So I just want to throw this out there: you can get really, really far in the game, like so:
I’m trying to max them all out at one time.
As for a personal note, I took a screenshot here for a reason:
October 11, 2007 was the first day that I shipped hardware as a project manager. I worked in unpressurized flight support equipment (FSE) for on-orbit replacement units (ORUs) on the International Space Station for about a decade. As a kid — when I was playing this fine game — I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and work on a space station. Mission accomplished. The ammonia pump that was just replaced on the ISS was a unit that flew in hardware that I helped integrate in our facility and at NASA Kennedy Space Center. It’s weird to know that people in space use things that you built. It’s also really cool.
Anyway, that first delivery was two sets of FSE for the Direct Current Switching Unit, which switches the power draw from the solar arrays to the ISS batteries and back again. The FSE provides a mechanical mount that mimics the flight interface on the station: in the case of the DCSUs, that’s some heaters underneath to keep it from freezing, a big stanchion through which a captive ACME screw is threaded for fastening, and a port for the connector, all covered with a white, 17-layer multiple-layer insulation (MLI) blanket. They’re white on the outside to shed heat, and the blankets themselves alternate metal foil and insulative layers that keep everything at the right temperature as it moves around the Earth. I’d been a project engineer on other builds, but being in charge took six months off of my life. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
My favorite blanket story is on the aforementioned pump module FSE. It’s a big blanket, say 42″ x 56″ wide and about 28″ tall. It’s got these handles all over it to help the crew members fold the blanket back and fasten it down with hook-and-loop tape. Well, it turns out that the crew thought that they could use those to translate themselves around the ORU. It, uh, wasn’t designed for that. So I ended up at KSC with a hole punch and our best technician. At one point, we had a big 8″x8″ timber as a striking surface, and we were using said punch to go through 17 layers of blanket and the webbing of the handle. Let’s just say that sledgehammers were involved. But once we had holes in the handles, we could put these nice metal bars as stiffeners so a stray astronaut wouldn’t just rip a handle off and go floating into the night …