ASCI 512 is quite a bit bigger than ASCI 604. I'm still the only girl, and still the true newbie, but there is at least one person who is just in his second term at ERAU, so that helps a little. I think I might actually be the youngest in this class, too, although I won't swear to that. Again, everyone was pretty friendly (and it doesn't hurt that there is a smokin' hot captain in the class, too. I'm pretty sure I cleaned up all the drool before anyone saw, though). The guy from OS gave me the number of their HR director, too, and recommended that I look into the possibility of internships there, which was really cool of him.
The instructor is a little scary (he does prefer to go by General, because "he's put in too much to be just a 'mister'" fair enough!) but it's hard to be really scared of someone who confesses that the 8.5 minutes it takes a shuttle to reach orbit are "the longest of his life, every time. So many things can go wrong. Worse than getting shot at," is honestly disappointed and a little sad that "his birds" (the shuttles) are getting retired, and who deems that "anyone who graduated from Purdue should have no problems with this class" as we all went around and introduced ourselves. (I did say that my degree was from the SLA, I just didn't specify in what.) And man, the guys weren't kidding. He KNOWS. This is the guy that Johnson (mission control), Kennedy (launch operations), Marshall (engine and technical control), and Stennis (engine testing) Space Centers all reported to. He oversaw 20 shuttle missions, 19 of them successful (given that he said he was assigned to NASA in 1994, I would assume that the lone unsuccessful mission would be the ill-fated Columbia, which was only mentioned once the entire night when we were talking about the heat shield, but none of us were about to ask about the discrepency!) He also isn't just stuck on old techology. We have several missileers in the class, and as they'd mention systems or rockets or missiles, he'd say "Oo, do your presentation (we have to do a 30 minute oral presentation instead of a term paper, because "if you're gonna be in this business, you'd better know how to give a briefing") on that, I want to learn about that!" And the pictures he has. Oh my lord, the pictures. They're just breathtaking. I could stare at them for hours.
The class itself is just plain cool. Tonight, at least, was a "language" class, using the shuttle as the model, and surprisingly enough, it was a lot of review for me. From where? From Space Camp! Once he started talking about SSMEs and SRBs and ETs, it all started coming back. Orbital velocity, thrusters, rolls, EVAs, EMUs....oh, good times! I'm sure the rest of the class isn't going to be quite so easy, and honestly, the idea of giving a 30 minute presentation on the Soyuz program to this class is more than a little intimidating, but it was REALLY nice to know that I'm not in WAY over my head for this one like I'd feared!
And it struck me tonight driving home from the base. No wonder I haven't found a guy who measured up. Most dads only say they'd give their little girls the moon and the stars. Mine actually did.