Space Team Online QuestChat
Date: May 11, 1999
Featuring: Michael Ciannilli
Test Project Engineer
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 1 - 08:04:15 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Space Team Online
chat with Michael Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center will begin at
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 08:04:42
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 3 - 08:05:02
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 08:05:20
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 08:29:13
Hello and welcome to today's Space Team Online chat with Michael Ciannilli
from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Mike monitors all of the systems on the
orbiter as they are tested, and resolves any conflicts during systems
testing that may arise. During vehicle testing, Mike ensures vehicles
are in their proper configuration to power up in the morning and perform
the scheduled testing. He helps find solutions to any problems that occur
during testing. Additionally, Mike supports a wide variety of shuttle
upgrades along with the next generation of launch vehicle studies.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 8 - 08:29:32
And now, here is Michael Ciannilli to answer your questions.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 9 - 08:30:44
Hi! I would like to welcome everyone to the Kennedy Space Center. It is
great to have you down here today!!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 11 - 08:34:23
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] Hi all. I'm from Portugal
and it's a pleasure to be here with you all!
Welcome, Miguel! Michael is ready for your questions at this time.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 12 - 08:35:07
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] Hi all. I'm from Portugal
and it's a pleasure to be here with you all!
Hi Miguel! It is great to have you here today. How is everything in Portugal?
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 14 - 08:36:23
RE: [MichaelCiannilli/KSC] Hi Miguel! It is great to have
you here today. How is everything in Portugal?
Miguel are you in school?
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 15 - 08:38:18
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] Raining!! anyway,
my first question to you is: when there are missions what is the average
number of hours that you work (just curiosity!!) :)
Good question. Well, usually we work 8 hours per day, but can be as high
as 12 hours per day during the launch countdown. We try to stay away from
working more than that because we don't want to get overtired as that
could affect safety.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 19 - 08:40:12
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] well, we can say that!
I'm in the Center for Astrophysics of Oporto University. I'm an astronomy
That is great! I am a Space Science graduate and did some astronomy during
my undergraduate work.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 20 - 08:42:00
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] Hi Mike..I just
heard that the upcoming launch has been cancelled....has it been rescheduled?
and why was it scrubbed?
Hey Jim, great to hear from you. Well as of right now it hasn't been cancelled.
We have meetings later today to decide if we are gonna fly next week or
not. The reason for the discussion is that we have hail damage on the
External Tank. We basically have two choices. The first is to fly as is
if the damage is not considered that bad. The other is to roll the Space
Shuttle to the Vehicle Assembly Building and repair the insulation damage
on the tank if that is required.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 25 - 08:46:43
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] Is it something
that can be repaired or replaced? I would imagine it could be critical
if there is a lot of damage
The fear is that the holes in the insulation could fill up with ice prior
to launch and then break loose during launch to damage the orbiter. This
could possibly cause several damage if it happened.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 27 - 08:48:13
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] well, have you been
participating in missions like "Mars Global Surveyor", "Galileo", and
Well Miguel I really haven't. I am responsible for processing and launching
the Space Shuttle. I do like to follow the progress of those missions
though as they are really exciting.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 28 - 08:49:06
Miguel, what year in college are you? Also is there a particular area
within astronomy that you like the most?
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 29 - 08:50:39
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] Decisions such as
this must be very stressful for all involved
That's exactly right Jim. If we roll back that would be at least a week
delay in the launch. So weighing the decisions can be stressful. However,
my position if there is ever any doubt as to whether we are ready to fly
or not, we DO NOT fly until we are confident that we are indeed ready.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 37 - 08:53:58
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] sorry for my grammar
No problem, Miguel!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 39 - 08:55:18
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] in situations like
you deal, you must have a very strong mental healtness. Aren't you affraid
anytime you go to work and think: "Man, I'm commanding millions dollars"!
Do you feel that pressure???
Well, I try to keep myself very aware of what we are dealing with at all
times. It can get pretty stressful when there is a problem because you
realize you are working on a 3 billion dollar national asset. Also I always
keep in focus that we have people on board and that we want them to be
as safe as possible.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 40 - 08:57:35
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] That sounds like
an excellent position to take...It is better to be safe than sorry
However, I am always trying to become a better engineer and better prepared
for when things don't go the way you expect. We also do a lot of training
in high pressure situations to get us ready for situations just like this
in real life.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 44 - 08:58:20
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] No problem, Miguel!
Yeah, I am bound to make several wacky spelling mistakes too!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 46 - 08:59:51
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] I used to manage
a medical laboratory and dealt with human lives on a daily basis so I
can relate to the stress that you talk about
I think it is very important to never forget that! On my desk I keep a
picture of the lost Challenger crew to make sure that focus is never lost.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 51 - 09:01:43
Hello Michael, Sorry we are late but we had difficulty with our computer.
We fixed it and are ready to chat. We live in Va. and are third graders.
We are working on a space/ computer project. Our first question is: What
type of computers do you work with?
Hey Shuttle Boys! Great name!!!! Sounds pretty cool! Well we use personal
computers in our offices and we have special computer consoles in the
firing room to launch the shuttle. By the way, what exactly is your project?
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 52 - 09:02:41
How do you like working at the Space Center?
It is AWESOME!! It is something that I have always wanted to do since
I was your age, so I am very happy to be here.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 54 - 09:04:08
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] and another question:
wahts is going to be in your opinion the future Shuttle? Are we so far
away of some science fiction ideas like "Star TRek" and "Star Wars"???
As far as Star Wars type stuff....yeah a long way off. Currently we plan
on flying the space shuttle for another 15 to 20 years. After that I think
we may have one that takes off more like an airplane than a rocket.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 55 - 09:05:26
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] 3rd year, actually,
I'm more interest in planetary astronomy and popularization! :)
Sounds interesting Miguel
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 57 - 09:06:40
RE: [Jim/Syracuse-JimUrtz] At least we can
be confident when we know that we have good.. qualified .. and intelligent
guys like you there to make these decisions Mike
Ahhh your just being nice! I appreciate all the interest of those of you
out there writing to me!!!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 58 - 09:08:53
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] I know this is a terrible
accident to remeber, but tell me some numbers...what is the possibility
of having another "Challenge" accident.
Well every time you launch a rocket it is VERY dangerous and there is
a fair risk. Thousands of components have to work perfectly! As far as
numbers, I believe the current thought is that 1 in every 400 or so launches
are the odds.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 60 - 09:10:11
What type of equipment do you work with?
Mainly we work with the actual space shuttle orbiter, the solid rocket
boosters and the orange external tank.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 64 - 09:11:18
RE: [Jim/Syracuse] I have to leave the
chat now but want to thank you Mike for the opportunity to chat and learn
from you...thanks and I'll talk with you later
Thank you Jim, your interest is very much appreciated and hopefully we
will see you online for the launch of Discovery!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 65 - 09:14:30
RE: [Miguel] about my previous question
about "Challenger": does the safety rules and mesures actually are really
totaly modified? Did NASA learned anything about that? Is it possible
to have another "Challenge" accident?
Yes they did Miguel. There were hundreds of modifications to the space
shuttle itself. Also many changes in the way we process the vehicle. In
addition, the rules we have to launch ( called the Launch Commit Criteria
) were also made more strict. But, yes every time we launch the shuttle
we take a natural risk.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 66 - 09:14:32
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[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 69 - 09:16:10
RE: [ShuttleBoys] Michael, How long
have you worked in Florida at the Space Center and about how much money
does an engineer make there?
Well guys, I have been here three years now. As far as money goes, we
do ok, but people in private companies tend to make more.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 70 - 09:17:15
RE: [ShuttleBoys] Speaking about Star
Wars, are you going to see the new Star Wars movie?
Yeah, but I think I will wait a few weeks because I bet the lines are
gonna really be long when it first opens up. Are all of you going to see
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 72 - 09:18:57
RE: [ShuttleBoys] We are working trying
to learn more about the shuttle and practice using our computer skills.
This is our first time online.
You are doing EXCELLENT so far! It is great to have you down here at the
Cape today. I hope you get to watch the launch of Discovery real soon.
By the way I will be doing a live video broadcast during that launch so
maybe you can join us again for more questions!!
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 73 - 09:21:36
RE: [Miguel] Well, finally what can
you tell me about the new technologies for shuttles, like X-33?? is it
Miguel, they are working on X33 right now and currently are working several
difficult problems. At this point it is hard to say if it will be a successful
vehicle or not. It is important to remember though that the X-33 will
NOT replace the space shuttle, just be another vehicle we will have to
[ ShuttleBoys - 76 - 09:21:47 ]
Michael, Thank you for talking to us. We have to go to lunch. We will
check the archives for all of our other answers. :)
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 77 - 09:23:21
RE: [ShuttleBoys] What have you done
for the year 2000? Are you worried about problems in Jan.? What will happen
to your computers? Are you waiting a long time after the New Year before
you try another launch?
Well, we just finished fixing our computers for the year 2000, so we should
be ok. We don't expect any problems at all with launching the shuttle
because of the y2k problem. By the way.....Good Question!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 79 - 09:25:39
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[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 80 - 09:25:42
RE: [ShuttleBoys] How big is the Space
Center? Are you going to add on? What is NASA going to do if a meteor
was heading toward the Earth?
The Space Center is huge. It is roughly 25 miles long and 8 miles wide.
Some new buildings [have been] built recently, but no more planned yet.
As far as meteors, there are some people within NASA looking into that,
but they haven't made a plan yet on what to do.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 81 - 09:26:54
RE: [Miguel] weel, it was very good
to speak with you Mike. Although, this is not my favorite field on astronomy,
I really admire your work. Keep it up! No matter what, NASA is the world
leader in the space industry and investigation! :)
Miguel, thanks for coming today. If you have additional questions on your
studies, feel free to write to me at Space Team Online and I will try
to help ya out.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 83 - 09:28:09
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] ann also astrobiology!
Astrobiology sounds really exciting! Have you ever been to the Cape?
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 85 - 09:30:46
RE: [Miguel] Speaking about the millenium
bug...aren't we going to have in the entry for the year 2000 a lot of
satelites all falling around up there, because the computers aboard them
aren't ready fot the millenium??
Miguel that is a great question. I have not heard that at all, but I will
look into that. I, have not heard of any concerns about that. I believe
most satellites can receive time and computer software updates from the
ground to avoid that problem.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 86 - 09:31:34
RE: [Miguel] Take real! :(( I'm in Portugal,
I don't have financial funds to go there. A great dream...
Well maybe one day!! I wish you the best of luck in school!!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 89 - 09:32:55
RE: [MichaelCiannilli/KSC] Are the Shuttle Boys still out
there? I was curious to learn more about your project.
I think they've logged off for lunch at this time, Mike. Are there any
additional questions for Michael today?
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 91 - 09:33:22
RE: [Miguel] ok...thank you!! Bye to
all of you! Keep up with this interactive projects!
Thank you for joining us today, Miguel. We hope to hear from you again!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 93 - 09:34:15
RE: [Miguel] wait, just one more question!!
OK, Miguel. One more. ;-)
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 95 - 09:34:29
RE: [Miguel] wait, just one more question!!
ASk away....I am here
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 97 - 09:36:30
RE: [Miguel] what are you going to do
today, Mike?? what are you plans at the Cape? :))
Well today I am going to do some more research for putting together the
next Launch Countdown Simulation. This id kinda a side job of mine to
help train the launch team. Also, I need to follow the decision if we
are going to launch Discovery next week or roll back to the VAB.
[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 101 - 09:38:31
RE: [Miguel-Miguel/GIRA] ok...that's all..thank
you for you kindness Mike! :)
Do you get much or any info on the Space Shuttle Program in Portugal?
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 102 - 09:39:12
We will now be ending our chat with Michael Ciannilli. We would like to
thank everyone for joining us today. Our special thanks to Michael for
his thoughtful responses and sharing his career experience and expertise
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 103 - 09:40:29
We hope you will be able to join us for our next Space Team Online chat
with Lonnie Moffitt from NASA Johnson Space Center. This chat is scheduled
for Tuesday, May 18, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 104 - 09:40:52
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[ MichaelCiannilli/KSC - 105 - 09:41:16
I would like to thank everyone for coming down to the CApe today! I really
appreciate your interest. Please remember we will be doing a live launch
broadcast of the Space Shuttle Discovery. [More information is available
I hope to see you then! Take Care!!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 106 - 09:45:06
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