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Space Team Online Web Chat

Date: May 07, 1997

Featuring: Mike Ciannilli
Fuel Cells Engineer
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

 



Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 9:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . HELLO EVERYONE!!! WELCOME TO OUR CHAT TODAY WITH MIKE CIANNILLI FROM NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER!!!

Reilly School/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hello from Chicago!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike Ciannilli is a fuel cells engineer at NASA Kennedy Space Center. He is part of a team that is responsible for assuring that shuttle fuel cell flight, ground support and launch pad systems properly function as a shuttle launch date approaches. Please read Mike's biography prior to joining this Web Chat.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . And now, here is Mike Ciannilli to answer your questions.

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:05AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Welcome to the Kennedy Space Center.

jay/n.y.: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay/n.y. Hi Mike. Since electricity is so important in keeping long duration flights like STS83 flying without breaking any flight rules. Why not redesign the extended cryo flight palette to hold a fourth fuel cell, and can an inert gas be used to safe an isolated fuel cell?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey Jay! Great question. The main reason it is unlikely we will do any redesigning is that for 82 shuttle flights our system has worked real well. A redesign would take a long time and most likely keep the shuttles on the ground for a long time.

Cristina/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:02AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What is the best part of your job?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Christina, the best part of my job is getting to do every day what I dreamed about as a kid!

Jason/California: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, have you ever met any astronauts in your job?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Jason. Yes I have met some astronauts like Story Musgrave, John Young ( 1st shuttle commander) and Buzz Aldrin ( 2nd man on the moon).

Ricardo/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What would happen if you left the fuel in the tanks from the last shuttle flight?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Ricardo, we would have the fuels heat up, expand and eventually damage the tanks.

Robert/Mountain View: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, how did you feel when the shuttle came back to Earth early from its mission?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Robert, I was watching it very closely. Although I was disappointed, the way I look at it is that the most important thing is to get the crew and Columbia home safely. We can always fly again another day!

Mario/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Does your team take turns staying awake to watch the shuttle while it is in orbit?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey Mario! Down here at the Kennedy Space Center we do have people working 24 hours a day before launch. After liftoff, the guys in Houston get to stay up all night!

Waverly: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:16AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi this is Waverly Elem. from Albany, OR with 4-5th graders

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, thank you for joining us once again. Mike Ciannilli is here to answer your questions.

Waverly: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How do you control the gas on the shuttle from the ground control?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:22AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, the guys in Houston send they by remote control.

Jason/California: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, what would you say is the hardest part of your job, or the part you like least?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jason, the hardest part is learning everything I need to know, and keeping up with constant chances.

: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . jay/n.y. Mike on the new space station are fuel cells going to be used as a main source of power?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:25AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay, no. We will be using very large solar panels.

Waverly: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Who was the person that found out about the recent leak that stopped the last mission?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, it was actually the flight controllers who were watching their computer screens.

Waverly: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:26AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Do you know how the fuel leak started?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, it actually wasn't a fuel leak. We had a fuel cell that just started to produce less power and started to give us readings that something was going wrong inside of it. Thanks for the question!

Robert/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Do you make oxygen out of water for the astronauts?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Robert, no but we do make water from the oxygen and hydrogen used by the fuel cell.

Johanna/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:29AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What do astronauts eat when they are in space?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey there Johanna! Astronauts on the shuttle eat everything from steak to shrimp cocktail.

Abimael/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . After the astronauts use the restroom, where does the waste go?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Abimael. The solid waste stays in the " potty " and is freeze dried. The liquid waste is dumped overboard.

Waverly: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Is there a mission that is going to the moon?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, there is an unmanned robot that will soon go to the moon. Unfortunately, no plans for man to go back right now.

Jeremiah/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What kind of fuel do you use for the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How's it goin' Jeremiah? For the fuel cells we use liquid hydrogen ( -423 F ) and liquid oxygen ( -297 F ).

: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, is it to dangerous to convert the waste water back into hydrogen an oxygen while in space, it seems that this would be a good way to purify the water.

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Wed., it's not dangerous but we already get more water produced than we need.

Andy/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:37AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How fast does the shuttle go?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Andy, hey there! The shuttle goes from 0 mph to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes. Not too bad huh?!

Lizzet/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How much oxygen do you need on the shuttle for the astronauts to breathe?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Lizzet! Actually not much extra as we have a system onboard that actually cleans up the "dirty air" and makes it fresh again.

KEVIN 5TH: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How long are you going to work at NASA?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Kevin, as long as I can and people like you and your friends believe in and support the space program.

Arnie/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How do you transfer signals to the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Arnie in Chicago, we actually transmit them up and an antenna on the shuttle picks them up.

Jessica/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:45AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Do people get claustrophobic when being stuck in the shuttle day after day?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:48AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey there Jessica! One of the traits they look for when they pick new astronauts is for them to NOT be claustrophobic. None have complained that I know of so far.

Jose/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What is it like to go in the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Waverly, thanks a lot for coming on. Real nice to talk to you.

KEVIN: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How many shuttles are planed to be launched next year?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey Kevin, I just saw your earlier question. We will be launching Atlantis on May 15th, Columbia on July 1st, Discovery in August, Atlantis again in Sept-Oct, and finally Columbia again in November

: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . jay/n.y. On long duration flights, like going to Mars, Wouldn't a system like converting waste water into oxygen & hydrogen help maintain the supplies in a close system?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:51AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay that's a good question! That is a possibility. The main thing engineers will look at is a system that is the lightest, smallest and most efficient. Weight and size are important factors in designing spacecraft.

Ramon/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How much fuel does the space shuttle use?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Ramon, How's it goin'? The space shuttle uses over 1 1/2 million pounds of liquid fuel and 2 1/2 million pounds of solid fuel.

Alberto/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:50AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How do you make electricity in the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Alberto, We use reactants ( gaseous oxygen and gaseous hydrogen ) put them in a thing called a "fuel cell" and out comes electricity. A lot of chemistry occurs inside there though.

Arturo/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:53AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How many systems are in the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:56AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Arturo, good question. There are actually hundreds of systems on board the shuttle.

Adolfo/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . For long flights, like to Mars, would you use a special transport that would launch another ship while in space?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:58AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Adolfo, you just might. There are many ideas out there on how to do this right now. Stay in school, study real hard and hopefully one day you can help us actually design this spacecraft!!

Armando/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How do you watch the fuel cells while the shuttle is in space?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Armando I hope it's not too cold in Chicago! The space shuttle constantly sends us information about its systems while in orbit. It is displayed on our computers and we can always know what is goin' on up there.

: . . . . Wed, May 7, 10:59AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay/N.Y. One of the reasons for the early return of STS83 was that mission control thought that the faulty cell could explode. Is there a way to get an inert gas into a cell to make it safe?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:07AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay, although we do use inert gases during testing on the ground, we don't in space. The scenario from what we had on STS-83 to the point of actually getting an explosion was a long way away. We are able to shut it down ( turn it off ) before it would get really dangerous.

Roberto/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Its around 70 degrees F today. Have any Mexicans gone into space?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Roberto, I believe there have been.

Mario/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:04AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . You get to watch the launches, right? How does it feel when you see the launch?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mario, it is one of the most amazing things to see. The ground shakes, the noise is real loud and many times my eyes start to tear up! It is really COOL!!

Arthur/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How many systems do you have to keep track on the shuttle?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:19AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Arthur, we have several systems. Some are used for launch, some while on orbit, and some for landing.

Ms. Orazen/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Why can't we use your system for making electricity here on earth?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:13AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Ms. Orazen, thanks for joining us today. 70 F sounds nice! People are looking into it and actually fuel cells are being used in some parts of Japan. However, cost is the primary concern.

Ms. Dayton-Chicago.: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Do you know if everything is on schedule for the Mars Pathfinder?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Ms. Dayton, everything is on track so far. Thanks for the question.

jay/n.y.: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike I know what you mean about it begin cool to see a launch. I got the very rare chance and got my first experience a few years ago when one of the shuttle trajectories set it up the eastern coast. It flew about 90 miles east of Long Island, and I got to see the main fuel tank separation from my roof of my home in Coram N.Y. It really made me proud to be an American that day. Yes I got it on video tape.

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay, that must have been AWESOME. Hopefully, one day you can get down here to watch one close up!! If you keep studying and stay in school maybe one day you'll even help us launch a space shuttle. It makes me very proud to able to meet you and share my experiences in the Space Shuttle Program with you!

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:33AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay, by the way I'm a fellow New Yorker. I am from Syracuse.

Victor/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:21AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Since when have you started your career?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Victor, hey there! I started working out here in June 1996.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Victor, you can find out more about Mike's career journey in his biography.

Rigoberto/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Would you like to go up into space or to the moon?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:30AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Rigoberto, although it's a real "fast ride" if given the chance I'd go for it.

Teresa/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What do you personally think about the mission to Mars?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:32AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Teresa, hello to Chicago! I think the mission to Mars is a good idea. I'd like to see a little more emphasis on future Mars and Moon return missions for humans.

David/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What do you have to do to the shuttle after it returns?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hey Dave, How's it goin' up there? The first thing we do is get the shuttle "cooled down" and then remove most of the fuels. We tow it back from the runway about 4-6 hours after touchdown.

Guillermo/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How many years do you have to study to do your job?

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:38AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Guillermo, I went to college for 5 years. However, at work I will be training for at least another 3 years and I will never stop learning something new.

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:44AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . I would like to remind everyone that the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch next Thursday, May 15 at 4:08am.

KEVIN: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Thank you very much for your time; we have to leave. See you another time!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Thank you for joining us today, Kevin. Please join us again.

jay/n.y.: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Jay/N.Y. I just what to say thank you for this opportunity to chat, but it is a little to late for me to get a degree.

Ms. Barge/Chicago: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Thanks Mike for the chat! We are off to some science experiments now.

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Ms. Barge, it was great to talk to you all. Good luck with the experiments and maybe one day you can get them to fly in space!

Mike C./ NASA KSC: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:40AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . EVERYONE, I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU for sharing your interest with me today. It is a privilege to work on the Space Shuttle Program, and I am proud to know that you are out there in America supporting us.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, May 7, 11:43AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR JOINING US FOR TODAY'S CHAT!!! We hope you enjoyed chatting with Mike Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center!!!

 
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