories working in support of NASA, he said, was meeting his now-wife of 13 years. “That’s obviously a memorable moment in my career here at NASA,” he said.

For Johnson, one of her proudest moments came when she was working in Moscow in support of the MIR program. “I received a call down from astronaut Dave Wolf recognizing my effort where I scheduled out his day as a planner,” she said.

A MATTER OF TRUST
According to Carlos Aguilar, a business development manager supporting NASA programs, many of the accomplishments being made right now are due to trust and collaboration between Leidos and NASA.

“Our management team really works hard to make sure that our performance is consistent,” Aguilar said, “we’ve also worked to have clear and open dialogue channels with NASA so we can get the feedback we need on our performance and make any course corrections.”

He said that Leidos strives to achieve a partnership, but they want NASA to be the judge of whether it really is.

He continued to say that it is not easy to keep pace with an agency like NASA, but he says that Leidos aims to help with innovations and improvements however they can.

“We are here to help do three things: Innovate, provide NASA with a top tier work force, and deliver on our corporate commitment to accomplish NASA’s mission.”

Leidos is the proud sponsor and underwriter of Bay Area Houston Magazine’s special issue celebrating NASA’s 60th Anniversary. Kudos to Leidos for all they do to support the manned space program. [article export control #20196]

Apollo 7: The race heats up

November 1st, 2018

The Apollo 7 prime crew, from left to right, are astronauts Donn F. Eisele, command module pilot, Walter M. Schirra Jr., commander; and Walter Cunningham, lunar module pilot. Photo: NASA

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

On Oct. 11, 1968, three American astronauts launched to Earth orbit aboard Apollo 7. It was the first piloted mission of the spacecraft designed to meet President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to land on the lunar surface.

The 11-day flight took place as the race to the Moon was heating up between the United States and the Soviet Union. A month earlier, the Soviets launched the unpiloted Zond 5, a simplified version of their Soyuz spacecraft designed for cosmonauts. The capsule became the first to circle around the Moon and return safely to Earth.

Both nations also were recovering from tragic losses. Three Apollo 1 astronauts perished in a launch pad fire on Jan. 27, 1967. That same year, the lone cosmonaut aboard Soyuz 1 died when the spacecraft crashed on April 24.

Following almost two years of Apollo spacecraft redesign and testing, Paul Donnelly, Launch Operations manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, expressed confidence in the men and women who worked tirelessly to prepare for the flight.

“We have a great group of specialists from government and industry trained to work as a team,” he said. “Just as the astronauts are ready to fly to orbit, we are ready to get them there.”

COMMANDER
Serving as commander of Apollo 7 was NASA veteran Wally Schirra, a U.S. Navy aviator and captain. He flew Mercury 8 on Oct. 3, 1962, and commanded Gemini VI on Dec. 15-16, 1965.

Schirra was joined by two members of the third astronaut class, both making their first spaceflight.

Command module pilot Donn Eisele was a U.S. Air Force colonel and test pilot. Walt Cunningham had been a colonel and fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Although there was no lunar module on this flight, as the third member of the crew, Cunningham was designated LM pilot.

Following a flawless liftoff atop a Saturn 1B rocket from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral) Air Force Station, the command-service module (CSM) separated from the second stage. Eisele then practiced a simulated LM docking. During launch with a LM, it would have been housed inside the adapter between the second stage and the CSM.

KEY OBJECTIVE
A key objective of Apollo 7 was testing spacecraft systems, especially the crucial service propulsion system (SPS) engine at the base of the spacecraft. On lunar missions, the SPS would be used to place the spacecraft in lunar orbit and later, fire the crew on a trajectory back home. On Earth orbital flights, the SPS would be fired to slow Apollo for reentry.

The first test of the powerful SPS took place on flight day two. When it fired with 20,500 pounds of thrust, Schirra radioed that it was a real kick.
“Yabbadabbadoo,” he exclaimed in a favorite saying of the television cartoon character Fred Flintstone. “That’s like a ride and a half!”

George Low, manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in Houston, later noted that all eight firings of the SPS went extremely well.

“We had a tremendous workout of the service propulsion system,” he said. “I believe that is more than any space propulsion system has ever been used in any one flight”

WORLD WATCHES
Another goal was broadcasting live television from the spacecraft. Three days after liftoff, the Apollo 7 camera was turned on, allowing Mission Control and viewers around the world to watch the crew in orbit.

“I can see Eisele there,” said spacecraft communicator Tom Stafford, a fellow astronaut. “He’s holding a sign and it says, ‘From the lovely Apollo room, high atop everything.’ “

The crew fired the SPS engine on Oct. 22, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean eight miles from the recovery aircraft carrier, the USS Essex.
After the flight, Schirra described the Apollo CSM as “a magnificent flying machine.”

Lt. Gen. Samuel Phillips, director of NASA’s Apollo Program Office, considered Apollo 7 a perfect mission.

“We were able to accomplish a major step in our progress toward the lunar landing,” he said. “I have every confidence that the progress of this mission will let us accomplish that by the end of next year.”

One Giant Leap For Mankind

November 1st, 2018

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module.

Official crew photo of the Apollo 11 Prime Crew

July, 1969.

It’s a little over eight years since the flights of Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard, followed quickly by President Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out.

It is only seven months since NASA’s made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

Now, on the morning of July 16, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.

OFF TO THE MOON
At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit. After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” — in other words, it’s time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia. Collins later writes that Eagle is “the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.

ALARMS SOUND
When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms.

It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Aldrin will later point out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.” Armstrong will later confirm that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”

FIRST STEP
At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

HEADING HOME
Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Columbia. Collins later says that “for the first time,” he “really felt that we were going to carry this thing off.”

The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home.

In an interview years later, Armstrong praises the “hundreds of thousands” of people behind the project. “Every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault.’”

In a post-flight press conference, Armstrong calls the flight “a beginning of a new age,” while Collins talks about future journeys to Mars.

Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts will follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission leaves the lunar surface with these words: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.”

The Magnificent Marvels of NASA

November 1st, 2018

NASA’s special 747 carries the shuttle above the Johnson Space Center.
Photo Credit: NASA/ Sheri Locke

Sumer Dene with a Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), which is designed to safely navigate harsh terrain.

By Sumer Dene

Wonder is experienced, it can’t be taught. Through exploration and research, aerospace changes everything. NASA celebrates 60 years of encouraging passionate, dedicated individuals to go above and beyond what they see.

The Johnson Space Center, home of human spaceflight, made Bay Area Houston the thriving waterfront city it is today. Furthermore, NASA is voted year after year the best place to work in the federal government. The International Space Station improves lives through education and innovation to strengthen relationships with academia, government and private sector leaders. The space station is built piece-by-piece in orbit with the help of many nations. The modules are built in separate countries and first meet in space to be assembled. Friday nights at the space station, astronauts and cosmonauts join together to watch movies and share cuisine. They become family with an outlook that reaches beyond our scope.

Astronauts and Cosmonauts enjoy the pre-release of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the International Space Station.

Educating the world
Improved technology in robotics can lead to minimally invasive surgeries, safer cars, and mass harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Robotics engineer Lucien Junkin says, “The purpose of the Robotics Education program is to gather knowledge and spread it to the public. Failures are meant to teach you; the most important philosophy in engineering is safety, commitment and hard work.” Young adults overcome challenges with collaborative effort to reach competitive goals. NASA offers free educational programs and scholarships to help empower education in STEM. The Robotics Education program is in need of young leaders to build the future in technological development.

The highly-respected professionals involved in aeronautics push forward courageously in pursuit of a new frontier. NASA Public Affairs Officer Gary Jordan develops and hosts Houston’s first space podcast, “Houston, we have a podcast.” The podcast discusses many influential aspects of space travel live at Johnsons Space Center. It is released every Friday with various guests, sometimes including astronauts in orbit. Questions can be asked using hashtags #askNASA and #HWHAP on various social media accounts. “NASA shows that we are all connected. We are on the same mission and happy to explore new ways to make our lives better on Earth. It is important to communicate that with the public. Society is shaped by what we do today.” We have come a long way.

What has changed?
In the early 60s, it was easy to imagine space exploration. The lives of people and how they communicated was vastly different. A peaceful movement began to end all wars, remove barriers and expand consciousness through music and language. The youth wanted to end all wars so people would realize we are all parts to a greater whole. Traveling across the galaxy in an intergalactic world to save the human race was something first seen in black and white fantasy films.

NASA developed in 1958 during a crisis in the last “idealist” time in America. Hate, fear and propaganda spread through the use television and radio. Sixty years later, we long to connect, have our voices heard and be a part of something greater than us. Now, our generation faces many more distractions. “Hope” first begins with “Focus.”

NASA is working on robonauts to help human astronauts complete simple, repetitive and dangerous tasks in space.

The Vision
NASA looks forward to the future with a goal to solve pertinent problems and coexist peacefully. Intensive research help people live a better quality life and find answers to meaningful questions. The space center influences medical and technological advances, as well as society’s culture. Dr. Liz Warren is a NASA scientist who investigates how human physiology changes in microgravity. She leads a team to implement experiments in space. Cells change to a spherical, 3D structure and protein crystals grow perfectly in space, leading to a perfect environment for groundbreaking research in all life and physical sciences.

“Our bodies are capable of enduring and adapting to new environments. We explore because we want to push ourselves further to learn, grow and make an impact. We want the next generation to feel inspired.” Space research discovers ways to combat endemic disease, understand how the planet is evolving, and harness energy and resources sufficiently.

Space exploration has helped us understand human psychology. “The Overview Effect” is coined by Frank White as the cognizant shift in awareness some astronauts experience when viewing earth from the lunar surface. He describes space exploration as the “inevitable steps in the evolution of human society and consciousness.” On Earth, conflicts and differences divide people as our navigation system judges distance from our feet to the ground. Astronauts see 16 sunsets and sunrises each day and orbit earth every 90 minutes. In space, distance is measured expansively as the speed of light. There are no borders to separate the universe and humankind, opportunities are limitless when we work together on a mission.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

November 1st, 2018

A statue of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Photo: NASA

As its inaugural class in 1990, the Hall of Fame, located at Kennedy Space Center, inducted the United States’ original group of astronauts: the Mercury Seven. In addition to being the first American astronauts, they set several firsts in American spaceflight, both auspicious and tragic.

Alan Shepard was the first American in space and later became one of the 12 people to walk on the Moon. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, and after his induction went on, in 1998, to become the oldest man to fly in space, aged 77. Gus Grissom was the first American to fly in space twice and was the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 1, which resulted in the first astronaut deaths directly related to spaceflight preparation.

Thirteen astronauts from the Gemini and Apollo programs were inducted in 1993. This class included the first and last humans to walk on the Moon – Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan; Ed White, the first American to walk in space (also killed in the Apollo 1 accident); Jim Lovell, commander of the famously near-tragic Apollo 13; and John Young, whose six flights included a moon walk and command of the first Space Shuttle mission.

More were to take their place in the Hall of Fame through the years with recently retired astronaut and former Johnson Space Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa joining Michael Foale in the Class of 2017.

May 11, 1990
Malcom Scott Carpenter
Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper Jr.
John Herschel Glenn Jr.
Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom
Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra Jr.
Alan Bartlett “Al” Shepard Jr.
Donald Keat “Deke” Slayton

March 19, 1993
Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.
Neil Alden “Buzz” Armstrong
Frank Frederick Borman II
Eugene Andrew “Gene” Cernan
Michael “Mike” Collins
Charles Peter “Pete” Conrad Jr.
Henry Charles Gordon
James Arthur “Jim “ Lovell Jr.
James Alton “Jim” McDivitt
David Randolph “Dave” Scott
Thomas Patten “Tom” Stafford
Edward Higgins “Ed” White II
John Watts Young

October 4, 1997
William Alison “ Bill” Anders
Alan LaVerne “Al” Bean
Vance DeVoe Brand
Gerald Paul “Gerry” Carr
Roger Bruce Chaffee
Ronnie Walter “Walt” Cunningham
Charles Moss “Charlie” Duke Jr.
Donn Fulton Eisele
Ronald Ellwin “Ron” Evans
Owen Kay Garriott
Edward George Gibson
Fred Wallace Haise Jr.
James Benson Irwin
Joseph Peter Kerwin
Jack Robert Lousma
Thomas Kenneth “Ken” Mattingly II
Edgar Dean Mitchell
William Reid “Bill” Pogue
Stuart Allen “Stu” Roosa
Harrison Hagan “Jack” Schmitt
Russell Luis “Rusty” Schweickart
John Leonard “Jack” Swigert Jr.
Paul Joseph Weitz
Alfred Merrill Worden

November 10, 2001
Robert Laurel “Bob” Crippen
Joseph Henry “Joe” Engle
Frederick Hamilton “Rich” Hauck
Richard Harrison “Dick” Truly

June 21, 2003
Daniel Charles “Dan” Brandenstein
Robert Lee “Hoot” Gibson
Franklin Story Musgrave
Sally Kristen Ride

April 30, 2004
Richard Oswalt “Dick” Covey
Frederick Drew “Fred” Gregory
Francis Richard Scobee
Kathryn Dwyer “Kathy” Sullivan
Norman Earl “Norm” Thagard

April 26, 2005
Joseph Percival Allen
Charles Gordon Fullerton
Bruce McCandless II

May 6, 2006
Charles Frank “Charlie” Bolden Jr.
Henry Warren “Hank” Hartsfield Jr.
Brewster Hopkinson Shaw Jr.

May 5, 2007
Michael Lloyd “Mike” Coats
Steven Alan Hawley
Jeffrey Alan “Jeff” Hoffman

May 2-3, 2008
John Elmer Blaha
Robert Donald “Bob” Cabana
Bryan Daniel O’Connor
Loren James Shriver

May 1, 2009
George Driver “Pinky” Nelson
William McMichael “Bill” Shepherd
James Donald “Jim” Wetherbee

June 4-5, 2010
Guion Steward “Guy” Bluford Jr.
Kenneth Duane “Ken” Bowersox
Frank Lee Culbertson Jr.
Kathryn Ryan “Kathy” Thornton

May 7, 2011
Karol Joseph “Bo” Bobko
Susan Jane Helms

May 5, 2012
Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz
Kevin Patrick “Chili” Chilton
Charles Joseph Precourt

April 20, 2013
Curtis Lee “Curt” Brown Jr.
Eileen Marie Collins
Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar

May 3, 2014
Shannon Matilda Lucid
Jerry Lynn Ross

May 30, 2015
John Mace Grunsfeld
Steven Wayne Lindsey
Kent Vernon Rominger
Margaret Rhea Seddon

May 13-14, 2016
Brian J. Duffy
Scott Edward Parazynski

May 19-20, 2017
Colin Michael “Mike” Foale
Ellen Lauri Ochoa

APRIL 21, 2018
Scott D. Altman
Thomas D. Jones

Former astronaut continues practice of medicine with Elite Care ER

November 1st, 2018

Photo: Sandy Adams Photography

William F. Fisher is an American physician and a former NASA astronaut. Fisher went into space in 1985 on board the Space Shuttle. He retired from NASA in 1992 and returned to the full-time practice of medicine. His time at NASA coincided with that of his former wife and fellow astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.

Fisher was born April 1, 1946, in Dallas, TX He graduated high school in Syracuse, NY, then attended Stanford University before entering medical school at the University of Florida.

He married fellow physician and later fellow astronaut, Anna Lee Fisher of St. Albans, NY on Aug. 23, 1977. They have two daughters, Kristin Anne (b. July 29, 1983), who is a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for the Fox News Channel, and Kara Lynne (b. Jan. 10, 1989) who received her MBA degree in May, 2017 from SMU in Dallas.

Dr. Fisher collects Bill Graham Fillmore, Family Dog, and other rock/concert music posters from the 1965-1973 time frame. He is an amateur luthier, specializing in making, repairing, and refinishing Neapolitan-style mandolins. Dr. Fisher is also the owner of Twenty-First Century Arms, a sporting goods company, and is both a Federal Firearms Licensee and NFA Firearms Dealer.

After graduating from Stanford in 1968, he served as a mountaineering instructor in Leysin, Switzerland. Following his graduation from medical school in 1975, he completed a surgical residency from 1975 to 1977 at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. He entered private practice in emergency medicine in 1977. He also attended graduate school at the University of Houston from 1978 to 1980. He has logged over 2,000 hours in prop, rotary-wing, jet aircraft and spacecraft.

Fisher was selected as NASA astronaut in 1980. His technical assignments included: scientific equipment operator for high altitude research on the WB-57F aircraft (1980–1981); astronaut medical support for the first four Shuttle missions (1980–1982); astronaut office representative for Extravehicular Mobility Unit (spacesuit) and Extravehicular Activity (EVA) procedures and development, including thermal vacuum testing of the suit (1981–1984); astronaut office representative for the Payload Assist Module (PAM-D) procedures and development (1982–1983); Astronaut office representative for Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) development (1983); support crewman for STS-8; CAPCOM for STS-8 and STS-9; Remote Manipulator System (RMS) hardware and software development team (1983); Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) development team (1983); Deputy Director of NASA Government-furnished and Contractor-furnished Equipment (1982–1983); Chief of Astronaut Public Appearances (1985–1987); Member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (1986–1991); NASA Medicine Policy Board (1987–1991); Astronaut Office Space Station Manned Systems Division, and Health Maintenance Facility (1987–1989); Astronaut Office representative on space crew selection and retention standards for Space Station (1989–1991). Fisher also continued to practice Emergency Medicine in the greater Houston area in conjunction with his Astronaut duties.

Fisher was a mission specialist on STS-51-I, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Aug. 27, 1985. STS-51-I was acknowledged as the most successful Space Shuttle mission yet flown. The crew aboard Space Shuttle Space Shuttle Discovery deployed three communications satellites, the Navy SYNCOM IV-4, the Australian AUSSAT, and American Satellite Company’s ASC-1. They also performed a successful on-orbit rendezvous with the ailing 15,400 pound SYNCOM IV-3 satellite, and two EVAs (space walks) by Fisher and van Hoften to repair it, including the longest space walk in history (at that time). Discovery completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on Sept. 3, 1985. Fisher logged over 170 hours in space, including 11 hours and 52 minutes of Extravehicular Activity (EVA).

After leaving NASA, Fisher returned to the practice of emergency medicine. Currently, Dr. Fisher practices full-time at Elite Care 24/7 ER- League City.