The NASTAR Center National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:20:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Project Gemini – Springboard to the Moon Fri, 08 May 2015 12:20:35 +0000 Read More]]>

Spaceflight is an accepted part of today’s world. The International Space Station has been occupied continuously for the past 15 years, Astronaut Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka recently began a year-long stay in orbit, and there are commercial firms preparing to take fare-paying passengers into space. Orbital relays bring us nearly instantaneous communication with any part of the world and we can receive television in our homes that is broadcast directly from satellites. Global positioning system (GPS) satellites let us navigate with precision. Meteorologists track weather systems on a global scale using satellite imagery. Space has become so ubiquitous it is easy to sometimes overlook the pioneering efforts of half a century ago.
Project Gemini was one of the most significant pioneering programs of the mid-1960s, but it is often overshadowed by its successor, Project Apollo.
The early years of space exploration took place in the midst of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union. This led to a “Space Race” between the two global superpowers as each tried to demonstrate technological superiority in the new realm of exploration. Against this background of international competition, the Soviets stunned the world with the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The Soviet Union had beaten America in the quest to launch the world’s first artificial satellite. Over the next few years, Soviet rocket scientists continued to rack up an impressive string of space “firsts” following Sputnik 1: first living creature in orbit (Sputnik 2); first spacecraft to impact the Moon (Lunik 2); first photographs of the lunar far side (Lunik 3); and first human in space (Vostok 1). These triumphs helped fuel a perception that the American space program lagged behind that of the Russians.
Vostok 1, launched on April 12, 1961, carried Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin once around the world. The United States’ first piloted space mission, the Mercury Redstone flight of Freedom 7 crewed by Alan B. Shepard, Jr. on May 5, 1961, was a suborbital flight. Gagarin’s orbital flight lasted 108 minutes; Shepard’s suborbital one just 15 minutes. In an effort to overcome popular perceptions about the relative state of development between the Soviet and American space programs, President John F. Kennedy challenged his advisors to come up with a space goal. He stipulated that the goal had to be one that United States had a chance of achieving first and had to be on a sufficiently grand scale to capture the world’s imagination.
On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced that the United States would land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. At the time, the total experience NASA had with humans in space was Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital flight. NASA already had a proposed 3-man spacecraft named Apollo on the drawing boards. With Kennedy’s pronouncement, Apollo became the lunar landing program.
Project Mercury’s goals were simply to demonstrate that a human could survive and work in space. To bridge the gap between Mercury and the very ambitious Apollo program, NASA needed an interim program that would develop all the techniques needed to reach the Moon. That program became known as Gemini. The Gemini spacecraft carried two astronauts. Project Gemini goals included:

  • Demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking
  • Demonstrate extravehicular activity
  • Conduct missions lasting eight days or longer
  • Perfect techniques of atmospheric reentry and touchdown at a pre-selected point on the ground. (NASA dropped this objective in 1964.)

After two unmanned test flights, NASA launched the first piloted Gemini flight, Gemini-3, on March 23, 1965. Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young piloted the spacecraft on a 3-orbit mission that lasted 4 ½ hours. They tested major spacecraft systems including the ability to modify their orbit. This technique was vital if future astronauts were going to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft.
The next mission lifted off on June 3, 1965. James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White piloted Gemini 4 in space for four days, twice the length of any previous American manned space flight. Early in the flight, White performed the first extravehicular activity by an American astronaut.
Gemini set a very rapid pace for flights with a total of ten piloted missions between March 1965 and November 1966. Significant milestones during the Gemini flights included the first rendezvous in space (Gemini’s 6A and 7); an 8-day mission, which was the length of time required to fly to the Moon and back (Gemini 5); a two-week mission (Gemini 7); and the first docking in space (Gemini 8 and an unmanned Agena target vehicle). Gemini 11 astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Richard Gordon performed a “direct ascent” rendezvous and docking, catching up with the Agena during their first orbit. The direct ascent profile simulated the maneuver that would be performed by the Apollo Lunar Module rendezvous with the Command and Service Module after landing on the Moon.
Half of the flights included EVAs (Geminis 4, 9A, 10, 11, and 12) and demonstrated that astronauts could perform useful work outside their spacecraft. Astronauts on Geminis 10 and 11 used the propulsion system on the Agena target vehicle to boost their orbits as high as 850 miles. Even though the precision landing on land goal had been dropped from the program, Gemini astronauts demonstrated techniques to control their splashdown points when they returned to Earth.
Sixteen individual astronauts flew on the ten piloted Gemini flights. (Four made two flights.) By the time Gemini 12 splashed down on November 15, 1966, American astronauts had demonstrated all the techniques needed to fly to the Moon and had amassed more than 1,993 man-hours in space. The stage was set for Project Apollo.

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NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Kicks Off Geography Trivia from Space Mon, 04 May 2015 12:17:13 +0000 Read More]]>

Where over the world is NASA astronaut Scott Kelly? Kelly, who is working and living aboard the International Space Station on a one-year mission, wants to test your knowledge of the world with a geography trivia game on Twitter.
The first person to correctly identify the place depicted in his photos will win a copy of the picture signed by Kelly after he returns to Earth in March 2016. Kelly’s first game post was on Earth Day, April 22, and he plans to continue the game for the duration of his mission.
To see the first post, get updates from Kelly about his mission, and play Geography Trivia from Space, follow him on Twitter at: @StationCDRKelly
Kelly launched to the space station along with Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka on March 27. Kelly and Kornienko are spending one year in space, twice the typical mission duration, to provide researchers the opportunity to advance their knowledge of the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long duration spaceflight, in addition to developing countermeasures that would reverse those effects.
During Kelly’s stay on station, part of his job is to capture a kaleidoscope of geographic locations for scientific analysis of our planet. The orbiting outpost and its six crew members circle Earth 16 times each day, traveling more than 200 miles above Earth at 17,500 mph.
“Expanding our geography knowledge is essential to our economic well-being, our relationships with other nations and the environment,” Kelly said. “It helps us make sense of our world and allows us to make connections between people and places. Space exploration is a global endeavor, and the International Space Station is the result of these connections.”
For complete rules of the Geography Trivia from Space and more information about the International Space Station, visit:
Follow the one-year mission on Twitter #YearInSpace
Find all the ways you can connect and collaborate with NASA at:

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MAVEN Educator Ambassador Program Mon, 04 May 2015 11:55:32 +0000 Read More]]>

In September 2014, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission began exploring Mars’ upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. The MAVEN Educator Ambassador, or MEA, program will focus on in-depth learning experiences around Earth, space and physical science topics for educators teaching middle- and high-school grades.
During this weeklong, NASA-funded program, participants will receive training to become a MAVEN Educator Ambassador. The goal of the MEA program is to develop the capacity and provide the opportunity for educators to train other teachers on NASA heliophysics and planetary science educational resources. Follow-up support will be provided via teleconference calls and other electronic communications. Participants involved in the MEA program will be expected to implement the lesson plans and education resources in their own classrooms, as well as train other teachers at local and regional professional development conferences or meetings.
The program will take place Aug. 3-7, 2015, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Participants will receive a travel stipend of $700. Free housing and meals will be provided.
Applications are due May 22, 2015.
For more information about the workshop and to apply online.
Questions about this opportunity should be directed to

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Fifty Years Ago – the First Space Walks Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:28:06 +0000 Read More]]>

Ed_White performs first U.S. spacewalk
Fifty years ago Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov and American Astronaut Edward H. White II performed the first extravehicular activities (EVAs), which are more popularly known as space walks. Leonov’s EVA, on March 18, 1965, lasted 12 minutes; White spent 23 minutes outside Gemini 4 on June 3, 1965. However tentative these initial forays outside the protective confines of a pressurized spacecraft may have been, they were the first steps towards establishing EVAs as necessary techniques for exploring and working in space.
Leonov carried a 45-minute oxygen supply in a backpack. The Voskhod spacecraft was a modified Vostok. The electronics inside the Voskhod were air cooled so Leonov could not depressurize the cabin for his EVA. He had to exit the Voskhod through an inflatable airlock attached to the side of the spacecraft. Leonov emerged from the airlock over north-central Africa. For the next 12 minutes he floated alongside Voskhod before crawling back into the airlock over eastern Siberia. When he first tried to get back into the airlock, Leonov discovered his space suit had inflated to such a degree that he almost wouldn’t fit through the hatch. He reduced the pressure in his suit twice, even to the point of risking decompression sickness, before he could climb back in. Leonov then had to turn around inside the airlock so he could close the outside hatch. By the time he managed to rejoin his crewmate Pavel Belyayev inside Voskhod 2, he was sweating profusely and was nearing exhaustion.
Two and a half months later, NASA was ready to try an EVA on the second piloted Gemini flight. The second piloted flight, Gemini 4, was crewed by James McDivitt and Edward H. White II. Rather than using a backpack like Leonov, American astronaut Ed White’s oxygen came from the spacecraft through a 25-foot umbilical. White carried a small Hand Held Maneuvering Unit (HHMU). The HHMU comprised two small oxygen bottles attached to a handle with three thruster nozzles. Squeezing the handle released pressurized oxygen through the nozzles to propel White forward or backward. He had enough oxygen in the HHMU to effect a total velocity change of six feet per second.
White opened the hatch and emerged from Gemini 4 over the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii. He exhausted the gas in the HHMU after only three minutes. He continued to float alongside the spacecraft, twisting his body and tugging on the umbilical to maneuver. As Gemini 4 approached the Gulf of Mexico, the mission commander James McDivitt ordered White back into the spacecraft. White was having so much fun performing the EVA that he was at first reluctant to return. At last, White climbed back into Gemini 4 and closed the hatch. Later in the 4-day flight, White was supposed to reopen the hatch and dump the umbilical, HHMU, chest pack and other EVA equipment. However, the hatch proved difficult to secure so the astronauts decided to keep it sealed and brought the equipment back to Earth.

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Jeannette Piccard – First Woman to Reach the Stratosphere Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:08:48 +0000 Read More]]>

Jeannette Piccard – First Woman to Reach the Stratosphere
This short article on Jeannette Piccard is being sent in honor of Women’s History Month.
On October 23, 1934, Jeannette Piccard became the first woman to reach the stratosphere. Accompanied by her husband, Dr. Jean Piccard, as scientific observer, she piloted the Century of Progress balloon to an altitude of 57,979 feet. They flew in a spherical gondola that was, in many ways, a precursor for future spacecraft. The gondola, a seven-foot diameter sphere, contained a life support system to sustain them and scientific instruments Jean used to study cosmic radiation.
The balloon had been fabricated for the Century of Progress Chicago International Exposition. Dow Chemical Company built the gondola from a magnesium alloy they called Dowmetal; the Goodyear-Zeppelin Company made the rubberized cotton balloon. Navy Lt. Commander Thomas G. W. Settle and Marine Corps Major Chester Fordney used the balloon and gondola to reach 61,237 feet on November 20, 1933.
Jean Piccard had been instrumental in planning the Century of Progress balloon and he had an agreement that once the Chicago Exposition was done with the aerostat, he would be able to use it himself. Jean was eager to make a flight – his twin brother Auguste had been the first to use a sealed gondola to reach the stratosphere in 1931. Because Jean would be busy tending to the scientific instruments, he needed someone to pilot the balloon. His wife Jeannette earned a balloonist’s license so she could be his pilot. She was the first woman to become a licensed spherical balloon pilot.
A qualified scientist in her own right, Jeannette Piccard had a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College (1918) and a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago (1919.) While the Piccards were building support for their flight, Henry Ford became interested in the project and let them use hangar space at the Ford Airport at Dearborn, Michigan.
On the morning of October 23, 1934, Jean and Jeannette Piccard set out for the stratosphere. Their pet turtle Fleur de Lys accompanied them as a passenger. A cheer rose from the crowd of spectators when explosive charges severed the restraining ropes. The cheers quickly turned to gasps when the balloon did not rise but stayed within a few feet of the ground, headed towards the trees that bordered the airport. Mrs. Piccard dropped some ballast and the balloon started to climb. It cleared the trees and continued gaining altitude.
Pre-launch predictions called for clear skies. Once aloft, they discovered a solid overcast. As they passed through a layer of clouds, the balloon began swaying from side to side. Standing in the open hatch, Mrs. Piccard nearly fell out of the gondola as she reached for the rope that controlled the vent valve at the top of the balloon. Fortunately she regained her footing, secured the rope, and closed the gondola hatch. Although she wore a parachute, had she fallen, it would likely have had disastrous consequences because they were above Lake Erie at the time. The balloon soon cleared the clouds and broke into bright sunshine.
People on the ground spotted the balloon over Akron and Sandusky, Ohio, but the Piccards could not see through the clouds and couldn’t tell where they were. Depending on how high they reached and how long they remained aloft, there was a risk they could land in the Atlantic Ocean. As it turned out, Jean and Jeannette were still over Ohio when they reached their maximum altitude of 57,979 feet. Jeannette Piccard was the first woman to reach the stratosphere. They could have dropped more ballast in an attempt to set an altitude record, but decided it would be better to try to land rather than risk an ocean landing. Mrs. Piccard opened the hydrogen vent valve and they began their descent.
As the balloon entered the clouds, it cooled and contracted, increasing their rate of descent. Suddenly they were dropping out of control. Jeannette dropped all their ballast in an attempt to regain control over the balloon. They were still falling too fast as she emptied the last bag. She opened the hatch and tossed a battery (that was attached to a parachute) overboard. One of the cosmic ray instruments was shielded with 550 pounds of lead shot, which Jean dropped through a special chute in a desperate attempt to slow their fall.
A heavy layer of fog blocked their view of the ground so they still couldn’t tell what was beneath them. Suddenly there was a break in the clouds and they saw they were headed straight at the roof of a farmhouse. Jeannette managed to clear the structure, bouncing between the house and the nearby barn. The Piccards continued to drift along the ground until the gondola finally settled into the limbs of a large elm tree on a farm near Cadiz, Ohio. A crowd of curiosity seekers soon gathered. When told where they were, Mrs. Piccard laughed and said: “Oh dear, and I had wanted to land on the lawn of the White House.” Someone asked if she would be willing to make such a risky trip again. “Oh, just give me a chance,” was her reply.
Mrs. Piccard subsequently earned a doctorate in education from the University of Minnesota, where her husband became an engineering instructor. One of his graduate students was Robert Gilruth, who headed NASA’s human space flight program from 1958 to 1972. Jean Piccard died in 1963. After his death, Gilruth invited Jeannette to become a consultant for NASA. She moved to Houston and worked for NASA until 1970, when she decided to pursue her other passion – theology – and was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church in 1971. Three years later, she was ordained as an Episcopal Priest in Philadelphia. At the time, this caused a great deal of controversy in the Anglican Church. However, at the General Convention held in Minneapolis in 1976, the Church voted to open the priesthood to women and Jeannette’s ordination was confirmed the following year. By that time, she was back in Minneapolis, having returned in 1975. Jeannette Piccard remained in Minneapolis until her death in 1981.

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A Preview of the NASTAR Center’s Newest Teacher Professional Development Program Fri, 06 Mar 2015 18:50:27 +0000 Read More]]>

NASTAR Center Space Payload Teacher Workshop
Since the Skylab program in the 1970s, students have been able to design and launch experiments into space. The Skylab Student Involvement Program included 19 experiments built by high school students from across the country. Opportunities for student involvement continued through the Space Shuttle program and into the current International Space Station. With the advent of commercial suborbital spaceflights in the near future, opportunities for launching student experiments into space will grow.
The NASTAR Center’s newest Teacher Professional Development program, Space Payloads, will present the history of student space projects, future launch opportunities, and activities that you can incorporate in the classroom to simulate microgravity and research in space. Particular attention will be given to the payload environment aboard upcoming suborbital spaceflight vehicles and programs that allow your students to design and submit experiments for flight.
For enrollment information for this or any of the other NASTAR Teacher Professional Development programs, contact Greg Kennedy at (215) 355-9100, X 1512, or A registration packet may also be downloaded from the NASTAR Center website,

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NASTAR Center Field Trips Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:06:56 +0000 Read More]]>

Looking for an interesting destination for a school field trip? Bring your class to the NASTAR® Center. Your students will see an altitude chamber, aircraft simulator, ejection seat trainer, spatial disorientation trainer, and high performance human centrifuge. Whenever training or equipment testing is going on, your students will be able to see these devices in action. Students will also see demonstrations of Boyle’s Law of Gases, spatial disorientation, and will be able to try on pieces of flight equipment.
NASTAR Center field trips support the following Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science and Technology and Engineering Education:
Science as Inquiry Standards: all standards
Biological Sciences: Form and Function
Physical Sciences, Chemistry

  • Properties of Matter
  • Structure of Matter

Physical Sciences, Physics

  • Force and Motion
  • Electrical and Magnetic Energy

Technology and Engineering Education

  • Characteristics of Technology
  • Core Concepts of Technology
  • Technology Connections

Technology and Society

  • Effects of Technology
  • Society and Development of Technology
  • Technology and History

Technology and Engineering Design

  • Design Attributes
  • Engineering Design
  • Research and Development, Invention and Innovation

Abilities for a Technological World

  • Applying the Design Process
  • Using and Maintaining Technological Information
  • Assessing Impact of Products and Systems

The Designed World

  • Medical Technologies
  • Transportation Technologies
  • Manufacturing Technologies

For enrollment information, contact Greg Kennedy at (215) 355-9100, X 1512, or A registration packet may also be downloaded from the NASTAR Center website.

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NASTAR Center Will Be Attending the NBAA Regional Forum at Palm Beach International Airport on February 19th Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:25:32 +0000 Read More]]>

Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I) is indisputably the leading cause of fatal airplane crashes and crash-related fatalities nationwide. So problematic is LOCI that the NTSB included it in its 2015 Most Wanted List.
The National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center is going to be attending the NBAA Regional Forum at Palm Beach International Airport on February 19th, and will be available to discuss our Part 135 business aviation focused training programs. We have times available on both February 19th and 20th, but they are filling up fast!
Since 2007 the NASTAR Center has trained thousands of pilots from around the globe using the most advanced simulator technology available. Current doctrine generates pilots who are well trained to fly within the Normal flight envelope. However, pilots need to experience Startle, Surprise and other Stressors, including G-Forces during training in order to be prepared for that once in a lifetime maneuver. Our solution is Upset Prevention and Recovery Training in our G-producing, two-seat full-motion simulator.
Other highly-acclaimed programs offered through the NASTAR Center, including Altitude Awareness and Hypoxia Training, Situational Awareness/Spatial Disorientation and Practical Crew Resource Management (CRM), further address major safety problems in aviation. Once again, all are developed specifically for Part 135 pilots.
Please contact us to schedule a meeting to discuss a customized approach to your training.
Learn more at:

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NASTAR Teacher Professional Development Program Dates for 2015 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:40:21 +0000 Read More]]>

NASTAR Teacher Professional Development Program Dates for 2015
The NASTAR® Center, a premier commercial space training and research center, will once again host its popular professional development programs for teachers during the summer of 2015. Single-day programs for teachers are Monday – Friday, from 8:15 AM – 4:15 PM. The NASTAR Center is an approved provider of Act 48 professional development hours for Pennsylvania teachers. Out of state participants will receive documentation of attendance at NASTAR Center programs for submission to their local school districts. Each program is worth 8 hours of professional development.
The schedule for 2015 NASTAR Teacher Professional Development programs is as follows:

Funding from the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium is used to support these programs so they are being offered AT NO COST TO TEACHERS. Since 2010, 168 teachers from 13 states have participated in professional development programs at the NASTAR Center. Special pricing for out of town participants has been arranged with a local hotel.
For enrollment information, contact Greg Kennedy at (215) 355-9100, X 1512, or A registration packet may also be downloaded from the NASTAR Center website.

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NASTAR Camp Dates for 2015 Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:15:19 +0000 Read More]]>

The NASTAR® Center, a premier commercial space training and research center, will once again host its popular NASTAR Camp program for students in grades 2 – 12 during the summer of 2015. NASTAR Camp sessions are Monday – Friday, from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. The NASTAR Camp curriculum has been structured to be fun while it reinforces the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science and Technology and Engineering Education. All curricula and activities are age and grade appropriate.
Each week-long session has a particular theme with relevant activities that comprise about half of the program. Students will also assemble and fly balsa gliders, pilot an aircraft simulator, build and launch model rockets, and engage in other perennial favorite activities. The emphasis throughout each week is on hands-on activities and projects that engage students and foster inquiry-based learning to help them better understand science and technology.
Richard A. Leland, President of the NASTAR Center, stated “We are pleased to once again open our doors to students through NASTAR Camp. Our nation faces challenges including the need for additional scientists and engineers to ensure continued economic growth. Our objective with the NASTAR Camps is to inspire young people to pursue technical careers.”
The schedule for NASTAR Camp 2015 is as follows:

The cost for NASTAR Camp is $250.00 per week. For NASTAR Camp enrollment information, please contact Greg Kennedy at (215) 355-9100, X 1512, or A registration packet may also be downloaded from the NASTAR Center website,

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