PART 1: Update on the Live From the Stratosphere project
PART 2: Juan Rivera's journal from the KAO (5/5/94)


Everybody involved in developing the Live From the Stratosphere
project is as busy as a beaver.  Here are some of the activities
which are happening behind the scenes:

A dedicated group of teachers and astronomers are writing the
64-page Teacher's Guide.  The booklet will be filled with student
activities and relevant background information. The material is
intended to be useful across disciplines.  The development of the
Guide should be complete at the end of the month.  The printed
versions will begin being mailed out shortly after Labor Day to those
that sent in the $10 fee.  The online version will be available a week
or so sooner.

Another dedicated group of folks, including some talented High
School and College students, are working like mad on the Web and
Gopher sites.  We hope to invite the public to visit around August 10.
The material online will include a virtual tour of the facility, with
lots of photos to help you and your students visualize the unique
Kuiper facility.

Production on the video programming is also underway.  Some
filming has been completed and script writing and logistics planning
is moving with a determined intensity.  The television shows
promise to be both exciting and educational.

The communications links between the flying aircraft and the ground
have been undergoing testing.  The two-way video and data
connections have never before been used and many technical hurdles
must be overcome for success in this area.  We were happy to
receive this report on July 18 from Brian Abbe of NASA's 
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

     Here is a synopsis of the progress that we are making on the Kuiper
     Airborne Observatory with the Advanced Communications Technology
     Satellite (ACTS ).

     The ACTS Broadband Aeronautical Terminal made its inaugural flight
     onboard the NASA Ames Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), a
     modified C-141.  A full-duplex compressed video link was established
     between the aircraft and the fixed terminal at JPL via ACTS.  The
     video link was maintained through a variety of aircraft heading, pitch
     and roll maneuvers that were incorporated into the flight plan in an
     effort to exercise the azimuth and elevation tracking antenna.  This
     flight was the first in a series that will culminate in October with
     live PBS broadcasts from the KAO of "Live From the Stratosphere."
     This broadcast will allow students at schools and science museums
     around the country to have live video, audio, and Internet connectivity
     to the KAO.

     At JPL, we would call the success of this test a significant event!

So although you haven't received much information from us yet, rest
assured that the diverse parts of Live From the Stratosphere are
coming together.  

As a precursor to the project's main start in September, we will be
sending a series of journal reports over the next few weeks. These
journals were collected about a year ago.  They should provide a
sense of Kuiper's activities.

Finally, WE NOW NEED YOUR HELP.  It has become important for us to
learn about the people who are tuning in.  Please take a few moments to
send us an Email with the following information:
 - your name
 - your city, state and country (if not United States)
 - how many other teachers you might share the LFS information with
 - how many students you plan to involve in this program
Please send this information at once to register-lfs@quest.arc.nasa.gov
The entire Live From the Stratosphere team would be very grateful for
this data.  Thank you kindly.

Here's hoping that the remainder of your summer is great.


Mission Update:  Flight Day, May 5, 1994
by Juan Rivera, Telescope Operator

Tonight I head for Hawaii at 2315 (11:15 PM).  Yesterday late in the afternoon
a critical piece of equipment called the chopper failed.  I worked on it along
with two engineers and another electronics technician for several hours before
leaving for the day.  We found several broken wires but none of them seemed to
be causing the failure we were seeing.  And then for no reason the problem went
away.  That's what we call an intermittent fault.  It's very hard to fix
something if it won't say broken!  Since we could not get it to stay bad long
enough to find the problem, there is every likelihood that it may fail again in
flight.  And unfortunately, it is absolutely critical.  I'm logged on writing
this from home, and I know folks are working hard to get it fixed before our
flight tonight.  I hope they find the problem!

Since I will be flying off for the better part of the month, I have to be sure
I pack well for the trip and get all my domestic chores done.  So this
afternoon, I'm paying bills, packing all my warm weather clothes, and getting
organized.  Since I live 53 miles from work, I have a limo scheduled to come
and pick me up at 8:30 this evening.  That saves my wife from having to drive
for 3 hours to take me to work and then drive back home.  I'll put that on my
expense report.  The neighbors probably think I'm rich!

When I arrive at work along with the rest of the folks that are flying to
Hawaii on "Air KAO" I'll load my suitcase on board and then stow my lunch and
lots of fluids to drink.  (I have to run to the market and get that stuff.)  At
the altitude we fly at (41,000 and sometimes 45,000 feet) there is very little
humidity and it is easy to get dehydrated.  I try to drink at least 2 quarts of
water and fruit juice on each flight.

At 2215 (10:15 PM) we will all gather for a preflight briefing in which we will
go over the research mission objectives, and problems that might occur, safety
procedures for ditching over-water, fires on board, and so forth.  (I'm
designated firefighter for the flight, and also an emergency medical
technician).  Once the briefing is over I'll grab my oxygen mask and flight
plan and head for the aircraft.  Once on board, I will be working down a check
list making sure all my equipment is set up and operating properly.  I'll check
my intercom communications and my oxygen mask and regulator, and then check
every single fire extinguisher and oxygen bottle on the plane.  I do this every
flight to re-acquaint myself with their locations.  One night my life may
depend on knowing how to find that equipment in the dark or when I am injured
and not thinking too well.  I take flight safety very seriously. 

At 30 minutes prior to launch, we will get all the non-flyers off and close the
doors.  Then everyone will get into their seats and put their headsets on for a
communications check.  All loose articles will be tied down and stowed and we
will be ready for takeoff.  Our chairs are adjustable in about 15 different
directions and cost $3000 each!  We all rotate them around to face aft during
takeoffs and landings so we will be slammed into the back of the chair instead
of pulled forward in the case of a high-G (gravity) force crash landing.  The
most dangerous part of any flight is the takeoff.  If something goes wrong and
we loose an engine or blow a tire at the wrong time, we might go sliding off
the end of the runway at about 130 miles per hour with over 100,000 pounds of
fuel on board.  

Once we're off the ground, then I start on a second checklist and begin
preparing the telescope for observations.  I'll get into that on the way to
Hawaii tonight.  Meanwhile, I am home getting ready to fly tonight,
preparations for the flight began early at work where the day shift began
loading liquid nitrogen on board to cool the telescope cavity, supplies for the
trip, thousands of pounds of space parts, extra oil for the engines and the air
compressors, and so forth.  The whole back of the plane will be crammed with
equipment and supplies.  When we take off tonight, we'll be at our maximum
gross weight.  On flights like this the plane takes a l-o-n-g time to finally
get off the gowned.  We all try to guess how many seconds of takeoff roll there
will be before we get into the air.  I'll guess about 55 seconds tonight.  

And one last thought...Several people are already in Hawaii getting everything
organized for us so there will be a bus to meet us at 0400 when we land and a
hotel to say in, etc.  Other folks are helping get the plan ready.  But now I
have to go, and will send another report from Hawaii.

Juan Rivera, Telescope Operator

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