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October 2, 1997
QuestChat with Mina Cappuccio

Aerodynamics Engineer
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

[ Susan/Ames - 1 - 09:59:05 ]
Hello everybody Mina is here

[ Mina/Ames - 4 - 10:01:42 ]
RE: [Susan/Ames] Mina what are you working on now?
I am currently working on a wind tunnel test at NASA Langley. Langley is in Virginia. We have a model of a high speed airplane in the tunnel.

[ scott/bakerhighschool - 6 - 10:02:27 ]
What was your favorite craft to work on? Eric.

[ Mina/Ames - 10 - 10:04:10 ]
Eric, My favorite craft to work on is my car. I like to do my own maintenance.

[ Mina/Ames - 7 - 10:03:07 ]
RE: [kayad/kchs] This is kchs entering the chat with Mina. Hello. Do you know how to fly?
I do not have my pilot license. I have gone up with friends and they have let me take over the wheel. I would like to get my license some day.

[ Kris/WaukeshaSchools - 8 - 10:03:53 ]
Hi from Wisconsin!

[ Susan/Ames - 9 - 10:03:53 ]
Hi Kris, welcome! Do you have a question for Mina

[ Mina/Ames - 13 - 10:06:00 ]
RE: [Ivy/MontanaPolytechnicInstitute] How is the turbulance visualized?
Hi Ivy, As a matter of fact, in the test I am currently on we had to visualize if the flow was turbulent or laminar. The way we did it is a technique called sublimation.

[ Mina/Ames - 16 - 10:07:35 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] What type of metal is best for reducing drag for flight in airplanes? (Thor)
Hi Kris, All commercial airplanes are made out of aluminum because it is cheap and it is light. There are some high speed military airplanes that go so fast that the material has to be made of titanium to withstand the heat.

[ Susan/Ames - 19 - 10:09:14 ]
Mina is getting some great questions but she can only answer one at a time so hold on and she'll get to you

[ Mina/Ames - 22 - 10:10:31 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] Why are the engines on an F-15 on the inside while commerical planes have the engines on the outside? (from Angelo)
Kris, It is better if an engine is mounted in the inside of an airplane to make it mnore streamlined. This cannot be done on a commercial airplane for safety reasons. If the engine fails on a military airplkane the pilot can eject. There are some military airplanes that have engines mounted outside.

[ Mina/Ames - 23 - 10:11:27 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] What recent breakthroughs or improvements have been made in your work? Daniel.
Daniel, Computers have been the biggest help in the aeronautics field. We can take data faster and analyse it quicker.

[ Susan/Ames - 25 - 10:11:56 ]
Welcome Franco

[ Mina/Ames - 26 - 10:13:03 ]
RE: [KJMassey/TheWhiteLakeSchool] How fast will the new plane fly? I am in second grade.
The new plane will fly a little over twice the speed of sound. It would be similar to an F-15 in speed.

[ KJMassey/TheWhiteLakeSchool - 28 - 10:13:11 ]
Hi, from The White Lake School in Fort Worth, Texas. We are studying space. Thank you for answering our questions.

[ Mina/Ames - 34 - 10:14:31 ]
RE: [Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool] Is it harder being a girl aerospace engineer than a male?
It can be harder to be a female aerospace engineer sometimes. It is all up to you. If you are a strong individual, you will not feel like you are treated differently.

[ Mina/Ames - 35 - 10:16:00 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, Where do you get all the money for the building of the planes?
NASA does not get money to build airplanes unless it is a research plane. The plane I am working on will probably be built by Boeing. Boeing would use their own money.

[ Mina/Ames - 38 - 10:17:04 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, What different planes have you designed in the past?
I have worked on the V-22 Osprey, a secret military airplane that never got built, and this high speed civil transport.

[ Mina/Ames - 43 - 10:18:21 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] If you enjoy your work now, why are you still interested in becoming an astronaut?
I am the type of person who wants to try new things. Being an astronaut is a way to get to space. I probably will never be able to become one, but I want to try.

[ Mina/Ames - 50 - 10:19:54 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] I am a girl in the 4th grade.I get frustrated and don't know what to do.What do you when you get frustrated?
When I get frustrated, I sit back and try to re-evaluate the situation. Try not to respond quickly. You might regret it in the future.

[ Mina/Ames - 51 - 10:20:27 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, Do you get to ride in the planes that you design?
I haven't riden on a plane I have designed. I hope to on this one.

[ Mina/Ames - 52 - 10:22:08 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] What is the fastest speed that a plane has ever flown?
The fastest airplane is the space shuttle at Mach 25. The next fastest is the X-15 at Mach 6.

[ Francisco/URBE - 24 - 10:11:56 ]
Hi, Mina. I'm speaking from Maracaibo city, Venezuela in South America. I want to make two questions: What did NASA do with the few technology developed during the NASP X-30 proyect ? and What the difference between the NASP X-30 and the Venture Star X-33 ?

[ Mina/Ames - 58 - 10:24:53 ]
Francisco, The technology NASA developed on NASP, X-30, and X-33 have all gone into future X projects. All these airplanes would fly to space instead of the shuttle.

[ Susan/Ames - 59 - 10:26:11 ]
Mina is typing as fast as she can hold your questions for a minute so she can catch up

[ Mina/Ames - 60 - 10:26:16 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] What would you say is the hardest part of your job? Brian.
Brian, The hardest part of my job is having to say no. I always take on more projects than I can handle.

[ Mina/Ames - 61 - 10:27:41 ]
RE: [Ivy/MontanaPolytechnicInstitute] Is the word sublimation used in the physics sense, is it a solid turning to a gas that helps you visualize the air flow?
Ivy, Sublimation is the process of going from a solid to gas. The materials we use is a mixture of flourene and genesolv. Genesolv is the medium to spray the flourene on the model.

[ Mina/Ames - 69 - 10:30:23 ]
RE: [Kevin/ButlerHighschool] When I graduate High School this year, I want to go into Aerospace Eng. How hard is it to get a job in that field after you graduate
Right now there are jobs in aerospace engineering. But it can be the opposite. You should study aero eng if that is what you want to do, and not if there are jobs out there.

[ Mina/Ames - 72 - 10:31:15 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] What kind of training did you go through to get to such an important position? Kimberly.
I got a bachelors and masters in mechanical engineering, and I worked on many projects to gain experience.

[ Mina/Ames - 73 - 10:32:16 ]
RE: [Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool] Hi from Green Hills School in N.J. How long would it take to travel from NYC to Australia in the HSCT?
It would probably take 5 to 6 hours to travel from NYC to Australia on an HSCT. Currently I think it takes 18 hours.

[ Mina/Ames - 74 - 10:33:21 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] What was the first engine you worked on? Eric.
The first engine I worked on was for the V-22 Osprey. The V-22 is an airplane that takes off like a helicopter. Then the wing rotates to fly like an airplane.

[ Mina/Ames - 78 - 10:34:07 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, Did you play with paper airplanes when you were a kid?
Oh, yes!! I always made paper airplanes and got in trouble for hitting people with them.

[ Mina/Ames - 81 - 10:34:58 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, did you ever have a hobby?
I think I have to many hobbies. My favorite hobby is going to hockey games. Go Boston Bruins!!!

[ Mina/Ames - 82 - 10:35:39 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] Who or what was your biggest influence during your training/studies? Sean.
My math teacher.

[ Mina/Ames - 84 - 10:37:05 ]
RE: [KJMassey/TheWhiteLakeSchool] How big are the engines that you work on, and how much do they weigh? How do you make the engines? Are they models? First and Sixth graders
The engines are very large. I simulate them in model scale of approximately 6 to 12 inches. The actual engines are built by the engine companies like GE and Pratt & Whitney. They can be the size of an automobile.

[ Mina/Ames - 85 - 10:38:20 ]
RE: [Gancet/ESIGEC] May we consider the French "Concorde" as a HSCT ?
Yes, the French Concorde is the preceeding HSCT built in the 60's.

[ Mina/Ames - 86 - 10:38:55 ]
RE: [kayad/kchs] Mina, do you foresee commercial space travel in the near future?
Yes, I see commercial space travel in the future. Maybe in the year 2020.

[ Mina/Ames - 90 - 10:40:06 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, How many days does it take to build an airplane?
Most commercial airplanes can take a year to build from scratch to finish. If you start at the design phase it can take 5 years.

[ Mina/Ames - 91 - 10:40:51 ]
RE: [Gancet/ESIGEC] What kind of computer is it used, for the design tests and simulations ?
Some of the computers that are used are Cray Supercomputers and SGI Workstations.

[ Mina/Ames - 96 - 10:41:08 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, How many people can ride in your planes?
300 passengers

[ Mina/Ames - 97 - 10:41:33 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] How many of your planes have crashed?
None that I know of.

[ Mina/Ames - 98 - 10:41:59 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] Is the F4E Phantom 2 still in existance? (from Mike)
I don't know.

[ Mina/Ames - 104 - 10:43:39 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] You mentioned in your bio that your family is from Italy. My family is also from Italy (2 generations ago). I have found that most of my "millions" of cousins have entered into the family business. I am one of few that have gone on to college and received degrees. How does this compare to your family? Daniel.
I am the first in our family to go to college. I have 3 other cousins that also went to college. The previous generation never went to college. They grew up on farms in Italy and did not have the opportunity to go to high school even.

[ Mina/Ames - 105 - 10:44:40 ]
RE: [KJMassey/TheWhiteLakeSchool] How much do the new planes cost to build?
Typically airplanes can cost millions to build. A 747 sells for about 5 million.

[ Mina/Ames - 106 - 10:45:18 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] What materials go into the jet propulsion system? (from Scott)
Many types of materials are used on a jet engine. From aluminum to composites.

[ Mina/Ames - 108 - 10:46:16 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] How did you get your job at NASA? It seems like a lot of people would like to have your job. Amanda.
I wrote a letter to 3 managers at NASA and sent them my resume. They called me up for interviews. 3 months later they hired me.

[ Mina/Ames - 109 - 10:47:10 ]
RE: [Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool] What are the safety concerns you have concerning designing the HSCT?
The three major concerns for the HSCT are noise, making the ozone hole worse, and sonic boom.

[ Kris/WaukeshaSchools - 112 - 10:47:16 ]
If cost were no object, what materials would you use to build your dream plane and what features would it include?

[ Mina/Ames - 113 - 10:48:52 ]
My dream plane would be made out of titanium because it is very light and heat resistant. Some features I would like to have is an automatic pilot takeoff and landing system. I also would like to be able to watch TV from this plane.

[ Mina/Ames - 114 - 10:49:40 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, What is your favorit cartoon?
My favorite cartoon at the moment is Ren & Stimpy.

[ Mina/Ames - 115 - 10:50:32 ]
RE: [Gancet/ESIGEC] Did you have a good computer level, before to work for the NASA ?
Yes, it would be a good idea to know how to use computers before coming to work for NASA.

[ Mina/Ames - 120 - 10:51:53 ]
RE: [Kris/WaukeshaSchools] Is it the materials or the shape that make a plane undetectable? What do engineers do to accomplish this?
It is in both the material and shape that make a plane undetectable. Engineers use alot of computers and testing in acoustic chambers to check out their designs.

[ Mina/Ames - 121 - 10:52:15 ]
RE: [scott/bakerhighschool] How much does it cost to test an engine? Britnie.
It can be a million to test an engine.

[ Mina/Ames - 122 - 10:52:54 ]
RE: [Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool] How long will it be before civilians can fly in the HSCT?
Boeing thinks it might build one for the year 2015.

[ scott/bakerhighschool - 126 - 10:53:38 ]
Mina, thank you very much for your time with us. You are providing a very important role in the education process. Lots of luck to you in the future and don't give up on your dream to go into space. Most of us have the same dream. Mr. Nelson's 7th grade science class.

[ Mina/Ames - 127 - 10:53:40 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, Is teamwork important in your job, or do you do more work on your own?
Teamwork is very important. It takes alot of minds and experience to design an airplane or any other of project.

[ Mina/Ames - 128 - 10:54:34 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, Do you like computers?
Most of the times I like computers. There are times when they don't do what I want, and that is when I get very frustrated and want to throw it out the window.

[ Susan/Ames - 129 - 10:54:51 ]
RE: [Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool] Will this conversation be archived like the one was on Tues.?
This chat will be archived. Thanks every one for your great questions. And Thanks Mina. We earned a lot.

[ Mina/Ames - 130 - 10:54:55 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Mina, whats your favorite food
My favorite food is lamb chops.

[ Mina/Ames - 131 - 10:55:52 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] You said your math teacher greatly influenced you. How applicable to your job were the math classes that you took in high school?
The math classes I took in high school are very applicable to what I do in work. Without them you can't design an airplane.

[ James/ERC - 132 - 10:56:07 ]
Hi Mina, as there seems to be problems in combusting air at high Mach velocities, have you considered using air merely as reaction mass and using something like on-board non-imaging optics to heat the air? I gather that current non-imaging techniques can produce focussing temperatures of the order of 6000 degrees - enough to pump a CO2 laser system if that is more efficient than some form of direct solar heating.

[ Mina/Ames - 135 - 10:57:57 ]
RE: [KJMassey/TheWhiteLakeSchool] How much do you think it would cost for a civilian to fly in the HSCT?
The estimates are that it would cost 20% more than the standard economy airfare.

[ Gancet/ESIGEC - 136 - 10:58:40 ]
Thanks for all, Mina .

[ Ivy/MontanaPolytechnicInstitute - 137 - 10:58:40 ]
Thank you, Mina, for sharing your time with us!

[ Mina/Ames - 141 - 10:59:09 ]
RE: [Steve/AlamedaElementary] Do you like to read?
Yes, I like to read mysteries.

[ Whipple/GreenMiddleSchool - 142 - 10:59:11 ]
Thanks from Green Hills School!

[ Kris/WaukeshaSchools - 144 - 10:59:11 ]
Thanks from Butler Middle School in Waukesha WI

[ Mina/Ames - 145 - 11:00:12 ]
RE: [Kevin/ButlerHighschool] What are your reactions to JPL's Mars missions(MGS and Pathfinder)
I think it is very exciting that we made it to Mars. The picutres that came back were beautiful.

[ Francisco/URBE - 146 - 11:19:23 ]
nice to meet you, Mina. Long life and prosper...!

[ Norma/n/a - 147 - 11:19:23 ]
Great chat! We learned alot!

[ Susan/Ames - 140 - 10:58:40 ]
Thanks for a great chat.


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