After a fun evening out with some SpaceX alumni last night, we were extremely excited to start the day. Todays tours involved Northrop Grumman & SpaceX.
The tour of Northrop was very informative. We got a great tour of their composites facility. Composites are the future of aerospace, so we were extremely happy to learn about their fabrication process.
Below you can see the business end of the Super Hornet. Being partial to propulsion, I was in pure heaven seeing the production line for the aft section of the F/A-18E. Loved seeing the inlets and nozzle for this aircraft!
We ended our tour at the final assembly location of the F/A-18 aft-section. Here's a picture of the final assembly that we were able to see today. Once they're finished, these babies get put on a flat-bed truck and shipped to the Boeing facility in St. Louis.
The University of Michigan group in front of Northrop Grumman's facility in El Segundo, CA.
This tour was simply AMAZING!! We got a great tour of the factory floor. Lots of capsules and rocket engines!
Some of the pieces inside the shop.
A look inside the SpaceX production line.
The group inside the SpaceX lobby. What a phenomenal tour! Thanks for the awesome Vanilla/Cappuccino swirl frozen yogurt. It was AMAZING!
Tomorrow’s tours are the best yet!! We will be starting early at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. We will follow this up in the afternoon with a lengthy tour of Scaled Composites. Stay tuned and please comment if you have any questions regarding the tours we’ve done so far!
Entrance to JPL
The 2nd day of the Aerospace Dream Tour with 16 University of Michigan AIAA members took place today. Apparently we brought the terrible weather with us, because it rained all day and it was quite chilly. Hopefully we can get back to some sun and warmth for the rest of the week.
Enough about the weather! We have some good ol’ fashioned aerospace touring to do! The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III are on the agenda!!
We arrived in Pasadena an hour early (didn’t want to chance the rush hour traffic). Now the fun begins:
University of Michigan group picture in front of JPL
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Kind of reminds me of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit
Engineer at JPL using the iHandy app on his iPhone to find the inclination of the MSL. Apple should really make a commercial about this. Sorry Droid users
Here is the area they always show on the Mars Rover documentaries. This area also tracks the satellites that JPL has sent out. This was great to see!
Notice the cloudy weather we got to experience in SoCal. I've been told that it hasn't rained orA few of the guys checking out an old ion thruster that was made at JPL.
A JPL employee giving a great explanation about the electric propulsion thrusters that they are working on. We also toured many of JPL's vacuum chambers, such as the green one pictured.
even been cloudy in over three months here. What happened ?!?!
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Facility
We had a great tour of the C-17 production line. What an amazing airplane and impressive facility.
The drive from Ann Arbor to Chicago’s O’Hare airport wasn’t without its trials. Our four-car motorcade started the journey at 12PM EST. After about an hour we indulged in some Culver’s Butter Burgers! Great choice for sure!! Smooth so far…
Parking in Downtown Chicago??
We proceeded to program our GPS units to “The Parking Spot” by the airport. Somehow the address we selected led us to downtown Chicago! So maybe we took a slight detour, but for the many Chicago first-timers, the experience was well worth our miscalculations. Did I mention we gave ourselves eight hours to get from Ann Arbor to Chicago (usually a 4.5 hour drive)? We arrived with plenty of time to spare, but I sure am glad we took the precaution.
The Parking Spot
After some searching, we finally stumbled across our parking destination. Of course this was no easy task. “The Parking Spot” isn’t really called the parking spot, but instead went by some other name, which was completely unrelated. We scrambled to type in the mystery parking company into our cell phones to find “The Parking Spot” logo at the bottom of the webpage. So we handed our keys to the nice gentleman and took our ticket. Let me add that it’s kind of scary knowing that we literally gave them our vehicles and in return we have a piece of paper in our possession. No other information taken… I’m sure we’re all praying that our cars will be there when we get back.
Due to the nature of the trip and size of the airplanes we split up our group between American Airlines & United Airlines. My group flying American, made it past security with the usual hassle. Only one of our bags got the extra search. Luckily none of us got the “extra” search, so we can’t complain too much. After a brief dinner at the terminal‘s “Chilis,” we were all set to wait for our flight to board.
This is where we are so far in our journey. I write this to you from over 31,000ft in the air. Should be arriving at LAX by 10:20pm PST. Check our flight route here.
JPL and Boeing tours are on the agenda for tomorrow. Keep checking back for more updates!
Companies being toured by the University of Michigan
Over the next seven days I will be keeping a detailed log of the University of Michigan AIAA tour of Southern California’s premier aerospace companies.
- The adventures of flying United and American Airlines!
- Electric propulsion and C-17′s!
- Learn more about JPL and Boeing
- F/A-18, Space Park, and lots of ROCKETS!!
- Learn more about Northrop Grumman and SpaceX
- Revolutionary airplanes and blimps day! I can’t wait!!!
- Learn more about Skunk Works and Scaled Composites
- The J-2X rockets and lots of beaches!!
- Learn more about Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
- JSF and much much more!!
- Learn more about Edwards AFB
- The exhausting trip home plus the shear sadness of leaving aerospace paradise.
The AIAA at the University of Michigan took 17 students to Dayton, OH for the second time. This is now my sixth time at the NAFM, but this time was special, since I was equipped with my brand new Canon Rebel 600D.
Visit the Flickr tab on the right to view some of the photos that I took on the trip.
Some of my Favorite Photos from my Trip
My senior design project to create a thrust vectoring system for a JetCat P80-SE engine has begun!
First step: Engine Operation
Region 3 Student Conference
The University of Michigan is hosting this year’s AIAA Regional Student Conference. The conference takes place March 30-31, 2012 in Ann Arbor, MI. All undergrad and graduate students are encourage to submit papers and/or presentations. Abstracts are due February 24th. We are honored to have Dr. Leland Nicolai from Skunk Works and Dr. John Anderson from the National Air and Space Museum as our keynotes. We also have a great social event planned at the Yankee Air Museum.
March 30th: Registration and Yankee Air Museum
March 31st: Presentations and Keynotes
More Details and Registration Here
Here’s a few shots I took at the NAFM two years ago. Going back again on Sunday!