Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanks Mom

There are many things I have learned from my mother. How to enjoy the outdoors. How to make ornaments out of flour dough and bake and paint them (my friends had a blast once when we all did this one day. My Christmas tree actually has a teddy bear that I made when I was about 10). How to swim. How to put up with my younger sisters. How to embrace my newly found older sister into our family like she had always been there.


How to make soup broth disappear. Seriously. My mom is famous for making delicious turkey stock, with celery and pepper and leftover turkey bits. And then she adds too many noodles, every time. And the broth just disappears, sucked up in to noodle-neverland.

Yesterday I came home with some turkey stock she had made. I heated it up, added a few MORE cups of water (cause it looked thick), and then some spaghetti noodles. I love noodles. Apparently too much.

Behold, I bring you turkey spaghetti.

And you know what? It was flippin' delicious.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spacecraft Updates and Songs from the Universe!

Just a few more updates as RBSP near the end of it's Commissioning. After launch we have 60 days to get all of the instruments deployed correctly, doors opening, etc and collecting good science data. Then we can start our Primary Science phase.

Here is an absolutely stunning long exposure of the launch.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The picture was featured here as the "Astronomy Picture of the Day":

And here is a really good write up about our launch and early orbit operations, with a nice video of the launch.

So now that we have deployed many of our instruments and turned them on, we are starting to get some feedback on science data (this video has some of the 'sounds' from the radiation belts that we are getting back)

In a couple weeks, we will move in to unattended operations, which means no more bizarre night shifts for me, and I'm moving on to another project. I've worked on this since about a year before Zoey was even born, and I am extremely proud of it's accomplishments already.

So wahoo for space. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fountain Hair Dreams are Dashed

Even before we knew we were having a second child, and way before we knew she was a she, we always marveled at the tiny girls we would see with the fountain hair. And we couldn't wait to have one!

So Zoey was born, and her wispy hair finally grew some and voila!

I mean isn't that awesome? Except, it usually lasts for about 10 minutes, then it flops over, and then she pulls it out. Her hair is just too fine. So most of the time she had bangs way down in her eyes, full of dirt and food and boogers and who knows what. They did look good swooshed to the side, but Zoey wouldn't keep up with the swooshing.

Eventually my mother in law was right (dang it!), she needed to get her bangs cut. Which led us to here:

And literally three snips later to here:

So whoohooo for better looking hair.
Dammit for useless fountain pigtails.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guns in Columbia

So, we went to happy hour last night with a few people from work, one of whom is here from out of town. I knew that the view from Union Jacks (uh, Little Patuxent Parkway) wouldn't be nearly as good as when we were in Cocoa Beach, but what can you do.

Except, you can watch guns get drawn.

I saw three young guys hanging out in the median strip, they had previously walked by the outdoor patio where we were eating on their way down the hill across the road. Two seconds later, a police cruiser pulled up next to them and the officer jumped out, gun drawn. This was closely followed by two other cruisers on the other side, two more guns drawn.

Police. With guns drawn. In Columbia.

The boys hit the deck. They were quickly handcuffed, and what appeared to be a gun was plucked from the one guy's belt.

Meanwhile, a biker happened by, and the rider didn't even stop eating his sandwich as he pedaled on and watched this unfold. And then another biker wheeled by, toting a weed whacker on his back.

Columbia is a weird place.

Turns out one of the restaurant patrons a few tables away saw the 'gun' in the kids waist band, and called the police. It must not have been an actual gun because they eventually uncuffed the boys, but they did put it in an evidence bag and threw it in their car.

Truthfully what we were waiting for was the arrival of one of the mother's, screaming at her hoodlum son and waving a purse as she got out. Oh well, you can only have so much excitement I suppose.

Take time to notice the guy across the street by the stop sign. He was yelling at the officers, trying to talk to the boys, and taking pictures with his cell phone.

Must have been a lawyer.


Thursday, August 30, 2012


Well, after three times trying, we finally launch the RBSP mission this morning, at 4:05 am. We attempted to launch twice last week; we failed once because of a rocket sensor issue, and once because of weather. Then because of Hurricane Isaac, we rolled back into the VIF to wait it out, then back out again on Tuesday. 

Rolling back out (this view from the top of the VIF, you can see how close we are to the ocean):

Awaiting launch in the daytime:

And the night:

And finally this!

So far we have had our first few contacts on both spacecraft, solar arrays deployed successfully and various other activities are being performed. 

Thanks for everyone's support!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Launch on Friday!!!

So, we are getting ready to launch Friday morning!! (It was supposed to be Thursday but it got delayed a day for a rocket mechanical test).

August 24th, 2012
4:07 am

It's only a 20 minute launch window, so it either goes, or it doesn't. Then they try again the next day.

Some information about our mission, if you want to listen to a NPR recording, or you can just read the article.

Here is a picture from a few weeks ago, before the fairing was closed and moved over to Kennedy Space Center. I'm not in this picture, I was already back in Maryland.

Some really cool pictures of ULA stacking the rocket inside the VIF (Vertical Integration Facility):

And here's fairing moving past the VAB out to the VIF.

Then the important part; hoisting the nose cone on top of the rocket:

So I will send more information out tomorrow about how you can view the launch. But basically it will be streaming live online and if you have DirecTV there is a NASA channel that should have it.

Please send me an e-mail if you have any questions ( I'm in Florida right now, got to see the rocket rolled out to the pad this morning, and we are taking pictures tomorrow morning. Then I'm flying home so I can support the launch in the Mission Operations Center Friday morning.

Can't wait!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day Twenty Seven - Jam Session

June 25th

Back to work. Okay, that's not too exciting. Sooo, after a really good dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse, we headed over to Sandbar (I know, we go there a lot, I mean it takes me 10 steps from my place).

On Monday nights they have a local band playing, but it is also an open jam, so anyone who wants to play with them just needs to show up ready. One of my co-workers plays in a band back home, so we all went to watch him play guitar with them.

Here's the band:

And here's Ken playing:

He sounded great and we had a really good time watching the whole thing. I'm also really glad a good amount of us were there to support him. To say he was excited would be an understatement. :) It was also at this moment that Elliot said I was not very good at tweeting, most post being not funny or amusing at all. Sigh. I'm working on it. (You can follow us @RB_Probe for all the latest happenings.)

During one of the breaks, another guy asked if he could play a few. He was pretty good, but was also talking non-stop about his website and his songs you could buy on iTunes, blah blah. He was apparently touring the country and crashing bars, all by his lonesome. (If you want to look him up, his name was Justin James, I think).

Day Twenty Six - Hang Ten

June 24th

Sunday, no work today. Kate really wanted to play ultimate frisbee, but the impending Tropical Storm and it's wind weren't making that look very possible. But after lunch we did wander out to the beach and throw it a few times; you threw it, and then 4 seconds later it came right back to you. Really windy.

That didn't stop LeeAnne and I from taking these awesome pictures after dinner though:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day Twenty Five - Gulp!

 June 23rd

A Saturday night with LeeAnne! Whoo hooo!

We decided to go to Cocoa Beach Pier, and watch one of the bands playing there. So I walked from my condo, and take a look at all the seaweed that showed up from the storm (the beaches were pretty clean before this):

At one point we wandered out to the Tiki Bar at the end of the pier, and a pelican was perched right on the railing. He wasn't interested in what was going on out at sea, he was interested in the young boy who was fishing. And what was on his line. Which the boy was gracious enough to share with him. Gulp!

Now who wants a Bahama Mama?

Day Twenty Four - Watch out for Rocket Fuel!

June 22nd

Today we got invited to join in on training at Astrotech for the building where we will move the spacecraft and fill them with propellant (our tour guide calls this 'commodity'). Before we entered the building he noted that there were four windsocks located on all four corners of the building. It seemed like this was an important piece of information, but I didn't understand why, and it wasn't explained. Huh.

Moving on:

The main fueling room. If you notice that square on the floor, those are drains so that if anything spills during fueling in the middle of the room, it will flow towards those drains. Of course, some of the 'commodity' will be things like liquid oxygen, which pretty much evaporates immediately. You can see the orange stain here where a spill had happened before.

Obviously you have to be able to get your vehicle inside the building to be fueled, and some vehicles are very large, so you must have a gigantic garage door. You can see the size here as illustrated by LeeAnne (and I just missed the top of the door, it goes on a few more feet).

In case you need a refresher on crane training :)

 Then we walked outside the building, and were directed to notice the emergency shower. This is for if anyone gets 'commodity' on them, they run outside and can shower here.

At this point there was discussion again about the location of the wind socks. So I finally asked "and why is that important?"

"So that if someone comes running out to use the shower, you can be upwind of them and not get it on you".

Ah ha. I, sometimes, am an idiot.


Added bonus:

Later that night I had a Google+ hangout with Matt and the kids. The kids were crying so in an effort to cheer them up, we added some fun in.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day Twenty Three - Not Much

June 21st

Not a terribly eventful day, and it appears that I didn't take any pictures. Whoops. So here is another one of the RBSP "Picture of the Day". This one involves removing the harness from Spacecraft A (this connects the spacecraft over to the ground equipment racks in the room where I work so that we can provide power to them). We remove the harness so we can do fun stuff like spin them and swing them around and such.

On another note, I went over and visited some family that lives in Merritt Island. I got a chance to see one of my cousins who I don't think I've seen in probably ten years. He just graduated from college and is continuing on to study for his graduate degree in Architecture in Hawaii. It was really great to spend some time with him, yet another bonus of being down here for part of the summer.

Really boring post, but I promise (!) the next one will be more fun. I swear. Pinky swear.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day Twenty Two - My First Rocket Launch

June 20th

Today is an Atlas 5 launch. I'm excited to see it, I haven't seen one yet. I even know the best place to go to see it. However, we didn't leave work with enough time to spare to make it to the beach (and we were afraid of missing it all together) so we stopped off in Titusville on the water to watch it go. There were also quite a lot of clouds as well.

Cue major disappointment.

What it should have looked like:

What it really looked like:

Can you even see it?

And two seconds later it disappeared into the clouds, and that was that (well, the rumble did show up but was very unimpressive).

What. The. Heck. (I might have had a few other words as well)

I guess I should have been excited to see it at all but in general I was just overly disappointed. I did find out later that there was another Delta (the largest rocket currently launching) set to launch right before I leave Florida so that may make up for it.

In the meantime here is a really cool video about this Atlas launch, it's pretty short and interesting.

In other news, storms are starting to roll in. Check out these winds as viewed from my condo this evening.

Day Twenty One - Happy Birthday Ethan!

 June 19th

First what was happening at work today. They are starting to install the flight blankets now that all the internal installation and testing has been completed.

Off to see Ethan's on his first birthday! I was concerned that I wouldn't know which house it was, but never fear, Ethan's grandpop is running for circuit court judge here in Brevard County. How can you miss this:

I only had a short time to spend with Ethan before he headed off to bed, but it was fun!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Twenty - Squeeze Goodbye

 June 18th

Oh boo, it's time for everyone to go home (and me to go back to work, double boo, well maybe just a half a boo because I really do like what I do, obviously).

So we packed, ate breakfast together, and took a quick visit to the Dinosaur Store. Okay, um, we lasted about 5 minutes with Evan near fossils that were priced at $3,000. They did have a teeny kids area, but, goodbye. Phew. (Though they did have some beautiful earrings, might have to go back by myself later!)

Off to the airport. Evan is growing up so much, he insisted on pushing Zoey's stroller with his backpack firmly on. And he would push your hands off the handles if you tried to help steer. Fortunately Zoey seemed to like it.

I don't have a picture that conveys it well, but here they are waiting in line.

I got them to security then I said my goodbyes. Lots of squeezy hugs from Evan, I will miss them all so much. See you in a few weeks!

Oh and bonus, I got home after work to discover that the cleaning people had come. Whooooo! And they put all the random stuff on the dresser that had gotten left behind, poor Zoey might be missing her princess for awhile.