Posted tagged ‘Nasa’

Hidden Figures

January 31, 2017

hidden-figuresAnother night out without Mary. We went to see the movie “Hidden  Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, and Janell Monae. We were going to see La La Land but the showtimes didn’t work for us.

This is the true story of three black women who worked for NASA in the early sixties as “computers”. This was what NASA called the women whose job it was to do the complex calculations that the engineers needed to vet their work.

One particularly amusing scene when the NASA manager asked Katherine Johnson what was taking her so long on her breaks. It turns out the only “colored” ladies room was on the other side of the campus. She had to run across the campus to do her business. They show Al Harrison (played by Costner) taking the sign down with a sledge hammer. No more colored bathrooms. Problem solved.

The movie is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Great film. Nominated for several awards including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by President Barack Obama.

JPL Tour

November 19, 2015


On Tuesday, We attended a tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena. This was a private tour that was arranged by our son Mike who works there. We had a group of about 20 people, most of whom were members of Mike’s 9SOPS unit at Vandenberg AFB.

The tour started at a small theater to view a video about JPL. The lab was started by a couple of grad students at Caltech who were doing research on rocket motors. Here’s the wiki article. Around the edge of the room were several models of JPL space craft including a 1/2 size model of the two spacecrafts Voyager which were  launched in 1977. Voyager 1 and 2 continue to operate today returning data from interstellar space.


From the auditorium, we headed to a small museum with more examples of JPL’s projects including Mars Exploration Rover Mission and other space craft for exploring the surface of Mars. We were given ample time to look at all of the models and take pictures. But we couldn’t stay all afternoon because there was another group scheduled right behind us.

 After we were done with the museum we hiked up to the building where the control center lives. They have a glassed in balcony where visitors can watch the business of managing spacecraft millions of miles from planet Earth. The center is manned 24/7/365. Here are a couple of pictures. By this point in the tour my knees were talking back to me.

The final stop in the tour was another glassed in balcony for visitors of one of the large clean room assembly areas where robotic space craft are built and readied for their journey to the outer reaches of outer space. On the far wall in the picture below are the mission symbols for all of the space craft that have come through this building.

It was a great tour. It was a lot easier than trying to go to the public open house held last month.


September 27, 2014

Our son (Neil) is in town to visit for a few days. We were looking for things to do besides eat and drink. We decided to go visit the space shuttle Endeavour up at the California Science Center in downtown LA.
 The Endeavour was moved to the California Science Center in October 2012. It was quite an event watching the ship move through the streets of LA from LAX to Science Center in downton LA. Here is the Wikipedia Link. Here is a picture of Endeavour on the launch pad.

 Currently the Endeavour is on display in a hangar-sized building at the Science Center. There are plans in place to move it outside and display in launch configuration with booster rockets and fuel tank.
 Here are some of the pictures that I took.

I was impressed on how worn the shuttle looked. High mileage indeed.

On the wall in the hangar are posted brief descriptions of all space shuttle missions.

The mounting of the space shuttle is on four massive pylons with earthquake resistant disks.

The engines have been removed from Endeavour and replaced with nacelles. This is a model of one of the engines.

Here’s a picture of the space shuttle toilet. There was a video explaining how it was used.

Mock up of NASA command center.

Where the rubber hits the road (or runway).

 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Los Angeles, CA