Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry VI

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

So…according to New Scientist it turns out ELVES is actually a reference to Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency and not actual pointy-eared creatures…that’s a little disappointing…

Anyway, here we are, the final week before launch. I’ve spent more time in the simulator and even got the chance to get behind the stick of an F18 simulator at the end of last week which was great fun. I managed to shoot down eight enemy planes…unfortunately, landing is still a problem…

I also got to have a look at my launch vehicle!

Most of this week however has been spent in quarantine. Apparently astronauts can get sick in space as microgravity appears to weaken the immune system. Standard NASA practice is for Astronauts to undergo a physical exam 10 days before launch to make sure they’re not already infected and then go into quarantine about seven days before launch.

In the pilot seat...a little more exposed than I was expecting!

In the pilot seat…a little more exposed than I was expecting!

It’s very boring, but I have a good selection of books and some of my favourite movies to watch like 2001: A Space Odyssey, episodes of Star Trek and of course the full Star Wars saga! Lord Quokka suggested Alien but I’m not trusting him again after that Apollo 13 fiasco!

I have another medical check today and then a final pre-flight check right before launch.

It’s hard to believe that after all this time, all the planning and training we’re almost ready. I hope to see you all on Saturday for the launch. I’m really excited…and more than a little nervous…

Wish me luck!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry V

What was Lord Quokka thinking, recommending a film like Apollo 13?

It was a horror story of everything that could go wrong in a space mission. Yes they got back safe and sound in the end, but oh my lord!

After watching that, I’m wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go anymore. Fortunately, I have now seen the vehicle and it is a lot less…complicated…than an Apollo capsule.

No, I will be going up using a High Altitude Balloon. This will take me up to anywhere between 25 and 38 kilometres. To put that into perspective, the highest flying commercial aircraft don’t go higher than 15 kilometres, so bare minimum, I will be 10 000m above them, even the USAF’s High Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft, the Lockheed U2 only flies up to 21 kilometres. In fact, most likely, the only people higher than me will be the three astronauts in the International Space Station.

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

At that height I will be operating in what is known as ‘Black Space’ and able to see the curvature of the earth and even Transient Luminous Events (AKA Ionospheric Lightning or Blue Jet Phenomena). I’ve even heard that there are ELVES up there!

I’ve also heard that a special song to commemorate my flight has been recorded! I stopped in at the studio after training yesterday to have a listen. It was pretty amazing, I especially liked the line “Greatest of Monotremes“! Take that Platypus…think you’re so great with your swimming and poison sting…

I also did a photo shoot for the press today. Apparently they needed a human as well, but I was able to invite some of my friends to participate. I think the results were pretty good!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry IV

Hi everyone,

Exciting times, I got to try on my helmet for the first time today. Not sure about it

Trying on my helmet...it's a bit tight!

Trying on my helmet…it’s a bit tight!

though,there really isn’t any room for my snout.

I also had to start doing some High-G training. Apparently a “G” represents the normal force of gravity a body is subjected to here on earth. During space launches of flying jet fighters, the amount of “G-Force” the body is subjected to can cause something called G-Induced Loss of Consciousness or G-LoC. Obviously, losing consciousness is not something you want to do when at the controls of a spacecraft!

In order to train for this, one spends time in a something called a Centrifuge.These devices spin out around at high speeds in order to help you build up your tolerance for the G-Forces. Normally, they look something like this one here:

NASA Centrifuge

NASA Centrifuge

 

Now, that looked pretty scary, but I figured I could handle it, and the machine looked pretty sturdy and it was built by professionals with decades of experience.

 

Unfortunately this is what I was subjected to:

Get me out of here!!!

Get me out of here!!!

It was possibly one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life! All those extra termites were not a good idea! Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin or Andy Thomas were never suck in a bag and spun around over someone’s head!

I have decided to take my mind of the whole experience by watching that Tom Hank’s movie Lord Quokka suggested Apollo 13. Apparently it’s about one of the moon missions in the 1970s. I won’t be going that far, but I’m sure I will learn a thing or two from it.

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry III

Hi all, it’s your favourite Monotreme Astronaut here.

Sorry it’s been a while since I updated my space mission diary, but there have been a few snags. Apparently Civic Park can’t be used as a launch site due to it being in a major flight path for the Adelaide Airport.

While Mission Chief David Brooks entered negotiation and searched for a new launch site, I decided to go on a journey of self-discovery down Route 66 in the United States. You can check out some of my photos on the library Facebook and Instagram pages.

After much searching, a new launch site has been found and the mission has been given a green light, of course the mission has now had to be pushed back. Our new launch date is December 3rd.

Since the green light was given, I have been hard at work training. Space travel can be

Pushing iron! Feel the burn!

Pushing iron! Feel the burn!

quite traumatic, particularly the launch and the landing. Space Adaption Syndrome or Space Motion Sickness as it is more commonly known is a real problem and can be triggered just by a subtle change in gravity! Some of the symptoms include drowsiness, headaches and nausea. Apparently three out of four astronauts experience Space Motion Sickness.

Another danger is loss of muscle mass and bone density due to exposure to a ‘weightless’ environment. Without the effects of gravity, astronauts put almost no weight on the muscles in their spine and legs to maintain posture. To counter this, I am working out every day and eating a high protein diet. I’m not sure if eating all those extra termites is actually going to help, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make!

Apparently there are dangers from exposure to radiation as well, the levels in low orbit are 10 times what we receive down here on Terra Firma and could cause all kinds of damage to the body…but I’ve seen the Fantastic Four movies, maybe I’ll get superpowers!

Don'tcrashdon'tcrashdon'tcrash!

Don’tcrashdon’tcrashdon’tcrash!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the simulator practicing take-off, flight and landing. I still don’t know exactly what vehicle I will be piloting, so I am covering all of the basics, from an Apollo mission Saturn V to the Russian Soyuz series to the Space Shuttle. Take off is pretty easy, as is controlled flight in the upper atmosphere and orbit, but landing is proving to be a bit…bumpy…

I’m going to take some time off this weekend and watch a movie to relax. My friend Lord Quakka has suggested Apollo 13

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry II

I got the call!!!

I have been selected as one of four candidates to be the first echidna in space!

I still can’t believe that the Tea Tree Gully Public Library is conducting a space mission, it’s just incredible!

After my initial excitement subsided, I decided I had better head down to the library to do some research on aeronautics, space craft and the like.

Checking out some study material

Checking out some study material

It’s best to be prepared after all.

It turns out that most of the books relating to space travel can be found in the Adult Non Fiction collection at 629.45 while information relating to space and the solar system is held in the 520s.

I selected a DVD on the history of space flight, an encyclopaedia of space craft, a Soyuz capsule service manual and a biography of Neil Armstrong for inspiration.
I wonder what sort of spacecraft I will have the chance at flying? I wish it was the Millennium Falcon! Maybe I could break that 12 parsec record…

Hopefully I will find out more next week when I report for basic training.

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut

Hey everyone,

Now I’m the first to admit that I’m a pretty well-travelled echidna. Just in the last year, I have been to France, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and Japan. My next travel adventure however, is going to be something special!

Lineup

Some of the hopefuls, waiting for their interview.

Space!
That’s right: Space!

Now I have to admit I was pretty nervous going in to the interview and there were quite a few other hopeful echidna competing against me.

The key to any interview is to project an air of confidence, even if you don’t actually feel it.

Interview

David Brooks and I in the interview room

I did have one advantage in that I had worked with David Brooks (the man conducting the interviews) on several projects in the past.

This helped calm my nerves a lot!

I took my time and thought carefully about my answers, making special effort not to ‘geek out’ over the idea of going into space, but also convey a sense of enthusiasm about the project.

I think I did well, hopefully I will hear something in the next few days.

We put an echidna onto our new library bags!

Our new library bags arrived earlier this year. There is a bit of story behind them and how Anstey, the library’s echidna mascot, came to feature on the design.

IMG_4864

When another order of bags arrived with the standard logo late last year, we decided they would be the last lot. After that, the library bag would be refreshed. We would embrace a new design!

DSC_4438.jpg

The old library bag.

It’s funny how something as simple as a bag can bring about so many opinions. Of the 40+ staff who work in the library, everyone had a different perspective on what colour, size, shape and design a library bag ought to be.

The majority agreed the new bags should be made from sustainable materials, to reflect council’s slogan ‘Naturally Better’. We ordered sample sizes, filled them with books and walked around the library with them to test bag shapes. Staff and 20 customers were shown the samples and asked what they thought. A compromise was soon met and the size issue was sorted. But how to go about creating a new design?

We wanted a new design that was eye-catching and captured the fun and dynamic nature of Tea Tree Gully Library. A take-home advertisement for the library. Unique, reusable, sustainable.

Something a bit hipster.

Last November, we were talking about the hipster generation and their impact on marketing  and society. Did you know there are now more than 25,000 baristas in Australia? Ten years ago there were 8000.

Douglas McWilliams, economist and founder of the London-based Centre for Economic and Business Research, says ‘Hipsters have identifiable spending patterns and homogenous tastes. But they don’t want others to copy them, so they keep up by changing their tastes, by moving on to the next thing.”

Hipsters traditionally reject popular, mass culture and spend their money on products that reflect their individuality. Acknowledging the hipster impact and the digital age means branding and new library bags are required to be just that much more sophisticated.

That’s where Bernard Salt came in.

Bernard Salt

Demographer Bernard Salt, who writes quite a lot about hipsters

Bernard Salt, who writes a weekly column for The Australian, had written an article that very week, announcing he had determined the ‘epicentre’ of hipster cliques in major Australian cities. As a way of measuring the hipster flow and its impact on a city and culture. In the article, he claims to have pinpointed the hipster centres of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

On impulse, we decided to google each of the centres. That’s how we came across the adorable logo of the cafe that marks Melbourne’s hipster centre zone: Bluebird Espresso.

 

bluebird logo

Image credit: Not a foodie blog

Cute, simple and memorable. We loved it and thought we’d try and create a similar design for our very own library bag. Instead of a bluebird – we decide to use the library’s mascot, Anstey the echidna.

 

 

Anstey image.jpg

Anstey has been our long-time mascot, much loved by staff and customers. He features on the mural in the children’s area and on the postcard with the children’s programs. There’s even a stuffed toy version of Anstey. But these Anstey/s are very much designed to appeal to children – it’s adults who mostly purchase library bags.

We sought echidna-spiration from the web.

All lovely and pretty echidnas. We thought about going to a graphic designer to try and replicate one of them, but our Arts & Cultural Coordinator Kelly took the idea home and worked into the night to come up with a grungier, hipster Anstey.

She created the artwork using a rubber pad, ink set and scraper. The yellow colour block behind Anstey was used to make him pop on a black calico bag (as chosen by staff and customers when we walked around with samples).

TT GULLY Echidna on yellow.jpg

Anstey and some of the different designs

Transferring Kelly’s design from a rubber stamp sheet onto a piece of calico turned out to be easier than we thought. A graphic designer created a vector of the original illustration to send off to the printers, and voila. We had our very own Bluebird Espresso / Bernard Salt-inspired, grunge Echidna ‘hipster’ library bag.

Tea Tree Gully Library bag

The library bag on display – when it went travelling to Japan in April this year.

The bags are $3 each and can be purchased from the customer service desk within the library.

Thank you Bernard Salt and Bluebird Espresso.

You can read Mr Salt’s ‘hipster’ article, published in The Australian on 8 October 2015 here