Hi, I am Mayeesha. I am a marketing intern here at BPD Zenith APAC from Monash University and before I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to work with the BPD Zenith team, my family and I were on a very exciting and much anticipated trip to the US.
The Moyeens take the US!
This trip was my mum’s treat to my younger brother and I. Considering that this was our first visit to the states, we had so much on our agenda that it seemed as if each day couldn’t be long enough. From visiting Hollywood and being in the same vicinity as all our favourite celebrities, to the hustle bustle of New York city with its tall skyscrapers and delicious street food to everything in between – America had so much to offer and we couldn’t wait to start exploring!
NASA and IBM Maximo
One of the many things we wanted to do was visit the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston and it wasn’t until I started my internship with BPD Zenith is when I came to know that NASA is a user of IBM Maximo. NASA utilises Maximo for managing, monitoring, regulating and estimating costs for their assets. Maximo’s functions extend to both short-term and long-term planning, condition-based maintenance, schedule management, resource optimisation and providing important insights on key performance indicators. Additionally, Maximo’s ability to plan inventory holdings enables asset-intensive organisations like NASA to ensure that the required parts are readily available at the relevant locations.
And so, the day after we had landed in Dallas, we were all up nice and early, ready and eager to start our 3-hour long road trip to Houston. Joining us, was my uncle and aunty with whom we were staying with in Dallas and their son, our cousin.
Although seemingly long to be spending in a car, 3 hours feels like 3 minutes when you’re spending it with family members and loved ones who you get to visit once in a blue moon (I had to chuck in a space reference in there 😊).
Space Centre – here come the tourists!
Upon arriving at the Space Centre, we were all immediately taken aback by the enormous plane and space shuttle that is located near the entrance of the Space Centre. We later came to learn that it is the Independence Plaza. The plane is the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905 and the shuttle it carries is a replica of shuttle Independence. In its 42 years of service, NASA 905 flew space shuttles from one destination to the other 223 times, equalling up to 11, 017 flight hours. Visitors today can enter Independence and NASA 905 to experience the working and living conditions of the astronauts while on board the shuttle.
With even more excitement than before, upon seeing such an influential artefact, we rushed to que up in line wondering what other amazing things awaited us inside of the space centre.
All aboard the NASA Tram Tour
Our first activity of the day was to take the open-air NASA tram tour. The Space Centre is used for the training and development of American astronauts and is also home to the Mission Control Centre. There are numerous routes and activities you may opt to engage in depending on how much time you spend at the Centre, but part of every tram tour is the chance to visit Rocket Park.
First Stop: Rocket Park
Rocket Park displays the Saturn V rocket, which is the tallest, heaviest, most powerful rocket that has ever flown. It enabled the launching of 27 astronauts to the Moon through six successful missions as well as the launching of Skylab into orbit which is America’s first space station.
One cannot comprehend the size of the Saturn V rocket unless seen in person. Pictures can barely capture the essence of its true size! Rocket Park is also packed full of information about Saturn V and its various parts and all the missions it took part in that we lost track of time trying to take everything in.
‘Houston… the Eagle has landed.’
Our next stop of the tram tour was the Apollo Mission Control Centre. I’d have to say that this was undoubtedly my favourite part of the trip. Being able to see firsthand, the initial technologies and communication devices that were used on Earth to support astronauts while they completed missions in Space was truly an experience like no other. This is the same facility where NASA monitored Neil Armstrong’s landing on the Moon as well as nine Gemini, and all Apollo lunar missions.
Not an attraction that’s clearly expressed on the Space Centre website but during our tram ride back to the visitor centre, we saw a herd of Texas Longhorns. It seems that astronauts definitely come in all sorts of shapes and sizes at NASA!
Back at the visitor centre, we were running out of time and had to choose wisely about how we were going to spend our remaining few hours here. We split up and did different things depending on what we were most interested in. I started off at the Astronaut Gallery.
‘It’s about people in Space.’
Astronaut Gallery displays an extensive collection of astronaut apparel and spacesuits – some worn by the astronauts they belonged to and some recreated for the purposes of the gallery. The suit that I was most drawn to belonged to Judith Resnik. She was the second American woman and the first Jewish American to enter Space but unfortunately was one of the 6 members aboard on the Challenger and was lost when the shuttle exploded a couple of minutes into take off. Seeing photos of her working and contributing to human space exploration was inspiring and empowering.
One quote she said that particularly stuck with me was; “Astronauts don’t have to be either very feminine or very masculine women or very superhuman males, or any colour or anything. It’s about people in space.” The garment that is displayed in the gallery is the last one Resnik wore before the Challenger accident.
Home is where Mars is??
I also paid a visit to Mission Mars which is an interactive exhibit, created to support recent claims that human life can be sustained on the red planet. The exhibit contains information regarding Mars’ climate, weather, the types of apparel that astronauts need to wear and the methods of transportation that can be used on Mars. Would you move to Mars if given the opportunity?
On the edge of our seats!
My final stop was the Space Center Theatre where I watched a documentary about an Italian astronaut by the name of Luca Parmitano who almost drowned during spacewalk after water had leaked into his helmet. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Imagine watching it on one of the largest screens in Texas with state-of-the-art resolution and audio! We were on the edge of our seats with our fingers and toes crossed, hoping he would be okay. Don’t hold your breath now – Parmitano was completely safe.
Just before we left, we treated ourselves to frozen yoghurt served to us by an adorable, little NASA robot to cope with the Texan heat. Is there a better way to end the day? I think not!