Tag Archives: Robonaut

Flat Stanley: Out of this World Tour

Guest Post by Stanley Lambchop

Hi! My name is Flat Stanley. I belong to Nathan Woolverton, Beth Beck’s adorable nephew. Nathan’s class has an assignment to send me on an adventure. I’ve always wanted to go to space, so I asked if Nathan’s aunt Beth would take me to work with her. She works at NASA, you know. So, Nathan’s mom popped me into a mailer and here I am. I’m flat, you see, so I don’t cost much in postage to get from Texas to DC.

"Flat Stanley" book by Jeff Brown, 1964

"Flat Stanley" book by Jeff Brown, 1964

Beth told me you might not know who I am. Really? Wow. I guess I better tell you a little about myself. I was born in 1964. My real name is Stanley Lambchop. My younger brother is Arthur. My dad gave me a bulletin board that fell on my bed, squashing me flat. Hey. Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I kinda like it. I’ll never grow bigger or older than I am now. How cool is that?!? AND, I can slip inside an envelop, fax or email to go ANYwhere I want. I’m getting to see much of the world.

But Nathan is special. He sent me on an out-of-this-world adventure. I dare you to top this! I’ve been sending Nathan email pics of my adventure. I have to write a journal too, so Beth thought a guest blogpost would let all of you enjoy my incredible experience. Now my class journal can be a virtual learning tool. Note: In case you’re wondering, I’m dictating my comments to Beth. I haven’t quite mastered typing on a keyboard with my flat fingers.

Fellow Earthings, prepare to get VERY jealous.

First of all, you should know that the weather in DC is very cold, icy and snowy in the winter. But while I’ve been up here, Nathan and his class have seen two snowstorms. Quite amazing — since he lives in warm sunny Texas. We had to shovel our way out before Beth and I could drive to work. We were both sweating inside our snow clothes. It’s hard work!

Flat Stanley in DC snow

Washington DC: I helped shovel snow.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management allowed federal government workers to telework or take vacation time off — just to keep thousands of drivers off the snowy roads. Beth had a meeting, so we drove in to work together. You know NASA is a government agency, right?

Here I am at NASA!

Flat Stanley Visits NASA

Here I am at NASA! Woot!

I came to visit on an important day, NASA’s Day of Remembrance, when NASA honors fallen heroes who’ve given their lives to the cause of exploration.

Flat Stanley: NASA Day of Remembrance

I learned about NASA's Day of Remembrance.

I toured the building. I found astronaut Deke Slayton’s spacesuit right down the hall from where Beth works. Deke was was one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, selected in 1959 (before I was born). He was the only member of the Mercury Seven not to fly. He was grounded because of a problem with his heart, but he ended up flying in space in 1975 with the Apollo-Soyuz test Project — the first time the U.S and Soviet Union worked together in space.

Astronaut Deke Slayton's spacesuit.

Here I am with Astronaut Deke Slayton's spacesuit.

I met Robonaut Centaur. Pretty cool dude. He rolls around on a rover base. He’ll help astronauts who are working on the surface of another planet. He’s kin to Robonaut 2, robo-humanoid STS-133 crewmember launching to Space Station on February 24.

Flat Stanley meets Robonaut Centaur

I met Robonaut Centaur, cousin to STS-133 Robonaut2.

Here I am hangin’ with my new peeps, the RoboTwins: Robonaut 2 and Robonaut 2. They were duking it out over who gets to launch onboard STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery on one of the final missions in the Shuttle program, scheduled for February 24.

Flat Stanley with his peeps: Robonaut 2 Twins

Hangin with my peeps: RoboTwins

I inspected a Space Shuttle up close and personal. It’s really high way up at the top. Check it out!

Flat Stanley's Tank Top View

Here's my Tank Top View. Original photo by NASA's Bill Ingals.

Here’s what a bird would see when a Space Shuttle launches. Pretty amazing, don’t you think? I can’t believe we’ll only have three more launches EVER in the history of mankind.

Flat Stanley sees a Space Shuttle launch

Only three more Space Shuttle launches EVer!

The only way off this planet, until we come up with another solution, is by rocket propulsion. “Beam me up, Scotty” only works on TV and in movies, sadly. Hopefully some of you out there will come up with a cool new mode of transportation, like dream transport or spacial folding techniques. (I just made those up, but who can predict what breakthrough might happen in the future.)

Once we get off the planet, though, we can see sights like these. Come along for the rocket ride.

Flat Stanley visits International Space Station

Isn't Space Station amazing?

The International Space Station orbits 220 miles over Earth, circling the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of 17,500 mph with a international crew of six.

Flat Stanley tours Space Station

Another view of Space Station.

Flat Stanley on Top of the World

Flat Stanley on Top of the World

Flat Stanley on the Moon: Nope. No cheese!

Moon tour: Nope. No cheese!

Flat Stanley scorched by Sun

Sun: Man, this place is HOT!

Flat Stanley: Mars

Mars, the Red Planet. Humans could live here in the future.

When humans travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere, they need protection from the harsh environment of space. Either a spaceship or spacesuit — to provide air, cooling and heating, and other essentials. Our atmosphere provides a radiation shield, but once we go further out, we need to provide protection. On the planet’s surface, whether Moon or Mars, we’ll need a hardshelled suit, like the one I tried on. But I don’t think it fits. Do you?

Flat Stanley tries on Mars suit

I'm trying on the Mars suit. It's a bit big.

Maybe someday we’ll have bio-shields or exo-skins that protect us without a spacesuit. Maybe Nathan and his classmates will come up with a technology breakthrough that NASA can use.

Highlight of my visit: I met a real live astronaut! Really. I promise. Not only is Leland Melvin a spaceman, he’s also the Chief of Education at NASA. He really likes kids. You can tell. He stopped a meeting to pose for a picture with me. Cool dude!

Flat Stanley meets astronaut Leland Melvin

Here I am with astronaut Leland Melvin!

Leland spent over 565 hours in space during two Space Shuttle missions: STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. He also played football in the NFL with the Detroit Lions in 1986, as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Toronto Argonauts, until injuries kept him off the field. Good thing for NASA. Don’t you think?

Maybe someday I’ll go live on Mars. I don’t weigh much. I don’t eat anything. I don’t need radiation protection, or even a spacesuit, for that matter. If Robonaut can be part of a space crew, I think a flat boy should have the chance. Leland and I are buds now. Maybe he can put in a good word for me. Hmmm.

I hope you liked my space adventure. I learned alot about NASA. I hope you did too.

Oh, and you can Facebook me, if you want. I have my own page. But for now, I need to get back to Nathan’s class. Time for me to get into the mailer, so Beth can get me to the post office. When I get back to Texas, I’m going to make sure Nathan asks his mom to let me watch live views from Space Station on the NASA TV channel on the web. You can too.

Flat Stanley & NASA's Alien

NASA discovered alien life after all!


Filed under federal government, NASA, space

Telework: Lovefest!

Yesterday, I worked from home — my day to take part in NASA’s scheduled emergency procedure exercise. Thanks EVA.com for posting a feature about it. We’re testing to see if we crash our systems with all of us logging on remotely. After enduring the nightmare traffic commutes following the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, I began to wonder why we couldn’t simply work from home on days of horrific traffic or bad weather. I’m glad we’re testing it out, office by office.

We have the technology to work from space on a daily basis with our six international crew members. Why not model it here on Earth?

"Space: Ultimate Telework" by NASA Cartoonist Jim @JimEHull

"Space: Ultimate Telework" by NASA Cartoonist Jim @JimEHull

Think about the impact on our planet if fewer of us hit the roads every day to go sit at a desk. I’m specifically talking office work. Landscapers would clearly need to show up at the worksite — that is, until we have little landscape-robots that can plant via remote directions, like we use with NASA’s Robonaut. Even doctors can practice medicine remotely through technology. We demonstrate that daily on our orbiting outpost, Space Station, as well.

We can debate the merits of telework. I’d really rather just share a list of what I LOVE about working from home. I’m sure you have your own pro/con list.

I have to admit, though, the only downside to telework in my opinion: not ENOUGH opportunities to work from home!

Reasons I LOVE  teleworking:

#1 Commute = 20 steps to my computer. No traffic. ‘Nuff said!

#2 Comfy clothes. PJs, if I want. Ah the luxury of NOT getting dressed for work — no makeup, no flat iron. I can EVEN save the PLANET by NOT wasting water on a shower. And NO office mates close enough to me to complain. 😀

#3 Windows in EVERY room!!!!! Woo Hoo! I can see green everywhere I look. (Green as in grass, not money.) But then again, I AM saving gas money. See #8 below.

View from my Executive Office Suite

View from my Executive Office Suite

#4 Silence…other than the birds chirping outside. Concentrating in a cubicle environment can be difficult. I get where the cubicle concept came from. Someone somewhere wanted to ensure office workers shared information with one another. The answer: create a maze-like office environment with walls that offer visual privacy but stereo sound. Every conversation can be heard by everyone. Office mates talk through the cubicle walls, without knowing if anyone is listening. Let’s not even touch the subject of coughing and sneezing in a cubicle environment….

My office garden at home.

My office garden at home.

#5 Brightly-colored walls, if I stay inside. My office is painted Garden Green. My daughters will attest to the fact that I can hardly STAND to be indoors. When I’m inside, I surround myself with Spring colors all year round. I really think that’s the hardest part about working inside the padded gray walls of my office cube. Note: I always wanted to create a musical theater production called, “Inside My Padded Cell.” Hey, if Phantom of the Opera can have a musical, so can a crazy government employee trapped inside cubicle walls day in and day out. Right? 😉

#6 Vitamin D (as in good ole’ sunshine) — only a few steps from my computer. I can even take my laptop outside if the weather is nice. Most days in the office, I never see the light of day — literally. During the winter, I drive to work in the dark, park in the garage, take the elevator up to our floor, work, take the elevator back down to the garage, and drive home in the dark. Unless I make a trip across the street to Starbucks, I may never get out of the building. Real Vitamin D from the sun is SO much more satisfying than taking a Vitamin D horse pill.

Coco all snuggled up next to my office chair.

Coco all snuggled up next to my office chair.

#7 Creature Comforts. All the critters hang out at my house. My cat Coconut (Coco for short) prefers my lap, but moves to her window bed if my lap is taken (laptop).  Longtime chipmunk neighbor, Chippy Stumptail, lives under my kitchen window and hangs out on my porch steps. He lost half his tail years ago, but I’m happy to report it’s growing back — almost 1/2 inch of it. All kinds of birds — finches, woodpeckers and at least one hawk — swoop around in my yard. Sometimes hummingbirds, too.

#8 Cost savings. I save TONS of money when I’m not running down to the deli in our building for snacks or lunch. Supply and demand forces RULE. The demand outweighs the supply and we pay a high price for it. Yes, I know, I can bring my lunch to save money. But how much nicer to make my lunch at home while I’m teleworking. (Ok, I’m sure my water bill and electricity go up from working at home…but somehow the price of gas and cost for food seems higher.)

#9 Decreased stress. Speaks for itself, I think.

#10 Increased productivity. I need quiet to write. My home office TOTally fits the bill. I get TONS done at home. See #4 Silence.

Bravo NASA for making sure every Headquarters employee has the equipment and understanding of how to work from home in case we have an emergency in the area.

Hands up for all those who want to “test it out” on a more regular basis. Yes, I see yours. And yours too. 😉

My buddy Jim Hull sent me this today. He SO nailed it!

Illustration by NASA's resident cartoonist Jim Hull.

Illustration by NASA's resident cartoonist Jim Hull.

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Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, space