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ATO #116 - August 22, 2000

PART 1: Upcoming Chats
PART 2: New Projects for Fall
PART 3: Busy Even During Down Time


 QuestChats require registration. You can register at

 Beat the Heat: Thermal Protection Chats!
 We will be chatting and with researchers from the Space
 Technology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. I think you will find
 this fascinating and a worthwhile topic. This will introduce you to the
 topic of materials for thermal protection and the use of computer models
 for predicting the heat generated by vehicles entering different
 planetary atmospheres. This is a very important topic for those of you
 who plan to travel in space in the near future.

-Tuesday, September 12, 2000, 9AM Pacific
 Aerospace Team Online QuestChat with Imelda Terazas Salinas
 Imelda Terazas Salinas is manager of the Arc jet Facility.
 Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/salinas.html
-Tuesday, September 19, 2000, 10 AM Pacific
 Aerospace Team Online QuestChat with George Raiche

 George Raiche studies how spacecraft perform as they enter a planet's
 atmosphere, in order to improve their designs. Read his bio at


 Virtual Skies is an air traffic management project for students and
 teachers in Grades 9-12. It will be a "project based learning
 activity" with hands on multimedia to enhance student decision making
 and problem solving skills. Topics to be covered include
 Aviation Navigation, Aviation Weather, Communication Air Traffic
 Management, Airport Design, and Air Traffic Research. Materials will be
 tied to the National Standards in Mathematics, Science, Technology,
 Geography and Language Arts. We are scrambling for a Oct. 1, 2000 start

 Planetary Flight is an aerospace project for Grades 4-8. We know how to
 fly on Earth but what will it take to fly on Mars. This will be an
 inquiry based learning project to design an airplane to fly on Mars. The
 stuff dreams are made of!! We hope to start by October 1, 2000.

[Editor's Note: Imelda Terazas Salinas is a manager of the Arc jet Facility in the Thermal Protection Materials Branch Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/salinas.html ]


by Imelda Terazas Salinas

September 7, 2000

The last couple of weeks have been very quiet at the Arc Jet Complex: the Complex has been down for maintenance. This down time is good for everyone as it gives us all a chance to take care of things that we can't do while the facilities are operating. In the boiler house, they are fixing leaks; one of the heaters is being completely rebuilt; the data acquisition system is being cleaned up; instruments are being calibrated, etc. For the test engineers, it gives us a chance to catch up on paperwork. While the facilities are running, things get very hectic very quickly and it is very difficult to find a good chunk of time where you can concentrate on something other than the test in progress.

I'm taking advantage of this time to complete test reports. As the test is in progress, I reduce the data and generate the necessary plots for the report. Compiling the report still takes a good amount of time, though. I am trying to streamline my process so that it doesn't take as much time. Every time I do a report, I find something else that will make the process more efficient (next time) for me. Nevertheless, there are certain things that can't be automated. My primary task during this downtime is to write test reports.

Occasionally, I do get a good solid day that I can devote to my report writing. Inevitably, though, I will be called upon to do some other task. A customer will call requesting additional information or data; my branch chief will need information; meetings will be called; etc. So, I have to drop everything and tend to these requirements. A lot of the time, it's a tug-of-war and I have to decide which task to drop. This really is no different when we're testing. Then, however, the choice is clear on which task has priority - testing - everything else must wait.

In addition to writing reports, however, I can't lose sight of the fact that testing will begin again. So, I need to keep the testing schedules up to date and make sure that coordination for upcoming tests continues. In this regard, I need to maintain communications with our customers regarding their test requirements.

I will also need to set up test readiness reviews to make sure everything's ready when we do begin testing again. It's nice to have this quiet time -- I know it won't last long, though.


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