Kate Geron, Year 12, is participating in the Aspirations Academies Trust annual trip to NASA. Read all about Kate’s visit below.
Day #1 – The journey
We met at Costa Coffee at Heathrow and checked in. The 10 hours flight was long and the food was tolerable. We took a coach to the hotel and slept after eating dinner. Quite an eventful day already! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us
Day #2 – Flight Control and Veggie Labs
The place we visited was the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which stood over 500ft tall and is the largest single-story building in the world. It was here where the Artemis 1 was assembled and even the Apollo back in the 60s. We were shown the main area where the spacecraft was put together and rolled out ready for launch. We also got to see upper levels that engineers used to put the spacecraft together and make any adjustments.
The Flight Control we visited belonged to Artemis. We were shown one of the control rooms that is dealing with the current Artemis launch, dealing with the day to day 24/7. Each area important to the launch has its own section of the control room, with the directors of the launch having separate seats to oversee the mission. When launching, there isn’t actually a red button used. Instead, code is set to run with a total time of execution of 10 mins. If anything happens within the 10 mins, a line is written to halt the code.
During the visit to the Veggie Labs, we met Trent Smith and Jacob Torres who researched how plants grew in space to make sure that astronauts in the future have sustainable, fresh food for future flights. They talked about the problems with growing plants in space such as how microgravity and radiation would affect plant growth, taste and other factors.
We were shown the different chambers to see how they studied how the environment in the spaceship could affect the plants such as the higher carbon dioxide concentration and UV light.
Kwatsi Alibaruho, the flight director for Sierra Space, presented how the company assembled its spacecraft and an overview of the business plan until 2030. The first few flights were partnered with NASA being unmanned spacecrafts (DS-100) and later on moving to manned spacecrafts (DS-200). Their main focus was on low-orbit spacecrafts instead of lunar missions and to focus more on making commercial spaceflight more accessible.
To finish off our day, we went past the astronaut hall of fame, across the Kennedy centre. There we looked at the scenery and the wildlife. We saw dolphins, large birds and even an owl.
Day #3 – Watch this space!
In the morning we had a debriefing from Mike where he talked about the history of spaceflight starting from where the Chinese first invented fireworks with gunpowder to the important moments leading up to the invention of the rocket shop. He talked about how Germany invented V1 and V2, made by Wernher von Braun, in World War 2 with the scientists falling into the hands of Russia and America and how it led to the space war.