Space Team Online QuestChat
Date: February 9, 2000
Featuring: Michael Ciannilli
Test Project Engineer
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL
Wed Feb 9 11:43:39 2000
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 09:59:38
Hello to our Space Team Online chat participants. Welcome to today's chat
with Michael Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Michael is a test
project engineer, and is joining us from the Firing Room today. We're glad
Michael is here with us today to answer our questions.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 3 - 10:01:12
Michael will attempt to answer as many questions as he can. However, he
may need to leave us early for special activities in preparation for the
upcoming space shuttle launch.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 10:01:33
And now, here is Michael Ciannilli to answer your questions.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 8 - 10:03:32
Hi! I would like to welcome everyone to the Cape today!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 9 - 10:05:45
RE: [Liam] Hi Mike, it's me Liam
the English guy that sent you an e-mail and you replied to, remember??
Just to let you know I will be watching the chat and want to know what
part of the Space Shuttle do you find most interesting???????
Hi Liam. I sure do remember you. Hope you are doing well. That is an interesting
question. There really isn't a certain part that I find more interesting
than any other. In my job I get exposed to all aspects and I find them
all interesting in their own way.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 11 - 10:07:23
RE: [Birtu] Have you ever gone to
space? If not, do you want to go to space and can you?
Hi Birtu! No, I have never gone to space. If given the opportunity I think
it would be an awesome trip to take. I haven't pursued that direction
as of yet.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 12 - 10:09:11
RE: [Birtu] How does someone become
Well, you actually contact NASA and request an application to become an
astronaut candidate. However, long before this you should be focusing
on your education and related experiences so that you can submit the most
impressive application you can.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 15 - 10:13:12
What does the fuel cells look like? How do they work? Why are the external
tanks painting in red? Can it be blue or other colors? How many external
tanks do the shuttles use so far? I can't watch your video when it is
online because I have to be in the classroom. But I will watch it later.
I wish you answer my questions this time. Please don't forget to say my
name. My name is Tony Chen from Lowell, San Jose. Thank you.
Hi Tony! It is very nice to have you with us today. Well you have several
questions so here we go.... The fuel cell looks like a long rectangular
box about 4 feet long and 1 foot high by 1 foot wide. They, through a
quite complicated chemical process, convert liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen
into electrical energy and water. As for the external tank, actually the
natural color of the insulation is orange. We could paint them but we
don't because that would add extra weight to the vehicle. We use 1 tank
per launch, so we have used 97 so far since 1981.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 16 - 10:13:22
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you share your thoughts
with us. You can send your comments to us by visiting our QuestChat Information
Center, at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats. We look forward to hearing from
you after today's chat!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 19 - 10:15:21
RE: [Birtu] What other jobs are available?
NASA and the various contractors have thousands of jobs, consisting of
everything from engineers to technicians, scientists to a whole host of
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 20 - 10:15:56
RE: [MichelleMock] Hi Mike! I just
got back from a three day teacher field trip with the Mars K-12 Educational
outreach project from ASU. Among other things we got to go to NASA Dryden
and saw the 747 that carries the space shuttle when it lands at Edwards
and we got to go inside it AND sit in the cockpit! I have some questions
that my students asked after they heard about the trip.
Wow that must have been neat!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 23 - 10:18:15
RE: [MichelleMock] If rain and other
weather conditions can harm the finish of the space shuttle when it is
in flight aboard the 747, how damaging is rain if it is just waiting on
the ground to be transported. How do they protect the shuttle when it
is not being transported?
Hello Mrs. Mock. True during ferry flight on the 747, we stay clear of
any rain to prevent any damage. On the ground we are pretty much ok. Rain
does not hurt because the tiles are waterproofed. However, hail would
do damage. We pay very close attention to weather and potential weather
at all landing sites.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 24 - 10:19:30
RE: [Birtu] How big is the space
The Space Shuttle is about 184 feet long, and 78 feet wide. At launch
the vehicle weights 4.5 million pounds.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 25 - 10:22:06
RE: [MichelleMock] Do birds cause
problems for the shuttle if they land on it when it is sitting on the
ground? Kids want to know if birds ever sit on the shuttle and *mess*
Well, actually we do get concerned with birds. We have had woodpeckers
in the past peck holes into the insulation on the external tank, so we
do keep an eye on them. From time to time they do land on the tank, and
we try to "scare" them off.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 27 - 10:24:17
Be sure to visit our Black History Month chat schedule at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats/special/mlk00. We
have many exciting chats scheduled with NASA experts during the entire
month of February. We hope you can join us!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 28 - 10:24:39
RE: [Birtu] How do space shuttles
launch into space?
Well we have very powerful rocket engines to lift these awesome machines
into outer space. The orbiters have 3 main engines which generate thrust
along with the two solid rocket boosters. The boosters provide the majority
of the required power.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 29 - 10:25:24
RE: [Birtu] How long does it take
to get into space?
It takes the Space Shuttle about 8 1/2 minutes to get into orbit.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 35 - 10:29:36
RE: [Birtu] What is the inside of
the space shuttle like, are there different rooms?
Well the living quarters is divided into two areas. There is the flight
deck on the upper portion where we actually control the shuttle ( kinda
like an airplane cockpit ). Then below that we have the middeck area where
we have space for experiments, along with the living quarters which has
the bathroom, food station and sleeping area.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 36 - 10:31:27
As a reminder, Michael is chatting with us from the Firing Room at NASA
KSC. He is simultaneously working with team members in preparation for
the upcoming launch this Friday, February 11 at 12:30 p.m. EST. He will
do his best to answer your questions as soon as he can. Be sure you've
read Michael's profile at http://quest.nasa.gov/space/team/ciannilli.html
to prepare your questions.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 37 - 10:32:09
RE: [Birtu] How much water does the
space shuttle carry into space?
We carry four separate water tanks with approximately 120 gallons of water.
Remember we constantly produce new water while the fuel cells are running
so we are never in danger of running out of water. Actually we often have
to perform water dumps overboard because we have too much water.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 40 - 10:33:39
RE: [Birtu] How many miles per hour
does the space shuttle go?
When the shuttle reaches orbit, it is travelling 17,500 miles per hour......that's
0 to 17,500mph in 8 1/2 minutes........not too bad huh!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 41 - 10:35:01
RE: [Birtu] What chemicals do you
put in the water? Why do you put chemicals in the water?
We put an iodine mixture into the water. We do this to keep the microbe
or " bug " count very low. We don't want the astronauts to get ill.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 45 - 10:37:17
RE: [Birtu] How many toilets, showers
and baths are on the space shuttle?
There is one toilet on the orbiter. There are no showers or baths. The
astronauts take sponge baths.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 46 - 10:38:47
RE: [Birtu] What do they do with
Good question. The solid waste is left in the " potty " for return to
earth. The liquid waste is stored in the waste tank, and when that fills
up it is dumped overboard.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 48 - 10:40:49
RE: [Birtu] Has anyone ever gotten
injured in space?
We have been very fortunate to not have any astronauts get seriously hurt
in space. That is a great credit to the emphasis all of us in the space
program put on safety. Also to the care taken in the processing of the
orbiter on the ground. In addition, the excellent training the crew receives
on the ground.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 51 - 10:43:24
RE: [MichelleMock] At Dryden/Edwards
they had some sort of shell that I thought they said was used to protect
the space shuttle in flight aboard the 747. I dont think I have ever seen
pictures of the shuttle in any sort of protective shell. Can you explain?
There is no such thing about a protective shell for ferry flight. The
only thing I can think he was referring to was the " tail cone ". This
item is put over the main engines to help with the aerodynamics during
the trip on the 747.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 54 - 10:48:36
Once again, at the conclusion of today's chat, we invite you to share
your thoughts with us. Please visit our QuestChat Information Center at
http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats to access our online surveys.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 55 - 10:48:36
RE: [Birtu] Why isn't there gravity
The presence of zero gravity in orbit is caused by the " free fall " of
a spacecraft over the earth. This may sound strange, but you can kinda
compare it to an elevator. If you were in a very tall elevator and the
cable holding it broke, you would actually lift off the floor of it an
" float ". Think of a spacecraft " falling over the edge " of the earth.
Do remember though that if you are another planet or moon, there IS gravity
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 57 - 10:51:57
RE: [Birtu] Do you believe in aliens?
Wow, that's the first time I ever go that one. I really don't follow that
discussion much, but I do think there is a possibility. You never know
what is out there. In the space program we are in the business of exploration,
so the possibility of discovering new worlds out there is pretty exciting.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 58 - 10:53:34
RE: [MichelleMock] At Dryden/Edwards
we were shown the tower that lifts the space shuttle onto the 747. They
say it takes 8 hours to lift the shuttle and it is like watching grass
grow because it is so slow. Do they have other towers like this at other
landing sites in case they have to remove the shuttle due to mechanical
problems with the 747 or other delays?
Yes, we have a device known as the Mate Demate Device here at the Cape
to put on and remove the orbiter from the 747. If the shuttle were to
land at a remote site we would have to bring mobile structures to carry
out this task.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 62 - 10:56:44
RE: [MichelleMock] Perhaps the protective
shell I am talking about is for the X-33. It did not seem like it had
the proper shape for the shuttle. When I get my pictures back I will look
closer. If there is no protective shell or cover, my students wondered
Good question. Well, it was decided during the development of the program
that it wouldn't be needed. And history has shown us that the orbiter
makes the trip across the country very well, getting very minor damage
at the most.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 65 - 10:58:58
RE: [Birtu] What movies do you like?
I do like watching movies. My favorites are comedies. However, I also
like watching suspense movies and thrillers.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 66 - 11:01:19
RE: [Birtu] What books do you like?
Actually my favorite books to read are autobiographies and biographies.
I love to learn about other people's lives.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 67 - 11:04:42
RE: [MichelleMock] Mike, most of
the questions my students asked me, I could answer myself from information
I have learned from your many chats and the Landing to Launch webcasts.
Thanks for taking the time to answer all these many questions. We all
learn so much! Even though my students cant go online live at this point
to chat with you, they LOVE being part of the process. So from all the
kids at St. Catherine of Alexandria: THANK YOU!
Mrs. Mock, you are a great example of what teachers should strive for.
You interest in giving your students the tools to learn and grow is quite
evident. I am always glad to see you and your students join us for these
events. Please give them my best.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 68 - 11:06:13
RE: [Birtu] How did you learn how
Well surfing is the most challenging sport I have ever tried. Mostly I
have just gone to the beach every chance I got, paddled out and.......just
keep trying. I have definitely had my share of wipeouts!!!!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 70 - 11:08:17
This concludes today's Space Team Online/Countdown: Landing to Launch
chat with Michael Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Thank you
to everyone for joining us today, and to Michael Ciannilli, for sharing
his time and expertise with us online. We would also like to recognize
Michael for his consistent support of and commitment to the Space Team
Online project. He has offered invaluable service and contributions to
the success of the project. THANK YOU, Michael!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 71 - 11:09:11
I would like to remind everyone that the Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled
to launch this Friday at 12:30pm. I hope all of you can watch the launch. Endeavour will carry out an exciting
mission to map the Earth.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 72 - 11:10:04
A final reminder to share your thoughts with us at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 73 - 11:12:01
I want to thank all of you for joining me at the Cape today. All of the
questions I have received today were awesome and it just shows me we have
a lot of future scientists, engineers and quite possibly astronauts out
there in the audience.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 74 - 11:12:52
Be sure to visit our Black History Month and National Engineers' Week
chat schedules to learn about our upcoming chats with NASA experts. The
schedules are available at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats/special/mlk00 and
respectively. We hope you can join us!