22 October 2011

A4H members talk TED, chase dreams, and jump out of airplanes

A4H members are involved in a number of worthwhile endeavors outside the Astronauts4Hire organization.  Today, we'll highlight a few recent examples.

Flight Member Melania Guerra, who recently completed her Ph.D. in oceanography, spoke at the September 2011 TEDxJoven@PuraVida event in San José, Costa Rica.  Her presentation titled "Realizando Sueños en Ambientes Extremos" (Fulfilling Dreams in Extreme Environments) focused on her passion for exploration of extreme environments from the seafloor to space, including how Astronauts4Hire helps her achieve her goals.  You can watch the video below, but note that it is in Spanish.


Melania isn't the only A4H member with ties to the TED organization.  Earlier this year, Associate Member Luke Hutchison was selected as a TED2011 Fellow and participated in the "TED2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder" conference in Long Beach, California.

YouTube made big waves last week with its announcement of the YouTube Space Lab initiative.  The exciting competition will allow a few winning teenagers to fly their experiments on the International Space Station next year.  Flight Member Luis Zea is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado who works at BioServe Space Technologies developing hardware that will fly on YouTube Space Lab missions.  He has previously supported payloads on Space Shuttle and ISS missions as well.  In the video below, Luis describes the OptiCell Processing Module, which is one of the four hardware options students have to choose from for YouTube Space Lab experiments.


Luis also recently gave a tour of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mockup from his lab at the University of Colorado.  The Dream Chaser is being developed under NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Development (CCDev) program to take astronauts to the International Space Station.  Luis describes his role in supporting the the Dream Chaser in the video below.


In other news, A4H members are involved with many other exciting projects from the bottom of the oceans to the skies above. Associate member Eddie Kisfaludy, recently completed field tests of the Virgin Oceanic submarine off the coast of Mexico. Read all about his role as Operations Manager of Virgin Oceanic in his exclusive AstronautforHire.com interview.

Flight Member José Hurtado, a geology professor at the University of Texas El Paso, has spent the past three summers training NASA astronaut candidates in field geology through the NASA Desert RATS (DRATS) program. He recently spent two weeks living alongside astronauts in NASA's Deep Space Habitat to test asteroid exploration scenarios using the SEV rovers. Read José's DRATS blog post or check out his Facebook video describing how to break into a NASA career as a geologist.


Some A4H members even like to intentionally jump out of perfectly good airplanes from time to time. Flight Member Laura Stiles spends her weekends working as a USPA Coach Instructor. Other certified A4H skydivers include Training Officer Erik Seedhouse, Associate Member Jon Boley, and Associate Member Scott Lanham, who is is an experienced military HALO paratrooper. The newest A4H skydiver is Flight Member Ben Corbin, who spent the summer earning his USPA Class A skydiving license. You can watch Ben's final check dive in the video below.


Even though skydiving is not part of A4H’s astronaut training curriculum, it is provides valuable lessons for handling oneselve in a stressful, physically-demanding environment where there are severe penalties for failure. Time to conduct experiments on suborbital spaceflights or parabolic microgravity flights is very limited, and skydiving jumps have similar time restrictions that underscore the importance of planning and rehearsing in order to successfully meet your goals. A typical jump from an altitude of 14,000 feet gives a skydiver approximately one minute of freefall time. For comparison, a single parabola on board a microgravity flight is up to 30 seconds, and the entire weightlessness time on a suborbital flight is up to 5 minutes.

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