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CTE NASA Visit

Clyde Oakely of Cherry Creek (CTE classes) shared the following informaiton regarding his recent trip to NASA with his Engineering and Physics students. 

The NASA engineer who sent us the VIP NASA invitation to the launch was Brent Motz.  I’ve known Brent and his family since Brent was three years old.  I talked to him often as he went through high school and college and as he got his first Aerospace job in Boulder.  After success with spacecraft design he was hired by NASA about three or four years ago.  Since then he has been NASA’s representative at Lockheed Martin where he worked on the GOES-R space craft.  This space craft will go into geosynchronous orbit which means it always looks at the same side of the earth and will dramatically improve the United States’ weather forecasting capability. See http://www.goes-r.gov/.  He and I have traveled twice to Kenya to build greenhouses, playgrounds, and libraries for schools.  We also climbed Kilimanjaro together.  He has been a volunteer for the Cherry Creek High School Science Olympiad Teams and has helped students with their building projects for a couple years.  He has also spoken to my Engineering Physics classes about Aerospace careers.

He extended the invitation for me to bring students to the launch last summer. Ms. Whitney Mernitz, another Physics teacher agreed to help me with plans and come on the trip.   I selected juniors from last year’s classes and prioritized them by their interest in Aerospace which they expressed in an Engineering interest survey that I give each year. 

The bus driver took a wrong turn and took us to within a mile of the launch pad.  Eventually we were stopped by security and turned back but not until we got this picture of the GOES R space craft on the launch pad.   The NASA bus eventually took us to their Banana Creek Viewing area for guests only.   The launch was supposed to occur prior to sundown but was delayed due to engineering problems and problems with ships down range.  It eventually launched in the last minute of the launch window in the dark.  These few stills may give you some idea.  It was very impressive.  We spent all of the next day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  We saw many historic rockets including the huge Saturn V which carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon.  (It might be of interest that we at Cherry Creek owns some of the Saturn V rocket parts that were part of the Apollo Mission (probably Apollo 11 which was the first to put people on the moon) that were at the bottom of the Atlantic for 43 years until recovered by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.)  We also saw Space Shuttle Atlantis and displays on the technology that allowed it to fly.  They allowed us to ride in a shuttle take-off simulator. We visited the display showing NASA’s preparations to go to Mars.  It was all pretty amazing.

It was very difficult to set up since the launch was delayed first due to Hurricane Matthew and then by rocket engineering problems that were resolved by ULA (United Launch Alliance) from their Engineering  Control Room here in Centennial.  One of the engineers in the control room here was a young female engineer who visited our class last year.  We texted to tell her we were in Florida and she took the time to tell us she was working the launch. 

1a Blast off.jpg2a Full power - like sunrise.jpg2b Vapor Trail.jpg
3a Like a star ascending.jpg4 Light fades as rocket goes down range.jpgAt the KSC Fountain.jpg

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