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Thursday, June 12, 2008

NASA - Here in Moses Lake?

NASA has been testing some robots and equipment for use on the moon, and they chose Moses Lake - of all places - to do the testing. And of course we had to take the boys out to see it!

Here are some of the robots that NASA, along with a couple prestigious universities, were testing out.

The lady standing by this little one, with the walkie talkie, is helping to direct the robot as it moves around the dunes.

These are two mobile habitat pods that they are attempting to dock together, from Houston. It's pretty cool to see these things rolling around. They look like giant bugs!

These are closer shots of the mobile habitats. Just a big, empty tube when they are connected. The outside rigging, with all the wheels and boxes and contraptions is pretty cool lookin'!

This is a picture of a crane lifting system that they are testing for use on the moon, to help with the payload that is too heavy, or too tall, for the astronauts to handle. Farther back, you can see two astronauts on what they call a Chariot. I'll get to more pictures of that, just below.

Here are closer pictures of the Chariot. There are two turrets on it, for it to be manned by two people. However, it can be remotely driven by Houston, and they tried that out, too. The docking stations where the guys stand are called turrets, because like on a tank with a shooting turret, they can rotate 360 degrees. There are six wheels on it, that are on independent suspension from each other, so they can go over any terrain.

Here are the boys, waiting to get in to see the space suits again. Can ya tell they're bored? :)

This is a picture of the "soft" space suit. Anywho, it's called a "soft" suit because it has a soft shell, that only gets hard when it's inflated with air. It makes it more mobile and flexible for the astronauts to move around in it.

These are pictures of the "hard" space suits. The entire shell is hard, from about the bicep area, down to the mid-thigh area. It's a rear-entry suit, so the astronauts have to step into it through the back, feet first. There wasn't much room in the little trailer we were in, to get a decent picture, but it's pretty cool to see this suit in person. Now I won't have to go to Cape Canaveral, since I've seen one here in podunk Moses Lake....or something.

NASA is trying to weigh the pros and cons of each suit, and try to combine the best attributes of each one of them, for their mission to the moon. The "soft" suit weighs about 160 pounds (I think, or somewhere there abouts), and the "hard" suit weighs in around 220. I vote for the lighter one!

I guess NASA is doing this testing to see if they can get a lunar outpost built by 2020. There are about 10 places that NASA considers high priority for exploration on the moon, for scientific and commercial exploration. Apparently, platinum is abundant on the moon, so they are considering it for mining. Who knew? There is also Helium 3 up there, but I'm not sure what the big deal about that is.

It's just fun to be here while something so neat, and potentially important, is happening. And the boys REALLY enjoyed it!


The Petersons said...

Cool!!! I didn't know you lived in such a happening place. lol

Jess said...

WOW, you got A LOT of Pictures!! Daisy is at her new home and I am
sad :(

Mindy said...

I wanted to go see this but didn't find the time. Thanks for the pictures! I should have made time!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see your sons had such a great exposure to the future.
I was there as an University observer and was happy to see the positive attitude that NASA members had with the public and kids.
You are good parents to inspire your kids! Keep it up, reach for the stars!