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Space Exploration Education Conference 2010, Houston - Day 3

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 10. February 2010 10:04

5 Feb 2010, Day Three

A very early start saw the team get to the main theatre at the conference venue for 7.30am to listen to the keynote talk from Dr Sally Ride.  Dr Ride was the first American woman in space and flew on two shuttle missions in total.  Her talk was extremely interesting and pitched at a high scientific level which ensured that brains were engaged so early in the morning.  After the keynote talk the team took part in two NASA run tours; one to Ellington Fields Air Force base and the second to the vehicle mock up facility at the Johnson Space Center.

Ellington Feilds is the home of NASA's aerospace fleet of planes from fast jets for training astronauts to fly to the shuttle training aircraft (STA) which is a uniquely modified Gulfstream II private jet.  The onboard computers in the STA are able to make the plane respond like the shuttle.  A mission commander will have completed over 1000 approaches before actually landing the shuttle for real!

The vehicle mock up facility at Johnson Space Center is an enormous warehouse full of life sized mock ups of the International Space Station (ISS) and the shuttle.  This facility allows astronauts to familiarise themselves with the ISS and certain procedures before a mission.  We were able to see the mock up of the 'Cupola' a viewing module due to be delivered next week on the ISS by STS-130 which launches in the early hours of Monday 8th February from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. 

Immediately after the tours we had to deliver our second workshop.  This workshop was attended by close to 60 people and was even better received than the session on Thursday.  Friday ended with the conference dinner at the Space Center Houston where we were able to fully relax for the first time knowing our teaching committments were over and had been a great success.

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The views expressed in this Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the East Midlands STEM Partnership, its partners or funders, including East Midlands Development Agency.

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