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Day 1: Travel Day!

Today (Monday) was our travel day.  Monday morning we left very early and headed to MSP.  We flew from MSP to DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) on a Boeing 737 leaving at 6:50AM.   It was a very sleepy flight!

Once we arrived at DFW, we took a SkyLink across the airport and got on a regional style jet and took a short flight to Houston Hobby.

After we arrived in Houston we shuttled to our hotel and went out for lunch. We visted the Steak & Shake for delicious steakburgers, fries, and of course, milkshakes! We enjoyed our milkshakes in the sunshine and 80 degree weather, a lovely change from Minnesota!

After our lunch we met the other teams and traveled to Space Center Houston. There we toured the 747 used to transport the Independence, and a re-creation of the Independence (a Space Shuttle mock up that didn't fly). We also saw a lunar rover and the history of space suits! We even touched a piece of lunar rock! We had a great time getting our tourist on, and spent some quality time in the gift shop.

We then returned to our hotel and got our rooms and roommates. We had an Italian dinner at the hotel (chicken alfredo and lasanga) followed by an info meeting and our gift swap. After our dinner and meetings we had free time which we used to work on our TSR (test saftey review) presentaion and then played cards with one of our new Puerto Rican friends. It was a very long day but we had a great time! Now time for some sleep before we go to the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at JSC tomorrow!


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As we await our shuttle to the hotel, we're excited to meet our colleagues this afternoon!

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Day 2 - Space Vehicle Mock Up and Test Runs

Today we went to the Space Vehicle mock up facility. While there we had to present our SLED to make sure it passed all safety regulations and we passed!

We met our NASA Mentor in person today and had a chance to talk with him a bunch.  He had some useful suggestions about our SLED and shared interesting stories of his work with ISS Robotics.

We did a few test runs, but we fully test our SLED on Thursday. As it goes for the other teams we got to see how their SLEDs work.

While testing we learned that we had to change our delay time, and that our string was being cut by sharp edges on the motor.

Notice on this run the battery in our launched puck was about empty.  It stops sliding freely as it approaches the target.

We were able to meet Astronaut Serena M. Aunon Chancellor for about 5 minutes!  We learned that she is going up to the ISS on June 6th.  This will be her first trip to space.  She is a practicing medical doctor and has an engineering background!

This is a panorama of part of…

Day 5 - Pulling it All Together

Today started with the pack up!  We gathered our luggage and collected it together at the hotel to prepare for our mid afternoon departure.  But first - a great day of learning and wrapping up was to be had.

We departed from the hotel and headed to visit NanoRacks.  This is a private contractor that facilitates the use of "Cube Satellites" on the ISS.  These are 4" x 4" x 4" satellites that can be loaded with electronics, sensors, cameras, and/or whatever developers dream up.  NanoRacks provides some of the structure and framework for research to take place both on the ISS directly as well as to launch CubeSats from ISS into Low Earth Orbit.  We got to see some Cubes and hear about the process of preparing them and launching them into orbit.
This was the most direct connection to our engineering project - as we created a satellite ejector system to run on the PABF (Precision Air Bearing Floor).  It was a great way to see the value of the teamwork of our group.