Friday, May 13, 2011

Tragedy Averted! BTS Crew FOUND! Thank God, You Atheists! Oh Ye of Little Faith!

This morning, while Blogspot was still brainfarting, a tragedy was in progress. Thankfully, all is well because the missing BTS-1 rubber chicken-and-stuffed-animal crew has FINALLY been recovered.

But here is what I would have written:

What an incredible tragedy. America's 3 most beloved Astromascots are lost in the Louisiana bayou. We must spare no expense, much American taxpayer money will be expended, to find the three amigos, the three adorables. How could this have HAPpened, man !? Did some engineer screw up an English-to-Metric conversion ... again ?!!! :)

Three Unusual Astronauts Await Rescue in Louisiana Swamp

BTS-1 capsule and crew
In a rescue effort being anxiously followed by space enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter, searchers have spent the past four days trying to locate a capsule and its crew of three that parachuted from the edge of space into an alligator- and mosquito-infested marsh near the Louisiana-Texas border.
Fortunately, the crew of BTS-1 has the right stuff to endure the harsh conditions in that trackless wilderness, if anyone can. The mission's commander, Camilla Corona SDO, is a rubber chicken; the pilot, Fuzz Aldrin, is a teddy bear, and the mission specialist, Skye Bleu, is a stuffed pig.
Yes, you read that right. But we're not talking about just any rubber chicken, teddy bear, and stuffed pig here—these individuals are beloved emissaries of the organizations they represent. Camilla is the mascot of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which launched in February 2010, and a bit of a celebrity among space geeks, with over 2,400 Facebook friends and 1,600 Twitter followers. Fuzz Aldrin, who has more than 900 Facebook friends, represents Bears on Patrol, an organization that provides free teddy bears to police departments to help set young children at ease in police calls where they are involved. Skye Bleu is an emissary from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The BTS-1 mission—for Balloon Transportation System, in the tradition of the Space Shuttle's STS (Space Transportation System) nomenclature—is a product of Bears on Patrol's Raise Awareness Space Balloon (RASB) program. As exemplified in the mission's slogan, Scientia Quod Pacis (Knowledge and Peace), th project is designed to promote the organization's mission of peace for children in troubled situations as well as to inspire interest in science and engineering among young people.
BTS-1, consisting of the crew capsule, dubbed Inspiration, lifted by a weather balloon, launched from the University of Houston at 11:08am last Sunday and flew eastward across Texas, propelled by the jet stream at up to 130mph. The balloon climbed to close to 100,000 feet at which point—as expected—it burst. The parachute carrying the Inspiration capsule then flew over Port Arthur, Texas crossed Sabine Lake into Louisiana and—after a journey of some 317 miles—came to rest in the marshlands of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.
The balloon carried a ham radio: A VHF handy-talkie equipped with APRS, a ham radio data systemthat allows information such as GPS data to be automatically sent, re-transmitted by automated stations (digipeaters), received and plotted online. The last known position was received when it was still in the air (255 feet above ground), so the exact landing site is unknown; searchers were able to directly hear the signal when relatively close to the site on Sunday before the radio's batteries were depleted. The landing site is not easily accessible; the nearest road is several miles away, so approaches have been made by water; rescuers are expected to use airboats in their next attempt Friday morning.
The BTS-1 mission has friends in very high places. As Inspiration glided 60,000 feet over Texas, the mission received a good-luck tweet from astronaut Ron Garan aboard the International Space Station (ISS), then flying over the Houston area some 200 miles above the balloon. Garan seemingly has a fondness for mascots; when he flew to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on April 4, he carried with him a patch depicting the Space Tweep Society's "birdonaut" mascot, Meco. Camilla is popular among the astronauts—I've seen numerous pictures of her with them—I'd half expected that one of them would stow her away aboard a Shuttle flight. Failing that, I guess Camilla took the next best opportunity that came along.
I attended SDO's launch as a participant in a NASA tweetup that accompanied the event. I'd flown down two days early to watch the predawn launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour; the day after Endeavour's launch I tweeted that I was driving into Cocoa Beach for some downtime. To my surprise, I received a tweet (cluck?) from Camilla (who I'd just started following, knowing she was the SDO mission's mascot), inviting me to join her at the Starbucks in Cocoa Beach. According to my phone'sGPS, the Starbucks was in a hotel lobby that also housed a surf store and a bar. And so, I walked into a bar and told the bartender, "I'm looking for a rubber chicken…" Nonplussed, he pointed me to the bar's side entrance, which opened into Starbucks, where I met Camilla as well as her handler, Romeo Durscher, an SDO project scientist who's brought the rubber chicken to numerous space-related and educational events.
As to our intrepid balloonists, their fate remains unknown. Four days of searching has not turned up a trace of crew, capsule, or the bright orange parachute that returned them to Earth. Perhaps they're out there beyond the next hummock, enjoying the last of the cupcakes and chocolate that their launch crew is said to have packed for them. There's always the chance that they won't be found, and the names of Fuzz Aldrin, Camilla Corona SDO, and Skye Bleu may join Amelia Earhart in the ranks of aviation's missing immortals. But if this illustration released by the BTS-1 Recovery Team carries any weight, the crew may be trying to find its own way out of the bog, perhaps closing ranks and chanting "Skeeters and gators and hawks! [[Oink, squawk]] Skeeters and gators and hawks."

And the next day after I wrote this they were found! Here's the Press Conference:

The 1st Official Crew Picture Post BTS-1 Flight. Welcome to the Press Conference. Your questions are being answered right here:

about an hour ago ·  ·  · 

  • 24 people like this.

    • Camilla Sdo Question 1: Rick McLastnom Yay! Welcome back! I'd like to know what the dosimiter showed.

      Thank you Rick. You truly deserved to win the capsule naming contest. Inspiration was perfect and she flew as designed. To answer your question. We had a dosimiter on board? I must refer to MS1 for this!

      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Camilla Sdo Question 2 from Emmanuel Kool Azubuike, which turns out not to be a question after all "No question dude!"

      These are the easy ones to process!

      about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Camilla Sdo 
      Question 3: Lourdes Quintana Couceiro Maurice asked when the crew is coming back to DC (at least that's what we believe the question is/was?)

      The entire BTS-1 crew will be in Washington DC on June 18, 2011 for the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution "Become a Pilot Day". We will be displaying our BTS-1 "Inspiration Capsule", meet kids, pose for pictures and check out other airplanes. We also hope to do a few additional tours around DC while there.

      about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Camilla Sdo 
      Question 4: Siria Gardi-Montebugnoli wants to know "What are the lessons learnt from this mission and what changes will be applied accordingly to BTS-2? Thank you."

      Siria! What a great question. Many lessons were learned on this mission. Most importantly, what you can't predict, you can't prevent. So planning is very important. There will be some amazing changes to BTS-2. We can't give you too much information at this time, but think of BTS-1 being an Apollo style mission with a capsule and a parachute. Now think about Shuttle style for BTS-2.

      about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Fuzz Aldrin 
      Question 5: Duane Hyland: Fuzz, do you feel that your mission and your survival in the swamp are a product of your solid Johnstown toughness? And, a follow-up - what message do you have for the people Johnstown, who are currently going through some hard times. Thank you. Welcome back!

      I believe my Johnstown origins played a part in my survival, but my training and a great crew were the biggest aspect. I would tell the people of Johnstown to stay strong, and that anyone can make a difference

      about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Camilla Sdo 
      Question 6: Virma Johannsen "Can you please tell us if and when we can expect to see BTS-2. Additionally, will the original team have the "big bang orbs" to do it again after their ordeal in the swamps? And finally, what happened to Trigger MMS, was there "horse-play" involved which resulted in the swamp landing?

      Thank you Virma for following us. We can't release too much information on BTS-2 just yet. But this will be something that has never been done before. Think of it as a Space Shuttle style balloon mission. There will be some big challenges to be overcome. But we can do it.

      The time in the swamp was fun. It was like a camping trip. We trained well for this. What happened to Trigger? Trigger is so fast, he travels the speed of light. Once we blew the hatch open, he was out.

      about an hour ago ·  ·  4 people

    • Fuzz Aldrin Question 7: Beth Hatch Maschmeier Did the crew have survival training and was it useful ? Did they get many mosquito bites while in the swamps? Will the crew have an R&R period before returning to the job?

      We had extensive survival training for many possible scenarios. We will take a few days to relax and review the mission data. We were well protected from the mosquitoes in the swamp (fortunately!)

      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Camilla Sdo 
      Question 8: Our dear friend Patti Barrett wants to know "How bumpy was the ride?"

      Patti - the flight was pretty smooth. The launch was amazingly nice. There were some patches it was a little more rough. At some point I looked at the instrument panel and saw we were doing over 130 mph. Fuzz was a great pilot and kept us in pretty good shape. Sometimes it's difficult to judge if you are upside down or not inside that capsule. The footage will show how rough or not it really was. Can't wait to see the footage and then share it with you.

      about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Fuzz Aldrin 
      Question 9: Allan Dimmel: Welcome back . I'm glad you made it safe from your mission Also.I would like to take this time to apologize to Mission Specialist SkyeBleu for misspelling your name .

      Q. What was your highest altitude and how long was Inspiration flying before your landing in the Sabine National Wildlife refuge ?

      Thank you, Allan. I'm sure Skye understands that her name can sometimes be tricky to spell. Our highest recorded altitude was about 78,000 feet, but we lost telemetry for about 15 minutes. We will review the data and see if we possibly got a higher altitude. Our flight time was about 3 hours.

      • about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person
      • Camilla Sdo 
        Question 10 from Gladys Georgina Santos "How come "E.T." was able to phone home but none of the BTS-1 crew had a cell phone on them or bothered to ask to use a phone while they were at the museum, the bakery, so they could contact the rescue team. Q2: I also share V's interest in wanting to know what happened to horsey Trigger MMS. Did he "bail" out on the mission?"

        Gladys, we would have to watch the movie E.T. again. Maybe we could do that tonight. I don't remember the exact specifics but I don't think ET was in a swamp and they had tons of equipment to built some sort of phone. Speaking of E.T. you know that our BTS-1 mission poster, designed by Dennis Bonilla was inspired by the E.T. movie? Why we didn't contact anyone? Well, we left a note at the landing site and we decided to go and find some food and enjoy the museum. We knew they would catch up with us. We don't walk all that fast.

        In regards to Trigger MMS - we still have to look for him and get his debrief.
        about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Fuzz Aldrin Question 11: Bari Demers How do you feel?

      We are very tired from our days in the swamp, but we are very excited about the success of our mission. We all would like to thank you for your amazing support from the beginning

      about an hour ago ·  ·  3 people

    • Camilla Sdo Question 12: Patti Barrett "'all cleaned up nicely. You look awesome after spending all that time in the swamp. What an ordeal."

      We were a little dirty and stinky. But nothing that cannot be cleaned. I think Skye looks the best!

      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Fuzz Aldrin Twitter Question: Baby_Beau_Bear

      Was there ever a time that you gave up hope on being rescued?

      We knew that our team is great and did their best to prepare us for the mission. It was stressful, but we were patient and knew we would find a way out

      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Stephanie Joy Smith 
      I'm attempting to help promote Cam into other arenas beyond FB and the internet. I see her having the potential to be like a "Barney" type of character only as the Face of Space. Well, Cam and BEYOND. Is there anyone who might be able to co...See More

      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Camilla Sdo Thank you all - this concludes our Post BTS-1 Flight Media event. Thank you all for your questions. Back to get some R&R and a few more cupcakes.
      46 minutes ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Lourdes Quintana Couceiro Maurice Hey -- my question was "ive me an environmental assessment of near space" I think you all were eating cupcakes rather than making observations!
      27 minutes ago · 


Pat B said...

They call that an "upgrade".. sounds like the rubber band broke and no one had another.. Just tweeted this BTS crew post.. maybe you'll get some fresh faces hitting here...

Steven Colyer said...

Added the post-flight press conference. :-)

They were lost, and now they're found! :-)+-