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Angeline Yap

Reflection - Day 6 Space Camp

Today is the last day of our camp. It was a very proud and touching moment during the graduation where we could place our name tags the right side up. Looking back, I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons from the camp. I This camp has definitely make me a better person and I would remember the lessons learnt for the rest of my life. Additionally, I have made more friends in this camp through all the activities where we collaborated and trusted each other. The enjoyable experience would not have been possible if not for the teachers and trainers. Therefore, I would like to thank Ms Jacque, Mr Pittman, Chelsea, Mel, Ms Ong and Mr Tan. This trip had been truly wonderful and memorable. 

Reflection - Day 5 Space Camp

We had our EDM mission for today. I was assigned the flight director and the FDO. In this mission, I learnt to manage my time. When the Capcom went unconscious, I had to take on additional 2 more roles - Capcom and Egil. I had to relay instructions to the Pilot, Commander and Mission Specialists while ensuring the everything is nominal. I learnt how to set priorities. This can be applied to my busy school schedule where I complete the more important stuff first before completing the rest.  In this mission, those who were sick or unconscious were unable to complete their job and ended up delaying the checklist before the flight surgeon can figure out the solution to the problem. Therefore, I also learnt that maintaining top health is important. If not one cannot get anything done smoothly.

After the rocket launch, we went back to Area 51 for the pamper pole. It is about 30 feet high and we have to jump off it to touch a rope. For me, the scary part is jumping off the pole. However, I learned to trust my team members not to let me fall, and under the encouragement of Mel, I managed to jump off the pole. Although I did not touch the rope, I felt satisfied of my performance though i’m sure I could have done better.

Then, we had our ablative shielding challenge. Ablative shielding protects the crew from the high heat temperature. It involves manipulating the three methods of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation). When my team created the ablative shielding, we accidentally broke the macaroni and we just pieced them back together. This caused the heat to travel between the cracks and burn the other side of the shield. This shows that a slight mistake can cause a disaster. Therefore, we should be careful in what we do so that there will not be consequences.

After dinner, we went for the MAT. Its objective is to train astronauts while they experienced disorientation through tumbling motion during re-entry of the Earth. 

Reflection - Day 4 Space Camp

We started the day off with a lecture on the Apollo Program. Apollo was the third human spaceflight program launched by the NASA. It was also a follow-up to the Mercury Program. However, instead of only supporting one astronaut, the Apollo aircraft was able to carry three astronauts to space. The first Apollo mission turned out to be a tragedy. There was a faulty electrical wiring which created sparks, and under a pure oxygenated and flammable environment, a cabin fire broke out. All three crews died and it was a huge blow to NASA. It was another two years before they send out another manned mission. During the two years, NASA sent Apollo two through six for unmanned missions to test out the equipments while they made major changes to the shuttle. When they launched Apollo 7 for a manned mission again in 1968, it turned out to be a success. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to orbit the Moon. Apollo 11 was the spaceflight the landed the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong. Due to its success, the national objective to land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth had been accomplished.

We then had our first Alpha mission. I was assigned the GNC, whose main job is to monitor the altitude and velocity of the shutter and to relay information of the RCS Maneuver to the Capcom for the crew. It was a little frustrating a first as we were way behind time. The pilot and commander were unable to find the right switches for the checklist and thus we had to skip several checklists. There was also a problem of communication in the mission control room, as the Capcom can only listen to one conversation at one time. Some of us were fighting to relay information to the Capcom for the crew. The problem was settled when everyone waited for the Capcom to reply back to them before relaying their messages. Overall, the mission was a success and we landed safely. I learned that communication and collaboration is critical for a successful mission. We should not rush into things and should ensure that the others understood what you were saying. If not information would be lost.

For the Bravo mission, I was assigned to be the Commander. Before the mission started, I became nervous after the witnessing how the Alpha mission went with the checklist and was afraid that I would be behind time too. With the encouragement of my friends, I was more relaxed and focused and the checklist went smoothly. This was an anomaly mission and we had to have a TAL abort. I knew that I would not be a Commander for the EDM mission after my abysmal landing skills.

After lunch, we had our Charlie Mission. I was assigned the Flight Director whose main job is to ensure that everyone is doing their job and that the team is keeping up with the checklist. We had a few anomalies but overall the mission went well and the checklist was kept on time.

Then, we went to Area 51 for Zip line. When I climbed to the top for the zip line I was getting a little nervous but I calmed down as I listened to Shaggy’s jokes. I became nervous again when I sat on the edge preparing to slide down the zip line. After some hesitation, I managed to slide off due to encouragement and peer pressure. I was proud that I managed to overcome my fear and it taught me courage. Doing what we are afraid to do required a lot of courage, but once you manage to take a step forward and out of your comfort zone, it would become easier to do. In times like this encouragement is largely responsible for helping people overcome their fear. Peer pressure is also not necessary a bad thing as it helps to push us to our limits and find out new things about ourselves. 

After dinner, we had lean manufacturing. It is about preserving value with less work. There are four goals to lean manufacturing: improve quality, eliminate waste, reduce time and reduce cost. In this challenge, we had to build as many toys within a time limit with minimum waste and efficient transport system. One thing I learnt from this challenge is to manage and spend my time well. We should have a balance between work and play and we should not waste our precious time.

Reflection - Day 3 Space Camp

After breakfast, we had a lecture about the Gemini Program. The primary objective of this program was to prepare for missions to the Moon. It is the first program to include Extravehicular Activities (EVA), which allowed two men to travel to space together to conduct them. There were a total of 12 Gemini Missions. For each missions, they had different objectives and improved the program based on the data they got from the previous missions into space. From this, I learn that we should learn from past mistakes and success ad apply them into what we are doing and form an even better idea.

After the Charlie training mission, we a lecture on Space Medication. There, I learned about the microgravity effects on the different systems in our body. Our bodies change in microgravity because gravity keeps everything in our bodies together and thus astronauts will weaken when they are in space. Conditions like bone decalcification and muscles atrophy could happen in space. Space medicine is there to ensure that astronauts are still physically and mentally fit to work when they get to their designated area. However, Space Medicine is still a newly emerging field as knowledge about our bodies in Space is limited. With our ever improving technology and continuous exploration and work in space, I believe that one day we will overcome the problems of human health and make more discoveries.

After dinner, each team had to build a rocket which can fly up at least 3m high and land safely with an egg inside with limited supplies. My team had to collaborate and communicate with each other to decide on the best rocket design. We had a few misunderstandings in our discussion but otherwise we were fine and got started with building our rockets.

I am looking forward to tomorrow where we will finally apply what we have learnt in the missions trainings. 

Reflection - Day 2 Space Camp

We went to Area 51 for a low ropes course after a lecture on Orbiter and Station Systems. There, we met our new trainers, Dash and Shaggy. Area 51 has low and high rope courses which helps to facilitate the growth of many aspects of teamwork, such as leadership, communication and patience. The low ropes course also served as an ice breaker as we had to work together to complete various activities. Before the trip, I only knew 3 people out of the whole team personally. After the activities, we came to know each other better and talked to each other more often. The course also taught me that planning is important. Before doing an activity, we planned on how to go about doing it so that everyone was aware of what they needed to do. If not, there would be a mess later on as everyone has different ideas and chose to do it their own way. The plan is also a system which everyone can depend on to keep the team moving as the members might be at a loss about what to do. This also applies to our everyday life, for example to manage our time well.

After lunch, we had our first mission training. I was the GNC, whose main job is to monitor the altitude and velocity of the shutter. During certain assigned timings, I had to provide the flight crew the numbers for RCS maneuver. I also learned how to read the checklist. 

After dinner, we went to the 1/6 chair which simulates the Moon’s gravitational pull, which is 1/6 that of Earth’s. It allows people to experience what is it like to walk on the Moon. I learned that astronauts travel on the Moon via 3 ways: bunny hop, slow motion run and side step. I found bunny hop the easiest to move forward while slow motion run the hardest.

Reflection - 10 Nov

We went to Cathedral Caverns in the morning. I was surprised by the size of the cave and the many beautiful formations as I have not been into a natural cave before. When I used creativity and imagination to observe the forms of stalagmite and stalactite, I was fascinated by the shapes I can make out of it, for example: an owl and a little girl. We would not have been able to see the wonders of the cave if not for the discovery and preservation of it. It was very courageous of the people who dared to explore the cave and even constructed a pathway so that others can explore the cave safely, as they did not know what kind of danger that was lurking ahead. The path that people are using now is wide, smooth and handicap accessible which showed the thoughtfulness of the constructors for the visitors. The whole tour was a relaxing and nice walk.

Later at around 2pm, we finally checked in at the US Space and Rocket Center. There, we met our team leader, Mel, and I found her to be very lively and friendly. She gave us a brief orientation of the the camp which had me very excited for the next few days. Then she brought us to the rides, the G-force and Space Shot. At first I was apprehensive about riding the Space Shot as I do not like the feeling of falling from heights. However I went to ride it under peer pressure and was extremely glad that I had the courage to do so. The experience was great although it was scary at first. 

After dinner, we had several lectures to prepare us for the upcoming activities. While some of the lectures got me very interested and excited, others like the mission lecture got me confused and a little nervous for what is to come as it seemed very complicated. However through the explanation of the instructors, I managed to understand most of it. I had certainly looked forward to the following days where we would have more hands-on activities.

Reflection - 9 Nov

In the morning we visited the Botanical Gardens for a self directed tour. I was fascinated by the place as the environment is different from Singapore's botanical gardens. It is much larger and different types of plants can be found because of the different seasons in Huntsville. The workers there are made up of volunteers who are engineers or scientists. I can tell that they are very committed to the place as the place is well maintained and they even put up creative decorations for different kind of festivals that are coming up. 

We then went to the Huntsville Historic Train Depot. It deepened my understanding of the culture and history of Huntsville. I feel that it is important to preserve these kind of historic places as it allows the locals to know and appreciate their history and ancestors which helped to build their world around them today.

Next we went shopping at the Bridgestreet  Mall. I did not find it as interesting as the Botanical Gardens and Historic Depot as I do not need the things there most can be found in Singapore. The mall is very gigantic and even the individual shops are huge compared to Singapore's. The locals here are very friendly. One of the shop owners even gave Mr Tan free shirts.

All in all, I feel that today is a very fun and rewarding day. I am looking forward to Cathedral Caverns tomorrow which can hopefully further deepen my understanding of Huntsville.

Reflection - 7 Nov

The total flight today lasted about 23 hours. I find the trip uncomfortable and boring and felt relieved when we finally reached Huntsville. Ms Jacque and the Mr Pittman greeted us at the airport. I found them very friendly. Huntsville was colder than I expected and I was freezing before entering the hotel. After checking in the hotel, we went to Tortorras Restaurant for dinner. We had to share as their dish size is very big. I had pasta and it was very delicious. We then returned to the hotel where we turn in for the night.

Reflection - 8 Nov

We started the day off with a tour of downtown Hunstville. Ms Jacque told us about the history of the houses and the people who lived there. I was surprised to find out that most of the houses there had a unique history of their own. I enjoyed the tour and I found it amazing how Ms Jacque can remember all of the information.

Then, we went to the Harrison Hardware Store. The shop was not what I expected. The word 'hardware' gave me the impression that the shop sells tools and equipments. However the shop sell things like toys, spices, books and art.

Next, we visited the Cook's Pest Control Museum. We watched a video about snakes and I learned some interesting facts. The museum had very interesting exhibitions. I liked the one which displayed the damage different type of insects can make on different materials.

After the visit to the museum, we went shopping at the Walmart. I had expected it to be big but the size of it still amazed me. It seems to sell everything we needed.

Pressurized Atmosphere
The space suit provides air pressure to keep the fluids in your body in a liquid state. Like a tire, a space suit is essentially an inflated balloon that is restricted by some rubberized fabric, in this case, Neoprene-coated fibers. The restriction placed on the "balloon" portion of the suit supplies air pressure on the astronaut inside, like blowing up a balloon inside a cardboard tube.

Most space suits operate at pressures below normal atmospheric pressure (14.7 lb/in2, or 1 atm); the space shuttle cabin also operates at normal atmospheric pressure. The space suit used by shuttle astronauts operates at 4.3 lb/in2, or 0.29 atm. Therefore, the cabin pressure of either the shuttle itself or an airlock must be reduced before an astronaut gets suited up for a spacewalk. A spacewalking astronaut runs the risk of getting the bends because of the changes in pressure between the space suit and the shuttle cabin.

Space suits cannot use normal air -- 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and 1 percent other gases -- because the low pressure would cause dangerously low oxygen concentrations in the lungs and blood, much like climbing Mt. Everest does. So, most space suits provide a pure oxygen atmosphere for breathing. Space suits get the oxygen either from a spacecraft via an umbilical cord or from a backpack life support system that the astronaut wears.
Both the shuttle and the International Space Station have normal air mixtures that mimic our atmosphere. Therefore, to go into a pure oxygen space suit, a spacewalking astronaut must "pre-breathe" pure oxygen for some period of time before suiting up. This pre-breathing of pure oxygen eliminates the nitrogen from the astronaut's blood and tissues, thereby minimizing the risk of the bends.

Carbon Dioxide
The astronaut breathes out carbon dioxide. In the confined space of the suit, carbon dioxide concentrations would build up to deadly levels. Therefore, excess carbon dioxide must be removed from the space suit's atmosphere. Space suits use lithium hydroxide canisters to remove carbon dioxide. These canisters are located either in the space suit's life support backpack or in the spacecraft, in which case they are accessed through an umbilical cord.

To cope with the extremes of temperature, most space suits are heavily insulated with layers of fabric (Neoprene, Gore-Tex, Dacron) and covered with reflective outer layers (Mylar or white fabric) to reflect sunlight. The astronaut produces heat from his body, especially when doing strenuous activities. If this heat is not removed, the sweat produced by the astronaut will fog up the helmet and cause the astronaut to become severely dehydrated. To remove this excess heat, space suits have used either fans/heat exchangers to blow cool air, or water-cooled garments, which have been used from the Apollo program to the present.

To protect the astronauts from collisions with micrometeroids, space suits have multiple layers of durable fabrics such as Dacron or Kevlar. These layers also prevent the suit from tearing on exposed surfaces of the spacecraft or a planet or moon.

Space suits offer only limited protection from radiation. Some protection is offered by the reflective coatings of Mylar that are built into the suits, but a space suit would not offer much protection from a solar flare. So, spacewalks are planned during periods of low solar activity.

Clear Sight
Space suits have helmets that are made of clear plastic or durable polycarbonate. Most helmets have coverings to reflect sunlight, and tinted visors to reduce glare, much like sunglasses. Also, prior to a spacewalk, the inside faceplates of the helmet are sprayed with an anti-fog compound. Finally, modern space suit helmet coverings have mounted lights so that the astronauts can see into the shadows.

Mobility Within the Space suit
Moving within an inflated space suit is tough. Imagine trying to move your fingers in a rubber glove blown up with air; it doesn't give very much. To help this problem, space suits are equipped with special joints or tapers in the fabric to help the astronauts bend their hands, arms, legs, knees and ankles.

Space suits are equipped with radio transmitters/receivers so that spacewalking astronauts can talk with ground controllers and/or other astronauts. The astronauts wear headsets with microphones and earphones. The transmitters/receivers are located in the chestpacks/backpacks worn by the astronauts.

Mobility in the Spacecraft
In weightlessness, it is difficult to move around. If you push on something, you fly off in the opposite direction (Newton's third law of motion -- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). Gemini spacewalking astronauts reported great problems with just maintaining their positions; when they tried to turn a wrench, they spun in the opposite direction. Therefore, spacecraft are equipped with footholds and hand restraints to help astronauts work in microgravity. In addition, before the mission, astronauts practice spacewalking in big water tanks on Earth. The buoyancy of an inflated space suit in water simulates microgravity.
NASA has also developed some gas-powered rocket maneuvering devices to allow astronauts to move freely in space without being tethered to the spacecraft. One such device, which was called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), was basically a gas-thruster powered chair with a joystick control. NASA has also developed a nitrogen-gas propelled unit that fits on the backpack, called the Simplified Aid for Extravehicular Activity Rescue (SAFER). The SAFER can help an astronaut return to the shuttle or station in the event that he/she gets separated from the spacecraft. The SAFER holds 3.1 lb (1.4 kg) of nitrogen propellant and can change an astronaut's velocity by a maximum of about 9 feet/second (3 meters/second).
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