The United Space School – Days Two and Three

When I’d last written, Days 0 (Sunday) and 1 (Monday) had concluded.  At present, it is the morning of my fifth day here; I will therefore discuss Days 2 (Tuesday) and 3 (Wednesday).

The third day (Tuesday) saw us being divided into teams.  I was pleased to be given my first choice (the Green Team); the teams assembled, and began to discuss mission parameters.  Regrettably, these had to be decided upon immediately; the first of many questions concerned the duration of the mission.  Whilst I supported the 500-day option, most individuals leaned towards an on-Mars stay of thirty days, and we therefore have that to work with.  I find that slightly regrettable, as the 500-day option would allow us to effectively test certain aspects of the human psyche and physiology on the planet.  In addition, the financial resources that would be utilized to cater to a 500-day trip would not differ too drastically from the funding for a thirty-day.  Furthermore, the increased time would permit a self-replenishing life support system to be implemented; this would mean a reduction in the amount of resources that would need to be taken with us at launch.  We nevertheless succumbed to the thirty-day, however; we also decided that we would have a team size of five to nine individuals, and that we would land near mountainous terrain.

Upon this being decided, we pursued varied team-building activities.  The first consisted of drawing several colors of Skittles from a bowl, and placing them before oneself; one person would begin by taking a Skittle, giving a fact about himself or herself, and then consuming the Skittle; this would proceed around the table group.  A red Skittle required you to name someone that you love; an orange meant your favourite subject or hobby; yellow demanded a favourite animal, green a favourite outdoor activity, and purple an ambition.  The second was a tower-building activity that required us to construct the tallest possible structure utilizing only a certain quantity of letter-sized paper, tape, and scissors.  This was followed by silently selecting four words that best suit you from a set of cards, and then discovering your personality type by examining which color of text you had.  I found the latter to be slightly less useful than I had thought – I despise generalizing people’s capabilities and interests on the basis of their personality types, and that is what we were effectively asked to do.  More such games followed, the which included stacking cups with strings and elastics, and blindly creating varied shapes in a group.  This last one prompted me to think of my progress on the terribly fascinating ellipse problem; I showed it to several individuals, but no one quite knew what to do with it.  There was, finally, a quick lecture on bettering presentation skills; this somehow resulted in my trying to determine the distinction between the terms “capital” and “uppercase”.  I am aware of it, but individuals utilize the terms interchangeably; this is considerably harmful, given that one can have lowercase capitals.  This talk also discussed a quotation that I’ve long believed to be holistically applicable; it is the below:

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – O.W. Holmes

The day concluded in our heading to our temporary home; we spent the remainder of it visiting Chili’s, Target, and an assortment of other stores.

With the team-building concluded, Day 3 saw an abundance of lecturesSpace suit design was the first item on the agenda; in-built life-support systems, the E.M.U., the A.C.E.S., ventilation systems, flexibility, pressure constraints, and a host of other items.  Next came a lecture on holistic spaceflight by Nicole Stott, one of six crew members aboard Discovery’s STS-133.  Her husband Chris then guided us through the complex framework of international space law.  This was followed by several hours of work time, during which I became drastically ill and proceeded to utilize the bathroom vigorously.  I managed, however, to contribute most of my phytoplankton-related research to the group’s knowledge base; we managed to produce a coherent draft of our first set of life support system implementations.

The day ended on another interesting note – the entirety of Space School consumed Mexican food with great enthusiasm, played varied musical instruments, and danced in the traditional manner of the Scots.  What awaits later today?

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