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NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test

The Nasa Social crew at the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA with the Orion Spacecraft in the background. (Credit: @NASASocial)

 Back in July, I applied for the Nasa Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test. If you aren't familiar with what NASA Social is, it's a program that allows NASA Social Media Followers, an inside look at what goes on at NASA. This may include tours of facilities, talking to astronauts and more. This social was the 4th social I've applied too. The three others where with Astronaut Joe Abaca, Astronaut Rob Garan, and the STS-135 talk with crew members Christopher Ferguson and Sandy Magnus. The latter being my first one. All of these previous social events were at the headquarters in Washington, DC.

I applied for the social because I also was very interested in what the social was to offer. The social included a tour of the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton,VA, the  NASA Langley Research Center also in Hampton and a view of the Orion Spacecraft Stationary Recovery Test in Norfolk,VA as well as a tour of the USS Arlington. I was a little apprehensive because only 30 of NASA's social media followers would be selected. The previous ones I've went to included over 100 social media followers. The selections are random.  I wasn't really worried about the drive. The NASA Langley Research Center is about 3 hours and 8 minutes from my home in Maryland, though this social was the farthest I've applied too.

A few days after I applied I got an email saying I was on the wait list. This wasn't the first time I had been put on the wait list. I was put on the wait list for the very first one I went too, the STS-135 talk. When I saw I was on the wait list for this event I was a little upset because I knew the limit was much smaller than before, but I still kept my fingers crossed. About two days after that, I got an email saying the I was off the wait list. I was in! I was so happy!

The dates were August 14 and 15th for the event. Unfortunately my husband wasn't able to schedule off for the 14th and 15th. So I decided I'd leave the morning of the 14th and leave after the events on the 15th. It was hard leaving our daughter. That night was the first time I spent a night away from her. My husband stayed with her while I was gone and I know they had some good  father/daughter bonding :-) The ride down to Hampton was good. I meet up with a couple of social media followers who were selected for the event for a late lunch. We went ate at the SurfRider. After the lunch we all went to the Virginia Air and Space Center. There we got to tour to facility after hours and to see an IMAX movie, Elysium, at a discounted price. Here are some pictures from the center:

 The Apollo 12 Command Module.

Me in front of the Apollo 12 Command Module. 

I didn't stay to watch the movie. I went back to the hotel to get some sleep. We went to the NASA Langley Research Center the next morning. The events started at 8am. It was nice tour and we got an overview of the facility.  There the center does a lot of aeronautics research and looks to improve the performance and safety of commercial air crafts. That includes reducing fuel burn by 50% and reducing noise. The center also does research to understand climate change and was effective in forming a policy to eliminate CFCs.  Here's a video further describing the center:

We got a tour the Landing Facility where they test airplanes and helicopters. The Landing Facility is also the place where the Orion Capsule was drop tested in the Hydro Impact Basin. The crew of the Apollo spacecraft trained at the Landing Facility as well. Here's some pictures:

 My badge.

 Crash dummies.

 Overview of the facility.

 The Hydro Impact Basin.

 The NASA Social crew in front of the Hydro Impact Basin. (Credit: @NASASocial)

After the Landing Facility, we went to the National Transonic Facility, where aeronautics are tested. That facility is one of two wind tunnels in the world that can achieve high Reynold's numbers (My college classes came back to me with that one.) Here's a few pics from the facility:

 Inside the control room.

We also got to tour another facility at the NASA Langley Research Center and go inside a space habitat.

 Little alien dude.

 Inside the space habitat.

After the tour of the space habitat, we ate lunch at the cafeteria were we heard more about LADEE which stands for Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer. LADEE is set to launch next month from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  After lunch we went to the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA. That's where the US Navy on the USS Arlington was to recover the Orion Spacecraft. The last time a recovery of a spacecraft done in the water was the Apollo spacecraft back in the 1970s! It was so cool to be there to watch the recovery. NASA, the US Navy and Lockheed Martin did a great job. The recovery was a success! Here are some pics:
 The Orion Spacecraft.

 Me with Orion in the background.

 Starting the recovery.
 All attached.

Lastly we got to tour the USS Arlington by some of the US Navy. Part of the heel of the ship is infused with a piece of the pentagon from 9/11. Here's those pics:

 Orion on the ship.

 Never forget.

 The landing pad.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. It was so nice meeting everyone and seeing the facilities and the recovery test. Thanks to everyone who made this opportunity possible. Here's to the launch of Orion in 2014!

My future scientist:

This post first appeared on Weather Chat, please read the originial post: here

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NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test


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