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Mars Team Online Chat

Date: May 19, 1998

Featuring: Rich Hogen
Aerospace Engineer
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colorado


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last read Wed May 6 13:43:50 1998

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 1 - 13:59:20 ]
Welcome to today's Mars Team Online chat with Rich Hogen from Lockheed Martin Astronautics, in Denver, Colorado! Rich is an aerospace engineer, and is one of several people on the MGS Spacecraft Operations Team at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, Colorado. One of his responsibilities involves whole-spacecraft and mission operational analysis ("Systems Engineering", or SYS) and another involves Real-Time Operations (RTO). RTO is all about working with NASA JPL's Deep Space Network (DSN) to properly send commands to the spacecraft and make sure good data is received from the spacecraft.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 3 - 14:03:37 ]
A Happy Space Day to anyone out there!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 14:05:11 ]
And now, here is Rich Hogen to answer your questions.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 8 - 14:06:21 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] After doing a bit of research, there is no doubt that NASA is planning a manned mission to Mars. Please list the steps NASA is taking to reach this goal?Eg: future missions
Oh, Alex, I'm not privy to all the "plans" at NASA HQ. I know they've updated mission ideas over time to try to incorporate better technology, but specifics you'd have to get from HQ, Johnson or maybe Marshall centers. In general, the biggest step is finding a way to get there fast enough that your crew does die or decay from a long trip in microgravity, and that requires a powerful launch vehicle as well as a sure way to get the crew back. Such problems have occupied all planners for years. It's a huge problem.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 9 - 14:08:32 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Hello my name is Michelle.Are the oporations hard to deal with?
Well, Patti, that depends on who you are and what you're doing. Most of the time it's not hard to deal with, but sometimes it gets very difficult. For example, we all signed up for a three-month period of 24-hour operations for MGS aerobraking. Because of the broken solar panel and the slower aerobraking that had to be extended to 7 months for phase 1 aerobraking and another 6 months in phase 2. Twenty-four hour operations is hard to deal with for such a long time.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 11 - 14:08:59 ]
Sorry, that last one was directed at Michelle!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 12 - 14:12:45 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Hi my name is Alex. What do you plan on doing in the future ?
Right now we're all planning generally the same thing: to operate MGS through extended mission, then to learn and operation the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander missions, as well as Stardust, all of which will be operated from here at LMA. Some of these missions overlap, so we'll also be working on figuring out the best ways to fly multiple spacecraft at once here at LMA. I would also like to continue to support mission development for the other missions, not just operations after the development is done. As for the long term future, I would just like to keep working with interplanetary exploration spacecraft, which are so neat!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 16 - 14:16:21 ]
RE: [Danielle/TobiasElementary] What is your favorite thing about space
My favorite thing about space is how it changes your mind and makes you think about things on a grander scale. It's so easy to fall into a narrow, parochial point of view, but when you think about the world from the perspective of planets and solar systems, you can't escape seeing the biosphere as a whole and wanting to protect it, wanting to bring resources back from space and from space research on the ground to help solve our collective problems, and so on.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 17 - 14:19:08 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] Aprox. when should we expect the first manned mission to Mars to take off? When they get there, how long would they stay and what tests would they perform?
We should expect it to happen less than a decade after enough people on Earth decide it's important, for reasons like "because it's there" through technological advancements born of space industry through answering questions about life elsewhere in the universe. Only after enough people agree that we should go there will it happen, so write first convince yourself, then convince your family and friends, then write editorials and write your representatives.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 21 - 14:21:42 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Why did you left college long before finishing?
Back in 1983 I was pretty messed up. I really didn't believe that I could do what I wanted to do with my life, so my primary reason for going to college back then was to get away from my family. Having done that I was able to clear my head of family difficulties, and in the following few years I was able to convince myself that it would be best for me (and therefore for everyone close to me) to pursue my interest in space science and engineering, and to convince myself that I was capable of doing it.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 24 - 14:25:28 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] How does your job influence other people?
I don't know, but chances are good that you're in a better position to answer that than I am. By working on civilian space exploration with one of the few companies capable of designing, building and operating exploration spacecraft I _hope_ that I'm contributing to our collective understanding of the universe and of ourselves as a species. I _hope_. And with outreach activities I sincerely hope that I'm giving a glimpse into what this work is all about and helping to inspire people younger and less experienced than me that they, too, can do it and that doing it is fun and a good thing.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 25 - 14:27:21 ]
RE: [Danielle/TobiasElementary] What got you interested in in your career?
Oh, I've been a space head since seeing my first Star Trek episode at the age of four. As I grew up and saw the photos of Earth from space and photos of the Moon from up close (provided by the Apollo program) I experienced that sense of "big picture" that I described above, and that was it, I was hooked.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 26 - 14:28:40 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Hello my name is zac. My question is what type of foods do astronauts eat in space?
Beats me, Zac. I work with unmanned spacecraft and I know as much about astronauts' activities as you would know from web pages and documentaries on TV.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 30 - 14:30:12 ]
RE: [Danielle/TobiasElementary] How old were you when you started to be interested in space? How old are you now?
I was consciously aware of my own interest in space at a very early age, something like six or seven, when I started drawing spaceship designs for fun. I'm now a couple of months away from age 33.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 31 - 14:32:40 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Is it fun to being a preschool teacher?
I have to say, next to exploring space being a preschool teacher is probably the most fun thing I can think of. The kids in my class were in the 3 to 4 years old age group, a wonder time, especially for an "explainer" like myself. Plus, we had lots of fun running around the playground! This question gets at one of my toughest dilemmas in life: teach or explore? I have found that I can't do both at once, not properly. Both require one's full attention.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 32 - 14:38:50 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] As Earth's enviroment looks increasibly fragile, some people are developing ideas for colonizing Mars. Is NASA a part of these "people"? (I am not taking for the near future)
I have rubbed shoulders with space heads of all kinds (from sci fi fans to scientists to engineers to philosophers) and I have never met anyone who would seriously suggest that we would succeed in "getting off this planet" and colonizing another because this one is "spent". One of the greatest spinoffs of space exploration has been environmentalism, and it pains me to see anyone suggest that we think about space colonization as a way to abandon Earth. It is probably impossible to evacuate everyone from this planet, and it's certainly not preferable. Earth is a MUCH nicer place to live than anywhere else we know of or could construct. I think that colonization notions are (and should be) exclusively driven by certain people's desire to start a new home, with a new government, a fresh start. Yes, as a matter of cosmic "insurance" for "life as we know it", it is a good idea to extend our biosphere into space, because we could be hit by a large asteroid or comet, but everyone I know wants to explore space as a way to improve life and keep our planet in good order.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 37 - 14:40:54 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Hi my Roxanne. What other jobs are you interested in about space?
Well, I'd love to do design work, too. To get my hands on a mission in its infancy and flesh it out, watch it grow and take shape and crystallize into a working, successful spacecraft and mission. That'd be great! I'm really hoping that I'll get such a chance on a Mars sample return mission or pre-colony "base" mission in the next decade or two.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 38 - 14:45:53 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] What do you think is NASA's ultimate goal, how far would it go?
That's a powerful question! Frankly, I think Dan Goldin has the right idea and that NASA is doing what it should do. As for "ultimate goal", that raises this question to me: "when will NASA cease to exist?" The universe holds a mystery around every corner, so at the very least there should be a NASA as long as there is a USA because we need to explore and our explorations have kept us at the cutting edge of technology and science. But Dan's goal of answering the question "is there life elsewhere?" has the lofty character of an "ultimate question".

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 39 - 14:48:21 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] When you use the headset when working in "MGS ACE", what important things do you say to the people at JPL?
We make sure the Deep Space Network antenna stations have all the right software products to run their equipment properly, we make sure they know the sequence of events, if anything happens unexpectedly we communicate with people at JPL and at the DSN stations of figure out if it's a ground or spacecraft problem (so far they've always been ground problems), sometimes we communicate with aces from other missions who might need to use some of our antenna time for special events on their missions, or vice versa. There's more, of course.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 40 - 14:49:06 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] This is Zac again. I wanted to know if you like watching Japanese animation?
I haven't seen Japanese animation in a long time. I used to watch that space show with the battleship that was turned into a spaceship, but I haven't seen anything since then.

[ Drana/BarstowSchool - 41 - 14:49:39 ]
WOW! I LOVE JAPANESE ANIMATION!

[ Drana/BarstowSchool - 44 - 14:51:23 ]
Hey...you're talking about Robotech...that's with the battleship that turns into the spaceship. Just so you know. ;)

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 46 - 14:52:31 ]
RE: [Danielle/TobiasElementary] What would you tell kids who are interested in space as a career?
I would tell them to go for it! Learn as much science as you can find an interest in (physics and chemistry, biology, any science!), and if interested learn engineering, or both. Because I've been a space head for so long, I've found that I can motivate myself to learn almost anything when I see how it relates to space or space technology or space exploration. Also, there's nothing wrong with being into science fiction, but the main point of science fiction is not the pseudo-science or magical technology of it, but the human interest and drama it can provide. Have fun and go for it.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 47 - 14:54:32 ]
RE: [Drana/BarstowSchool] What do you think of Stephen Hawking?
I don't know much about him, really, but I get the impression that he is one of many intelligent people who were at the right place at the right time and who asked and answered some interesting questions at the right time. Hawking is not a superultragenius. He is an intelligent person who made some ground-breaking discoveries that many of you could have made in that time and place. Remember what Thomas Edison said: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 49 - 14:57:29 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Hi my name is Eric.Would you like to be an astronaut?
Eric, that's an interesting question. I know that I'd like to go into space if I have a good chance of coming back alive. I used to say, "yes I definitely want to be an astronaut", but since the appearance of at least one private company offering tickets into space I've come to realize that part of that desire is the desire to come back. My wife and I both enjoy our lives here on Earth and we do not have a desire to subject each other or our families to our untimely deaths in exciting but terminal trips to space. Yes, I'd love to experience it, but not as the last thing I do in life. (at least not yet)

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 50 - 14:57:59 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] Bye and thanks for chatting with us! Roxanne and Michelle
Bye and thanks for participating!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 54 - 15:01:10 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] How long have you been working at NASA? From Alex.
Alex, I've never worked _at_ NASA as such, but I've been on NASA contract money for the last five years. In school I worked with data from the Hubble Space Telescope's Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph, which was NASA money, and later I worked on "knowledge work" research with the Center for Space Construction, also NASA money, then I got hired here at Lockheed Martin Astronautics on the Mars Surveyor Operations Program, a NASA program.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 55 - 15:03:43 ]
RE: [Drana/BarstowSchool] Have you seen Apollo 13? What do you think of it's depiction of people in outer space?
Sure, we saw "Apollo 13" something like 5 times in the theater! I thought the use of real microgravity was fantastic and quite necessary. If you've ever seen an old movie that has actors holding their arms out and moving very slowly to represent microgravity you'll know that "Apollo 13" was a real breath of fresh air. In reality the events on that mission happened more "slowly", so the movie did speed up the depiction in order to heighten the drama, but that's just fine, because it captured the real feelings associated with that mission.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 56 - 15:04:09 ]
RE: [Patti/DiscoveryCharterSchool] This is Eric & Alex Bye
Bye Eric and Alex! Catch you on the flip side.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 60 - 15:07:51 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] I think I'll take your advise about Dan Goldin. Can you give me his e-mail adress where I can contact him?
Alex, you can find out how you may contact representatives for Dan Goldin in the NASA headquaters page at http://www.hq.nasa.gov.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 61 - 15:08:05 ]
RE: [Drana/BarstowSchool] What is NASA up to at this moment?
Drana, that's kind of like asking what is the Department of Energy up to at this moment. We're talking about a large agency that does many different things. The best way for you to answer that question yourself is to hit all of the NASA web sites. You'll see that they do lots of basic research in aerodynamics and so forth, lots of technology transfer, mission design, technology demonstration (like Pathfinder or Clementine missions), and so on.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 63 - 15:09:55 ]
RE: [Alex/RosminiCollege] I think I'll take your advise about Dan Goldin. Can you give me his e-mail adress where I can contact him?
That's funny. I sincerely doubt that Dan Goldin is answering emails from the general public (I know _I_ don't have his email address). Think of it -- he'd spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week answering questions. But if you have specific questions or concerns you should be able to find email addresses in the public relations group at the main NASA web site.

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 64 - 15:10:25 ]
RE: [Drana-Drana/BarstowSchool] Thank you! :) It's been fun chatting with you...but I must study for finals.
Bye, Drana. Flip side!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 65 - 15:11:50 ]
We would like to thank everyone for joining us for today's chat with Rich Hogen from Lockheed Astronautics.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 66 - 15:12:26 ]
A very special thanks to Rich Hogen for once again chatting with us online, as part of the Mars Team Online project!

[ Rich/LMA/Denver - 67 - 15:12:27 ]
Happy Space Day! Any final questions?

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 68 - 15:13:29 ]
We encourage you to register for our second day of Countdown to Space Day chats. More information about these chats is available at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/spaceday.html.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 69 - 15:15:33 ]
This concludes today's Mars Team Online chat. Thank you again for joining us today!


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