Sunday, 14 July 2013

Day One - Meeting Astronaut Don Thomas

How to become an Astronaut!

Dr Don Thomas is an inspiration to all. He wanted to be an Astronaut from 6 years of age. Although not very academic, he knew from a  very early age that if he wanted to reach for the stars that he would have to put in the hard work at school. Whereas his brother found
learning easy, Don didn't and would have to reread his work several times to gain an understanding. His aim was to do his best at school, even if it meant it was going to be extra work. Later after getting his physics degree he applied to NASA, and was surprised that he didn't hear back from them, except in the form of a letter to say thank you, but no thanks.

Two years later he applied again. This time receiving a postcard of thanks. Again another rejection. Not deterred he began to research successful applicants, why were they so special......well, they had a pilots licence, experience parachuting, scuba diving etc. So Don knew what he had to
do. Third application went with a little more confidence, but still declined, even after several FBI checks. Don realised
that nearly all the successful applicants had a link with NASA, some other employment. So he got a job at NASA.  By now
Don was 35 years old, applied again, and he finally got that call. After 4 years of training, Don finally shot up into space.

My first Mission
Us, educators have been placed into teams - I am on team Columbus. With 13 in our team we were given many different roles. Mine was to communicate between the Orion shuttle leaving the moon with the Commander Base and bring them safely back to Earth. It was a fun activity - that did not seem to be the full two and a half hours that it actually was. These guys have a very tough role and really shows how they have to keep very calm the whole time to ensure their communication skills are top notch!

Tomorrow we begin  a new challenge,  this time we are being assessed - wish me luck!

Now a question for you!
What happens if you were to light a candle in a space station with no gravity? Think about how heat rises! What would happen to the shape of the flame?
Explain your answer, and I will tell you later in the week the answer!
(I wonder which school will get the right answer!)

Meeting Astronaut Don Thomas
Our Space Mission Play Ground!

My role was CapCom - communicating with Mark who
was in the orbiter Orion.


  1. From Lienna: hard question, Sheva, and I'm still pondering on my answer. As there's oxygen the candle would burn; weightlessness would have some bearing on the flame's shape, but I'm not sure what it would be [still thinking!]. Sounds like a busy, interesting and fun-filled day you've had!

  2. You are correct, the oxygen would allow for the candle to burn, and the weightlessness would change the shape of the flame. So what shape would the flame become?

  3. Hi Mrs Butler, 5.3 here. Paige yelled out we miss you!! Have told her you can't hear what she said but we all think it's funny and we love Paigey!
    We have a new boy in our class called Harry and he is already part of the Year 5.3 family!
    Millie would love to know how it is all going and what the favourite part for you is so far.
    How did you go on your assessment challenge? Sarah has asked this.
    Heath wants to know if you have met any other famous astronauts, and Aaliyah and Heath believe the flame would be reversed so the large part is at the top with the pointy part at the bottom.
    Caitlin says the flame would be squiggly.
    Katie says the flame could be a circle.
    Joel says could the flame be a straight line?
    Jas thinks the flame will be really big.
    Nina says we can't wait to hear your reply and have you back at school.
    5.3 and Mrs Poncini (Unity College)

  4. Sorry for the late reply, this message has only just come through.

    Paige I miss you all too! I also keep telling the other teachers here, how much you guys would love to be doing all this too!

    Harry, you are going to really enjoy your new class, I look forward to meeting you in term 4.

    Millie, my favourite part so far.......let me think.....the shuttle mission. Especially when I got to put on a space suit (I will put the photos up here) and climb a wall with no gravity. They matched my weight to a water weight so that when I pushed off the floor, it was the same as being weightless. It was brilliant - but even trying to screw in a rod to the wall was difficult, as when ever I push the rod into the wall, I was pushing myself away. I had to anchor my feet to the side of the wall or hold on with one hand. But honestly there have been so many really really fun parts!

    Sarah, they still have not told us how we did on our assessment yet. Our shuttle did land safely - even if it was in the water! But hopefully we got great marks, as they marked us not only on our procedures, but also our communication skills and our time keeping (Mrs Poncini, I surprised myself and did really really well in this part!)

    As you know I met Don Thomas, who was brilliant, but also Ed Buckbee - although he is not an astronaut he had so many stories about them, as he knew them very well. Tomorrow I am meeting Dan Oates who is not an astronaut, but has done many great things for the space program. He is an educator who has a special gift for teaching blind children. He can teach blind children how to shoot rockets off to space and has been awarded onto the Hall of Fame here at the Rocket Centre.

    Caitlin and Katie, I love your answers. Because there is no gravity, heat will not rise. When we look at a flame the heat will move upwards, causing the shape of the flame that we all know. So Katie you are right, it would in fact just move outwards - forming a complete sphere, like a ball of flame.

    Joel and Jas, nice try. Why don't you see if you can answer another question.

    How long do you think it takes for an astronaut to get into all his space gear to go out for a space walk? There can be two answers....One if the Astronaut is testing the gear with technicians to help him.....or up in space with just another Astronaut?

    Nina I look forward to seeing you all too. Check out tomorrows blog......I have a suspicion that many of you would love to have joined in on the activities.


Any questions or comments that you would like to share......