"ISS is Overhead" - project for NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston

I have to share the most amazing thing. Last week - July 1st - 3rd I traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX to complete the implementation of a project called “ISS is Overhead”.

This project switches on a gigantic set of blue LED lights over one of the four entrances to JSC every time the International Space Station passes by.

Those LED’s are controlled by an ISS-Above device.

It’s an absolute privilege to have been invited by NASA to support the implementation of such a unique project.

It’s a perfect match for why I created ISS-Above in the first place more than five years ago. I created ISS-Above to help connect people on the ground with the Astronauts in space as they pass by more than five times every day. It seems fitting for this to be installed at the NASA base with the primary Mission Control Center for the ISS and where thousands of people are working to support the entire program.

This is the Gate2 entrance to JSC. (actually photographed from inside JSC)
The flags represent the current Expedition (60) and the three astronauts in space right now.

This video shows what the canopy looks like at night when the ISS passes by. I took the video at 4:50am on the morning of Wednesday July 3rd.

And here are some photos of the installation of the ISS-Above in to a special secure housing inside the guardhouse.

A little more detail on the project

I first met with the project sponsor at NASA on a trip to JSC in April 2019. My part of this project would be to replace an older now-unused micro-controller setup that used a 5V relay to control the LEDs.

The Raspberry Pi computer inside an ISS-Above has GPIO pins to control a relay but those are designed to work at 3.3v levels. I decided to build a special “HAT” that would convert the levels to 5V. I also added a Real Time Clock module to the design. At the time it wasn’t clear what type of network access the ISS-Above device would be given so I needed to have some way for my ISS-Above to keep accurate time.

The following photos show some of the prototype development of this control board.