June 27, 2012
The Academies drove from Palmdale, CA, to Mojave, CA, for the first tour at Scaled Composites, a private aerospace company that specializes in experimental air and space craft. The company is most widely known for the Voyager aircraft, which was the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling, and the Space Ship and White Knight, the air- and spacecraft combo that will be used by Virgin Galactic. The Glenn Academies met up with the other NASA Academies while obtaining their visitor badges at Scaled Composites.The first part of the tour consisted of a quick introductory remarks given by the Vice President of Engineering, regarding the company’s history and goals. The group was then divided into three smaller groups to be given a tour of the facility. Scaled Composites had many experimental aircraft hanging from the ceiling, as with others on the floor. The most memorable part of the tour was seeing Space Ship Two and White Knight Two. While the group was not allowed to take pictures of the spacecraft, most still remember it very vividly. The tail section was in its folded position, which, we were told, was quite a rarity. Most of the group briefly saw inside the White Knight Two’s cockpit.
The second tour that day was at Edwards Air Force Base, particularly NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC). That is also where the Academies ate lunch before the start of the tour. Unfortunately, due to some unknown reasons, the speaker for the first hour of the tour was cancelled, leaving most of the interns the opportunity to visit Dryden’s Gift Shop. After an hour, the tour of the Dryden Flight Research Center facility started. The group got to peek inside of a hanger that housed a Gulf Stream D3 which contained experimental instruments. The plane was undergoing a pre-flight check and the interns had to stay at a certain distance. In another small hanger, an antique lunar lander was stored. The lander was actually used to train astronauts on landing on the moon. The Academies also saw two Global Hawk and a blended wing model being used for sound analysis.
June 28, 2012
On the second day, the Glenn Academies had a special treat and visited General Atomics, thanks to Molly, the Logistics and Operation Manager of the Space Academy. General Atomics is a private company that specializes in the development and building of UAVs. The first part of the tour consisted of a quick introduction by our tour guides. We were then led through their hanger where UAVs are constructed. This was the first tour in which a company went through the entire building process for UAVs. Along the way, the tour guide Christian asked the group pop quiz questions about aircraft and materials. At the end, we were able to hand in our resumes, if desired. The group thanked the tour guides for the well-planned and in-depth tour.
The last tour that day was at the Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach, CA. For this tour all the Academies from the different centers were in attendance. The group was lucky enough to be able to walk inside a Boeing C-17 that was 20 days from being fully completed. The rest of the tour consisted of walking through spars, over wings, and around tails. The amount of knowledge we gained about how an airplane was mass produced was something the group could not gain anywhere else.
June 29, 2012
The last day of the California trip was the best for just about every intern. The first tour was of the Boeing’s Phantom Works in which the group got a tour of the composite lab and a presentation of the blended wing-body aircraft under development by Boeing. Lunch was provided by Boeing in the form of boxed lunches with sandwiches and fruit. The Academies’ next visit was Space X in Hawthorne, CA. This tour might have been everyone’s favorite. The wonderful woman who gave us the introductory presentation was very up-beat, and the group soon found out that the entire company was exactly thr same. We were split into two groups and proceeded to get a tour of the facility. One group was lucky enough to have a tour guide who was the 2011 Logistics and Operation Manager for the Space Academy at Glenn. The first thing each intern saw was the dragon capsule. The RAs had a chance to poke their heads into the one that was modeled for human transport. SpaceX makes most of their parts in-house and the group got to see how they did it. The tour guide was able to go into great detail on how they built the dragon capsule and rocket.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) tour was another instance in which the Glenn Academies received a tour. The other Academies did not make it to JPL which is on the out skirts of Pasadena, CA. During the JPL tour, the group received a quick presentation on the new Mars Lander and the history of JPL in a room that had models of previous satellites. During the visit, the group toured various facilities dedicated to the Mars lander. One building housed a simulated environment with a twin of the rover, as well as, a triplet to Opportunity and Spirit. We also visited the Mission Control Room which is the enter for monitoring the rovers and other satellite communications. Overall, the group was able to take numerous pictures about the cool things at JPL.