Episode 320: Days of Future Past

In this special episode of Talking Space, Gene Mikulka recounts his experiences during NASA's Kennedy Space Center's "Once and Future Tour" conducted for members of the media before the first launch attempt of Shuttle Endeavour on her final flight, Mission STS 134 on April 27, 2011. 

The first stop on the tour is a demonstration of a new LIDAR designed by a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace, the system is engineered to make rendezvous and docking of any new piloted or robotic spacecraft far more safer than it is today. Called the Sensor Test for Orion RelNav Risk Mitigation or STORRM for short, it is a prototype system that will be tested by Shuttle Endeavour during the STS 134 Mission. Representatives from both companies explain what STORRM is and how it will be tested.

Next was a demonstration of the current Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit or EMU know by the rest of us as a Spacesuit. Gene was able to speak to one of the space suit engineers about how the suit is built and how it helps protect spacewalkers and what's next for future spacesuit designs.

The last stop on tour was a visit to Orbiter Processing Facility Number 2 which is usually the home of Space Shuttle Endeavour. Today Space Shuttle Discovery resides within. She is being prepared not for her next mission to the International Space Station, but for display at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. Discovery's new mission will be that of Human Space Flight Ambassador and her Flow Director, Stephanie Stilson, explains how Discovery is being prepared for her new role.

 Listen now: