Looks like we are indeed starting the year by spreading around geographically - we had our field trip to ESTEC in the Netherlands on the 18th Jan. It's our first field trip, and first oversea trip too!
We received amazing hospitality at ESTEC from Robert, who has been answering every single question from all of us in great details, We absolutely love his space walk! ESTEC has been extremely generous and Robert half of the day showing us buildings that are not usually open to the public on the weekend, such as ERASMUS. Speaking of being a collaborative community, it all started and happened thanks to Brodie, one from our community (and wears the think tank hat too), and of course, the amazing team at ESTEC, especially Anja who has helped to make it all happen. Definitely love this kind of spirit and the energy on making things happen!
It was a very informative trip. We heard a lot about the facilities, the research and the technology transfer from space to other areas of application. We heard about the researches in drop tower, Zero G flights (31 cycles of drops), and the radiation exposure experiments, some of the information can be found at the Erasmus Experiment Archive. We also got to see, close-up, the scorch mark made on re-entry on the capsule and hear about the way experiments and technologies are set up for testing rover design for Mars on simulated Mars landscape. Also thrilled to discover a battery research center there - definitely something to watch out for.
There was a lot of information on the international space station in ERASMUS, while some of us entertained ourselves with walking in the European and Russian sections of the international space station, others were taking the chances to have discussions with Robert.
Just before lunch, we heard a lot more about the material experiments and the space specific material issues - like rusted metal is really harmful because rust will be flying around freely - by extension this can happen to a lot of harmful substances. Then there was also a discussion on 3D printing moon base using moon dust as materials, we saw a sample of the 3D printed building block (using not lunar soil but the experiment was guided by the properties of lunar soil), you can read more about it here.
And of course, for project/programme managers and collaboration facilitators of all sorts, there's the Concurrent Design Facilities which is a kind of hot room where decisions are evaluated and made with all experts negotiating their requirements on the spot. Meeting twice a week for 4 hours each week, the mission planning could last for 10 years.
It has also been such an amazing field trip with so many joining us from the Netherlands, let's shorten the distance across the channel!
Keep an ear on @citizeninventor on twitter, we'll sort something out for sharing photos!