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  • -= Mercurious Chat =- (skytland2006 Chat Log)During this online chat, 75 questions were asked by 9 schools. There were 38 adults and 13 students involved in this chat.

    Hosted by Nick Skytland of NASA

    Elizabeth Russo - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from Kenosha, Wisconsin comments:
    Room opened by Moderator on 02/15/06 at 11:30.

    Elizabeth Russo - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from Kenosha, Wisconsin comments:
    o Space Explorers would like to welcome Nick Skytland as our host today. All of your questions will be viewed by a moderator. We will try to get through as many questions as possible during the chat period. Ask away!

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What is the hardest part about training astronauts?(Sean)

    I'd have to say that the hardest part of training astronauts is making sure that you are prepared to answer every question they have. Astronauts are very smart, some of the smartest people in the agency, and when you meet with them you really want to know your stuff!

    Krista - Chat Guest at Wedgewood Elementary from Friendswood, Texas asks:
    How do you breathe in space?

    Breathing in space is no different than how you breathe her on Earth. Astronauts in space have oxygen in their space shuttles, space station or in their space suits.

    Pam Hamilton - Chat Guest at Cypress Ridge Elementary from Clermont, Fl asks:
    What do you eat in space?

    Astronauts have a great selection of food. My favorite is the ice cream. Astronauts even eat with a fork, knife and spoon, but since almost everything they eat comes in sealed packages, their silverware also includes a little pair of scissors to cut open the packet that contains their meal. Their basic meals consist of food that is very similar to what we eat on Earth. Its very important for Astronauts to eat healthy when in space – so they eat dried fruits, yogurt and even some meat!

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    How do you train the astronauts? (Paige)

    • I work at one of the world’s largest pools! We use a concept called “neutral buoyancy” to train the astronauts for their spacewalks. Divers and astronauts use life size mockups of the space station and space shuttle to practice their on-orbit tasks! Our pool is very large – 6.2 million gallons of water! We host six types of activities including basic skills development, mission training for shuttle/station flights, development tests for flight hardware proofing, and even water survival!

    Tim Smith - Chat Guest at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    How does NASA keep astranauts from getting exposed to too much radiation while in space?

    That's a great question! Radiation is a very important topic when you talk about sending humans into space. NASA does its best to mitigate the exposure of crew members to radiation by altering their flight paths, sending them to space when their is a low radiation level, and by taking extra precautionary measures while in space. Radiation shielding is a very important topic for engineers at NASA and will be very important especially as we look forward to traveling back to the Moon and Mars.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    What is your favorite thing to teach astronauts?

    I particularly appreciate when newer astronauts, or ASCANs as we call them here at NASA, first visit the facility I work in (the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory). We are one of the few facilities with full-size mockups of flight hardware and just being around these enormous mockups of the space station is a humbling experience. I love to share my experience with the mockups and the hardware, what works and what doesn't, with the crew members.

    Krista - Chat Guest at Wedgewood Elementary from Friendswood, Texas asks:
    How many space shuttles go at a time?

    Only one Space Shuttle usually flies at a time -- but NASA does reserve the capability to fly two shuttles at once if needed. The shuttle flights are usaully staggered such that crews are given the right amount of time to train and so that the folks working on the shuttle can make sure it's prepared. The shuttle is a very complicated machine and requires thousands of people, who work very hard, in order to make it fly.

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    How do you train the astronauts to deal with a spaceship that is in trouble (like if a chip of paint falls off the exterior)?

    The NBL specializes in EVA - Extra Vehicular Activity - or "spacewalks". We work with everything external to the space shuttle or station, which means we get to play a critical role in training crewmembers to work with emergency situations. We have a full size mockup of the space shuttle payload bay as well as the ISS in our pool to help out. Recently, we created a "tile-board" that astronauts use to practice repairing the shuttle exterior. We also have a robotic arm they "fly" in the pool.

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What is the biggest misconceptions people have about astronauts?

    People often mistake Astronauts as being super-human. That's a very big misconception because they are just like the rest of us. They have families, friends, hobbies, and dreams. They are very personable and are usaully very willing to go out of their way to help you out and teach you about space. When they were young, and sitting in a classroom, they dreamed of one-day flying in space. The only difference between Astronauts and students is that they are just a little further along in life

    Paul - Chat Guest at Ft. Greely from Delta Junction, Alaska asks:
    What is the newest spaceflight hardware you have developed?

    Right now I'm working very hard on the STS-116 mission. For this mission, we've been working with the Russian Space Agency to train the astronauts to stow a few pieces of hardware called "SMDPs - Service Module Debree Panels". Essentialy, this is just a piece of armor or shielding for the outside of the Russian part of the space station.

    Tim Smith - Chat Guest at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Will the Saturn 5 rocket fly again?

    Probably not. The Saturn 5 rocket, although a very impressive flying machine, was awhile back. Fortunately for all of us rocket fans out there, NASA is currently planning an equally big, if not bigger rocket, to take us back to the moon and maybe even to mars! You can read all about it at http://www.nasa.gov.

    chance - Chat Guest at fort greely school from delta juncton, alaska asks:
    What do the astronauts do in the water at the nuetral buoyancy labratory?

    Astronauts can a) train for an upcoming mission b) practice "skills" such as translating around the space station or working in the space shuttle payload bay, c) support crews already in space by practicing a "spacewalk" they may have to do, and d) work on the development of new tools and space flight hardware.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Brendan wants to know what you would be doing if you weren't teaching astronauts?

    Brendan, that's a very hard question! I have some many passions in life -- but space is one of the largest. If I wasn't training astronauts you could probably find me somewhere else at NASA -- either developing space hardware or overseeing space events. I'm also a big fan of supporting the private space industry and really enjoy watching companies like Scaled Composites push through the limitations of spaceflight. I'm also an artist and really enjoy drawing -- so maybe I'd work for Disney...

    chance - Chat Guest at fort greely school from delta juncton, alaska asks:
    Would you ever go into space?

    Absolutely. I plan on one day flying in space. The question is not "if" its..."when".

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    My student Jacob wants to know if it's easier to play sports in space than on earth?

    It depends Jacob. If you want to be really good at basketball, it might be easier to dunk a ball on the moon. You can definitely jump higher. But, if you were playing football somewhere between here and the moon, and your friend over through the ball, it would just keep flying past you and would be very hard to catch. I think if we ever colonize the moon or mars, we will probably develop some very cool new games. To learn more, check out the "Lunar Olympics" article on the NASA.gov website.

    Paul - Chat Guest at Ft. Greely from Delta Junction, Alaska asks:
    How did you feeled when the person won the ANSARI X PRIZE?

    I was so excited! I actually spent some time working for the X PRIZE Foundation during the summer Burt Rutan's spaceshipone won the 10 million dollar prize. I'm very supportive of the private space industry and wish them the best in developing new and innovative technologies! It's so exciting.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Upon returning to earth and if a spaceship skips the atmosphere, can it make another reentry attempt?

    Yes. But, hopefully that won't happen to often. Usually the astronauts are very good about their "final" approaches into the Earth's atmosphere. If they were to miss, they could just orbit the Earth and try again...

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    How do you launch the spaceship? (Rhetta)

    Spaceships are usually launched from a very remote area that will accomodate the large amount of fire and smoke they give off during launch. The space shuttle is launched from the Kennedy Space Flight Center in Floriday and requires thousands of pounds of fuel to launch. Not all vehicles require the same launch technique-- SpaceShipOne uses a propellant made of laughing gas and rubber -- and is launched from the belly of a large plane. Creative folks are looking at other launch methods as wel

    chance - Chat Guest at fort greely school from delta juncton, alaska asks:
    How many astronauts have you trained?

    I lost track a while back. I've worked at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory for over three years now -- and we train astronauts here every single day. Almost every astronaut goes through some sort of training here, and their are currently over 100 astronauts at NASA -- so a very rough estimate is about 150.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Please give us an estimate of what you think a private citizen would pay to go into space someday?

    Being one who is also very interested in going to space some day myself, I've looked into this question quite a bit. Actually, you can currently buy a ticket on a Russian vehicle for around 20 million US dollars. That's a lot. Many people are working hard to bring down the cost -- some suggest a price of 200,000 will get you a ride on a vehicle being developed by Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites which is anticipated to be ready in 2008.

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Do you think our astronauts will someday go to another galaxy?

    That's a tough question. Based on basic physics and our current technology, it's not feasible to travel even to the outer part of our solar system. Howerver, the most important lesson I've learned in my life is to never say that something is impossible. You may be the student who grows up and finds an amazing scientific discovery that will change how we percieve the world today! You may discover a faster method of traveling that will make the long distance to another galaxy possible.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Who is the most famous astronaut you've trained?

    Jerry Ross. Mr. Ross is the first human to be launched into space seven times, and he holds the current United States records for spacewalks (nine) and spacewalking time (58 hours and 18 minutes). He's also a very nice guy and his daughter Amy is a good friend of mine here at the Johnson Space Center. She works on advanced space suits that astronauts like her father use when they are on their spacewalks.

    Paul - Chat Guest at Ft. Greely from Delta Junction, Alaska asks:
    Did you wanted to be an astroanut when you were a kid?

    Yes and I still do. (Maybe that means I haven't grown up :) ).

    Bill Nutt - Guest Teacher at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Do all astronauts face at least one challege in space? What are they?

    From what I am told, every trip to space is a new experience and requires the crew member to be on "top of the game". Space can be a very hostile and unforgiving environment and astronauts are constantly faced with challenges that are impossible to train for. That is why we spend so much time here at JSC training astronauts! We want them to be prepared for any situation they will face.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    Where do you think a tourist attraction would be in Space in the year 2015?

    Unless something really happens to change how fast we colonize the moon, I think in the year 2015 the only place that could potentially be ready to be considered a "tourist attraction", is the moon. But, I'd love to go to the moon and look back at Earth -- so I hope in 2015 we can all go!

    Krista - Chat Guest at Wedgewood Elementary from Friendswood, Texas asks:
    How many satellites are in space?

    Wow. Hunderds, maybe thousands. Some suggest that we have too many satellites in space. A quick "google" brought up a website that will help you track satellites above you (http://www.heavens-above.com/) at any location around Earth. I've also came across applications that model all the satellites in orbit. It looks like a swarm of bees around Earth!

    Krista - Chat Guest at Wedgewood Elementary from Friendswood, Texas asks:
    What happens if space debris hits the ship or astronaut in space?

    This could be very bad! We do our best at NASA to prevent this from happening. Space debris is tracked and sometimes the flight plan of the space vehicle is altered to avoid any potentially hazardous space debris! That's actually a very good question because the topic of space debris is a "hot" topic in the space world. If debris did hit a ship or astronaut, depending on the size, it could puncture the ship or suit and cause damage. Getting rid of space debris, however, is very hard.

    Elizabeth Russo - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from Kenosha, Wisconsin comments:
    The chat room will be closing in approximately five minutes. At this time, we would like to thank everyone for joining us for this special event. We would especially like to thank Nick Skytland for hosting our chat today.

    R Smith - Teacher at Nome Elementary School from Nome, Alaska asks:
    What is the greatest contribution space exploration has given to life on earth?

    There are so many! NASA does a good job of highlighting many benefits of space in a yearly publication -- here's a link to this years which just came out (http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/). I believe the greatest contribution of space exploration is the continued inspiration of generations of space explorers world wide!

    Elizabeth Russo - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from Kenosha, Wisconsin comments:
    Please join us again on Friday, Mar. 17, 2006 for a chat with former astronaut Dr. Tony England. During this chat, you will have an opportunity to discuss his experiences in space.

    Elizabeth Russo - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from Kenosha, Wisconsin comments:
    2/15/2006 12:32:32 PM - Room closed by Moderator. Thank you for your participation.

     
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