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The Space / NASA thread
#1
ASo, Analogous Olmos,why Mars when the Moon is round the corner? Or at least use the Moon as a testing ground for living and working in an inhospitable alien environment? Chris Hadfield has said as much.
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#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post

So, Analogous Olmos,why Mars when the Moon is round the corner? Or at least use the Moon as a testing ground for living and working in an inhospitable alien environment? Chris Hadfield has said as much.


There's many of us who agree, though the reasons differ in the argument for the Moon.   The short answer for "Why Mars?" comes from much of what we've learned from our unmanned missions: There's a good chance there's water under the surface, it's Earth-like enough that there may be lessons we can learn there that could impact how we model and interact with our ecosystem here (a good selling point for anyone who wants funding - always answer the question "how is it going to make MY LIFE better?"), and it at least has the potential for the discovery of past life.



From the human factors side, the atmosphere is thin but enough that some potentially radical suit designs could allow for a much more minimalist protection approach for crew on the ground, which is exciting... if the Apollo suits for the moon were "winter wear," imagine what the space equivalent of "summer wear" would be.  Still need full body protection, but you can get away with good thermal control and O2, with less ambient pressure concerns, compared to the Moon's near-vacuum.



Now, speaking just for myself and those of us who were gung-ho for the Moon before the shift to Mars, we see the Moon as the natural progression of what we're already doing on the ISS.  The progress of manned space flight has been:



- Short duration suborbital


- Short duration orbital


- Short duration trans-lunar


- Short duration Lunar surface


- Long duration LEO (Skylab)


- Short duration LEO (reusable craft - STS)


- Long duration LEO (ISS)


- ???



The question is what comes next, and there's 2 philosophies.  Having "been" to the moon, one argument goes that given all we've learned about long duration flight in microgravity, we can now apply it to a long duration flight of similar duration, just outside of LEO - this would be a Mars mission.  Especially with the data we'll get from the 1-year crews, we should be ideally placed to understand and plan for the risks of a Mars mission.  The hold-short point is going to be radiation from GCR (galactic cosmic radiation) in deep space, which the LEO environment is not a good analog for (the ISS is still protected by the Earth's magnetosphere about 95% of the time, so dealing with solar radiation and the inner VA belt is our main issue for ISS, just a different beast than GCT).  Setting radiation aside, given the lengths of time it would take for a Mars trip, the view of the Mars folks is that everything we've been doing on the ISS is basically a test-run for a long trip in microgravity, and that means going somewhere other than the Moon.  The "apply what we've learned" is an argument in addition to the attractive things about Mars I laid out above.



Now, some of us look at this a bit differently:  The ISS has told us a lot about microgravity effects on the human body, but it has also provided us a CONTINUOUS human presence in space for the last 14 years now.  As in for the last 14 years, there has never NOT been a human in space.  That's amazing.  And it provides a different way of looking at the progress steps I laid out above...



Going to Mars is an accomplishment, but it's not one that's sustainable in the way ISS has been based on current budget realities.  A Mars-shot program is going to look a lot like Apollo, with crews who go, stay for a while, and return, except instead of days in each phase it will be months, spanning years.  The thing is, like Apollo there will be no relief crew to take their place when it's time to come home.   Right now, there's never a time when no one's on the ISS - a 3-person crew comes down, another goes up, but there's always at least 3 who are part-way through their 6 month mission who remain on ISS minding the store.   Those of us who who are for the Moon see the lunar surface as the location of the successor to the ISS.



With a Lunar station program, the idea would be that as the ISS nears the end of its life in 2024-2028, we would be using Orion and the SLS/Falcon Heavy to deliver modular components for a base to the surface of the moon.  Once constructed, a permanent human presence would be established following the same phase-in we used for ISS.  Over time, the station could be built up and expanded much like our US stations in Antarctica have been over the last 50 years, with populations growing accordingly.  For reference, when I was down at McMurdo there were over 1100 people living and working there during the summer season - there were 10 in the early years.  Amundsen Scott South Pole Station has up to 150 during the summer, in the most inhospitable location on Earth.  I would love to see the Moon treated like Antarctica.



Looked at this way, the legacy of ISS isn't just learning to survive in microgravity for 6+ months at a time - it would instead mark the moment we began having a permanent human presence off of the Earth.  When ISS ends, having a lunar base that is basically ISS-2.0, but now a bit further away, with 1/6 G instead of microgravity, and with say 20 people manning the station instead of 6... to many of us this seems like the natural progression for human spaceflight to take.



But Mars is cool too.   To quote Sam Rockwell in Galaxy Quest:  "I'm just jazzed to be on the show, man."



- AO

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#3
AWow, I need to read this twice! Thanks for the detailed answer.

So has NASA definitively stated a return to the Moon is not happening? Isn't there a private Moon mission planned? I'm sure I read about it.
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#4

I grew up reading Asimov and Heinlein, who took it for granted that we'd colonize the Moon and Mars (by 1980!).



But, there are basic problems with Humans living on both spheres that seem to preclude a permanent presence:



1) Human bones start to weaken (I think they actually start to dissolve) in zero/micro gravity. Astronauts going to/from Mars might not be able to survive a return to Earth's gravity well, even with months of rehab.



2) I heard this on NPR's Science Friday: that there is micro dust on both Moon and Mars that, if we ever inhaled it, would shred out lungs to ribbons. Thus even if we Terraformed either moon or Mars, we couldn't live there without protection, ever.

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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
 

I grew up reading Asimov and Heinlein, who took it for granted that we'd colonize the Moon and Mars (by 1980!).



But, there are basic problems with Humans living on both spheres that seem to preclude a permanent presence:



1) Human bones start to weaken (I think they actually start to dissolve) in zero/micro gravity. Astronauts going to/from Mars might not be able to survive a return to Earth's gravity well, even with months of rehab.



2) I heard this on NPR's Science Friday: that there is micro dust on both Moon and Mars that, if we ever inhaled it, would shred out lungs to ribbons. Thus even if we Terraformed either moon or Mars, we couldn't live there without protection, ever.


Well, putting on my NASA hat...



#1, while technically true and a huge concern for us early on in the ISS program, we have effectively put to bed thanks to IRED and ARED.  This baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmidwdvh9xk    has allowed us to stabilize bone loss, even without the use of bisphosphonates which we could also use in a pinch if someone couldn't use the device.  Research on this is ongoing, but the data over the last few years is pretty definitive that by heavy longitudinal loading for an hour a day, we can stop bone demineralization in its tracks.  Sarcopenia (muscle loss) was also a huge concern for us early on, and now we've got folks coming back even STRONGER than when they left in some cases.   So this is something that all of us in the medical side of NASA are not really concerned about as a show-stopper anymore.



#2 is a weird statement to me, as someone who works on this stuff.  I don't think there's anyone at NASA or elsewhere who has visions of humans walking around Mars without respiratory assistance and ambient pressure/temperature protection, so the issue of dust really becomes one of "How do we get our EVA folks back inside without them tracking this stuff everywhere and it destroying our habitable environment within station?"  And there's a bunch of solutions to that.  It's more of an issue on the Moon than Mars actually - moon dust is notoriously like tiny diamonds, and even once you've protected the crew's lungs by making sure you filter it out before you reopen the airlock, it wreaks havoc on the fabric of the suits with micro tears and abrasions.   These are engineering problems that are incredibly solvable though, and so I don't see how it's a reason not to go to either location... I mean, there's literally no where in the solar system that you could walk around in short sleeves, but that's not a reason not to go there.  I can't wear short sleeves in Antarctica either, and if you stay outside for more than 10 minutes in the winter you're going to lose parts of your body.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post

Wow, I need to read this twice! Thanks for the detailed answer.

So has NASA definitively stated a return to the Moon is not happening? Isn't there a private Moon mission planned? I'm sure I read about it.

NASA's current mission is to support the ISS and develop the technology and vehicles needed to take us to Mars by ~2030.   This mission includes a trans-lunar series of flights with Orion (but no landing), although it bears mentioning that a Mars lander is still vaporware at this point.  Now, if you've noticed anything about NASA's mission over the last 15 years, it's that it's changed several times as administrations seek to place their own stamp and Congress yanks on the purse strings, so it is absolutely possible that as the Orion missions get closer, a shift in focus could bring us back to the moon.  My hope is that if such a shift does happen, it happens in time for our guys to develop and build the habitats we're going to need, which is a giant undertaking on its own. SpaceX has made noise about a private moonshot and I'd expect China to attempt a manned lunar landing sometime prior to 2025, but I'd reiterate that it's not about going... it's about staying.  And wherever we go after the ISS comes down, it should be to stay.  In one man's opinion.

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#6

Great response!



I note you didn't mention an increased Human presence in the LaGrange points around Earth and Mars, or the prospects of living on/mining some of the large Asteroids. Comments?

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#7

Asteroid mining would require a massive leap in propulsion technology that would completely up-end our current understanding of physics in order for it to be anywhere near cost effective. The Dawn mission cost 446 million dollars, and that was to get a tiny probe out to the asteroid belt. For mining, even unmanned, it would cost a hell of a lot more, since you're not only lifting fuel to get the miner out there in the first place, but enough fuel for it to carry its prospective payload back, and its payload has to be worth more than the cost of the mission, so unless you manage to find an asteroid composed entirely of rare earth metals you're never getting the cost of that mission back. Not to mention that you'll be waiting 15-20 years for a return on that investment.

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#8

If we're talking the Asteroid Belt, yes. There are more and more near Earth Asteroids  being discovered. As for the costs, they are front loaded: once you get to the  rock, solar panels can  heat up ice on the "roid to power mining operations. Getting the minerals back to Earth could be simply shooting them at predetermined spots (and making the packages small enough that they'd burn up in the atmosphere if something went wrong), or we simply setup factories on the Asteroid itself and make probes to send out to the Universe.

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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog Olmos View Post
 

Well, putting on my NASA hat...



#1, while technically true and a huge concern for us early on in the ISS program, we have effectively put to bed thanks to IRED and ARED.  This baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmidwdvh9xk    has allowed us to stabilize bone loss, even without the use of bisphosphonates which we could also use in a pinch if someone couldn't use the device.  Research on this is ongoing, but the data over the last few years is pretty definitive that by heavy longitudinal loading for an hour a day, we can stop bone demineralization in its tracks.  Sarcopenia (muscle loss) was also a huge concern for us early on, and now we've got folks coming back even STRONGER than when they left in some cases.   So this is something that all of us in the medical side of NASA are not really concerned about as a show-stopper anymore.



Thanks, you are a saint! I've been working on a novel that is based on the quote-unquote fact that your muscles and bones deteriorate irreparably in lower gravity and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. Good you told us it's BS before I spent months on it...

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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
 

If we're talking the Asteroid Belt, yes. There are more and more near Earth Asteroids  being discovered. As for the costs, they are front loaded: once you get to the  rock, solar panels can  heat up ice on the "roid to power mining operations. Getting the minerals back to Earth could be simply shooting them at predetermined spots (and making the packages small enough that they'd burn up in the atmosphere if something went wrong), or we simply setup factories on the Asteroid itself and make probes to send out to the Universe.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Fafhrd View Post
 

Asteroid mining would require a massive leap in propulsion technology that would completely up-end our current understanding of physics in order for it to be anywhere near cost effective. The Dawn mission cost 446 million dollars, and that was to get a tiny probe out to the asteroid belt. For mining, even unmanned, it would cost a hell of a lot more, since you're not only lifting fuel to get the miner out there in the first place, but enough fuel for it to carry its prospective payload back, and its payload has to be worth more than the cost of the mission, so unless you manage to find an asteroid composed entirely of rare earth metals you're never getting the cost of that mission back. Not to mention that you'll be waiting 15-20 years for a return on that investment.



Great replies above, but I think it's important to have a realistic picture of what any "mining" of the asteroid belt would have to look like.   First of all, manned missions to the belt are absolutely doable and frankly easier than trying to figure out how to get enough reaction mass to get off of the surface of Mars.  The most promising plans for visiting the Red Planet actually bypass this entirely by planning a kind of Apollo-8+ approach, where we go, orbit, and then land on Phobos.  We get our landing and flag planting, and a first row seat for Mars observation without having to solve the lander problem.   Even with ~1/3 g, taking off from Mars isn't going to look like video you've seen of the LEM ascent stage leaping up to meet Apollo CM - it's going to look like a bloody STS launch.  One of the reasons I'm looking forward to The Martian is I think they got this right, if they followed the book at any rate.



When Constellation was canceled, one of our stepping-stones to Mars missions we kept was something called ARM (for Asteroid Redirect Mission) - in a nutshell the idea is to use what we've now learned from Rosetta/Philae to land an unmanned probe on an asteroid of suitable mass and composition (and orbital inclination), and using a series of short burns nudge it into a lunar orbit - from there we can practice manned landings, core drilling techniques, and a raft of other technologies in the years to come to our heart's content, then deorbit it when we're finished.



But actually mining for usable mineral deposits in the kind of bulk mass we're used to here on Earth, that's probably 100 years away.  The caveat would be if an approach like ARM could used by private industry to bring suitable asteroids here, though returning samples for use and processing is an engineering problem that's still at least 50 years away and likely more.    A much more promising idea would be to develop the ability to refine either in orbit, or in a much weaker gravity well... like the Moon.  Everything's easier in 1/6g, and while getting hunks of rock to the surface of Earth in one piece is an engineering nightmare, getting them to soft-land on the lunar surface is at least a problem you can get your arms around.



If I'm painting a picture, the conclusion I think starts to set in (at least, it has for me) is that nearly everything we want to do in the solar system gets easier if we have a firm foothold on the Moon, first.

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#11
Quote:

Originally Posted by Virtanen View Post
 


Thanks, you are a saint! I've been working on a novel that is based on the quote-unquote fact that your muscles and bones deteriorate irreparably in lower gravity and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. Good you told us it's BS before I spent months on it...


Ha you bet - and it's certainly not BS, it's just one of the many problems we've scienced the shit out of!

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#12

Analog Olmos, your reply above implies to me that we're better off creating self sustaining colonies in orbit or on the moon, with their own 'factories" (because even today 3D printing enables you to make some sophisticated equipment  on a device with a very small footprint), creating their own economies. They wouldn't be entirely self sustaining for a while, but it's a start.

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#13
A[quote name="Cylon Baby" url="/community/t/154426/the-space-nasa-thread#post_3942648"]Analog Olmos, your reply above implies to me that we're better off creating self sustaining colonies in orbit or on the moon, with their own 'factories" (because even today 3D printing enables you to make some sophisticated equipment  on a device with a very small footprint), creating their own economies. They wouldn't be entirely self sustaining for a while, but it's a start.
[/quote]

Ultra-long term, establishing stations on massive bodies like the Moon, Mars, Europa, and many others that could become say, 80% self-sustaining is a realistic and worthy goal. Barring the construction of massive, automated manufacturing infrastructures coupled with a workforce large enough to perpetuate and maintain the skillsets needed to conduct repairs generationally (all things that are over 100 years away), truly self-sustaining colonies are not on the horizon any time soon.

What we COULD do though, is treat outposts like we treat our Antarctic stations - establish robust, highly skilled populations that turn over regularly, and provide ~Q-4-6month unmanned resupply drops. These could be planned out years in advance and reliably budgeted for.

Orbital platforms just have a raft of issues that make truly long-term sustainability problematic. Higher exposure to radiation, exposing the crew to continuous microgravity necessitating countermeasures, periodic orbital reboosts, the risks posed by orbital debris, etc... All of these are at least vastly diminished simply by placing your outpost on a rocky body.

For a simple example on radiation, think about the ISS. Even in LEO with the Earth taking up most of the window, the station 'sees' more of the sky than you or I do here on the ground. GCR comes from all directions, so the higher/farther you go, the greater your exposure. Now, down here we're protected from GCR by multiple levels of protection (solar wind, magnetosphere, atmosphere) but the most important one is under your feet: the ground. Just by standing on a rocky body you immediately block out 50% of the sky, even without any additional shielding.
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#14
AHuge thanks for this thread! Which base were you at in Antarctica?
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#15
Quote:

Originally Posted by MrBananaGrabber View Post

Huge thanks for this thread! Which base were you at in Antarctica?


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#16
ALiquid water on Mars? Analog Olmos, give us the inside scoop!


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/...rence.html
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#17
AAnalog Olmos

How does one get into such an interesting line of work such as this?

And do you need an assistant lol?

I can be packed and ready to go in 20 minutes..
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#18
ASimple. Just be a genius.
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#19
AOh well, pssshh! Got THAT covered!
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#20

Correction: you need to be a genius who can do one finger push-ups and has the perfect hair. Here's Olmos doing his morning exercise.



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#21
AYup, liquid water on Mars. Fascinating:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/...-live.html
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#22
AAnd now to bum you all out a bit

http://www.scientificamerican.com/articl...ry-tricky/
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#23
AStunning image of the Veil Nebula from Hubble:

[Image: hubble_colorful_shrapnel.jpg?itok=7Xd71vHA]
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#24
ANot so fast, NASA made up this shit about water on Mars to further the Obama liberal agenda:

http://www.mediaite.com/online/limbaugh-...al-agenda/
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#25
ASo, then, about those canals...?
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#26
APure awe:


[Image: 400]
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#27

Reposted from The Martian thread so it doesn't derail things over there:



OK, sorry for the long absence guys, but it's actually space-related - SpaceX is at a bit of a crosscroads with their design for crew Dragon and NASA has a TigerTeam working the problem, I'm one of the docs on the team and it's basically eaten my life for the last 6 weeks now.  Anyway, finally got to see this last weekend, and while it's without a doubt the best space film we've gotten since Apollo 13 (though the docking scene in Interstellar gets so much right it deserves a special acknowledgment) there's a few things that pulled me out of the film MORE because they got so much right  around it.



First, the great:  Damon absolutely NAILS not only the character of Whatney, but the spirit of a lot of the scientist-astronauts (as opposed to the pilots) - there's a love of the job, a sense that they're not only good at it (and they know it) but that they know how dangerous this thing is, and they accept that risk because it's bigger than them.  That's a complex thing to capture, and Damon deserves accolades for making it seem natural.



Also, Mars felt like a real place.  The Hermes less so, but Mars and the Hab/Rover felt like real places and real environments we would build.



The supporting cast was great with the exceptions, for me, of Jeff Daniels and Sebastian Shaw.  Daniels felt too much like a suit, and as Director of NASA seemed much too involved in the daily decisions that were being made compared to how things work in real life - the Flight Directors and the teams working the problem make recommendations and all decisions are made by FLIGHT in daily ops - it makes sense that in such a high profile scenario that the Director of NASA would have final say, but he/she would be getting briefed adn giving thumbs up/ thumbs down to plans being proposed by the teams, not involved in the sausage making (and certainly not based out of an office at JSC and sitting in mission control - the director of NASA is in DC).  As a flight surgeon I dug the idea that Shaw was going to play a physician-astronaut (Kjell Lindgren is a former flight doc-now-astronaut on the ISS right now) so I was disappointed to see him get basically 3 lines and do nothing to, you know, act like a doctor.



Things that pulled me out of the film:



The EVAs:   Every time Shaw went outside, he was just floating free without a tether to the Hermes.  EVAs are the most dangerous thing we do - we (the ground operators) do 8-hour simulation runs multiple times before our guys go outside, they practice for hundreds of hours underwater at the NBL, and one of the things we always reinforce is that they are tethered to the station at all times.  Seeing Shaw clambering over the outside of the Hermes without a tether completely destroyed suspension of disbelief, moreso because everything else was SO RIGHT in nailing how NASA would likely plan this mission.  Sounds silly, but it really is that big a deal.



The ops console placards: OK, I know this one went unnoticed by literally everyone but us NASA nerds, but in every scene of mission control (MCC), you see the signs above each console position's seat that display that console's discipline name.  So Flight Director says just that, my console says "Surgeon"... and literallly every other console position in the room is an acronym of some sort in real life.  In the film, every station has their names written out so that the layperson can tell what they are at a glance, but I can promise you we will never do this - the names have ever only changed ONCE since the 1960s, and it was just to consolidate some of the stations into new multi-disciplinary positions (that still have acronyms).  If you come for a tour of MCC today, you'll see stations with names like ETHOS, EVA, GC, ADCO, PLUTO, SPARTAN, RIO, CAPCOM, BME... and SURGEON and FLIGHT DIRECTOR.   Took me 2 years to lean wha tthe heck those names all meant!  Anyway, I know it sounds ridiculous but that's part of the culture of NASA and it stuck out that they changed it for no discernible reason.



Aside from Jeff Bridges being a way-too-involved director of the Agency, those are almost entirely my nitpicks though.  I maintain the film could have been drastically improved by giving Sean Bean's Flight Director most of Bridge's lines, and would have been more true to how NASA operates.



-AO

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#28
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

Analog Olmos

How does one get into such an interesting line of work such as this?

And do you need an assistant lol?

I can be packed and ready to go in 20 minutes..


Sorry for the long delay in reply -



I actually was half way through medical school with a VERY different life plan before I found out that the NASA gig was a possibility. I was going to have a nice life in Upstate NY being an academic emergency medicine doc and living close to both my and my wife's families, but then I heard that there was an actual medical specialty called "aerospace medicine" and folks with that training could apply to be flight surgeons at NASA.  Life changed almost overnight, I applied and got in, told my wife (then girlfriend) that I was going to have to move to Houston, and she not only didn't leave me but moved here too.   Mine's not that unusual a story either - JSC is absolutely FULL of folks who were professionals in their fields for years before deciding they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves (and less lucrative - everyone here has made a sacrifice of some kind) and changed direction to end up here.



For engineers it's easier, I'd say - I'm almost 32 but I'm the new guy when I sit in mission control.   That's because even without breaks, I was 22 when I started med school, 26 when I graduated, and 30 when I completed my residency and was able to be hired.  Compare that to the folks who sit directly to my left in MCC, the Biomedical Engineers (BMEs).  These folks came to JSC straight out of college for the most part, so while a lot of us are the same age, they've been doing this job for ALMOST A DECADE.  They're seasoned pros and I'm brand new at this.



That being said, to dangle the carrot a little more I'll tell you guys about a new friend of mine - met him in Dayton, OH where he was working as a DJ and had a varied background - some engineering classes, some programming ability, several jobs in an office setting of some kind (can't remember).  He always loved NASA, and applied to one of the JSC clerkships.  Got in, and spent 6 months here working in payloads as an unpaid intern.  Impressed folks with his work ethic and got hired as one of the new payload operator trainees.  Now he's about a year away from certification to sit in MCC and manage the payloads on the ISS.  Still DJ's on the side.

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#29
AThanks for even humoring me with a response, dude. I could only dream of getting into something like that. I wished I'd have gotten the education to do SOMETHING while I had the chance. But, man at 34 I'm just getting more and more tired. The thought of going back to college to achieve anything just seems exhausting at this point..
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#30
A[quote name="Fraid uh noman" url="/community/t/154426/the-space-nasa-thread#post_3953764"]Thanks for even humoring me with a response, dude. I could only dream of getting into something like that. I wished I'd have gotten the education to do SOMETHING while I had the chance. But, man at 34 I'm just getting more and more tired. The thought of going back to college to achieve anything just seems exhausting at this point..[/quote]

I hear you, but just for reference my DJ friend above is 42, so you've still got plenty of time to do whatever gets you excited. I'm finding more and more folks who end up at JSC or Goddard or Huntsville because they were making decent money elsewhere but didn't love their jobs. NASA won't make anyone rich, but even today (arguably the most aimless period of time that NASA has seen, mission-wise) it's impossible not to feel part of something important, and worth-while.
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#31
A[Image: 400]
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#32

Mr Olmos, what is your highly classified comment on this:



Astronomers may have found giant alien 'megastructures' orbiting star near the Milky Way.



Quote:

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish a report on the “bizarre” star system suggesting the objects could be a “swarm of megastructures”, according to a new report.


"I was fascinated by how crazy it looked," Wright told The Atlantic. "Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilisation to build."
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#33

The most likely answer is that it's a bunch of exo-comets trapped in the star's gravity.



I want to believe.

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#34
AWow:

https://twitter.com/Best0fSpace/status/6...9030860800
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#35
A[quote name="Fraid uh noman" url="/community/t/154426/the-space-nasa-thread#post_3953764"]Thanks for even humoring me with a response, dude. I could only dream of getting into something like that. I wished I'd have gotten the education to do SOMETHING while I had the chance. But, man at 34 I'm just getting more and more tired. The thought of going back to college to achieve anything just seems exhausting at this point..[/quote]

Bollocks dude, I'm 41 and halfway through a BSc in Physics right now (about halfway through stage 2 astrophysics too funnily enough). Sure it's knackering sometimes, but it's also a buzz to have your abilities challenged and your mind blown by the actual magic of The Universe, so you ride that energy through it.
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