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Ask the Crew: STS-106

Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1
Question #1Scott Altman's Reply

From: Laressa Tanner of Auckland, New Zealand, age 16
To:
Pilot Scott Altman

Question: How does a spacecraft change speed or direction?

Altman: Basically, the answer to the first part - direction - once we launch, our main engines and solid rocket boosters get us going to a speed of about five miles every second. So our plane, or direction of orbit, is pretty much fixed for the duration of the flight.

What happens when we change speed using our orbital engines is that we vary our altitude, so that we move up or down in orbit and change the corresponding orbital speed. That's what we use, changes in altitude, in order to phase and join up with other items, like the International Space Station that we rendezvoused with the other day.

Pilot Scott Altman
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Question #2Scott Altman's Reply

From: Dave Orton of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, age 45
To:
Pilot Scott Altman

Question: I know that you have a new MEDS system. How does this compare with the old system that you were used to in the past flights?

Altman: Dave, my first flight was with the old system. This is only the second flight of the MEDS system. It just adds a phenomenal capability to bring us up to date, to have a glass cockpit instead of the mechanical gauges that in some cases were starting to wear out and were difficult to repair. We've got a lot of versatility, the ability to move displays around that we didn't have in the past. In future software upgrades we're going to be able to adapt the displays to mission specific tasks in a way that you just can't do with hardware. So, it's a big improvement and we're thrilled to have it.

Pilot Scott Altman
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Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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