Thank you for all of your questions! We're signing off shortly, but you learn more about our latest announcements below.

Flight Director applications are open until April 17, and the International Space Station flight control team just released a new e-book that offers an inside look at operations. Learn more:

Participants: Flight Director and Lead Author/Executive Editor of e-book Robert Dempsey, Flight Director Dina Contella, Flight Director David Korth, Flight Director Michael Lammers, Flight Director Courtenay McMillan, Flight Director Emily Nelson, Flight Director Royce Renfrew, Flight Director Brian Smith, and Flight Director Ed Van Cise Proof:

Comments: 1125 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

Killbacon1465 karma

How many hours do you have in Kerbal Space Program? Thanks for the AMA, great breakfast reading.

JSCNASA1263 karma

Not enough! That is a great program to play around with and introduce challenging concepts. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

AchieveOrbit890 karma

What type of experience should a candidate focus on for their resume?

JSCNASA1268 karma

Nice name AchieveOrbit! Well there are all kinds of experiences that we look for to work in Mission Control. Generally math and sciences work best, usually aerospace, but it is not a hard and fast rule. We had had English majors work here. We mainly look for smart people who are willing to work hard and are very curious. We then train people what they need to know. Dr. Bob

JSCNASA551 karma

And actually, if you read the book you will get a really good sense of what we do (which is good to know if you would like it) and what type of person we have in those roles. Dr. Bob

Wombraider17149 karma

So I'm really bad at math, pretty bad at science. Can I come visit though?

JSCNASA156 karma

Of course! David Korth - Odyssey Flight

HardlyHardy733 karma

What do movies portray correctly/incorrectly about your jobs?

JSCNASA1762 karma

Oh that is a great question. The movie Apollo 13 is so accurate we use it to train our new Flight Controllers. The Martian is also a pretty good movie since the author worked with people at NASA to get the technical stuff accurate. Now the movie Gravity represents our worst nightmare but it is not that accurate. And don't even get me started on Armageddon :) Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

JSCNASA281 karma

One thing that is correct... We are serious about our jobs most of the time. And we have astronaut's lives in our hands and the fate of human spaceflight on the line. Incorrect? We speak with more acronyms and you might find our conversations boring-sounding. And we don't all look like movie stars. Dina Contella, Steel Flight

lauren_91455 karma

What is your thought process like when you encounter a situation that you have not trained for? Can you give us an example of a time that this happened for you?

JSCNASA885 karma

Hi, lauren_91. I was on console when we were faced with an issue during a space walk (EVA) when a crew member's helmet started filling with water. We train extensively for EVAs and try to deal with suit and space walk anomalies. In this case, no-one had ever encountered such a failure. However, during training, we did cover situations where the crew's life might be in danger and how to go about terminating a space walk. We drew upon these lessons to work out a plan to get the crew (Luca) back inside the airlock safely. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

JSCNASA200 karma

A lot of our training is focused on being prepared for the unexpected. We have to be sure to keep an open mind, not get attached to the first piece of data we're given, not getting fooled into over-simplifying a complex situation. Operating vehicles in space, our first expectation is that the specific failures we train on are not going to be the failures we see. In that way, each failure situation is different from the ones we've trained for and that's what makes this job so fun!

The closest I have to an example is the day my team was faced with a cooling loop failure. We'd trained for a number of versions of that failure scenario, but on the day a valve failed in a way that was totally unexpected. The team adapted our response to the needs of the day to be successful.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

michaelmills09342 karma

How do satellites deal with "space junk"? Will we start to see more debris falling from space like the Chinese Space Station? How could it be "cleaned"?

JSCNASA474 karma

For ISS, we work with the US Air Force Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC)

JSpOC notifies Mission Control if we are going to have a close approach, hopefully with a few days notice but it has been as little as a few hours. If there is a sufficiently high probability of collision, we will work with our Russian partners at MCC-Moscow to burn the engines and bump ISS in a slightly different orbit to miss the debris. This is outlined in much greater detail in the book (an entire chapter, in fact).

In general the debris environment in low earth orbit has become worse over the last decade or so and is a problem the international community has been working to address but there is no clear answer as yet.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

Ohm_eye_God129 karma

What about micro-meteoriods? Has the ISS ever been struck by minuscule space stuff?

JSCNASA285 karma

Oh yes, all of the time. ISS is shielded against debris up to about 1 cm (depending on the velocity) but the exterior has lots of small pits. We do occasional photo surveys to keep track of the damage and in some cases do things like warn spacewalking astronauts if they will encounter a sharp edge.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

michaelmills0940 karma

How often does the ISS need to maneuver to miss being hit?

JSCNASA113 karma

In the past couple of years we (ISS) haven't had to maneuver to avoid debris (crossing fingers) but we have had years where we had to perform several in one year. However, as Saturn Flight notes, we do get many notifications every year and have a system designed to determine probability and likelihood of conjunctions. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

JSCNASA116 karma

Hi michaelmills09. Satellites, including ISS, deal with space junk by maneuvering out of their way. As for cleaning space, there are several cubesats planned to be deployed from ISS that are testing various technologies to deal with capturing space junk like harpoons and nets! David Korth - Odyssey Flight

mleidlein332 karma

In the time since the space race, much of the public has lost interest in space exploration. What do you think needs to happen to spark the same kind of interest in space exploration today?

JSCNASA402 karma

I think the progress the commercial companies are making, and the fact that we're getting closer to making spaceflight an adventure 'regular' people can take part in will certainly help folks get more excited. In mission control we're continuing to partner with a wide variety of commercial companies and the ISS program provides a good destination to help further develop and expand the spaceflight community with the goal of enabling space access for all.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

acidus1316 karma

What part of your job does the public have no idea about?

JSCNASA656 karma

Our whiteboards are just as impossible to erase as everyone else's. While I've (happily) got "Tough and Competent" permanently etched on my board with dry erase marker, I've also got years of other ghost scribblings lurking underneath my most recent scribblings. You can land a man on the moon, but you can't.... :) - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA440 karma

We don't all have PhD's (well except for our illustrious executive editor that is . Dr. Bob Dempsey has his degree in Astrophysics).
Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight

computertech307 karma

"Hi my name is Solly -I am 12yrs old and I live in Pennsylvania. Thank you for answering questions. What is the best way to become an astronaut? "

JSCNASA361 karma

Hi, Solly. I am from Pennsylvania too. My team name is Liberty Flight because I grew up in the Philadelphia area. The best way to become an astronaut is to first find something you love to do. You have to work very hard to become an astronaut and loving what you do will help you persevere and compete. Stay focused and learn all you can about NASA and human spaceflight. Brian Smith, Liberty Flight.

JSCNASA194 karma

Most importantly to do what you are passionate about. And math and science. In high school it would be good to get experience in team building activities. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

rocketmonkee282 karma

Wait - if you're all here then who is directing MCC!?

JSCNASA333 karma

Yikes! On the way.... (just kidding, Peridot Flight has it right - TJ is in charge right now) - Dina Contella, Steel Flight

JSCNASA232 karma

Hi rocketmonkee! Right now, TJ Creamer is directing the MCC. Since we have a Flight Director 'on console' around the clock, all year long we have a team of about 27 Flight Directors so that we can not only cover the shifts in the MCC but also do all the advance planning required to make future missions successful.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

JSCNASA126 karma

I thought Em was over there Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight

RonDunE257 karma

What are your plans to de-orbit International Space Station? Can she be kept up beyond 2024 and be placed in some low maintenance orbit for future generations to experiment on?

JSCNASA298 karma

Hey, RonDunE. We have worked with our international partners on a plan to deal with de-orbiting the space station in the event of a contingency that would render the ISS unsafe for crew habitation. The basic idea is to target re-entry of the station over the South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area (SPOUA) to minimize casualties. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

_shreb_134 karma

The other side of u/RonDunE 's question still stands though. Are there any plans to move the station into a higher/lower maintenance orbit, so that it never has to deorbit? It seems a real shame to just let it burn up after so much money/time has gone into its creation and maintenance.

JSCNASA359 karma

Currently no plans to move it to a different orbit. For one thing, accelerating that much mass to get it to a higher orbit requires a lot of propellant! The deorbit plan, as an example, needs about 6 months from start to finish to lower the orbit just enough to grab the atmosphere, and it'll take multiple Progress cargo ships of propellant to do it. I've been working on Space Station Mission Ops since prior to launch of the FGB, so I think of ISS as "my baby." That said, it's going to get to a point where the structure is no longer able to safely sustain a human presence and then it will fail completely. We need to deorbit it before it can be a risk to human life or become space debris. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

Dubspecter224 karma

What will be the purpose of going back to the moon ? Is it just a "training facility" to prepare for mars ? I was wondering if its worth the effort

JSCNASA386 karma

As an operations person, we have learned a tremendous amount just by keeping people in low earth orbit on Space Station. It was very challenging, for example, to get the Urine Processing Assembly fine tuned.

I know that a future mission to the moon (or anywhere outside of low earth orbit) would generate a tremendous amount of practical experience that would be applicable to the longer flight to Mars.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

JSCNASA187 karma

In addition to the experience noted by Saturn Flight, I'll add that we will be continuing our international partnership in our mission there, something that is critical for a trip to Mars (which will be a very expensive and time-consuming development effort and journey). In addition to refreshing our experience with the moon, our partnership has not had the experience there , and they will be able to develop expertise there. Dina Contella, Steel Flight

thxxx1337218 karma

Have any of you picked out any prime real estate on Mars yet?

JSCNASA589 karma

As a kid, I was given a certificate for a 1 square foot area on Mars. I have no idea which square foot it is but I hope its near water. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

JSCNASA139 karma

Nope, but we're checking with our colleagues at JPL for ideas.

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

AintNoSkrub161 karma

If I join your work force do y'all promise to tell me about the aliens?

JSCNASA217 karma

Yes. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

JSCNASA221 karma

Please stand by; Odyssey Flight is being reinformed. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

ChillDude4763161 karma

  1. Is it posible to live on Mars?

  2. Can a Candian join NASA? I read that NASA is part of USA's department of defense, so it only allows American citizens to work for them. Is that true?

JSCNASA231 karma

  1. That's the goal
  2. To be a federal employee yes. If you just mean working at the Johnson Space Center then no. We have people from all over the world working here in the International Program that is ISS.
    Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight

OMGisCarolein151 karma

How do you train astronauts to "get along" with each other?

Edit: Fixed typo

JSCNASA251 karma

Good question OMGisCarolein. First we try to select people who generally get along with other people. In other words, people that are team players and easy going. We then help train them to understand what life is like on the ISS. By this we show them what activities can be stressful. We also show them your body goes through physical changes (your face gets puffy in weightlessness) so they don't misinterpret a simple reaction. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

JSCNASA138 karma

Astronauts also spend a lot of time training together as a team once they are assigned to an expedition. This helps them build social as well as technical bonds.
David Korth - Odyssey Flight

HometimeGroupie140 karma

A requirement for application includes a bachelor's degree in select fields from an accredited university. Would you consider an applicant with supervisory experience operating a nuclear submarine engineering department when said applicant did not receive a degree from the USN? I'm curious if that experience carries any weight around NASA HR.

JSCNASA203 karma

Federal employment requirements are pretty specific, and in my experience the need for a degree from an accredited university is a pretty strict one. I can't speak for HR, but though that experience certainly carries weight with us (thank you for your service) I'm afraid it may not meet the regs.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

Godloseslaw126 karma

What was it like during the flood of Hurricane Harvey? I heard some folks slept there.

Thanks. Keep up the good work.

JSCNASA194 karma

Yes, there were a number of us camped out in Mission Control - flight controllers, along with security and center ops folks to keep the lights on. Plus there was a large team testing the James Webb Space Telescope across the street. It was tough - especially since most of us, including the crew onboard ISS, were wondering how our homes were faring.

After the storm passed, the work really started - folks pitched in to help colleagues and neighbors. It was a crazy couple of weeks - and many folks are still recovering.

Thanks for the question! Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

Deblee83108 karma

How do you stay calm in a crisis and what has been a situation that has pushed you to your limits?

JSCNASA213 karma

Hey Deblee83. I was flight director on console during the water in the helmet space walk (EVA) back in July 2013. When we learned of the severity of the situation, the first things that came to mind were keeping the team talking so they would keep thinking. It is very easy to "freeze in the moment" so you want to keep talking and thinking and promote evaluating the problem and finding solutions. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

JSCNASA101 karma

Well, first Deblee83 it helps to be someone who doesn't freak out easily. But we also train for these sorts of situations. We train a lot. We go through many simulations where there are a lot of failures so we learn how to approach a problem - even one we have never seen before. We learn how to react. Dr. Bob

JSCNASA91 karma

A vast majority of our training is in simulations where they focus on increasing the pressure all day. We learn how to adapt under pressure and skip the "freak out" when the crisis happens and go straight to a calm, measured response. Even if it's something we haven't seen before, we have confidence in the team working in Mission Control to work together to finding the best possible outcome. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

KnightroUCF106 karma

Something I’ve always been curious about is how much planning actually goes into a spacewalk and why are they so long?

Sure I’m sure it takes a ton of effort to get in and out of their suits, but I would think from a human performance standpoint having a break would help an astronaut to maintain peak performance when they need to be focused.

JSCNASA144 karma

Thanks for the question. Sometimes planning for a spacewalk can take many months, with the instructors training the crew in many facilities. That could include training in our large pool, training in vacuum chambers, and training a facility devoted to building the actual spaceflight hardware. Sometimes, we can perform a spacewalk with much less preparation if we have to, but the crew is often less efficient and can run into problems that we hadn't prepared for. It does take a lot of effort to get into and out of spacesuits and depressing the airlock to vacuum and back up again. This cycle increases risk for our crew in terms of potential for getting "the bends." We carefully plan the ending of the EVA at about 6 hours and 30 minutes to manage both consumables like oxygen and also ensure our crewmembers are not too tired to continue. - Dina Contella, Steel Flight

JSCNASA110 karma

I was the lead Flight Director for a spacewalk in 2014 where we went from having a failure to being out the door in approximately 36 hours. This is atypical. A lot of factors aligned to make this possible. It was a lot of fun working with a lot of amazing people to pull that all together. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

liamjkennedy92 karma

Is there some particular event you were involved with that stands out as a "This is why I do this" moment?

Liam Kennedy Inventor of the ISS-Above

JSCNASA194 karma

I was the lead Flight Director for the SpaceX CRS-9 mission that brought the International Docking Adapter (IDA) to ISS in 2016. When we were trying to remove the IDA from Dragon's trunk, the tether on one of the bolts got caught on a handrail. It effectively tied the IDA into the Trunk. My amazing team of ROBOs, OSOs, the MER (Engineers), Canadian robotic experts, and SpaceX flight controllers and engineers worked together to very carefully and slowly untangle. There's no option to do a spacewalk inside the Trunk so we only had the SPDM robot, controlled by my ROBO flight controller, to get it unsnagged. Leading an amazing team to overcome challenges like that - that's why I do this. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA89 karma

For me, it would be the successful end to solving a big problem on board the space station. We have even clapped in the control center when something really big has happened - smiles and handshakes all around. Dina Contella, Steel Flight

LeftLegCemetary84 karma

What's worse, the fake moon landing conspiracy theory, or the flat earth conspiracy theory?

JSCNASA116 karma

They're both pretty wrong.

Here's some live video of our nice round Earth:

And here's our ISS in front of the moon:

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

Zook_Jo80 karma

Are aliens real?

JSCNASA216 karma

Great question - but since none have applied to join our space programs yet, we don't know either!

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

bishop08373 karma

What has been the weirdest thing to happen while on the job? On a similar note, what was the coolest thing to happen?

JSCNASA265 karma

We are not in communications 100% of the time, we have comm dropouts of 10-20 minutes from time to time depending on how heavily loaded our relay network is.

During that time, people get up and walk around to take a break. One weekend night at about 3 AM, my Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO) went for a walk.

Johnson Space Center is beautiful and we have a lot of wildlife in the area. Well, my ADCO came in smelling quite strongly of skunk! He was sprayed outside, and it smelled terrible. I sent him home. Poor guy heard about that for years.

Coolest thing is getting called on my phone from space driving home (they have a phone, and when I'm the lead for a crew they often call me after hours to strategize about work, give me some feedback, or just shoot the breeze).

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

JSCNASA145 karma

This one wins for both weirdest and coolest: we drank recycled urine in Mission Control to commemorate the final commissioning of the onboard systems that recycle urine and condensate into drinking water. (It tasted fine!)

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

JSCNASA110 karma

Courtenay, I thought this was filmed in MCC that day... - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA111 karma

You know one things I love about this job is that it is never dull and always changing. So like the day the Japanese Flight Director told me they just had an earthquake. Or the time the space toilet broke and I spent the weekend helping the astronauts fix it (See chapter 16 of the book). The coolest thing was getting to give a tour to Stephen Hawking. Dr. Bob

grounded_astronaut64 karma

What's the difference between controlling for a space station vs a satellite? Do you have any advice for somebody who's just starting out in this field? I'm about to start my new job as a systems engineer working on the satellite side of things. Anything I should be on the lookout for to add to my resume?

JSCNASA90 karma

Well controlling a satellite is definitely a challenge but those systems tend to be fairly simple and automated. I worked with Hubble for years and if there was a problem it mainly would just go into a safe mode and wait for instruction. The ISS has people on board and is an extremely complicated system. Since we are trying to operate a variety of experiments things are always changing and dynamic. We also have to be able to make repairs. Since we have people on board we always have to send food and clothes. These are all described in the book in great detail. As to your career - satellites are cool, but working on the ISS program is awesome! Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

GillyGoodGosh46 karma

What projects are you looking forward to in the future?

Edit: I removed most of the question for simplicity.

Also, thanks for the responses!

JSCNASA77 karma

It's a really awesome time to be in human spaceflight. We've moved beyond "can we live long term in low earth orbit" to trying hard to maximize the research and commercialization of low Earth orbit. We're actively working on a variety of ways to enable exploration beyond Earth - from crew transports (Orion) to lunar orbit and surface exploration, to ultimately taking people to the Martian surface. Then there are the commercial ventures - crew transportation and space stations.
For me - I'm looking forward to getting humans beyond Earth again, and keeping them there! - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA66 karma

GillyGoodGosh, I'm really excited about the plans for building a 'Gateway' in a very high lunar orbit, which can not only serve as a jumping-off point for return to the moon, but will also be built to serve as the ship that will head out to Mars. Build-up of a vehicle that can make that trip will take a while, and those of us who really enjoy spaceflight operations are as excited about the build-up as we are about the eventual finished product.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

Moses_Snake41 karma

I read an article recently on how NASA over worked their employees 16 hours a day until they did a small mutiny to change that (they've been all let go after it), my question is: Are there times when it you guys feel like you're not being paid enough or that you're being over worked? If so, how do you think NASA can accomodate to it in the near future?

Thanks again for showing up, I love all the work you science nerds do!

JSCNASA67 karma

I think you are thinking of what was called the "Skylab Mutiny", which occurred when Mission Control oversubscribed the astronauts on the Skylab space station in the early 70's.

We drew from that event (and earlier in ISS) to keep the ISS crew to an 8.5 hour workday and try to give them as much schedule flexibility as possible because they become more efficient when they control their own time. For future missions, the more flexibility the crew can be given in general the better off they are, although it's not always possible due to coordination with the ground, critical events, etc.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

co20040038 karma

What is the meaning of life? Just kidding, based on your experiences, what leadership qualities have you found to be most effective toward completing a mission and keeping morale high in crisis situations? I'm a mechanical engineering student going into the air force after I graduate so I'm just curious

JSCNASA69 karma

Patience and teamwork skills are incredibly important. "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is a great mantra for this job. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA52 karma

  1. And I am not kidding. As to leadership - being open minded is extremely important. And this helps in general - whether it be "how can I make this safer?", "I wonder why that is doing that?" to listening to your co-workers about their issues, concerns and proposals. Space is more creative than any fiction story so you have to keep your mind open. You can never predict what may happen so you don't want to have preconceived ideas. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

JSCNASA31 karma

In addition to what Carbon Flight stated, I would add being a good listener and good communicator. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

Joker_for_President32 karma

Can the astronauts aboard ISS take new pictures of Uranus?

JSCNASA93 karma

Unfortunately, the Nikon cameras they use likely cannot resolve a 6th magnitude celestial object. :-;

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

JSCNASA36 karma

Uranus is pretty far away, but Don Pettit did get some great images of Venus transiting the sun.

  • Ed (Carbon Flight)

monkeyKILL4031 karma

Currently taking my dynamics course for my aerospace engineering degree and absolutely loving it. My professor recommends graduate school since dynamics plays a huge role in the aerospace industry. Is this true and do you recommend it? I do really want to go into graduate school but finances is the elephant in the room.

JSCNASA54 karma

I love dynamics! But you know what else plays a huge role in the aerospace industry? BS Aerospace Engineers! A lot of us started our career after finishing undergrad, and then found our way to a grad program after learning it partly on the job. Both paths work, it's just a matter of what will work for you.

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

JSCNASA35 karma

Yes, we use dynamics...but a heck of a lot of other areas too such as thermal, E&M, fluids, computer...

Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

AchieveOrbit25 karma

I know there have been many lessons learned over the years from the various programs. Have there been any lessons learned from ISS that have changed the way mission control operates?

JSCNASA45 karma

Oh yes, we learn new lessons every day!

For example, shorter spaceflights (think the Space Shuttle) put the entire crew on a tight timeline down to the minute.

This still works for certain activities (like a spacewalk). We've found, however, that the more a crew can "self schedule" and control what they do during the day the more efficient they become. We give them a job jar of activities to work called the "task list".

If you take a look at the book, there are a lot more details on the crew scheduling and many other things we have learned!

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight.

JSCNASA26 karma

Operating the ISS 24/7, 365 days a year for over 18 years we have learned many things and adapted mission control accordingly. It takes a lot of people to maintain the operations. Scaling the amount of people we need at various times is something that needs to be done carefully. We have adapted this over time. We have also adapted mission control to deal with natural disasters that have forced us to relocate mission control ...several times. There are great references to this in book. Brian Smith, Liberty Flight.

JSCNASA25 karma

ISS is really the first long duration mission that we have operated. Every year there are flight controllers on console during the major holidays, weekends and nights. That is true for all of the control centers for the 5 International Partners and our commercial providers when they are on board. There are several references to this in the book as well.
Download the complete book from the NASA e-books site: Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight

Wutchu_fitna_fuc_wit25 karma

Do you believe we will find evidence of life in space?

JSCNASA81 karma

Absolutely! Every time I'm in mission control, I see evidence of life in space on our cameras - 6 humans alive and well on the International Space Station. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

siddhu241122 karma

Tough questions - What was the contingency plan if the manned maneuvering unit of Bruce McCandless II failed during his EVA. His image of walking in untethered in space is still my favorite pic. But it always gives me the creeps that you are floating in space with nothing attached.

Tough question 2 - if we see a chain reaction situation similar to the one depicted in the movie gravity. Are we prepared for it?

Thank you and greetings from India.

JSCNASA37 karma

I can get the first part of that -

If the MMU (which has been retired for some time) had a failure the space shuttle could have maneuvered to go get him.

We have a smaller maneuvering pack called the SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue) that the astronauts carry on all spacewalks today. It is designed to allow an astronaut to fly back to ISS if they become untethered during a spacewalk since ISS cannot maneuver to get them.

This should never happen. Much of spacewalk training and operations revolve around tether protocol and safety so that a crew member does not come untethered, ever.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

JSCNASA24 karma

Bruce McCandless was performing his spacewalk based from the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle was able to maneuver with jets to go get him if necessary. On the International Space Station, our astronauts performing space walks don't float out using a backpack but they wear a backpack to fly back to the station if they were to accidentally 'fall off' (become untethered). As to the second question, we try to avoid collision in space by maneuvering the space station. We train in the control center and also train our crews in case of rapid depressurization of the space station, and we can bring our crew home in the Soyuz spacecraft in many scenarios. Dina Contella, Steel Flight

BAGOTOV20 karma

How stressful is your job?

JSCNASA38 karma

We all love what we do and the training, simulation, and years of experience we put in before we are put in the Flight Director chair prepare us pretty well.

So, I do not consider it particularly stressful - although after a pretty hectic sim I definitely need to unwind for a bit to shut my mind down.

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

JSCNASA38 karma

One of the foundations of what we do in Mission Control is: "To always be aware that, suddenly and unexpectedly, we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has the ultimate consequences." Sometimes the job is very stressful and sometimes not as much. The thing is you never know which case you will be in when you walk into Mission Control. We are always ready for a stressful day. Brian Smith, Liberty Flight.

JSCNASA34 karma

There's two parts of our job. We spend ~35% of a year on console in Mission Control and the rest is off console planning and preparing for the variety of missions or tasks we're leading. The on console part is, for me, the lowest stress. The off console part can be stressful when you're trying to pull multiple teams together for various projects and trying to get it all done within a schedule and budget. There's a fine line for stress - up to a point, stress can be a good thing. We're always doing our best to make sure we don't cross that line. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

JSCNASA30 karma

This job is not a walk in the park. But we have spent our careers training for it. I find the Mission Control part of the job to be less stressful than some of the other parts of the job - it is a leadership role where we have to give a lot of presentations, lead large meetings, and making a lot of decisions outside of the control center on a constant basis. But, the trade off is that this job is extremely rewarding! Dina Contella, Steel Flight

_Haddaway19 karma

What is love?

JSCNASA57 karma

Baby don't hurt me

Zer0Summoner18 karma

What movie had the most accurate depiction of NASA flight control?

JSCNASA38 karma

Apollo 13! We use that for training new flight controllers. And it is just an awesomely fun movie! Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

bordsskiva16 karma

What’s the most sweaty experience you’ve experienced during a launch of any kind?

JSCNASA32 karma

bordsskiva, I had a chance to watch a Soyuz launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. I was told it would be cold and windy but that evening the weather was unseasonably warm so i sweated a lot in my sweater and coat! It's usually rather cold out on the kosmodrome. David Korth - Odyssey Flight

sp00kykenny15 karma

how long does it take to plan a launch ?

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Launches are really complicated to plan. This is an extremely dangerous phase of flight since only a small perturbation or system failure can lead to an explosion. And if people are on it that makes it tougher. Chapter 5 details how much time it takes to plan a mission to give you a feel - years. I have been working on one of the new crewed vehicles - the Boeing Starliner - and we have been planning the choreography of the first launch for a bout 4 years. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

AttackPenguin66615 karma

19 yr. old studying Mech and Elec Eng at Bath Uni in the UK here. Was wondering how many people from the UK you have over there? I am aware that the policy on non-US citizens working for a Government/International company is strict, but do you still get colleagues from other countries who have achieved citizenship through being valuable enough to get a job at NASA, if that makes sense. Or just in general do you have people from other countries there :) and question 2: have a Trappist 1e? Poster on my wall, and I've always been interested in the possibilities of expanding to other solar systems. Naturally the problem of the travel time is huge. What solutions do you see emerging first for the human race, if we should progress so far? I follow decently on gravity slingshots, plasma engines and solar webs and the like (I think webs is the wrong word. But solar wind powered.) I could go on, but I'd like to open it up for your ideas. Appreciate your time :)

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Well the "I" in ISS stands for international! So we have people from all over. I work regularly with Russians - something amazing considering where we were years ago. And British astronaut Mike Foale as been in space! Well unfortunately I think the only real way to explore other solar systems for many years will be to observe the light and radio emissions from them. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

Threeknucklesdeeper15 karma

Ever see any UFOs?

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Unidentified Funny Observers? Yes. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

SirPsycoSxy11 karma

Im sure you guys do a lot of really serious work, but are there any examples of having fun and messing around? Like do astronauts ever play zero-gravity pranks on eachother?

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My favorite is from Expedition 14, on April 1, we reacquired video communications and one crewmember was applying chest compressions on another. April Fools! (Liberty Flight was not amused)

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

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Oh all the time - part of the fun!

Scott Kelly in a gorilla suit - a classic!

Mike Lammers Saturn Flight

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Yes and we play pranks on each other. For example replacing the Shuttle icon on the world map with Santa Claus on December 25th. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

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What would you say to someone who thought the world is flat?

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Here's a link to the view from the International Space Station.

Dina Contella, Steel Flight

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Here's some live video of our nice round Earth:

Courtenay McMillan Tranquility Flight

TheBritishUnknown4 karma

What would you do in the event of being told we had found microbial life on Mars?

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As an astrophysicist I would be very excited. We want to go to Mars to study things just like that but we still have to develop the technology to get there. That is what we are trying to do with the ISS. Knowing there was life would just help speed that process along. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

Kefrif3 karma

Hi All - please forgive me if these questions are dumb, but I have a couple I'd like to ask:-

  1. Those of you who worked the Shuttle missions - what is the most obvious difference between working a short term Shuttle mission and the longer term Station Expeditions?

  2. Let's say - for the sake of argument - a situation existed on ISS that was similar to Skylab 4. The crew gets hacked off with an overbearing workload and decides to down tools. Unlikely to happen, I know, but say it does. Would it be negotiation time, or would Mission Control just have to wait it out? Has it ever happened before?

  3. Which Flight Director from history do you guys look up to most?

Cheers from the UK!!

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  1. The predictability of our schedule. When we were assigned to shuttle missions our families had to be ready for us to bail on holiday plans if the shuttle launch plan changed. Longer-term ISS missions allow for slightly more dependable scheduling.
  2. We have worked hard for years to ensure we have robust lines of communication between the mission control team and the crews in space. If the crew on-board is unhappy we arrange for time to talk through issues long before they become big enough for anything close to a Skylab 4 event. We also have incredibly professional and patient astronauts!
  3. Well, Chris Kraft's name is on Mission Control, so we look up to him every day we walk in the building!

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

gameraider5052 karma

You have some of the coolest jobs at nasa. So I have three questions. 1) what did you want to be when you was younger? 2) do you believe that going to the moon was the engineers dream and not the astronauts? 3)What education do you guys have? Thanks if you answer and you guys just remember there is no mission with mission control.

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Thank you for the questions! I wanted to be a doctor, but when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded when I was in high school, I decided that human exploration was the path I wanted to take - it just suddenly seemed very important to continue to explore. I think going to the moon was everyone's dream. I have a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering. Thanks for your support!! Dina Contella, Steel Flight

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1) An astronaut - but in the end I got an even cooler job! 2) Going to the moon was for political and for scientific reasons. 3) Generally BS in math and science but also MS and PhDs! Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

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1 I really didn't have an idea I could become a Flight Director when I was young. Once I got to JSC I knew I wanted to be a Flight Director. 2 I think going to the moon was the dream of anyone whoever looked up in the sky and wondered. 3 We all have at least a Bachelors degree. The actual requirements for the job can be found here: Want to be a flight director? NASA is accepting applications until Tuesday, April 17:

TheHeisenbergJr2 karma

What does your job consist of when you aren’t directing flights?

JSCNASA3 karma

Check out Chapter 10 of our new book:

In addition to planning for future missions we spend a lot of time preparing ourselves and the flight controllers for time in Mission Control.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

DankusMemerus2 karma

What do you think the next step will Be after Mars?

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We'd need to have a fundamental change in how we do propulsion, life support, and really our whole paradigm of human space exploration, but I'd really like to see us put humans on Titan or one of the other moons of Jupiter. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

smwrshp2 karma

What do you do for a living?

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I'm a published author: Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight

nagsy1 karma

What's your assessment of the movie Apollo 13?

JSCNASA1 karma

Awesome film. Watch it again and again.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

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Two thumbs up. Dina Contella, Steel Flight

trumpsmokesk21 karma

what do you have to say to the people who think nasa faked the moon landing? or any of the conspiracies on nasa

JSCNASA1 karma

It would be much easier to get to the moon that to fake it and expect our team to keep a secret.

Emily Nelson, Peridot Flight

cepaco1 karma

Ignoring what is feasible right now, what would you want either you or your successors to accomplish? Whats the dream?

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Ignoring what is feasible? Maybe writing a "part 2" to our book that covers the research and utilization phase of the ISS given that the current book took 4 years from "idea" to public release. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

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Hey guys! How have the improvements of technology affected your every-day roles during your career? Has there been an increase in waryness around cyber attacks?

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Just like everywhere else in our lives and our world, improvements of technology has had its goods and its bads. Back in the early days, NASA had to drive computer technology forward so we could get enough computing power to run MCC and go to the moon. Nowadays, we leverage off the shelf computers, letting other industries (e.g. gaming) drive computing technology forward and we just utilize it. That's awesome. But yes, we also have had to increase our wariness of cyber attacks and institute multiple layers of protection both on the ground and in orbit. You can never be too careful. - Ed (Carbon Flight)

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After watching some livestreams of launches, it seems there’s a decent amount of downtime for many of the operations staff. What do folks at KSC do to stave off boredom in the control center?

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I can't speak for KSC...but at JSC chapters 5 and 10 of the book will give you some really good insight. Dr. Bob Galileo Flight

TheHeisenbergJr1 karma

What sort of education/degrees does it take to qualify for your position?

JSCNASA1 karma

Described in here: If the book inspires you to want to be a flight director, NASA is accepting applications until Tuesday, April 17:

Royce Renfrew Tungsten Flight