A few weeks ago, a small group of NASA social media fans (including me!) were invited to cover the ISS One Year Crew news and get exclusive access to Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, on January 15, 2015. This event – my fifth NASA Social – was another one of those times when I couldn’t believe my good fortune. We would get a chance to meet NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, the crew heading to the International Space Station to live and work for a year.
The day began at 9:00 a.m. with a welcome to JSC. We were greeted at Rocket Park by Megan Sumner, Susan Anderson, Lori Wheaton, and Kathryn McLaurin – the women who would be escorting us around campus for the day. We also got a quick hello from former astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, Susan’s husband.
From there, we were whisked off to Building 30 — Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. Mission Control Centers — to see the International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control Viewing Room.
The ISS Control Room was calm on the day we visited, but that wasn’t the case the day before. An alarm on the ISS had sounded that indicated a possible ammonia leak. The U.S. astronauts were isolated in the Russian segment of the ISS while the extent of the situation was determined. NASA later confirmed that it was a false alarm. However, you can still see that the flight controllers were clearing off residual issues (notice the yellow and red on the far right big screen).
Our next stop was to the Apollo-era Mission Operations Control Room Floor, which is now a registered historic landmark. It was such a stark contrast to ISS Mission Control. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the consoles. Analog technology sent us to the moon, and this room is testament to how we were able to achieve so much with so little technology.
NASA-JSC photographer Robert Markowitz had set up a ladder to capture the group photo below. This photo is one for the virtual scrapbook for me. I am so honored and pleased to be in this photo taken in that room.
Next, we headed toward the briefing room in Building 2 for the ISS Program and Science Overview Briefing, featuring:
- Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager
- Emily Nelson, International Space Station expedition flight director
- Dr. Julie Robinson, International Space Station program scientist
- Dr. Steve Gilmore, lead flight surgeon for Scott Kelly
Given my recent medical adventures, the presentation by Dr. Robinson was the most interesting to me. She explained how shape, signaling, and gene expression are three ways that cells change their response in space. She also noted that we don’t know much about the risks and effects of space on the body from 6-12 months since missions on the ISS only last for 6 months.
Another interesting fact she shared is that mouse stem cells will be flown in space and will be returned to earth and inserted into mouse embryos and observed.
In total, about 300-400 science experiments will take place in the year that Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are aboard the ISS.
You can watch the full briefing below:
After a brief break, we arrived at the highlight of the day: the ISS One Year Crew news conference in Building 2, Studio B to hear:
- Gennady Padalka, Roscosmos; Expedition 44 Commander
- Scott Kelly, NASA; Expedition 43-44 Flight Engineer and Expedition 45-46 Commander
- Mikhail Kornienko, Roscosmos; Expedition 43-46 Flight Engineer
You can watch the news conference below:
After the cameras were turned off, our NASA Social group had the chance to get a photo with the One Year Crew. This is one of those moments, similar to Endeavour’s last launch, that I will never forget.
Before the crew left the studio, they signed the door that holds the signature of every U.S. astronaut that has gone to the ISS.
From the news conference, we headed to Building 9 – the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF). We toured ISS training modules and met the folks from NASA ARES.
Part of our tour of the SVMF was led by Dr. Liz Warren of @ISS_Research. There was a rush to take a photo of Dr. Liz Warren holding a $5 Canadian bill with a space robot theme.
Our next-to-last stop was to the Food Lab at JSC where Vickie Kloeris, Space Food Systems Laboratory Manager, spoke to us about the food that is provided to the astronauts aboard the ISS.
Our final stop on this mind-blowing day was a final talk about the effects of spaceflight on the human body from Dr. Charles Lloyd of the Human Research Program.
And, at 5:30 p.m., we ended this amazing day back at Rocket Park.
For more information and to find news about this mission on Twitter, check out the hashtag #ISS1Year on Twitter.
To see my full photo album of this day, head over to Photos.Frembes.com.