Over Coffee® is on Christmas hiatus. We’ll be rebroadcasting some of our most popular episodes from 2016 for the next few weeks. Have a Merry Christmas!
“Our commander said, ‘OK, no drama. Let’s just get up there and get home’,” said NASA Astronaut and U.S Army Colonel Doug Wheelock.
Doug was sharing some of the stories of his experiences aboard the International Space Station, during NASA’s April 2016 International Space Apps Data Boot Camp, in Pasadena. He was telling the group about his first trip aboard the International Space Station, as an ISS mission specialist.
Of course, “no drama” was anything but what the ISS crew experienced. During this 2007 mission, a torn solar array and failed ammonia pump led Doug to perform four contingency spacewalks.
“(NASA told us), ‘and by the way, we’ve never done this before,” he recalled.
But Doug and his fellow spacewalkers were able to conduct successful emergency repairs. After returning to earth, they received the American Astronautical Society’s Flight Achievement Award for their innovation and heroism.
Apparently, though, the technology had more surprises in store.
During Doug’s 2010 mission as commander of the ISS, half of the external cooling system shut down unexpectedly. Once again, Doug was able to troubleshoot the problem.
As lead spacewalker, he replaced the pump that had caused the malfunction. The system returned to full functionality–and Doug received the American Red Cross Hero in Space award as a result of his bravery and resourcefulness.
During NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, Doug talked about his background, what it’s like to teach new astronauts “the art and science of doing a spacewalk”, and the procedures involved in troubleshooting in space.
NASA has set the date for their 2017 International Space Apps Challenge, the world’s largest “hackathon for good”! They’re currently accepting applications from cities to host Space Apps Challenges. This is a 48-hour hackathon, in cities around the world, using NASA’s open data to solve world problems. And all participants are welcome–not just scientists! Here’s the link to apply, or to check back to see if your city will have a Space Apps Challenge host location.