inspiring the next generation of science, technology, engineering, arts, & mathematics (steam) leaders

NASA Kennedy Space Center

By Aida Yoguely Cortés-Peña
August 20, 2009


During the summer of my senior year, I interned at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. As part of the NASA INSPIRE program, my summer project consisted on creating a web-portal for the Business System Branch. I worked with highly qualified and motivated NASA Engineers and Scientists. As part of the Online Learning Community, I made a Vodcast interview with my mentor Eduardo Lopez del Castillo.

Mentor: Eduardo Lopez del Castillo

Link: NASA INSPIRE NASA, NASA Education NASA, INSPIRE Blog 2009 Blogspot, Abstract [PDFpdf], Technical Paper [PDFpdf], Presentation [PowerPointPDF Format]


As part of the NASA Online Learning Community, I have blogged my experience as a INSPIRE intern at the Kennedy Space Center during the summer 2009.

Week 1: June 7th 2009 to June 13th 2009

Sunday, June 7th, 2009 Hi my name is Aida Yoguely Cortés Peña and this week I traveled from Aguadilla Puerto Rico to Orlando Florida to begin the INSPIRE internship. I had a great flight. Right at my arrival there was the Student Advisor waiting for me at the baggage area. They drove me to the dorms at the University of Central Florida. Each apartment had one common room that lead to two dorms, each with two beds, and the restroom. There I met the other interns. The people were all so nice. I knew this was going to be so much fun. We went to the reunion at the conference room and ate pizza. There I met a Puerto Rican Tier 3b intern and his father who turns out to work at the future office I would be working on. Also I met a returning intern student who would be working at the office. I was already getting to know such good, highly qualified, highly motivated professionals. At this reunion we introduced ourselves and talked about what we would be expecting from this week. At night we spent the time watching a movie and socializing.

Monday, June 8th, 2009 This morning we woke up at 4:30 and head to the Kennedy Space Center Badging Station. Then we head to the training auditorium were we attended a conference about security. We went to the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) where I saw the Discovery Space Shuttle while it was being repaired for loose and broken tiles. I literally stood underneath the Discovery Space Shuttle, it was amazing. Then we went to Launch Pad 39-B and drove around it. I took a glance at the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks and the escape route that astronauts would use if there would be any failure in a launch sequence. It was called the Emergency Egress System and was 195 feet above ground level. We drove on the Shuttle landing strip and saw a T-38 Training Aircraft for the astronauts land. Then we went to the Saturn V museum. And last, we went to the Apollo launch pad, which was never used again after the death of the Apollo 1 crew. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the KSC Visitor Complex. We rode the Space Shuttle Simulator, I got the autograph of the Astronaut Roger Crouch and last we saw the IMAX movie “Magnificent Desolation”.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 Today we went back to the Debus Conference Center at the KSC visitor Complex. It was great because we got to speak with NASA workers and intern from other NASA programs like USRP, MUST and COOP. Then we took a formal group photo and attended the conference which was about security, LCROSS/LRO, Export Control, and emergency procedures.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 Today we drove to the Head Quarters Building, all dressed up ready to meet our mentors. His name was Eduardo Lopez del Castillo a Mechanical Engineer. He explained me all about my special summer project and the steps to complete my assigned work. During the summer I will act as the Business Systems Branch Capability Owner for the Kennedy Web-based Initiative for Communicating Capabilities System (KWICC), having the responsibility of creating a portal that describes the services provided by this Branch. (See the abstract I submitted in the Online Community for more information). My first task was to learn as much as possible about this branch and learning how to create web pages in the KWICC system. The cubical where I would be working had a large window with a nice view to the VAB, the Launch Pad 39-A, and the Launch Complex 41. He gave me some documents and I began to work.

Aida at the Vehicle Assembly Building
Thursday, June 11th, 2009 We ate breakfast and dinner meals at University of Central Florida’s cafeteria. I would be working 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day. So I basically work from 8am to 4:30 pm. Today they welcomed us and celebrate Michael Bell’s birthday. We all ate together in the Chief’s office. Then Mr. Lopez, my mentor, taught me about the different NASA Space Centers throughout the United States. Mr. Lopez, Justin the co-intern and I ate lunch together at the cafeteria. At the afternoon I spent it reading documents and asking questions. It was very confusing and vague at first, but then I started to comprehend. I told my mentor that I had to do an abstract and he was very nice and helped me out with it. As the evening activity we gathered with the chaperone and spoke about the abstracts and our projects. 

Friday, June 12th, 2009 At the morning I drank a coffee with Mr. Lopez as we talked. I began to read the information found at various sources of the internet. At the afternoon Mr. Diaz explained to Justin and me about the mission STS-127 that would be launched the following day on Launch Pad 39-A. Since my domain account was not setup yet I left at 2:00 to get my finger print just in case that was holding it back. Then we left to the Best Barbeque Intern Social Event. As the evening activity we were assigned the task of designing a logo for our group the Tier 2B at KSC.

Saturday, June 13th, 2009 Today we woke up at 2:00 am to see the launch of the STS-127, but it turns out that the liquid hydrogen valve was leaking. The launch was scrubbed. During the day we went at to the Visitor Complex to make 2 paper rockets that were propelled by the air in a coke bottle which we stepped on to send the rocket flying. While we were launching it a crocodile came out of the water. Our second activity consisted in making an Emergency Egress System with simple materials such as string, cup and tape. Then we went to the visitor complex to watch an IMAX movie. Back at the dorms we played ultimate Frisbee.

Week 2: June 13th 2009 to June 20th 2009

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 Today we did our chores and then at the afternoon we went to cocoa beach.

Monday, June 15th, 2009 Today I spent the time reviewing literature in Business World and other web sites about the services the Business Systems Branch offers. I gathered information and began to find discordance in what I read. Then Mr. Diaz invited us, Justin and Me, to his office and explained why the shuttle launch had failed. For lunch everyone from the office ate together. I find this great because I get to interact with these NASA workers and learn from their experiences and it serves me as a guide. At the afternoon I setup the printers and then I began to gather the objectives of each worker in the office and compare them a bit more detailed. As the evening activity each room worked on a Wall-E Lego robot. We built and programmed it.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 On Tuesdays we have staff meeting. It was Kenneth Young’s birthday; we ate cake and proceeded to the meeting. It is a great experience to seat among these professionals. At this meeting each person reports what we have done so far and what we would work on this week. Starting by the Chief he spoke about what is going on around Kennedy Space Center. When my turn arrived, I spoke about the project I was assigned to complete. Then I worked on the KWICC index page using the tutorial and the help guide. I made an excel sheet containing all the different titles given for one job at different websites. It clearly showed that there are changes needed to be made. Now it because obvious, the reason why it took me so long to comprehend the functions of the people in this office. It was because the information on the internet was incomplete, irrelevant and not up-to-date. I spoke to Sherry and learned about why the job titles were displayed differently on the websites and how business world was organized. And last I worked on the abstract and took a walk around Head Quarters Building to get familiar on getting my way around.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 The Shuttle STS-127 was supposed to launch today, it was 1:00 am but as we got ready to go, it got scrubbed once again because of the same liquid hydrogen leak. At work I came in and organized a set of questions for my mentor, and then I spent the whole morning speaking to him. I learned how to set up meetings in outlook and how I should properly make the excel tables for the data. This time he recommended for me to make the tables for every source of information that contained Job Descriptions with four columns which would include the Job Title, Description, Correct Description, and its status. I came back to my cubical and made some corrections to the KWICC page.

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 At work I went to two meetings, the first was with the Business System Documentation Manager. The second was with the Process Modeling Manager. I was going to see LCROSS/LRO launch on the ATLAS V rocket at the Launch Complex 41.  Its mission was to reignite the US lunar exploration program and search for water on the moon. Today I saw my first launch, I was so excited. The launch lasted about 10 seconds in the air until it got lost in the clouds.  Friday June 19th 2009.This morning I had one meeting with the ex-Metrics Manager. I interviewed him and gathered a lot of information. Then I had a meeting with the Continual Improvement Specialist and among other things I learned what OFI’s are (Opportunities for Improvement). At the afternoon I went to a presentation called "Navy Seal Rescue Story" by Colonel Macrander, Commander, 920th Rescue Wing and after that we got a IT training.

Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Today we went on an Airboat tour on the St. John’s River near Titusville. Then we went to Cape Canaveral beach. At night we played rock band.

Week 3: June 21sh 2009 to June 27th 2009

Sunday, June 21sh, 2009 Today we went to the outdoor mall and basically spend the day there shopping.

Monday, June 22nd, 2009 The process to receive a NASA domain is very foggy and to receive an email address is even worse. Today I finally got my domain working. Then I had a meeting with the Audit Liaison Representative. I began a document that will state the responsibilities and services of each person. At the evening we presented our LEGO Wall-E robot to our chaperone. And last I joined the cross country runners to run at the UCF track.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 Tuesdays is Staff Meeting day. Then at 9:00 we had a staff meeting. At this staff meeting I announced that interviews were going quiet well. I explained that during the interviews I would be collecting their data of services, responsibilities. Presenting them the information found at Internal Web Portal and KTI 1470 so that they could point me out the changes they recommend, and also the corrections they recommend for the KSC Business World site. And I explained the structure I had in mind for the KWICC website. Then today I had a meeting with the Directives Manager. After interviewing her I spent a long time on the phone trying to get my email account working. I created a document called KTI-1470_1C and began to document the services and responsibilities of the people I had interviewed. And before leaving I spoke to the Chief about his career industrial engineering/electrical engineering.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 At work I organized my papers and formulated questions for my Mentor. We spoke all morning clearing up my doubts of the people’s jobs. Later I had a meeting with Mr. Rey Diaz the Business System Manager. I showed him the information and he explained to me about the process they use to solve problems which was “Plan, Do, Check and Act”. He gave me papers with data. Since Mr. Diaz is the Chief of the Business System Branch I asked for his approval on the changes the Metrics Manager had requested for Business World. After lunch I worked on reviewing and entering the information Mr. Diaz provided me. As I kept trying to get my email account running I found out that there was an error in the database system preventing me to obtain my email. The error was called a double identity; the cause most probably was a misspelling. Later that afternoon I met with Mr. Michael Bell who used to work as the Business System Manager. In the interview I discovered that none of the information he provided to me was clearly displayed in the internet. For the evening activity we ate at a Indian Restaurant to celebrate the birthday of one of the Tier 2B interns.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009 Today I checked the excel sheets I have been creating for spelling errors, incoherent sentences, and inputted more data collected. I found the missing titles of the KDP documents and typed them in the sheets. Also I wrote down the journals into the computer. At the afternoon I had a meeting with Mrs. Delia Markham the Audit Manager. I spoke to her about her job and she told me that she checks that everyone is doing their job by following the KDP’s and the manuals on the internet. I reported to Eduardo the changes we had to make for the KDP 1470. At the evening we gathered with the chaperone to talk about our final presentation, the PowerPoint.

Friday, June 26th, 2009 Today my mentor took Justin and me outside to the parking lot to see an alligator that was hiding in the water of the sewers. I went to Mr. Diaz’s office to remind him of sending me some information. Then he called in Justin to tell us about the GOES satellite. The GOES satellite is a weather satellite for the government. We returned and this time I went to the Online Commnunity (OLC) to learn about the vodcast. My mentor called me to teach me hands-on what a Metrics Manager does. I saw the whole process of the job. First he received a Metric which wasn’t developed. He analyzed it and sent an email with all the corrections needed. At the afternoon we assisted to the Intern Social Event. There were various games such as Frisbee, Soccer, American football, dancing and card games. I met a lot of people with similar goals and aspirations. The GOES satellite launch got scrubbed due to bad weather. That afternoon we ate at an Italian Restaurant.

Saturday, June 27th, 2009 We went to going to Island of Adventure.  I rode my first roller coaster ride: The Hulk. Then I rode Dungeons and Dragons, the spider man, Fall of Doom and Doctor Sue’s House and a carousel.

Week 4: June 28th 2009 to July 5th 2009

Sunday, June 28th, 2009I worked on my Online Community essay and on the Mars Crane project.

Monday, June 29th, 2009 At work I planned on doing the vodcast this week but my mentor comes over and says that he will be out this week. I spent an hour and a half calling ODIN to get my email set up. I completed the OLC survey and wrote about the plant chamber. I spoke to Mr. Diaz about my goals and the NASA educational video I acted in back in elementary school. I added the information I got from Delia into the excel sheets. I placed hyperlinks in the KWICC website. Now I began creating the report to send each personnel in the office that way they could give it one last revision.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 I met with Kenneth young the ex-Audit Manager. I called ID max to try to resolve get my email address. I worked on doing the correction that the Audit Manager recommended and seeing if it integrates with the information found online. I kept working on the report to send to everybody through email.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 This morning I spent it calling ODIN and getting my email setup. I finally got my email address, so then I learned how to use outlook, how to share a calendar, make the signature, search in the address book and create a meeting. Later that morning Justin and I assisted to a TA closing meeting with the Office and Mike Benik who is the head of TA. I learned how professionals expose their issues and resolutions in a way that they are working as a Team.I visited the Internal Web Portal and started to see what the objective of that site was and how they displayed the information to adjust to that. At the afternoon we went to Millennia Mall.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 This morning I uploaded the plant chamber file and picture to the OLC.I worked on the Internal Web portal information. Mrs. Lozaw the Continual Improvement Specialist recommended me to submit an OFI in regards to the process of attaining an email and domain account. I continued working on the report to send out to everybody. This afternoon I left with my brother to Miami beach to spend the 4th of July weekend.

Week 5: July 6th 2009 to July 11th 2009

Monday, July 6th, 2009 I sent an email to each person in the office containing their respective report which had the tables with the description and correct description from so that they could give it a final check and approval. I placed links in the KWICC index page for the KTI, KNPR, KNPD, forms and process documents. So I started to write the correct description for the Continual Improvement Specialist at the Internal Web Portal. For the evening activity we gathered with the chaperone to learn how to track stars and constellations.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Today I worked on passing the journals to the computer. During the staff meeting I said that I had sent a report to each person so they should give it a final revision. Today we started to plan the mentor appreciation ceremony. This ceremony was going to occur on august 14th but since our internship ends on July 30th we decided to plan our own mentor appreciation ceremony. So we began to send emails trying to get peoples collaboration and ideas. Also I filmed scenes for my Vodcast. My mentor and I filmed the scenes at front of the VAB building, OPF, countdown clock site, press site, Saturn V and more.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009Today I got to work hands-on documentation with my mentor. We revised and released documents such as processes and forms. I sent a meeting invitation to all the INSPIRE students for lunch with the tier 1 students

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 I worked with my mentor on the KWICC. I showed him my progress by explaining him the report I made with my findings and my recommendations for changes. Then we came to a conclusion that we would make a Kennedy Technical Instruction (KTI) file with the short and long descriptions. We decided to make a different table for the changes that were needed to be made to the Business World. Also I spoke about that the definitions of documents and terms that the functional areas of the Business System Branch were displayed in the Internal Web Portal. I recommended that we place straight forward information of the services that they provide. At the afternoon I helped the co-intern film part of his vodcast. Then I got assigned a task which consisted on installing iGrafix on my computer and eliminating a hyperlink icon which appeared when converting the iGrafx file into a pdf.

Friday, July 10th, 2009 I worked with my mentor on the release of documentation. At lunch I went to the SSPF building to eat lunch with the tier 1and met with a Puerto Rican who was exited. I made use of this occasion to take a tour around the SSPF building. I visit Lauren’s and Julianna’s Office and met their mentor. When I returned to the office Mr. Diaz gave us a presentation about engineering.

Saturday, July 11th, 2009 This Saturday we visited the Orlando Science Center. The STS-127 shuttle was going to launch tonight but got scrubbed.

Week 6: July 12th 2009 to July 18th 2009

Sunday, July 12th, 2009 This Sunday I spent it passing the journals to the computer and doing house chores. Then we went to cocoa beach which was very fun. We went to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch but just 10 minutes before launch it got scrubbed because of the weather.

Monday,July 13th, 2009 We assisted to a presentation in the Training Auditorium on “How to be a good protégé.” I obtained my tickets to assist to the Apollo 40th Anniversary event. I tried to install Igrafx2007 but I encountered one problem, I didn’t have administrator rights on the computer. So I made the necessary calls to get that working. I saw the STS-127 astronauts as they waved and got in the astro van. I met astronaut doctors from the Air force. I worked on making a Instructional document on how to install Igrafx2007. Today we went to the VAB to see the launch but it got scrubbed again.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 At the staff meeting today I discussed that I had to meet up with Mr. Diaz to see what final touches I needed to do to the KWICC. I told them that what I’m basically going to do is two forms of your information a detailed and a brief description. I will be placing the brief description in every website and document that has information about the Business System Branch and if they want to find out more information they would click on the KTI 1470 document link which would contain the detailed description. This file can be edited by our office easily. I worked on the process of the release of documentation with Mr. Lopez. At night as an evening activity we had a reunion with the chaperone in which we discussed about some of the upcoming activities such as the turtle watch, the kayak tour, the vodcast, presentation and paper.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 I wrote the description of my project for Jim Woods who is also an intern working on a scrap book. Then I spoke with Mr. Diaz about the new propulsion systems that the rockets would be using in a near future. I visited the DLN website and then read the Astronaut Biographies to prepare myself for the Apollo 40th Anniversary. At the afternoon I saw the astronauts get in the astro van. Later we went to watch the STS-127 launch at the VAB. The experience was amazing, the sound, seeing the shuttle from up close and actually knowing that they are going to space was thrilling.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009 My mentor, the chief, Justin and I went to the Saturn V center. There was CNN news and some of the Apollo astronauts such as: Walt Cunningham, Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell, Al Worden, Charlie Duke, Vance Brand, Jerry Carr, Bruce McCandless. I. Then I worked hardcore on the KWICC. I placed the brief descriptions there and made the finishing touches to the KTI 1470 file.

Friday, July 17th, 2009 I installed i-Grafx and fixed the problem with the hyperlink. He sent me KTI 1140 B so that I would add the instruction on how to add links and multiple links and also on how to remove this hyperlink files. I sent emails on the organization of the food for the social event.

Saturday, July 18th, 2009 Today we went to Seaworld. It was amazing having the opportunity to see the Manta’s, Shamu, Dolphins and Flamingos for the first time.

Week 7: July 19th 2009 to July 25th 2009

Sunday, July 19th, 2009 Today we went to Aquatica/Sea World.

Monday, July 20th, 2009 I passed the journals to the computer. I completed the online community survey. I sent the DLN information to the chaperone. Then I worked on the KTI 1140 which is the instructions on how to place hyperlinks in i-Grafx. I passed the information that the Business System Manager Mr. Diaz sent me and added it to the report and the KTI to maintain intergrity of the information. Then I attended the Google Lunar X project presentation. I learned more about the competition and the plane UCF students are building in cooperation with NASA and other companies. I touched the $25,000 plane made out of carbon fiber. At night we had a meeting with the chaperone to discuss the upcoming activities.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 I worked on the Business System manager information. Then we had our weekly meeting and I said everything I had been working on.  I told them that last week I worked on the KTI and the report. I resolved the issue for the igrafx file and hyperlink. I work on that today and hen finally upload it to the KWICC.  I updated the instructions on the KTI 1140 B and that I had to work on my paper and presentation. After the staff meeting I met up with Mr. Diaz and Mr. Lopez to speak about their last recommendations for the KWICC. We developed a different outline for the index page and decided to call the capability Process development, Analysis and Management. They asked me to change the format of the KWICC to make it more similar to the other capabilities. Then we ate lunch and I left to the DLN which was a great activity because we got to speak to the other interns at the other NASA centers are doing.  Astronaut hall of fame their I got in the G4 machine that spins and simulates a Jet Flight. Also we go in the Mars exploration but it was actually in Egypt. After that I worked on my paper at night.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 I worked with Mr. Lopez as he updated the Techdoc librarian. Together we created an introduction for Process Development, analysis and management. I placed the link of framework in the KWICC. I learned that I have to avoid words such that could create an unclear meaning. I fixed the KTI 2158 B updated the instructions for the installation. Then I changed the title of the branch in KWICC. I sent my abstract to Mrs. Moore.  I worked on passing the OLC journals to the computer. I ate lunch and bumped into Ivette Jones.

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 I worked on the KWICC links and uploaded them. Jim woods came in our cubical and took us pictures. I emailed and called Jeremy Parsons so that he could put the link to my page in the index wiki page. I got in the Close Cut Crew Car, a car in which only 15 civilians had went. Then we went to the Orbiter Processing Facility 3 where we saw the discovery shuttle. Then we went to the VAB. We got super close to the Ares I rocket and even saw the inside.

Friday, July 24th, 2009 This morning I received papers on my desk it was from Rebbeca Sharek who needed me to deliver it to the 4th floor. I had a meeting with an Education specialist to discuss the NASA programs I could apply to in college level. Then we went to a tour at the SSPF (Space Station Processing Facility) were we saw nodes and modules. When I came back to the office I spoke with my mentors on how to apply to the programs. I took screen shots of my computer to use it in my power point presentation.

Saturday, July 25rd, 2009 We went to Sea world and Island of Adventures.

Week 8: July 26th 2009 to July 31th 2009

Sunday, July 26rd, 2009 I spent the whole day working on my paper.

Monday, July 27rd, 2009 I spent the day correcting my paper and finishing up my presentation. Then at night I slept late practicing speaking it and finishing my vodcast.

Tuesday, July 28rd, 2009 Today was presentation day which were awesome!!! All the presentation were great. After that me and my co-inter went to eat lunch with my mentor to celebrate. At night we went sea turtle watching.

Wednesday, July 29rd, 2009 We came to work at mid day because we had arrived late to the dorms last night. I began to organize the data on my computer. We celebrated Jim Lichtenthal’s birthday by eating cake. At the afternoon I went to the training auditorium where Mr. Soto Toro gave a conference about the comparison of the USA space suit vs. the Russian space suit. I tried on the helmet, arm, hand and boot. After work we ate at Grill’s for our last supper.

Thursday, July 28rd, 2009 Sadly today was my last day at work. So the first thing I did was update the link at the KWICC and then do some arrangements for the Mentor Appreciation Ceremony. The office reunited us to give us thank you for our work. Then they gave us each a frame with their signatures and the Endeavour Space Shuttle mission 111.Then we gave them a picture frame of the whole office plus us. We went to the mentor appreciation ceremony. We went to the training auditorium where Mr. Charlie Bolton and Bob Cabana gave a discourse. After that we went to the Saturn V.

In conclusion the NASA INSPIRE program has been a stupendous, out of this world experience. I am proud to say that I have contributed to NASA as well as NASA has helped me to grow in the STEM fields. While working on my project I got to expand my knowledge on the organization and the grand importance of the Business Systems Branch. I am now more than ever motivated to continue my studies in Aerospace Engineering and work for NASA. Also being able to see up close a shuttle launch has been a spectacular experience. I want to especially thank my mentor Eduardo Lopez del Castillo for his guidance and support throughout the summer internship. I also thank everyone in my office: Rey Diaz, Donna Lozaw, Delia Markham, Jim Lichtenthal, Cathy Parker, Rebecca Sharek, Kenneth Young, and Cheri Wynn. Special thanks to my physics teacher Elba Sepúlveda who informed me about this outstanding program and helped me throughout the process. Thanks to all those who made this program possible: Jim Gerard, Priscilla Moore and many others.  I enjoyed the work I did this summer and aspire to return as an intern next year to gain knowledge and help NASA achieve its missions.