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The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Exploration Test Flight 1: Cake Decorating Contest!

I have not had many opportunities to explore the Johnson Space Center so when I heard there was a cake decorating contest, and that everyone was invited to taste the results, I knew I had to attend! Here is that story!
I have made mention of the escort requirement on NASA sites many times in the last few updates. Since I am not a citizen of the United States of America, I have to be escorted at all times on NASA property. My internship this summer involves working within the Electrical Power Systems among some very interesting and experienced engineers. While some of the research centers seem to have a great internship/co-op program, with tours and lectures, the Johnson Space Center falls short in this regard. The positive side to this is that everyone is set to work straight away and works hard, but it has been difficult to feel embraced by this environment since I have seen so little of it. While I am sure I could be escorted around the site if I asked hard enough, I really do not want to be a burden, especially on people with better things to do. Therefore, if something exciting happens, like a cake contest, I have to do what I can to convince someone that it is an event they would want to go to. While convincing them to go to this event was easy, it is far more difficult to convince them to go to lectures in which I'm interested.

Anyway, not this time. This time, I had people excited, and I was good to go. Meeting up with Alix, my roommate, and some of the people in her office, we made our way over to building 3, home of one of the on-site cafeterias. We waited around, separated by the same dividers used in movie theatres, peering over shoulders, trying to see cake.

Finally, the doors opened, and we were allowed in! Now, as the title suggests, this was to honour the upcoming Exploration Test Flight 1, which will launch this December. The USA is working very hard to develop their own human spaceflight systems, especially now that Russia has the only way to send humans to space, and to the International Space Station.

Let us now take a closer look at these cakes!
This one, while poorly photographed, shows 3 figures outside of a semi-eaten Orion spacecraft. The figures are "Kerbalnauts" from the very popular game, Kerbal Space Program. The game allows you to create rockets, planes, and all kinds of things in order to get your people off the planet Kerbal, and on to other places, like the Mun! The game is so popular that NASA even teamed up with the game's developers, creating missions which resembled NASA's upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission!

Here, we see the Orion in better detail.
This was the most impressive cake by far. It depicts the Orion capsule splashing down in the ocean after a successful flight. The parachutes are real cake ingredients, they can be eaten, and they looked great! I also like the work done on the "water".
This next one was cute, and really shows off the asteroid redirect mission I had mentioned earlier. Here, you can see an astronaut sitting on the Orion capsule, lassoing an asteroid "Texas style"!
This next one was cute, and was actually one of the only chocolate cakes at the event. By this point, I was glad to have it as the fondant and the vanilla icing were starting to seriously dehydrate me, haha.
The next two videos show off two other impressive cakes. I apologize for taking the footage sideways.
In the video above, the Orion capsule has splashed down on the water, wherein astronauts would wait to be picked up after a mission, and here you can see a motor tilting the capsule back and forth as if it were on the waves. Pretty cool!

Speaking of cool, this next group decided to use dry ice to simulate decompression coming from the Orion capsule. As I recall, some people seemed slightly confused, wondering if the capsule was depicted as having crashed. I thought it was a neat idea.

And that's it! While I plan on vising some more places of interest at NASA's JSC, I am glad that I am taking the chances as they come. Stay tuned for more of my time and experience at NASA! Thanks for reading!

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