Want to see what's going up in

May 19, 2013 – 07:15 am

IRA test modelBy now, I am pretty much a professional NASA hangabout. I don’t need to use Google maps to narrate my journey to the press site anymore, I know the NASA organizers and engineers by name and I am having a blast with the charming and fun NASA Social crowd.

Today was a short day at Kennedy. We met up around 11 am, which is pretty civilized when you think that our meet-up time tomorrow is 12:15 am for the launch. Once everyone had boarded the busses, we took a trip to the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) where we would get a chance to view the new International Docking Adapter, or IDA, along with some of the experiments the astronauts will be conducting.

All of the NASA buildings are either built in the 1950’s or 60’s or they were designed to look as if they had been, which makes this a very immersive aesthetic experience. Each warehouse and office is a time travel trip in both directions; the future and the past. The SSPF is no exception. It is a classic monolithic structure in humble beige and brown. It is where everything that has ever travelled to a space station, by way of NASA, went to be tested and approved before it launched.

IRA test modelThe narrow hallways are lined with push-pin bulletin boards full of clippings of past successes and letters from kids. It looks and smells a little like a high school office and before long we were standing in front of a particularly unremarkable door, which opened up to a world of nerdy wonders that truly knocked our socks off.

The treasures were innumerable. I couldn’t possibly list them all. We just breezed past objects with labels like “Blast Shield” and “Important Space Object”, we turned the corner and found ourselves standing amongst rows of nodes, air locks and machines that were built to be tested for the International Space Station (ISS).

The main attraction, however, was IDA. IDA was designed with the intent to standardized spacecraft adapters across space agencies. At present, spacecraft that travel to the ISS, typically need to berth in order to dock. This isn’t an ideal way of docking since it isn’t a precise procedure. It can waste energy and time. In space, everything that can be conserved, makes a colossal difference.

Source: blogs.vancouversun.com

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