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Space Team Online Web Chat

Date: August 6, 1997

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


Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:05AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hello to our Shuttle Team Online participants. Welcome to today's chat with Mike Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Mike Ciannilli is a fuel cells engineer at NASA Kennedy Space Center. Mike is a member of a team that is responsible for servicing the orbiter when it returns from a mission, by testing all of its systems to making sure it is ready to fly again. He and his team are also responsible for conducting the launch readiness testing of orbiter fuel cell flight systems, ground support systems, and launch pad systems.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . And now, here is Mike Ciannilli to answer your questions.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 9:57AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hello from the Kennedy Space Center!! It's great to have everyone onboard this afternoon and I look forward to talking with you. I also would like to remind everyone that tomorrow morning at 10:41 a.m. we plan to launch the Space Shuttle Discovery!!

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mr. Ciannilli, what part of the next mission will you be involved in?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:09AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi David, Well for me, most of my work for tomorrow's launch has already been done. Right now we are participating in the countdown which basically means watching all of our systems onboard the shuttle.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . David, just to follow up, yesterday we loaded Discovery with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for the fuel cells. After midnight tonight we will start up the fuel cells and watch their performance from then until launch. By the way where is San Ramon?

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . San Ramon is in northern California. It's about 30 minutes from San Francisco, across the Bay. Have you ever been to California?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT ). . . David, yes I have been to Southern California. I had the great opportunity to go to Los Angeles in 1994 to meet President Ronald Reagan.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:24AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Wow! What was it like to meet Ronald Reagan? Are you a Republican? :-) Have you ever been to Northern California?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:27AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, it was "awesome to meet Ronald Reagan." I wrote him a letter and he invited me to come out and meet him. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is VERY down to earth. No, I haven't been to Northern California but I have seen pictures and it looks beautiful. I would like to go there sometime!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:28AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, just to add my two cents, I live in San Jose, which is also in Northern California. One of my sisters also lives in San Ramon, and two others live in cities within the same region. The pictures you've seen probably don't do justice to the scenery here. I'm amazed that after living here all of my life, I'm still discovering just how beautiful this region is. I don't mean to gloat, but it's really nice here.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Oran, I believe it; that must be neat! . . . I've always said one day I would like to drive from San Francisco to San Diego on the Pacific Coast Highway!! As a matter of fact, when the President asked me what I thought of California I told him "If you put New York (my home state) and Florida together you would end up with California!"

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:33 a.m. PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, when you are ready to make that drive, I think I should go with you, since I've yet to do that, even though I've lived here my entire life.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:36AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, a colleague of mine from New Jersey says, "Florida has too much traffic, and New York is too rude." Your thoughts about this? :-)

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:42AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Oran, do I have comments??!! Well, I am from upstate New York in Syracuse. It's very "country like" up there. Nothing like New York City. Yes, parts of Florida do have traffic but I live in a small little beach town called Cocoa Beach and it's about as laid back as you can get. As a matter of fact the biggest place in town is a Surf Shop!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:47AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, I've never been to Florida or New York, so I guess I'll take your word for it. :-) What kinds of things do you like to do for fun in Cocoa Beach (besides surf!)?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:52AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Well, Oran, I like to do as much as I can outdoors. I like to go boating and sailing. I really enjoy snorkeling. On land I like to play tennis and go hiking. Basically if I am near the water things are cool! Disney World and great water parks are down here also.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:15AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What happens when you start the fuel cells early before a launch?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:20AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, we start the fuel cells by opening valves in pipes onboard the shuttle. This lets the liquid fuels flow into the fuel cells. When the fuel cells get the fuel and we flip a couple of switches they actually start up.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:11AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What do you have to do to watch all of your systems during the countdown? How much time does it take to watch the systems?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Well, David, we monitor the systems onboard the shuttle from a place called the Firing Room. It is full of computer consoles and on a computer screen and keyboard we can see what is going on. We usually have 2-4 people on station 24 hours a day during countdown.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:17AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . So do you sit in the Firing Room and just look at the monitors or do you have other things you have to do at that time?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:23AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Well, Dave, while we are in the Firing Room during countdown we are constantly monitoring hundreds of measurements like temperatures and pressures. Something can change very quickly. Also we are opening and closing valves during this time. We are constantly following the count on our headset where all of the other systems come together.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:31AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . We will be sending the Space Shuttle Atlantis out to your home state of California, Palmdale, to be exact, later in the fall after its next mission in September.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:34AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, why will Atlantis be in California instead of Florida? Will it fly on the back of a jet like it used to do?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Well, David after about every ten missions for an orbiter we have what is called an OMDP (Orbiter Maintenance Down Period). Basically during this time (roughly a year) we inspect every part of the orbiter to make sure it's in great shape. Also we do any modifications that we have planned. The facility where we built the orbiters is in Palmdale so it's easy to do the work there. Yes, we will put Atlantis on the 747 to fly her there.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:41AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, does that mean that the other shuttles do more missions while the Atlantis is being repaired?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:46AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Yes, Dave you're exactly right. Every day we are constantly getting ready for an orbiter's next flight. Actually on any given day we can work any of the four orbiters. While Atlantis is out your way, Columbia will launch on November 19th, then in January Endeavour will fly to the Mir space station. We constantly are getting ready to launch another vehicle.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:35AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . David, are you going to school? What do you find most interesting about the space program?

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:39AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, I'm going to be in the eighth grade in September. I just like the stuff in the space program like Mars, the Hale-Bopp Comet, and other things. I don't know much about the space shuttle, though.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, Good Luck with school! 8th grade can be a lot of fun. The best thing you can do is always do your best in school. It may not seem like it, but high school goes fast and before you know it you're out of school. If you study hard and get good grades you can do anything you want to for a job. Who knows, we might even need a little help down here on the Space Shuttle!

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:55AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Thanks, Mike. I think I'd like to be a writer right now, but I'm not too sure yet because I also like astronomy.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT) . . . David, Don't worry about it. You have some time to think about life after school. Just keep doing what you like and you will make the right decision one day!

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:49AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . I heard the Columbia is the oldest shuttle. How long before it can't be used anymore? How long does it take to get a shuttle ready for launch after it has come back from a mission?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 10:57AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, yes Columbia is the oldest shuttle. As a matter of fact, when I was exactly your age, Columbia was brand new and just launched for the first time. I remember that day like it was yesterday. She is actually my sentimental favorite! On Columbia's last OMDP (remember we talked about that) we found out that she is in excellent shape. The orbiters are designed to fly 100 missions and Columbia's next flight will be her 24th. In "orbiter years" kind of like a teenager!

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:00AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, for the other part of your question, it takes roughly 3-4 months to go from landing to launch. If we have to do a lot of payload work or repairs then it could be longer.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:01AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, how did you feel when the Challenger orbiter blew up?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:06AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Well, Dave that's another day that seems like yesterday. I was in my first year of college in Melbourne, Florida, about 30 miles from here. I saw it in the sky. At first I was completely shocked and couldn't believe it. Then for quite some time it hurt. I keep a picture of the Challenger crew in my office. I do that so I never forget what happened and to always remind me to do the best job I can. Launching a rocket that weighs 4.5 million pounds and making it go 3 MILES A SECOND is dangerous. Fortunately, we have a great team down here at the Cape.

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:03AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, do you think you will be an astronaut some day?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:12AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Dave, to be honest, I don't know. It's a very difficult process. Right now I am really glad to have the opportunity to work at getting the shuttles ready to fly for our astronauts.

Juan /Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:00PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What interests you most about your job?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:02PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Juan, I really enjoy being able to do what I dreamed about as a kid. Working on or sometimes inside the Space Shuttle is really neat!

Cynthia & Yaleth/Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:05PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . How many hours do you work in a week, and how much do you get paid?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:09PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi there Cynthia and Yaleth! I usually work 40 hours a week, but sometimes when things get busy, I've worked up to 60. As far as getting paid, it's average salary for a young engineer.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:07PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Have you ever messed up, and what happened?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:13PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Hi Conexiones! First of all, everyone makes a mistake now and then. However, I have been really fortunate and have not made any big mistakes so far in my career. I try to be extremely careful in what I do as I deal with very dangerous fuels and operations. It does not take very much for a scary situation to happen.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:10PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Would you like to ride into outer space? If so, why?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:15PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Conexiones, if I had the chance, I would like to take a trip into space. I think it would be really cool to be able to look down and see the entire Earth. The astronauts tell me it is really beautiful from up there!

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:17PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Where is everyone from out there? I am at the Kennedy Space Center which is on the East Coast of Florida. Were about 200 miles north of Miami and about 50 miles east of Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:18PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona; the last Super Bowl was held two blocks from here at Sun Devil Stadium. We are group of students of ages 9-17.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:22PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Conexiones, I have heard that Arizona is really neat. I briefly stopped there on my way to California.

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:20PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, I am at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. The center is located approximately 35 miles south of San Francisco.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:17PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Where were you when the Challenger blew up? How has it changed your job?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:20PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Good question, Conexiones. Well, I was at college here in Florida when we lost Challenger. I saw it in the sky. I was just a student when it happened, however, I do know that we have a lot of extra safety checks on everything we do before we launch.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:21PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What is your best moment at NASA?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:26PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . That's a tough question, Conexiones! I would say there have been several. My first day was really exciting. The first time I went onboard an shuttle (it was Endeavour) and sat in the Commander's seat. Also walking up to the Space Shuttle on the launch pad for the first time really blew my mind. Everyday there is something new and neat!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:21PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Conexiones, how is the weather in Tempe today? Here in the Bay Area, we have had temperatures over 100 degrees since yesterday!

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:24PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Oran, it was 111 degrees yesterday and today 108.

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:26PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . What was your high school and College GPA? Is your high school or college GPA a NASA secret?

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:31PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Conexiones, as far as high school, I had straight A's. In college, I belonged to several organizations (and was the President of some) so my GPA was a little above average but not exactly 4.0. For me it worked out well because in our unique work environment out here, they much prefer to hire well-rounded "street smart" people, instead of 4.0, top of the class book smart types. It's just that here you have to be able to think quick on your feet and react to a variety of different situations and people. But I'll tell you, Conexiones, I kind of like your "secret" idea!!

Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:35PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . We like your idea of telling us. Thank you for sharing your day with Conexiones!

Jennifer/Conexiones: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 2:33PM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, thanks so much for your participation today! Oran, thanks to you for moderating. --Jennifer

David/San Ramon: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:10AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, thanks for answering my questions today. I have to go now.

Mike/KSC: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . I'd like to thank everyone for coming "down to the Cape" today. Remember to watch CNN tomorrow for the launch of Discovery!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Mike, we'll be watching!

Oran/NASA Chat Host: . . . . Wed, Aug 6, 11:14AM PDT (-0700 GMT). . . Thank you to everyone for joining us today. A special thanks to Mike Ciannilli from NASA Kennedy Space Center for joining us for today's chat. Please join us for our next Shuttle Team Online webchat.


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