Sunday, October 27, 2013

John Glenn

Today's picture shows John Glenn at the NASA Mercury Control Center. John was preparing for his space flight, where he would become the first American to orbit the earth. His mission, the Friendship 7, was a success, and the US soon moved into the lead in the space race.

The early astronauts were military test pilots. The early days of the space program were so exciting because of the grand nature of the program, the science and high technology involved, and the Cowboy nature of the astronauts. I am saddened that much of the excitement has been lost from the NASA programs.


I had mentioned earlier that I have a group of really brilliant and hard working students this year. They decided early this year that they would build their own space probe and put it at the edge of space. Near Space is considered to be above 100,000 feet.

I am proud to report that things are on schedule for a January launch. The project has turned out to be much harder than anyone had imagined, but I still feel like they are going to be successful. They have defined success for their program to be: 1) They launch in January, 2) The probe reaches an altitude in excess of 100,000 feet, 3) That they maintain live telemetry from the probe for the entire duration of the flight, and 4) They successfully retreive the probe when it lands.

The part that turns out to be the hardest is maintaining live telemetry contact with the probe during the flight. They are having to overcome numerous technical challenges to make that part work.

Anyway, they are doing great work, and have set up a blog on their effort. If you visit the blog, and like what you see, I am sure they would be encouraged if you clicked the "Like" button on their page, and maybe left them an word of encouragement. So many times we are quick to see the "issues" with the younger generation, so when we have young people undertaking something like this, it is important to encourage them.

There Blog can be seen here:

Also, the local TV news just aired this story on their work:


  1. I believe the last one alive of the original 7 astronauts is Mr. Glenn in your picture today. I remember the launch of most of the Mercury flights. My father would get me up early in the mornings so I could watch the launches on TV.

    As far as Ed White in your picture of yesterday, he was one of my heroes. I was so sad when he perished in the fire on Apollo 1.

    You're right, the space program doesn't seem to have the excitement that early days had. However, I have talked to the astronauts on the ISS on numerous occasions using Amateur Radio. That is always pretty exciting for me.

    Keep up the great work with the students. I wish I lived closer. I would very much like to be involved with the project.

    Graham in St. John's

    1. Graham,
      I did not know you are a HAM. These students and myself are studying to take the HAM license test, hopefully in the next few weeks. Then we are hoping some of the HAM operators in our area would donate some gear to the school. Actually, we are needing the HAM license for the telemetry system on the probe.

    2. I'm more than happy to chat about all of this outside the forum. Is there an email that I can contact you with? I think there is, but it doesn't come to my eye right at the moment.

  2. Amazing. Fantastic. Students are lucky they have you! Please keep us updated. Rebecca H.

    1. Actually, the students are the secret ingredient, not me. I love to see the youthful enthusiasm, hard work, and smarts these kids have. Each one is an impeccable gentleman.

    2. The students may be the 'secret' ingredient, but having not only a teacher, but a school system that will let them stretch their imaginations in this manner is exceedingly rare today.

      Hope they achieve their goals.

    3. Danny,
      Absolutely, I will tip my hat to the school system. The students asked for a special program to be put in place, which was very disruptive to the normal scheduling system. The school listened to them, and responded in the affirmative. Then, they prepared a powerpoint presentation with details of deliverables, schedule, and budget, and asked the school for the money for the program, and the school agreed to fund it. I would bet that there are few schools that would have taken the kids seriously, and given them a shot at their dream.

  3. Love Space Race enthusiasm. Certainly those students have watched October Sky.

  4. Coincidentally, we have an Eldorado (pronounced the same as yours) in Southern Illinois. And, their team name is also the Eagles. Small world.

  5. Actually, preparing for the presentation to the Board was a good case for learning by doing. Now they can assume marketing tasks because they have done that here.

    The progress is wonderful and I hope it stays on schedule because I am planning to come to Eldorado for the launch. These three men are to be congratulated for having gotten the project to this point.

    Glad you are there, PJM.

    1. Al,
      Really hope you can make it down for the launch, and any other OPOD readers are welcome as well. The pressure is building as the time is short and still lots of technical challenges to overcome. The students are experiencing the "real world" challenges of budget, schedule, and technical objectives. Hope to see you in January!

  6. What a great project and I hope it is successful. Please keep us updated on the progress.
    -Anne K.