Wednesday, October 23, 2013


 NASTAR Training is complete.  Last night I flew home from Philadelphia after our last morning of flights and tests.  The three in my group were doing really well, myself Mark and Luis had been getting through the flight programs exposing our selves to various levels of G Forces on the X and Z and using our training to combat passing out also known as "G LOC" (G-Force induced Los Of Consciousness) and nice steady breathing under high pressure.

Tuesday we were performing the longer flights with X and Y G forces combined.  A bit tricky now we were to also combine the techniques for countering the effects.  So far I had not had one hint of nausea, you would thing with all of the high speed twisting and turning it would have happened early on.  Actually there a couple minor moments in the program that brought it on, small moves where there was nothing on my viewing screen except blue sky, but my brain could still feel movement.

They had these tiny little barf bags in the cabin of the gondola.  I fell in love with the little elf graphic!  He's not so happy to be bringing the bag, but then ecstatic when he has his bag full of gark.
The NASTAR engineers actually gave me one to take home.  Happy to report that Lil' Sic Sac did not have to come to my rescue.  The people at the center believe these might be original from the 50's.

There's a waiting area with monitors so we can watch each other get fuged.  I'll be uploading video from the cockpit of the more intense rides. I'm smiling in this one but not all.

Up in the right corner of the split screen you can see the GZ and GX readouts 6.0 G's definitely felt my face flattening out along with my lungs.  It does tickle in a strange way.

Afterwards we took a couple group pics, from left: Greg, Johnene, Luis, Me, Mark, Amer, and Tarah.
An amazing crew that gave us every confidence we could do it.

Sitting on the stairs of the gondola. The stairs close and become the rear bulkhead of the cockpit.  You can see the back of the chair with the 5 point harness and some of the control screen.

And of course I got the patch.  Someday I'll get a jacket to sew it on.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Excentrifugal Forz.

Today was the be work day at he NASTAR Center.  It was a nice small group of three two flight surgeons and the operators of this amazing G Force Centrifuge.  We performed a combination of G Force maneuvers, the first dealing with the "Y" axis.  The Y axis being straight up and down from your toes to your head.  This is the one that can make you pass out! The blood can get pushed straight out of your brain which makes it very hard to think and see.

The flight doctors Tarah and Johnene got us hooked up (Literally) with sensors on our chests and back.  There was a sports bra type apparatus the held another set of sensors.  We had to carry around our leads looking something a bunch of lost robots looking to recharge.

 Considering that this centrifuge; the Johnsville Centrifuge at one time was the state of the art.
Just down the street from where we are training now.  The Johnsville Centrifuge was the G Force training center for the mercury seven astronauts.

 We have been training on the amazing machine, which I would say is the Cadillac of G force trainers.  I will ultimately have video of me in the cockpit getting spun around.  The Y Axis was the toughest.  We were only pulling 3 to 4 G's.  Feeling that drop down feeling then tensing my legs and gluts to keep the blood in the upper part of my body.  I didn't get tunnel vision but had to focus, I felt a very strange brain tickling sensation that was making me laugh.  After a lunch break we all went again this time working on the "X" Axis straight from your front to your back.  You don't get the pass out concern, this more like a heavy weight being laid on your chest.  Controlled breathing is the key.   It was 6 G's on the X Axis.  It felt like my lungs were completely flat.  But I still was able to breath and concentrate, even with the feeling that my brain was going to the back of my head, I couldn't imaging that there are people that have pulled 12 G's and more!  Video tomorrow.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I'm in Philadelphia.  Just arrived a few hours ago.  tomorrow morning I'll heading over to the NASTAR center for two days of training and medical studies.  Very exciting.  It was a coincidence that I was in Boston yesterday and had the opportunity to go to the JFK Library and Museum.  On exhibit is Freedom 7  the second space craft to carry a man into space.

The picture isn't that great there was so much light in the background.  But then it seems I'm joining the image in a ways, the past reflecting the future.  This truly paved the way for for what I am participating in now.

I love the old controls.  So functional.  Tomorrow when I return from NASTAR I'll let you know how it went.  Hopefully nothing too noteworthy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


In mid September the “Future Astronauts”  that’s how Virgin Galactic refers to us, went out to the Mojave Desert to see Space Ship II and Knight I in person. 


My good friend and fellow Space nerd Gary Kramer came with me for the event.

This was a big group picture of everyone, about 300 Future Astronauts.  Richard Branson is up front, I'm way in the back.  Gary was taking pictures up front but then realized his sunglasses were missing in the pic he's off to the right turning around looking for them.

How they are getting us to space is an innovative plan.  Following on the foot steps of the Space Shuttle Knight I actually carries Space Ship II to 50,000 Ft where it releases SSII the rockets ignite and propel the space ship into low earth orbit. 

That’s where the G-Forces come in.  The rocket powered ride will exert about 3.5 to 4 G’s. That’s is about as much as the astronauts feel when the Space Shuttle would take off.   G force is a measurement of acceleration felt as weight.   When the rocket is cut there will be amazing silence and 7 minutes to un buckle from the seat and experience weightlessness.  It would be nice to bring my bathroom scale with me just for that moment.   After enjoying the micro gravity we strap back in for re-entry glide.  Glide sounds nice and smooth but we will be again being exposed to up to 6 G’s on re-entry into the atmosphere.

Before the space flight we undergo three days of training, safety training, zero gravity training as well as G-Force training.  There are techniques to deal with this and not letting the G-Forces make the blood rush out of your head and passing out. 

Since this is a new program and everything is being developed from scratch, the medical team is also working on their criteria for passengers.  I have high blood pressure, genetic gift from my ancestors.  What I found is the program needed volunteers for medical studies on G- Forces and high blood pressure.

Sounds like my kind of thing!  I could be an experimental space monkey.


 So next week I will be at the NASTAR (National Aerospace Training and Research Center) facility in Philadelphia PA for 2 days of medical studies, and being spun around in a G-force centrifuge.  I will make sure and send pictures and reports. 

Participating in these types of activities really make me feel like I am doing some pioneering and helping to build something for the future, and allowing myself to just be the monkey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tin Cans On Bombs.

When I think of the first Wright Brothers flight being just a scant 100 years ago, maybe it doesn’t seem unusual that we have gotten this far.  The chance for a regular guy who had no chance of being an astronaut actually getting to make just about the same trip that Alan Shepard took in 1961.

 Alan Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 Capsule for a suborbital mission that took him 187Km or 613,517.06 Ft above Earth. Last year I took a tour of the original launch site of Freedom 7 at Kennedy Space Center.  This is a picture of the original launch site was.  Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard both launched from this site.  Such primitive tin cans balanced on the tops of bombs. 

The Space Ship II Flight will go 110 Km - 360,892 Above Earth.  Not quite as high, but who’s counting.  I'm sure my flight will be much more comfortable and safer than the first.

I talked to a couple of people who flew on the Concord back in the day.  The maximum cruising altitude for that aircraft was 60,00 Ft.  My sister in law was one of those people, she told me about being able to see the curvature of the earth and finding that experience transforming.
So, as number 722 I wonder if there will be anything for me to express as an artist from my experience.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Going To Space.

I have been waiting for the right time to start sharing the experience I am undergoing.  In May my wife Lisa got me the best birthday present ever, a trip to space on the Virgin Galactic Space Ship II.
Most wives want to send their husbands into space at some point, but it looks like I have an excellent chance of of returning from this trip.  

This is the Virgin Galactic "Future Astronaut Pin" I was sent as my confirmation that I am number 722 and have reserved a seat.  Being a kid of the 60's I was obsessed with the space program and anything space travel related.  The idea of actually going some day was too far fetched to imagine.

When I think of space travel I always believed I would look more like this.  Aurora 7 with a Scott Carpenter mannequin strapped inside.  It will be a bit more plush then this, but there will be training involved and that to me is part of the attraction.  More stories and entries to come on this adventure of lifetime.