All Mine 2 Background

Friday, September 30, 2011

Salute Shuttle

I have given 5 1/2 years of my life to the Shuttle program. Or should I say, the Shuttle program has given 5 1/2 years to me. Over these years, this job has been such an integral part of my world. It has meant a lot of sacrifices and hard work, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I was blessed to be a contributor to a piece of the American Space Program. I would have been considered lucky to have worked one Space Shuttle mission, but I am truly humbled to have been chosen to work 21 Space Shuttle missions as a Shuttle flight controller. It's been an honor to serve my country doing work that I love. The blessings that have been granted and that continue to be lavished upon me cannot be ignored. I know that I am in Houston, far away from family, doing this work for a reason.
I will miss the Space Shuttle program. I will miss driving into work at 4am. I will miss working Holidays and getting "turkey dinners" delivered to mission control from our managers because we didn't get dinner with our friends and family. I will miss not being able to make personal plans because my life revolves around Shuttle launches. I will miss making last minute plans to go home for Christmas because a Shuttle flight slipped.  I will miss working 9+ hour shifts in a building with no windows and having no idea if it's day or light outside but not caring. My world was inside the mission control center, and it didn't matter what the conditions were outside that room. We lived by the orbit of the Shuttle where sunrise happens every 90 minutes. I will miss the camaraderie in the "back rooms" who support the Mission Control room... the group of devoted people who work tirelessly to support their "front room" flight controller. I will miss the pot luck dinners we had because we were not allowed to leave our posts, lest we leave our crew alone. I will miss having to pee so bad because 1) I can only use the bathroom when there is an LOS (loss of signal) with the crew where we cannot communicate with them and because 2) I was so busy during my shift that I forgot I had to pee... nothing else mattered besides getting my job done.  I will miss getting yelled at by flight directors because I hadn't studied hard enough and didn't know the answer, didn't respond quickly enough, or didn't answer with clear and precise words. I will miss watching other flight controllers get yelled at by flight directors for those same reasons. I will miss the sense of pride in their jobs that I felt from every single flight controller I have worked with because they know they do a job that no one else in the world has the opportunity to do. I will miss the chills I got on my arms when I walked into the mission control center.  I will miss the tremendous responsibility to the safety and the life of my crew and the weight of my decisions and my actions. Sometimes I could not believe I had been given the opportunity to work that job. There were many "pinch me moments". I will miss making a decision, telling my Flight Director what the best solution is, and hearing my words go up to the crew. At the time when I was newly certified, it seemed like a 26 year old girl couldn't have that much responsibility, but I did, and they listened to me. There is a way things are done. Tradition matters. Each of us were responsible, no matter our age or where we came from. We listened to the experts no matter how "inexperienced" they seemed. We trusted each other because we knew each of us had proven ourselves to be tough and competent. The standards were set high, and there was no room for error.
With that, I'd like to share a project I've been working on.

I guess you could call it a celebration for the end of the Shuttle program. I had accumulated a few things over the years, a few of which were gifts from a couple crews, so I decided to frame them to fondly remember the time I spend on a project I deeply loved.

From left to right: An STS-133 plaque from a mission where I was the lead planner, graciously signed by my crew. Below that, a montage from STS-127, a mission where I was a part of the lead team, with a patch flown aboard Shuttle, and signed by my crew. In the middle, one of my favorite shuttle pictures surrounded by all the patches representing missions I supported from Mission Control. On top left, the certificate from my flight director when I was chosen to hang the STS-133 mission plaque in the Mission Control Center and a picture with the STS-133 crew. Below that, a montage from STS-133 with a patch flown aboard Shuttle, signed by my crew.

I decided to frame and mat all these myself as it costs a small fortune to have it done professionally. I wrote a blog about this awhile back if you care to find out some tips. For this project, I purchased all the frames (ready made) at Aaron Brothers framing during their buy one get one for a penny sale. Notice I needed 5 frames (not an even number), so I ended up paying full price for one of them (I know). My total was $95. I ordered mats on Americanframe
The 4 frames on the outside look pretty straight forward, but I bet you're wondering how I made the center one... First I decided to go with a very wide mat in order to fit all the patches. I bought the frame and then laid all the patches out, measuring to figure out what size mat accommodated all the patches and what size picture I should go with. I tried two different layouts.
First I laid all of the patches out around the outside but that looked too scrunched to me. Another issue I had with this layout is that the center picture would look weird floating there in the middle and wouldn't be evenly spaced between the top and bottom rows of patches and the sides (ie. there would have been too much plain mat on the side of the photo)

I decided to use this method to make it more symmetrical.
 I then ordered a mat board to fit a 24x36" frame for a 9x12" picture. It was an extra wide mat (sides were 12 1/8", top and bottom were 7 5/8"). I bet you are wondering why all the 1/8" ? It's because you want 1/8" overlap on your picture. So if your picture is 9x12", you need to order a mat that has an opening of 8 3/4 x 11 3/4". It's a lot of math, I know. Use a calculator.
Once I got the mat, I just used double stick tape and a ruler to evenly space out the patches and stick them on the mat.
Also, I ordered my picture on I ordered it with a "metallic" finish so it's super shiny and pretty. Just perfect for the photo I think. Mpix does a great job. I've ordered many photos from there. Here's a closeup of the final product.

So I bet you're wondering how I got all these frames to hang so nice and straight with evenly spaced margins between all the other frames? Well it wasn't easy. I first had to draw a picture.
Real engineering girls have graph paper with pretty bindings...
And I had to use some tools.
A little kit with picture hanging nails, screws with dry wall screw things since you won't be drilling into the studs, a screw driver, a measuring tape, a hammer, a level, and most importantly - a Bosh power drill (small, lightweight and perfect for engineering girls like me)
All I can say here is MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE. And even after you do that, you still might mess up (I did), so don't get frustrated. It's all part of learning. You can do it girls!!

This was a really rewarding project, but it was definitely hard work to get all those frames to line up. I'm really happy with the results though. Let's see it one more time...

Does anyone out there have any tips for hanging things on walls? Any template short cuts or hints like measuring twice and drilling once? I'd love to hear about it...

NASA for Life!

1 comment:

Hills said...

Looks great! so symmetrical too!