These ARE the droids you are looking for…

If Luke could have put NASA’s Chariot, ATHLETE, K-10 and the LSMS on the south ridge near his home on Tatooine, he could have joined the rebellion much sooner, avoided kissing his sister and even saved his father. 

Okay, maybe I’m stretching things a little bit.  But after only 10 seconds of seeing these vehicles in action, it is tough to supress my enthusiasm.

We arrived late in the afternoon in the thick of multiple simulations.  The pictures don’t quite capture the 20 mph wind, dust devils and chaotic temperatures, but each projects’ team and hardware didn’t seem phased.  They were vigilantly putting everything, including themselves through the data collection ringer… And loving every minute of it.  I have to hand it to them all.  They are real troopers.

Enjoy the pics.  I’ve got to go to Tasha Station to pick up some power converters.

Seriously, the wind was a factor.  Credit: Blair Allen

Ron shoots as Joe Kosmo works with Chariot.  Credit: Blair Allen

“Blair, I am your father…”  Credit: Blair Allen (in reflection)

Chariot, K10, and ATHLETE… oh, my.  Credit: Blair Allen

ATHLETE at training camp.  Credit: Blair Allen

Hope you enjoy the pictures.


NASA EDGE on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning

It’s true.  Both Chris and I were on the Mike and Mike show for our 15 minutes of fame.  Ron better sharpen up his ego management skills.  He is going to need it.  We had an absolute blast.

First, everyone at ESPN was awesome.  Golic is every bit the giant that he is rumored to be, and “Greeny” is obviously the brains of the outfit.  From top to bottom both, along with their entire team, were extremely nice and courteous.  Golic even continued to talk to us as he plowed through NASA’s space version of fiesta chicken when the segment went off the air.  Greeny simply asked more and more questions about NASA.  It was awesome.  And I have to admit that I was totally star struck.  These guys are our heroes.

Second, they are very excited about their upcoming interview with Astronaut Ken Ham during STS-124.  Before the show went live, you could sense their genuine giddiness about it.  It was really cool to see their excitement about NASA and NASA’s future, which we try to promote everyday.

I also want to thank Michele Perchonok and all of the folks at JSC that provided the space food.  Golic admittedly doesn’t like tomatoes or fruity deserts, but he still gave them high marks.  Of course, we could find no evidence of the shrimp cocktail or the fiesta chicken by the end of the interview.  Clearly those more than passed the Golic test.  It was quite impressive considering that we didn’t even cook the space food in zero gravity*.

I also want to thank Mike “ESPN NASA Guy” Soltys and Scott Shapiro from ESPN.  Rocky Lind from NASA HQ can back me up on this.  These guys worked extremely hard to make this happen.  They are both fans of NASA and went the extra mile at every step to work out our appearance on Mike and Mike and also the upcoming interview with Ken Ham on June 13th.  Awesome.

Now, here are a few pics from our crazy morning.

Chris and Blair begin food preperation around 6:45am.  Credit: Ron Beard 

This pan will not heat up without some kind of burner…”  Credit: Ron Beard

NASA EDGE provides a nice bobblehead for the set.  Credit: Don Morrison

Chris tests Golic’s rock solid intestinal track.  Credit:  Don Morrison

Blair amuses Greeny and Scott Shapiro.  Credit:  Don Morrison

It’s True.  We made it on the show.  Credit: Don Morrison

What a Day!

*I recognize that the official term may not be “zero gravity.”  Please accept this term in the spirit that it was intended… to be a punch line directed at our amateur preparation of the food.

Take a Ride on the eZLS

What is the eZLS?  It’s the enhanced Zero-Gravity Locomotion Simulator.  Essentially it’s a vertical treadmill that can simulate walking or running in a reduced gravity environment such as on the ISS, the Moon, or Mars.  Blair and I had the opportunity to run on the treadmill to experience what astronauts go through when they work out on station.

The eZLS inside the Exercise Countermeasures Laboratory at NASA Glenn Research Center.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

This piece of equipment is housed at NASA Glenn Research Center and is part of the Exercise Countermeasures Laboratory.  I have to say this is one cool piece of technology.  The goofy co-host had first crack at the treadmill.  He came in wearing colorful and loud workout gear sporting 1980’s socks and headband.  I think he watched Chariots of Fire before the shoot.

Kelly Gilkey making sure Blair is ready to go on the eZLS.
Kelly Gilkey makes sure Blair is ready to go on the eZLS. Credit: NASA EDGE/Don Morrison

Check out our Facebook page to see more pictures of Blair stretching and posing for the camera.  Next it was my turn and my dress was a bit more reserved.  I consider myself a runner so I was really paying attention to all the details.  Kelly Gilkey made sure everything looked good and that I was secured.

All systems go. Ready for lift-off.
Chris is running vertically for the first time in his life.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Don Morrison

I started out by walking at a 3.5 mph pace.  It took about 30 secs to a minute to get accustomed to the treadmill.  At first I felt my feet going everywhere and the force plate, which is free floating was moving in all directions.  Once I got the hang of it I then started with a light jog (5.5-6.0 mph).  The treadmill was very fluid and easy to run on. I never passed 7.0 mph due to time constraints but next time I would like to bump it up to 9 – 10 mph to get a good workup or maybe run a half-marathon.

Chris and Blair with the Exercise Countermeasures crew.
Blair won best outfit for the day.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Special thanks to Gail Perusek (Project Manager), Kelly Gilkey (Lab Manager), Mike Rossiter (Operations Engineer), and Mark Savina (Operations Manager) for allowing us to cover the eZLS.  This will make a great NE@ segment.

All the best,


Yuri's Night Bay Area 2008

I apologize for the long delay in posting to the blog.  We’ve been extremely busy lately and finally have caught up on most of our work.  The NASA EDGE team and I at least want to share with you some pics from Yuri’s Night Bay Area at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

Blair, Chris, and Everyman (Franklin)
Blair, Chris, and Everyman (Franklin) are trying to recover from messing up the opening. Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

We were impressed with the organization of the whole event.   There were a number of exhibits both in the hangar and out on the tarmac.

Everyman interviewing a YN groupie.
Everyman is interviewing a Yuri’s Night groupie.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

There were so many people dressed up in all types of costumes.  From superheroes, to space aliens, to the bizarre, we had a chance to stop and chat with a few of them.

Sputnik head guy running around a film crew.
Sputnik head guy is running around a film crew. Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

I think the guy in the picture above was the energizer bunny with a satellite on his head.  He just kept running around and around and around while the crew from Wired Magazine were doing a story.

There were some cool events going on at night.  Check out the pic below.

Cirque de Soleil like dancing at YN.
Cirque de Soleil like dancing at Yuri’s Night.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

I think the highlight of Yuri’s Night Bay Area 2008 was Shuttle Bay Confessions, a NASA EDGE exclusive Extra Studio Activity (ESA).  We gave YNBA participants a chance to answer some questions in the shuttle bay.  Well, actually they were sitting in front of a green screen.  You’ll have to wait until the segment is released.  You won’t believe some of the answers we received.

Special thanks to Kelly Humphries, Public Affairs Lead at NASA Ames, for handling all the logistics and making our life much easier plus giving Blair the opportunity to ride in a Pitts aircraft.

Blair is excited about the Hammerhead maneuver.
Blair is excited about the Hammerhead maneuver.  What a ride! Has he achieved insider status?

See you guys next year at YNBA 2009!


Two cool technologies at Langley

Kim Land, Public Affairs, Outreach and Education Manager for the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP), provided us the opportunity to shoot NE@ segments on the lunar manipulator arm and the inflatable lunar habitat. Both are just concepts and in not in anyway the final product. 

Inside the Structures lab at NASA Langley Research Center.
Chris and Blair are interviewing John Dorsey for an upcoming NE@ segment.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Don Morrison

I really love this perspective of the lab.  Above us is the lunar manipulator arm and to the far right is the inflatable lunar habitat concept.  The arm actually lifted the airlock structure (the one with the American flag) for the first time right after our shoot.  The structure is designed to lift 1 metric ton on the lunar surface at the tip of the arm or approximately 150 kilograms on Earth.  Because the airlock mockup weighs about 220 kilograms the manipulator arm lifted the airlock from the elbow.  The arm can lift about twice as much at the elbow compared to the tip.  John Dorsey will provide more info on the arm in the NE@ segment. Also, check out the cool backdrop.

Chris is learning more about the Inflatable Lunar Habitat concept from Karen Whitley.
Chris is learning more about the inflatable lunar hab from Karen Whitley.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Next, Karen Whitley gave us the scoop on the inflatable lunar habitat concept.  I am sure most of you have seen this concept on the NASA Portal but it was pretty awesome to take a tour inside.  NASA and ILC Dover are studying cool ways of developing inflatables that will endure harsh environments i.e. the lunar surface. 

Karen Whitley and Chris inside the airlock section of the hab.
Karen explaining to Chris the purpose of an airlock.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

The working space inside the inflatable lunar habitat.
Work space concept inside the hab.  Credit: NASA EDGE /Ron Beard

This particular concept which is about 50 m3 is designed for two astronauts. The actual habitat will need to be much bigger, say around 150 m3.  In fact, I’ve tasked Blair to live inside the hab for a week as part of his medianaut training.  I don’t think he’s seen the official email yet so let’s see how long it takes for him to respond to this post.

Special thanks to Kim Land, John Dorsey, and Karen Whitley for allowing us to shoot in the structures lab.  You guys rock!

All the best,

NASA EDGE Coverage of NASCAR Thunder

On January 8, we had the privilege of covering NASCAR Thunder at the Daytona International Speedway for our upcoming NASA EDGE vodcast on the Daytona 500.  In case you don’t know, 2008 marks the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and it’s NASA’s 50th anniversary.

We had the pleasure of working with Astronaut Drew Feustel.  He’s part of the STS-125 mission that will service the Hubble Telescope in August.  Drew had a chance to meet some of the drivers, pit crews, and hang out with fans at the event.  Initially we thought that Drew would not get much attention because how can you compete with the likes of Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, and Kurt Busch?  We were wrong.  Drew had his own entourage following him asking for autographs and pictures.  Everyone was excited about his upcoming flight in August, especially the drivers themselves.   

Check out some of these cool pics.

Chris, Blair, and Drew change a tire in under 16 seconds. 
Credit: Ron Beard/NASA EDGE

Chris, Kurt Busch, and Drew being shot by Ron for an upcoming
NASA EDGE video podcast.  Credit: Blair Allen/NASA EDGE

I want to thank Rocky Lind from NASA HQ for setting up this interview for us.  Kurt Busch was very cool to work with, and he was very eager to learn more about what Drew does as an astronaut.  We talked about the similarities between a NASCAR driver and an astronaut and the benefits of NASA technologies in racecars.

Kurt Busch shows the interior of his car to Drew.
Credit: Chris Giersch/NASA EDGE

Kurt Busch in the #2 taking a few practice laps. This picture
was taken from the top of the Daytona 500 tower.
Credit: Ron Beard/NASA EDGE

Blair, Ron, and Drew take a few laps around the track in a
Chevy Impala SS.  Credit: Don Morrison/NASA EDGE

This was the highlight of the day.  We had the opportunity to ride around the track a couple of times in a 2008 Chevy Impala SS.  I’ve never experienced going into a 31 degree banked turn.  What a rush!

Chris, Drew, Kurt, and Blair pose for a group shot.
Credit: Ron Beard/NASA EDGE

We’ll be back in Daytona during the Rockfest events the week before the Daytona 500 to finish filming.  Blair and I can’t wait to hang out with the public around the NASA Exhibit.  If you’re in Daytona on Feb. 12, 13, 15, and 16, come by the NASA exhibit and say hello.

All the best,


No,PTV is not a new cable station…

Or a new broadband station of some kind.  

PTV is really NASA Insider lingo for Parachute Test Vehicle.  Being the key player that I am, the following pictures were sent to me for my approval.

I won’t trouble you with the pages of notes, back and forth dialogue, and details of my careful examination of the plans.  I’d rather just bring you right up to speed with where things are now.

Here are just a few key things you should know about the PTV.
1.   This vehicle represents the first full system parachute test in preparation for the first Pad Abort Test.
2.   This vehicle will face many realistic test conditions which include testing for mass properties, aero shape, flow field and structural integrity.
3.   The test will be conducted by dropping the PTV from a C-130, not via rocket.  That will come later.
These pictures do not have the chutes integrated yet.

I’m not certain of the test date, but when I work out the details with the test team and let everyone know.

Enjoy the pics.

Don’t worry, this vehicle is unmanned.  They don’t have to cram a bathroom in there.  Photo Credit: NASA

The tan and toupe color scheme match the theme for my high school prom.  Hmmm, which is cooler?  Photo Credit: NASA

If I drop a few pounds, I could squeeze in there for a ride.  Photo Credit: NASA

It almost looks as if the PTV is smiling in this last picture.  I guess everyone, even the vehicle itself, can’t wait to begin testing.

The Co-Host

The 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race Rocks!!!

The 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race held at the US Space and Rocket Center/NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL was amazing.  Hats off to all the winners, competitors, organizers, volunteers and everyone who helped contribute to this awesome event.

Both the high school kids and the college kids showed tenacious ingenuity in their battle against the elements and circumstance.  For example, on a couple of starts chains were popping off within a few feet.  Some were able to get their buggies up and running quickly, others were off to the pits to make corrections for a second run.  All of which took place under cruel rainy conditions. 

And the obstacles took their toll as well.  We named several obstacles (the NASA EDGE – giving you an inside and outside look at your buggy if you hit the obstacle poorly, Keyke’s Corner, the infamous Shackelton Crater, and the San Antonio Sand Trap.)  The NASA EDGE obstacle was particularly fun because of the look on the faces of the drivers as they hit it.  They seemed to know it was going to be wild, but they were compelled to tackle it with full force.  No obstacle, however, was easy.  I’m actually cramping up just thinking about it.  Must change subject….

One other really cool thing about the race was seeing the volunteers who happen to be engineers just chomping at the bit to get in there and help modify designs and share ideas.  They didn’t, but they had that gleam of inspiration in their eyes.  My suggestion is to have a Hall of Fame Day added to the competition that would allow retired engineers try their hand at this challenging event.

Until we post our NE@ Vodcast of the race, please enjoy the following pics.  They certainly don’t tell the entire story, but they do give you an idea of some of the intense action.

The Thrill of Conquering the NASA EDGE Obstacle.  Credit: Ron Beard

… and the agony of defeat (they did finish.)  Credit: Ron Beard

Yes, that is a safety hay bale catching a ride with a daring team.  Credit: Ron Beard

In all fairness, he didn’t design the goggles.  Credit: Ron Beard

According to Jacky Cortez… “We’re all winners!”  Credit: Ron Beard

Important Note: Unfortunately, due to internal regulations, we cannot accept posts that include any links to another website.  

Orion FTA on its way to NASA Dryden

The Orion Flight Test Article (FTA) was transferred from the hangar at NASA Langley Research Center (home of NASA EDGE) to an Air Force C-17 cargo plane.  The FTA is now on its way to NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to get a paint job and to add a whole bunch of electronic equipment.  It’s great to see a piece of history as NASA embarks on a bold new journey back to the moon, Mars, and beyond!  The Orion Flight Test Article will be used for the Pad Abort 1 test that will take place in New Mexico at the end of the year. Check out the cool pictures.

Orion FTA being loaded into the C-17. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Will the Orion FTA fit? Plenty of room to spare.  Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Mission Complete, ship it to NASA Dryden! Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Kudos to all the engineers, technicians, and managers who were a part of the project.  A job well done!


3rd Space Exploration Conference

The 3rd Space Exploration Conference in Denver, CO was highlighted by the more than 1800 Denver-area students that swarmed Education Alley over two days.  The NASA EDGE outreach program was able to give back by helping out Edcuation Alley sponsors, AIAA and Lockheed Martin. Check out some of the pics we took.

Chris moderating an astronaut panel.
NASA EDGE Host moderating an astronaut panel session for K-12 students.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Clay Anderson signing a students shirt.
Astronaut Clay Anderson signing the back of a student’s shirt.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Astronauts Clay Anderson, Brian Duffy, and Bruce McCandless and uber cool spacesuit engineer, Heather Paul, answered many great questions from the students.  I was really impressed with the level of questioning from the elementary school students.  It looks like we have many bright future engineers and scientists ahead of us.

Bruce McCandless and Brian Duffy talking to students and volunteers.
Bruce McCandless (MMU guy) and Brian Duffy talking to college students and volunteers.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

After Education Alley closed each day, the college students and volunteers received a chance to have an informal session with the panelists.  In the picture above Brian was explaining what it’s like to land the space shuttle.  Brian was a pilot on two missions and commander on another two.

Bruce McCandless, Chris Giersch, and Clay Anderson
Bruce McCandless explaining the Manned Manuevering Unit (MMU).  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Heather Paul and Chris Giersch
NASA Engineer Heather Paul and NASA EDGE Host Chris Giersch.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

We can’t forget to talk about the NASA exhibit.  Thanks to Todd Cannon at NASA MSFC for hooking us up with the prime spot.  As conference attendees and students walked into the exhibit, this is what they saw (minus Blair and Chris because we were working).

Blair and Chris checking out their exhibit space.  Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

Check out Blair’s shirt.  I know it’s kind of small but what you do you think of the artwork?

By the way, NE@The Space Shuttle Sim is now ready for download.  We welcome any feedback, especially Blair’s role in lowering the landing gear.


Important Note: Unfortunately due to internal regulations we can’t accept posts that include a link to another website.