Caribou astronaut can claim fastest speed for woman from Maine

Episode 284

October 6, 2019

No Caribou (or Maine woman has gone this fast)

Jessica Meir prior to lift off to the International Space Station. Meir’s 1995 CHS Yearbook said she wanted to walk in space. Soon she will meet that goal. (NASA photo)

I am almost 100 % certain that no other Caribou or Maine woman has attained the speed that Jessica Meirs is now travelling, 17,150 miles per hour or 5 miles per second aboard the International Space Station. I know a couple of women jet pilots who have gone quick, but not near the speed that Meirs is capable of in near space.

The fastest woman on the ground in Maine is Pam Beineke who went 251.137 mph aboard her 1971 Dodge Charger Funny car Aeroforce.

Pam and Gary Beincke, Sharon, Massachusetts, 1971 Vintage Dodge Charger Funny Car designed for land speed racing. The driver, Pam, went 251.137 mph in 2018 to become the fastest woman racer at the Loring Timing Association event at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine. (Pam Barker photo)

Meirs will be conducting experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS) during the next six months, including radiation experiments for cancer research as she cruises an average of 248 miles above the Earth’s surface.

While on her six month stint, Meirs will make at least three spacewalks, October 16 with Andrew Morgan (Spacewalk 58), the first all-female walk on October 21 with Christina Koch (Spacewalk 59), and on October 25 with Luca Parmitan of the European Space Agency (Spacewalk 58).

During these spacewalks the astronauts will be replacing solar array batteries and upgrading them to lithium-ion batteries and refurbishing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer used to look into deep space.

Meir and Koch have trained for spacewalks over the past six years and utilize the medium size suits. According to what I have read the astronauts will not experience the rush of 17,150 mph winds since they are working in a virtual vacuum. The only perspective of speed will be glimpses of earth. They will experience sunrise every 92 minutes.

October 29, 2019, RSU 39 students will take part in a live conversation with Meirs. The live event will be viewed by students at the Caribou Performing Arts Center at Caribou High School. This is a students only venue.

Caribou is only 1 of 9 sites selected for this honor out of 200 requests. The public will be able to watch the live NASA stream at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center on Bennett Drive.

One question I heard about was “Does the smell of the air change from the Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station?” I think that is a great question. If other similar questions are asked the time should pass quickly and be informative.

On October 5, 2019 the International Space Station flew over Jessica Meirs alma mater, Caribou High School, in this photo captured by Northscape Photography. (photo courtesy Northscape Photography)

The space station is rather large with dimensions similar to a football field and weighs about 450 tons.

Meirs is one of three Maine astronauts. Charles Hobaugh, Bar Harbor,  flew three Space Shuttle missions (July 2001, August 2007, November 2009) to the ISF. He is a retired Marine Corps Aviator.

Chris Cassidy, York, Maine is still active astronaut and may be in ISF the same time as Meirs. York is a former Navy Seal and has flown on the later Space Shuttle flights as well as the Russian Soyuz. He has six spacewalks and 182 days in space.

New era in IndyCar driver safety?

Scott Dixon aboard the Ganassi Racing Honda IndyCar with the new Aeroscreen at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway test. (Bill Friel, Bill’s Race Photography)

Penske Indy Car driver Will Power crosses the yard of bricks at speed while testing the proposed aeroscreen on the Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Bill Friel, Bill’s Race Photography)

The testing of the Red Bull Advanced Technology (RBAT) designed IndyCar aeroscreen took place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 2, 2019 with one Honda and one Chevrolet outfitted with the driver protection device.

From the IndyCar press release:

The Aeroscreen has been developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The driver safety innovation encompassing the cockpit is comprised of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.

The RBAT design consists of a polycarbonate laminated screen that includes an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the screen, an anti-fogging device through an integral heating element and tear-offs, all of which will be produced by integrated third-party companies. Another feature for the drivers will be a cockpit-cooling duct designed by Dallara using its computational fluid dynamics.

The titanium framework mounts in three areas around the cockpit: the chassis centerline, two rear side mounts and roll hoop integration to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities. The load bearing is expected to be 150 kilonewtons (kN), which equals the FIA load for the Halo design currently used in Formula One. A kilonewton is equal to approximately 225 pounds.

“I’m so happy that we have it,” Power said. “It’s really a huge step in safety, and I think it’s the best of both worlds. You’ve got the halo and you’ve got a screen, so I think that you’ll see other open-wheel categories follow suit. When you’ve driven it for a day, you’re going to feel naked without it.”

“I’m so impressed with how quickly all this came together,” Power said. “To have the first run in and really no major issues … it’s just little things that need to be worked on.”

“It’s been an intense project and one that I think a lot of people have done their due diligence on to get it to this point,” Dixon said. “Today’s been pretty much seamless.”

Dixon said he was surprised how quiet the cockpit is with the wind deflected. He said he could hear his team radio for the first time than ever before.

“There’s actually a lot less load on the helmet,” Dixon said. “Visually, there’s been no (issue). Some of the areas with tear-offs and where they seam in the middle will be sort of fixed down the road to make it better.”

IndyCar teams from Penske Racing with driver Will Power on left and Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon on right were on hand for the initial testing of the RBAT Aeroscreen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 2, 2019. (IndyCar photo)

The Aeroscreen safety project was initiated a few years after Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas on a street course when he flew into the fence and contacted his head on catch fence posts in 2011.

In 2015 Justin Wilson was killed when hit on the head by debris from a wreck in front of him at Pocono Raceway.

INDYCAR has scheduled additional Aeroscreen tests at Barber Motorsports Park, a permanent road course, with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay on Oct. 7; Richmond Raceway, a short oval, with Dixon and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden on Oct. 15; and Sebring International Raceway, a road course which can simulate a street circuit, with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais on Nov. 5. Aeroscreens are to be delivered to all NTT IndyCar Series teams prior to Christmas.

“This is a total industry-changing driver safety solution, so we couldn’t be more proud of it,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “This is, to me, a game changer – this is big. This is something that will really change the complexion of the sport for a long time to come.”

Some questions to be addressed are how the Aeroscreen will react in the rain, probably solved by rain shedding chemicals and/or tearoffs. Fogging should be minimized due to electric grid heaters embedded into the Aeroscreen. The interior is coated with an anti-reflective material.

The extraction of drivers will be analyzed and practiced to compensate for the decreased open cockpit size.

During in lab testing, frozen turkeys were blasted into the polycarbonate material to simulate high-speed contact with large objects. Off course, I had to wonder what they did with the test turkeys. Hmmmmm…

Jon Bennett’s last drive in IMSA DPi Petit Le Mans 2019

CORE Autosports owner/driver Jonathan Bennett on right with long time driver Colin Braun earlier this season at Detroit. Joining at Road Atlanta for the 10 hour race will be Romain Dumas for the final race of the 2019 IMSA season and the last for CORE Autosports. (CORE Autosports photo)

As announced in a prior episode, CORE Autosports owner Jonathan Bennett is dissolving his IMSA Nissan Daytona Prototype international (DPi) team after this weekend. The Motul Petit Le Mans 10 hour race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, will close out that chapter of Bennett’s driving career which goes back a couple of decades.

The race begins at noon on Saturday October 12 and concludes at 10:00 pm. The race can be seen on NBC from 12 to 3 pm, NBC Sports from 3 to 5:30 pm, and NBC Sports Network from 5:30 to 10:00 pm. IMSA Radio will be broadcasting the race as well.

Bennett’s CORE Autosports will continue to be the North American Porsche racing team for next season when Porsche debuts their 911 RSR-19.

The 2020 IMSA GTLM contestant from Porsche the 911 RSR-19 to be campaigned by CORE Autosports. The car will make its debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2020. (Porsche photo)

Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) Junior Karting Champ

Due to a scheduling conflict, the NMKA 2019 Aroostook Trusses Junior Karting Champion Gage Theriault, Limestone, was unable to be at the season finale. at Spud Speedway. Theriault was at Speedway Karting in Hermon winning his second championship for 2019. Trophy presentation is made by NMKA President Tom Hale on right. (NMKA photo)

Congratulations to NMKA Senior and Junior Kart champions Kyle Wells, Caribou and Gage Theriault, Limestone. A club informational meeting will be held early in 2020 to get organized for the 2020 race season. UpNorth Motorsports will contain announcements about the future meeting. (NMKA photo)

Let’s Go Racing

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)





Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine