"Houston, We Have a #SpaceBowl"

Over the next two days we will be getting an up close and personal look at the tech NASA uses to run the U.S. Space Program.

Richard Hay, Senior Content Producer

January 31, 2017

3 Min Read
"Houston, We Have a #SpaceBowl"

Greetings from Houston, Texas home of NASA's Manned Spaceflight Program.

I will be spending the next two days participating in a #NASASocial at Space Center Houston (SCH) and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) that has been dubbed the #SpaceBowl. The name is no coincidence since Super Bowl LI will be taken place this Sunday at Houston's NRG Stadium between the NFC's Atlanta Falcons and the AFC's New England Patriots.

This event will provide myself and other participants a chance to see how NASA trains astronauts, explore deep space technologies, check out the Orion spacecraft that will be used for the mission to Mars, and hear about current work happening on the International Space Station (ISS).

Of course my perspective will be to learn everything I can about the technology that propels the space program including an update on how NASA is using Microsoft's HoloLens onboard ISS.

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 905 on display at Space Center Houston with the hi-fidelity shuttle Independence mockup in ferry configuration

Our day tomorrow (Wednesday, 01 Feb) begins at SCH, which is right next door to JSC, as we get the opportunity to participate in the first ever 4K broadcast/down link from the ISS and talk to astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough from the United States about their work on ISS.

This event will be broadcast live on NASA-TV and is scheduled to begin at approximately 8:30 AM CST (6:30 AM PST; 9:30 AM EST) here in the U.S.

Following that event we will participate in tours onboard JSC where we will have the opportunity to visit the following locations:

Neutral Buoyancy Lab or NBL

This is a 6.2 million gallon indoor pool that NASA uses to train astronauts on how to perform space walks in the micro-gravity of low earth orbit. It contains mock ups of ISS and spacecraft that are regular visitors to the station including the JAXA HTV, ESA ATV, SpaceX Dragon, and Orbital Sciences Cygnus.

Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center (MCC)

Ever hear the astronauts onboard ISS or past shuttle missions call out to Houston? Well this is where they are talking to when they made those calls. The MCC is now where NASA flight controllers work with the astronauts onboard the ISS.

Historic Mission Control

This is the room where NASA flight controllers and engineers managed and assisted the astronauts flying in Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle spacecraft on their various missions to eventually land men on the moon and conduct operations in low earth orbit.

Space Vehicle Mockup Facility

This facility has a mockup of every pressurized module of the ISS and used to house mockups of the Space Shuttle in order to train astronauts and provide them a chance to become intimately familiar with those spacecraft. This is where we expect to hear from the people who are training astronauts these days for long duration missions on ISS and also the efforts that are being made towards using the Orion spacecraft which will likely carry astronauts to the moon and beyond as the countries next generation manned spacecraft.

NASA T-38 Talons on display outside of Space Center Houston

After our tours, I will be heading back to SCH to participate in Super Bowl Media Day at the center where I will have the opportunity to tour the facility to see its displays of historic spacecraft and other artifacts. In addition, I will also get time to talk to various experts about our manned space program and learn even more about the technology.

If you want to follow along as the day progresses you can track the #NASASocial and #SpaceBowl hashtags on Twitter plus follow me there as well at @WinObs. I will be sharing reactions throughout the entire event through that handle.

Expect plenty of image galleries highlighting the visuals and of course the content to follow about how technology helps our manned space program.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – AnotherWin95.com – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and WindowsObserver.com is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.


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