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NE Live@STS-134
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Space Shuttle Endeavour's 25th and Final Launch
- Trent Martin
- Wade May
- Mike Good
- Mikayla Diesch
- Shannon Diesch
- Tom Horvath
- Ann Micklos

NASA EDGE celebrates Space Shuttle Endeavour as it readies for its 25th and final mission. Guests include Trent Martin with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS,) Wade May with Sensor Test for Orion Real Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM,) NASA Astronaut Mike Good, The Diesch Sisters (creators of the delicious STEM bar flying on STS-134,) and finally, Tom Horvath and Ann Micklos discuss protuberances and high speed data capture with HYTHIRM!

CHRIS: Up next on NELive, mission run down for Space Shuttle Endeavor’s 25th and final mission

BLAIR: We’re talking with Trent Martin from Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and Wade May with STORRM. That’s with two r’s, one mission, 2 r’s.

CHRIS: AMS may just discover the origin of the universe.

BLAIR: You think they can help me find my keys? If not, I’ll need a ride home.

CHRIS: For this particular mission, we’re looking at the AMS.

BLAIR: Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

CHRIS: Also the Express Logistics Carrier is taken up and there’s going to be four spacewalks.

BLAIR: It’s interesting Chris. I was wondering if you could help me out. It’s called OV-105.


BLAIR: Is that a code name or what is that?

CHRIS: OV stands for Orbital Vehicle.


CHRIS: In fact, we’re going to be talking to Trent Martin, from AMS, who is the project manager for AMS. He’s going to tell us all about that magnetic spectrometer.

BLAIR: And that’s a very complex and important scientific mission and I have no idea what it’s about, so I’m really looking forward to the segment myself.

CHRIS: I’m right there with you. I have no idea. This is way over our heads here.

CHRIS: What is AMS all about?

TRENT: AMS is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. It’s a large, high-energy, physics experiment that’s looking for antimatter, dark matter, and to understand cosmic ray propagation in the universe.

BLAIR: Are we sure that’s something we want to find?

TRENT: Yep, yep, yep.

CHRIS: Antimatter and dark matter, is that one in the same or is that different?

TRENT: No, they’re different. If you understand the atom, you have a proton, a neutron, and an electron around the outside, positive in the middle, negative around the outside. Antimatter is just the opposite of that. There’s a negative large mass in the middle, then a positron around the outside. That’s what antimatter is.


TRENT: One of the theories of the Big Bang was at the beginning of the universe there was equal amounts of matter and antimatter, in which case there should still be equal amounts of matter and antimatter. The question is where’s that half of the universe that’s made out of antimatter?

CHRIS: Would that be your half of the universe?

BLAIR: It’s good to have lofty goals. We’re going to find the other half of the universe.

CHRIS: It’s like bizarre world.

BLAIR: Exactly. There’s a tall redheaded host. Or what’s the opposite of red hair? I don’t know.

CHRIS: We’ll have to look at it once AMS is installed on ISS, how soon can you start collecting data?

TRENT: Once we launch here in an hour or so, about an hour and a half later, we’ll turn AMS on.

CHRIS: Oh, wow.

BLAIR: While it’s still in the payload bay?

TRENT: While it’s still in the payload bay. We’ll leave it on up until Wednesday night about midnight. At 1:00 a.m., we’ll take it out of the payload bay, move it over to Space Station. As soon as we’re on Space Station, which should be Thursday morning around 7:00 a.m., we’ll turn on AMS and be collecting science.

CHRIS: AMS will actually function throughout the life of ISS?

TRENT: Right. As long as we’re getting power, we’re collecting data, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

BLAIR: That’s a good question now, you’ve got it up on ISS and it’s collecting data. How do you get the data? You certainly don’t use the astronauts on the ISS to manage the data. Does it come down another way?

TRENT: We’re collecting an obscene amount of data, 7 gigabits per second.


TRENT: Which is way more than the Space Station can send down, so we skinny that down once we’re on Station to about 7 megabits per second. We send that down through Mission Control Houston. It eventually goes out to the science centers, which will be located around the world. The scientists are broken up into two groups. They’ll analyze the data twice essentially to make sure they don’t get any overlaps and to make sure they actually seeing what they think they are seeing, then they’ll publish from there.

BLAIR: I’ve got my STORRM hat on. I’ve got my STORRM demo. I want to assure the audience. This is not an actual STORRM device. This is for display purposes only. That’s why I get to hold it. I would never get close to the real thing. Wade, thanks for coming on the show. Can you tell us a little bit about what STORRM is?

WADE: STORRM is a Sensor Test for Orion Relative navigation Risk Mitigation. These are the new docking sensors that were developed for Orion. This is the first time they’ve been tested in space. We’re trying to reduce the risk by making sure they work, so that when Orion goes up we make sure the sensors are going to work the first time.

BLAIR: How does it work? How do you improve docking with the ISS?

WADE: You make it smaller. You make it use less power and you make it more accurate.

BLAIR: We were actually out at Ball Aerospace back in…

WADE: October.

BLAIR: October, and we shot a segment on it. They talked about this VNS?

WADE: Vision Navigation System.


WADE: It’s a flash LIDAR sensor and it is sixteen times more accurate than what is currently on the Shuttle right now. The level of detail that you can get from that sensor is much, much greater.

FRANKLIN: What is the difference between STORRM system and what is being used on Shuttle right now?

WADE: On the Shuttle right now you’ve got a black and white docking camera, a scanning laser, and you also have radar. We have a new docking camera in here that’s 4.3 mega pixels. We have a pulse laser and that laser, actually, will replace the radar and the current laser in the Shuttle because this laser can go out to 5 km. Right now the Shuttle has to use radar in order to know where it is at that distance.

FRANKLIN: I understand that STORRM in its current configuration is smaller than the docking system that’s used now.

WADE: Right. This box represents the size of the current laser system in the Shuttle. If you can flip it up, there’s a see through panel.

BLAIR: Oh yeah. Here we go.

WADE: The actual VNS in here is about half of the volume. We’ve reduced the size of it. They’ve reduced the mass of it. And of course, the more mass and power you can save, the more oxygen you can take with you to survive.

FRANKLIN: Beyond 134, are there any other Aerospace uses that STORRM could possibly be used for?

WADE: You could use it for commercial flights. Of course, it’s planned for Orion. A commercial Earth possibility would be to check deforestation. We could also use it for hazard avoidance, like if you’re landing on an asteroid, or landing on Mars and you’re trying to miss the rocks.

FRANKLIN: That’s very important.

BLAIR: Yeah. We love avoidance. People avoid me all the time.

WADE: Oh, yeah.

[Franklin laughing]

BLAIR: Maybe they can use that technology somehow.

WADE: Yeah.

CHRIS: On deck, a look back at 19 amazing years and 24 missions with Space Shuttle Endeavour.

BLAIR: Plus an interview with astronaut Mike Goode.

CHRIS: Did you get an interview with Mike Massimino?

BLAIR: No. I didn’t even get to talk to the Diesch girls.

CHRIS: But you did try a STEM Bar.

BLAIR: If by try, do you mean consume several dozen? Then, yes.

MISSION CONTROL: 3, 2, 1, Booster ignition and lift off of the maiden voyage of Endeavour.

[music playing]

CHRIS: Space Shuttle Endeavour, NASA’s 5th Orbital Vehicle, launched for the first time in 1992. In it’s first 24 missions over 103,000 miles of space flight, Endeavour has honored its namesake through challenging and unique accomplishments. Capturing and releasing the Intelsat-6 Communication Satellite. Completing the first Hubble Telescope servicing mission in high orbit above the earth. Rendezvousing with the Mir Space Station and many missions to help complete the construction and further work of the International Space Station. Now, Endeavour is fueled and ready to fly its 25th and final mission. All the hard work and dedication of thousands of technicians, mechanics, scientists, engineers, and astronauts will reach its zenith as we get a final go for lift off, until OV-105 touches the ground one last time. Thanks Endeavour for a job well done.

CHRIS: You’ve been on Atlantis for Hubble and Atlantis again up to Station. What’s the difference between when you went to Hubble? Did it seem like isolation because you’re only with your team as opposed to going to Station where you had other crews and had this huge structure in front of you?

MIKE: Absolutely. They were two totally different missions. I went to Hubble first, so I thought floating around on the mid-deck of the shuttle was really cool. Floating in space is a lot more fun than I expected. But then to get to Station and see how big it is and there you can actually fly around because there’s so much room in the modules. You’re like superman. You can push off and you can go flying for a long ways before you’ll hit anything if you’re good. It takes awhile.

BLAIR: I was going to ask you did it take you awhile to get good at space flying?

MIKE: It does. You have to learn how to control your body. The first time you’re banging into the walls. Somebody has to go behind you and put everything back. Everything is on Velcro, so it’s just a train wreck.

CHRIS: Did you find that your EVA’s with Hubble were a little bit more difficult than Station or vice versa? Or were they pretty much the same?

MIKE: They were very different. I would say equal difficulty but just totally different. Again, the spacewalking experience from the Shuttle and Hubble, going out the Shuttle’s airlock and into the payload bay; a lot of the Hubble work was more like surgery. We were inside the Hubble Space Telescope using power tools, but having to be very careful. Because we were there to fix the telescope and they kept telling us very clear in training, do not break the telescope.

BLAIR: And yet Massimino was on the mission.

CHRIS: We’re not going to hold it against him for pulling the handle off.

MIKE: So what do they do? They stick the biggest guy we’ve got inside the telescope. Mike Massimino, he was very careful. He was a statue in there. He was basically working with one hand, didn’t breathe for eight hours. Incredible job.

BLAIR: It’s a gift.

CHRIS: I guess we can say this on air now, your first Shuttle mission might not have happened if it weren’t for the experience at Daytona that we had.

MIKE: That’s right. I think it’s a prerequisite.

CHRIS: If it wasn’t for the officer to…

MIKE: He cut me a break there.

CHRIS: He sure did.

MIKE: That’s right. It could have gone either way. That was the turning point of my career right there. Thanks to you guys!

BLAIR: That was a great moment. You actually owe us. We saved you from…

MIKE: Oh yeah, I owe you guys.

CHRIS: Why don’t you tell the story real quick.

BLAIR: Real quickly, we were out at Daytona…

CHRIS: 50th Anniversary.

BLAIR: …before the race where you can go out on the track.

MIKE: Honest mistake. All I got to say is two words for you, honest mistake.

BLAIR: A lot of people are autographing the wall. We’re up there and Mike says, hey, you want me to go autograph the wall? We thought that would be great. We handed him a marker. He goes up and is writing away on the wall. All of the sudden two police officers show up. They actually informed Mike that it’s not okay to write on the wall.

MIKE: I thought it was part of the routine. I thought it was part of the show.

CHRIS: That’s what he said.

MIKE: Are you serious?

BLAIR: So he told the cops they were crazy. No.

MIKE: I was very apologetic.

CHRIS: You were. Yes.

BLAIR: And when they found out he was an astronaut, they actually asked to have some pictures taken.

MIKE: Then we started taking pictures.

BLAIR: Yeah, and having fun. It was a great moment and very scary for me as I thought I might be responsible for sending an astronaut to prison.

FRANKLIN: I’m here with Mikayla and Shannon Diesch from Michigan. These two sisters were the winners of the Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Award in 2010. They won for their space nutrition bar. What ingredients go into your bar?

SHANNON: The name of it is the STEM Bar. It’s what we’re calling it right now but we’re working on the name still. It’s a cinnamon, cranberry, apple flavor. There’s cranberries, apples, obviously, and cinnamon. It’s mainly oat based with nuts in there as well. It’s really, really good.

FRANKLIN: How much of this did you eat before you actually came up with the final product.

MIKAYLA: I had so much. Some of them were not the best tasting things ever but others of them I liked but they didn’t fit the requirements. We had to find the perfect mixture of good tasting and fitting the requirements.

FRANKLIN: So I understand you finally got your final product and manufactured it in the Food Lab near where you live. But did you start first in your home?

SHANNON: Yeah, we did. It was in our kitchen trying to mix pots together, heat stuff up and pour it together. We didn’t’ have everything we needed so it was a lot of improv trying to make it work.

FRANKLIN: What went through your mind when you found out you actually won?

MIKAYLA: I was so surprised. When they announced our name I was like, no they didn’t mean us. They meant someone else. I went up there and pulled Shannon up and said, “Oh my God, we won.” It was amazing.

FRANKLIN: Did you cry?

MIKAYLA: Shannon almost cried.


SHANNON: Almost.

MIKAYLA: She looked like it.

FRANKLIN: So the next step, you get involved with NASA. Tell me how that happened.

SHANNON: After we won the competition, we figured it’s a bar design for NASA to go up into space. We got a call from someone at the Conrad Foundation because we had been working closely with them. They said they think they found someone they think will be able to help us get our bar up to the Space Station. Then we had to go through all their testing and make sure everything was perfect. It passed the microbiological testing and everything. It was a really awesome thing.

FRANKLIN: Your bar you have here is now on STS-134. How does that feel?

SHANNON: It feels incredible. Every time I look over there, I like my bar is over there. I can’t wait for it to go up. If I can be here to see it, it will be incredible. Just thinking something I made is on there and going up there is just incredible.

FRANKLIN: Do you know actually how many bars are on the Endeavour?

SHANNON: I think between 6 and 10.

FRANKLIN: Between 6 and 10.


FRANKLIN: How does this taste?

MIKAYLA: Amazing. It’s the best bar I’ve ever tasted.

FRANKLIN: It’s the best bar you’ve ever tasted?

MIKAYLA: Best bar I’ve ever tasted.

FRANKLIN: I know Blair wishes he were here to try this instead of me but we’ll give it a try. This is pretty good; space nutrition bar made by the Diesch sisters out of Michigan. This is great! I need some fluid right now.

CHRIS: Before the launch, Tom Horvath and Ann Micklos talk about HYTHIRM and the data they are collecting during the mission.

BLAIR: Ah, the protuberance.

CHRIS: Exactly. Plus the weather looks good for another successful launch.

BLAIR: All systems go.

TOM: The guys that are designing the next generation vehicles, we’ve got to be smarter. We’ve got to have these thermal protection systems that obviously protect the astronauts during reentry. But to be really economically viable, we’ve got to make the thermal protection system a lot lighter, and less expensive to put on the vehicle and maintain. So what we’re really trying to do is get some high quality flight data that we can go back then and validate our engineering tools and models so that the guys that are actually developing the thermal protection systems can really understand how thick that tile has to be.

CHRIS: We have some examples of an actual tile that is used on the Shuttle.

ANN: That’s right.

CHRIS: You would have something like that very similar on Endeavour?

ANN: Actually, what’s on Endeavour is the exact same tile. It has this nice little, what we call protuberance on it, but it also has a little thermocouple that sits downstream of it as well that this particular tile doesn’t have. From a tile standpoint, they are identical. Believe it or not, this is the lowest point on the Orbiter.

CHRIS: Really?

ANN: It is. This little half inch, you think, oh my gosh. But normally there’s about 22,000 tiles on the bottom of the Orbiter. And the steps in between the tiles is about the thickness of a credit card. So now, we’re putting something underneath the orbiter that’s a half-inch. That’s kind of big.

CHRIS: That’s right. They let you do it too.

ANN: I know it. They did. And this is actually our 5th flight of flying with a protuberance on the tile. And with anything you do, you start with a smaller height. We started with a ¼ of an inch. They had predicted that we would see 2,700° and actually we ended up only seeing 2,200°. And the reason we could see that is we actually have a little temperature measuring device, a thermocouple, that’s embedded into the tile that will measure those readings.

CHRIS: Okay.

ANN: What we’ve learned is that the models that have been created are much more conservative than what we’re actually seeing on orbits. So, even after that first flight, we are able to learn and update the models to what we have today.

TOM: You could take this tile just a little bit thinner. That saves a lot of weight.

CHRIS: Right. Absolutely.

TOM: That’s critical.

CHRIS: And what you have in your hand is a model of the Shuttle that has wind tunnel data.

TOM: Yeah, I have a replica here of a Shuttle model. This is about the size we actually test in the wind tunnel.

CHRIS: Okay.

TOM: On the lower surface here, Chris, I have a heating pattern. This heating pattern on this surface is representative of what we measured actually in the wind tunnel. The areas where you see the reds, the yellows, those are areas where you would have higher temperatures, and the areas with the blues, much lower temperatures. About right here in the wind tunnel we actually had modeled a little bump to the model scale. That’s right where it is on Endeavour. You can see the heating footprint down stream of that. What we do then is relate these measurements that we make in the wind tunnel, these global measurements on the vehicle, then correlate that against what we actually see in flight versus what we actually see with our model.

CHRIS: The Shuttle is going to retire. This is the 2nd to the last flight. We have another one next month. Where do you see this type of thermal imaging in the future once the Shuttle retires?

TOM: We’ve actually started moving in that direction, Chris. Last December, we were supporting the Commercial Crew and Cargo Office at Johnson. They were doing a demonstration flight. One of the commercial guys was launching a rocket from Kennedy. We measured the temperature increases on its heat shield. It looked much more like an Apollo capsule…

CHRIS: Right.

TOM: …than the Shuttle. We’re moving in that direction now where we’re going to be supporting potentially the commercial sector.

CHRIS: Speaking about thermal imaging, at what altitude are you getting a thermal image of Endeavour as it returns?

TOM: At the speeds we’re targeting, this trip was designed to cause this turbulence on the lower surface around mach 18, mach 19. I think the Orbiter is around 210,000 to 220,000 feet. It’s a good question because the aircraft is actually much lower, around 25,000 feet. The distance between the Shuttle that’s coming in and the aircraft that’s taking the pictures, you’re anywhere from 25 nautical miles to 40 nautical miles. It’s intriguing. The guy that takes the pictures, I’ve asked him what it feels like when you’re up there. He’s described it to me as... take a soda straw, Chris.

CHRIS: Okay.

TOM: If we look back at the VAB building, I see some of the birds flying out there. Try to follow them. Pick up one of those birds and follow it through that soda straw.

CHRIS: It’s very hard.

TOM: It’s very challenging. So they have very sophisticated equipment. We work with the guys at Johnson to understand just exactly where the Shuttle is suppose to be, at what altitude their very sophisticated equipment in terms of being able to point very accurately and pick up the Shuttle. It just appears as a bright star initially. And then as it approaches, the Shuttle takes about 2 minutes for it to come over the aircraft. I only get these global measurements for a very short period of time, 20 to 30 seconds; where as her thermocouples are on all the way from orbit all the way down to wheels stopping on the runway. They really do compliment each other, the data that we get.

CHRIS: Thank you so much for being on. Let us know what the data looks like after Endeavour lands.

TOM: Absolutely.

ANN: Absolutely.

CHRIS: Thank you so much.


CHRIS: You ready, Franklin?

FRANKLIN: Absolutely.

CHRIS: This is your first launch.

FRANKLIN: This is. I’m pumped. I’ve been around NASA for almost 16 years and this is so funny coming toward the back end of the Shuttle program, will be my first Shuttle launch. That’s almost unbelievable.

CHRIS: Now, unfortunately we were here a couple of weeks ago and they had to scrub the mission.

BLAIR: Our first scrub.

FRANKLIN: My second.

CHRIS: Your second.


BLAIR: You can feel the energy around here. Lots more people are coming out and approaching the clock. The excitement is building. Lots of activity. Very exciting. And obviously a very important moment for NASA and Endeavour.

CHRIS: Check out some quick facts for the Shuttle Endeavour. Through STS-130, which was the last mission for Endeavour, it’s flown over 116,300,000 miles in space.

BLAIR: Does that exceed the warranty.

CHRIS: Is the Shuttle good for 100,000,000 miles? I don’t know. It’s been in space 283 days. It’s orbited the earth 4,423 times, and we’ve had a total number of 166 crewmembers, not including 134, that’s going to be launched here momentarily.


CHRIS: In less than, almost 3 minutes.

MISSION CONTROL: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, and lift off for the final launch of Endeavour! Expanding our knowledge, expanding our lives in space.

[radio communication]

CHRIS: Go Endeavour.

BLAIR: Awesome.

CHRIS: Congratulations to NASA and the entire STS-134 team for a successful final launch for Endeavour. Don’t forget to join us for the final Space Shuttle launch with Atlantis coming soon.

BLAIR: Be sure to visit our Facebook Fan Page for additional interviews and coverage of STS-134.

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