Friday, May 15, 2015

Flight Control Room - 1

After three nights on the job I'm finally awake enough to tell you about it! This week I have 5 shifts from 11pm to 8am where I am completing my "hot on-the-job-training". Basically, this means I am performing the job all by myself with a certified ADCO watching over my shoulder to make sure I don't mess up or answer any last minute questions. As you can imagine working this late shift required some sleep shifting. It took two nights for me to shift over, the first night I stayed up until about 3:30am, and the second night I stayed up until about 6:30 am when Chris went to work. Then I attempted to sleep during the day...weird. Good thing I have this bum to keep me company:


Honestly, staying up all night hasn't been as hard as I thought. Granted this is only my first stab at it, but I feel awake throughout the shift and haven't had much of a problem sleeping during the day (stop laughing mom...see, my "sleep-anywhere-at-anytime" skill is coming in handy!). The strangest part is eating. I eat dinner with Chris and then I eat about halfway through my shift, but when I get home I just want to take a shower and head to bed...so I've only been eating about 2 meals a day. 

As far as the work goes, I have had plenty to do every night. In fact, the first night it looked like we were going to have to perform a burn to move the space station out of the way of some debris, but at the last minute the burn was cancelled since the debris "probability of collision" dropped significantly. Phewww...I'm glad it turned out to be a fairly uneventful night after starting off with a bang. 

During the shift we have several LOS's (loss of signal) where we lose telemetry from the ISS. It may be caused by switching which satellite we are using to relay information to the ground, or there may be a higher priority user for the satellite (we share communication satellites with other users, including the military). Usually an LOS is about 10 minutes, so it's just enough time to take a short walk and replenish your energy. Here is one of my friends from an LOS walk:


On top of all this excitement, I have also been selected to become an instructor. Eventually this means I will run simulations, dream up new failures, and deliver classroom lessons to new flight controllers and astronauts. It sounds fun, but it is a separate certification, so I have lots of training in my future still. Hope you guys had a great week!!!

Click here to see if the space station is flying over you soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wordless Wednesday


#winningthediabeticlottery

Monday, May 4, 2015

Scenes From the Weekend

So many weddings!!! 

This past weekend we were in beautiful Pensacola, FL for my cousin's wedding. It was fun to see that side of the family again (we all met up for another cousin's wedding just a few weeks ago), and we made use of the beautiful weather by doing a little sightseeing. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the Naval Aviation museum, but it just means we will have to go back and check it out!

We climbed 177 steps to the top of the historic Pensacola Lighthouse located on the Navy base. It was hard work, but completely worth the amazing view at the top!

The view from the top looking down onto the Pensacola Naval Air Station. It was fun to see T-45s and T-6s do touch and go's. 
We spent some time on the beach one evening, marveling at the unreal full moon over the water. 
Sunday morning we set sail with the 'rents to enjoy the water, weather and mimosas!
The 'rents enjoying the 34' Pearson!
Ok, ok, Chris and I enjoyed it a bit too!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

This week I am learning the ropes in Flight Control Room - 1 (FCR-1 for short). I sit alongside ADCO specialists, watch them do their job, ask lots of questions, and help wherever possible! This session of training is called "cold on-the-job-training" because I am just observing what the ADCO specialist is doing. In a few weeks I will be working overnight to complete my "hot on-the-job-training" where I will do all the functions of my job as ADCO and a certified ADCO will be watching me to make sure I'm doing everything right. When all of that is done, including a sign off from the Flight Director, I will be able to literally "fly the ISS solo"!!!!

The fun part about working during the day is being on NASA TV (they don't normally record shows during the overnight hours when I will be working). Check out yours truly in the bottom left corner!!!


Every time I mention NASA TV it makes me think of my childhood neighbors. I used to babysit their daughter when I was in high school, which was the best gig ever because they had something I didn't - the NASA channel. When they came home to find me watching the NASA channel of all channels I never lived it down. Kelly does a perfect impression of the NASA channel's slow pace, "Annndddd theeeeennnn the astrooooonauuutssss willll beeee....." I wonder if he ever thought I would actually be ON that channel that I loved so much ;-)

The great part of sitting in the front row is being able to see some amazing video as ISS passes over Earth. Today I watched the Earth circle underneath while the Flight Controller in charge of the robotic arm moved it around the station. It was an incredible mashup of nature and machine - a perfect little Earth Day celebration! Happy Earth Day everyone!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Math:

644 days
+
47 technical classes
+
39 oral examinations
+
36 "mini" simulations
+
5 backroom simulations
+
12 front room simulations
+
1 certification qualification simulation
+
1 flight controller final simulation

=

A CERTIFIED ADCO OPERATOR!!!!!



Thank you all so much for the kind words and encouragement throughout this process. Two years ago I casually mentioned to Chris that I had applied for a few NASA flight controller positions, but, "I doubt anything will come of it." Famous last words. 

Chris had decided long before I did that applying to those positions meant we should just go ahead and reserve the moving truck. Throughout this entire process no one has been more encouraging, loving, caring, or compassionate than Chris. It amazes me everyday how much joy he finds in supporting my dreams, and believes in me even when I have trouble believing in myself. 
I'm a lucky girl. 

I'm also thankful for the incredible support from the Diabetes Online Community. By sharing my story, including successes and struggles, I have been connected to so many families that have shifted worry into hope for their T1 children. Together we can chip away at the stigma and limitations T1 inherently presents. 

And for all of you faithful readers, friends and family, of course I am constantly overwhelmed by your ability to keep me humble and support my (sometimes far-out) dreams. 

I may not be quite to my goal of being the first Diabetic in Space, but I feel absolutely over the moon about piloting the International Space Station!!!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Scenes From Last Weekend

Even though I am in the thick of training and simulations at NASA right now, it's always nice to have a break! Last weekend Chris and I traveled back home for a wedding...here are a few gems:

Chris enlisted mom's sewing help to make pocket squares for his suit!
We traveled up north to see my sister's house that she recently purchased! Proud sister moment!
Dressed up for the weddin'.
Just can't get enough of these desert sunsets. I appreciate the mountains so much more now that we live in Texas!!
Izzy was happy to see us when we returned!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! On Monday I have a final evaluation sim, so I could really use all of your positive energy!! I'm a little reluctant to publish it here on my blog in case I don't pass (which is not uncommon), but either way it goes y'all have been the best support so far and I owe it to my readers to give you the full story!

  I tell you, we got two categories of pilots around here. We got your prime pilots that get all the hot planes, and we got your pud-knockers who dream about getting the hot planes. Now what are you two pud-knockers gonna have? Huh? - The Right Stuff

Hoping to graduate from a pud-knocker to a prime [ISS] pilot on Monday! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pre and Post

Last weekend Chris and I traveled to Arizona to attend my cousin's wedding! It was gorgeous weather and we had a lot of fun catching up with family that we only see...well, at weddings really.

Bit in the midst of Maundy Thursday, out-of-towners dinner, Easter and the wedding we took a moment to capture a tree house family photo, similar to the circa 1990 one on the right:

My grandma sent me the one on the right last year when I was collecting photos for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary, and I fell in love with it. We all look so gosh darn cute, my pouty face and all.

As I thought more about these pictures something jumped out at me...and it's not even something you can see in the photos. These moments in time represent so many "pre" and "posts"...dad pre-mustache-shave and post, mom pre-yoga-addict and post, Heather pre-walking-capability and post. But for me, I see a little girl (with ehemmm pouty face) pre-Diabetes and post. 

In the pre picture, she is probably cranky that Grandma made her stop playing and strike a pose. In the post picture, her body was worn out from a monster high blood sugar that she just couldn't shake. In the pre picture the little girl was self confident enough to kiss strange little boys in the airport, in the post picture her self confidence is hindered by needle scars. She has no idea in the pre picture that in the post she will be an expert at counting carbs and carry around bionic pancreases of sorts. That little girl is bugged by her annoying sister, but in the post she prays everyday that Diabetes doesn't take root in her sister's life.

In 25 years we have come a long way. Mom and dad have changed their lifestyle for the better, Heather is a sixth-grade math teacher, and I am an Aerospace Engineer. We have moved past pouty faces and pacifiers, now we face mortgages and motivation. Our lives have been woven with new fabric from new states and new relationships, but I'm thankful for these tree house junctions, sometimes physical and sometimes virtual, that remind us of our "roots" and inspire us to find peace and joy in the present moment. 

I can't wait to see what our next 25-year tree house photo will look like. 

Maybe it will be post-Diabetes-cure.