Shuttle-Mir Stories

Walz and Apt upside down in hab

Dunbar on Microgravity

In spaceflight, the element of microgravity makes some things easier and others harder. Sometimes, people need to "free their thoughts" from gravity, in order to find a solution for a problem.

In her Oral History, astronaut Bonnie Dunbar tells about stowing equipment on the shuttle for STS-89, and how - in microgravity - things can be done differently.

Dunbar says, "We were getting ready to fly on {STS-] 89 and . . . they were having a problem with [some equipment], which was going to be transferred over [to Mir] during the flight. They couldn't get it in the locker properly because of a foam problem in the door. So I looked at it and I wasn't trying to be brilliant here - it just dawned on me. I said, 'Well, why don't you just turn it upside down. It will still fit in and the door will close.' And [the technician] looked at me and said, 'We can't do that. How will you read it?' I said, 'I'll turn upside down.'

"When I get up there, it really doesn't matter to me. You end up doing something and then finding out you're sideways, kitty-cornered, whatever. And since [this equipment] . . . was going to be launched . . . on its back, it didn't really matter what other orientation. . .

"They signed off on that and so we solved it . . . simply by turning it around. And that's just a Zero-G mind-set. We apply those principles to restraints, handholds, footholds, and whatever you need, as well." Links: Microgravity

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