Return to Human Space Flight home page

STS-111: Home | The Crew | Cargo | Timeline | EVA
Crew Interviews
IMAGE: Paul Lockhart
Click on the image to hear Pilot Paul Lockhart's greeting (45 Kb wav).

Preflight Interview: Paul Lockhart

The STS-111 Crew Interview with Paul Lockhart, pilot.

Paul, let's start at the beginning. Why did you want to become an astronaut in the first place?

I think my dad had a heavy hand in that. He was an air traffic controller and was around airplanes a lot, so, as I grew up I had a wide assortment of aircraft models laying around the house and so forth and, I was always out at the air traffic control tower with my dad. So, if you take that influence and combine it with the early space launches that they had on television, the Mercury and the Gemini that I watched specifically with folks like Walter Cronkite, who narrated it and so forth, and made it so interesting you can see where I got an interest in the space program from there. And, tied that together with a lot of the science classes that they had in school at that time were oriented towards space, I think because of the fledgling space program, and I think that's where it started. And, it just kind of nurtured from there.

Were there other people who influenced you on your path towards becoming an astronaut?

Most of it was solo actually. It was something that I was interested in the most, and I spent most of the time, as a young boy, trying to figure out how could I get into the space program. I did have one gentleman, when I was in college when I sat down one day and I said, "All right, I want to really try and get into the space program," who started me on the right path towards flying in the cockpit. So you know, for a long time I was working towards the space program, but not really knowing how to get towards it. And so, yes, I did meet one, one gentleman who was head of the ROTC detachment at Texas Tech University and head of the, what they called the aerospace studies for Texas Tech University there who put me on the right path towards getting into the cockpit of aircraft that led to NASA.

Did you go into the military knowing that you wanted to become an astronaut? Was that your reason for going into the military?

Yes, that really was the reason. This gentleman that I spoke to, who was head of the ROTC detachment, he indicated to me, he says, "Well, if you want to fly in the shuttle, obviously you want to fly in the cockpit." And, of course, I give a big nod, yes. And, he said, "Well, there's only one path to do that, and that's through the military." And so, he quickly oriented me towards the Air Force. He never mentioned the Navy or the Marines or anything. So pretty soon I found myself at Reese Air Force base going through a flight physical and going through some other tests and so forth. And the next thing I knew, I had a pilot's lot to go to pilot training once I finished some further studies at the University of Texas. I went on and got my graduate work at the University of Texas and then went on into pilot training with the Air Force. So, yes, I did go into the military with the full intent of going to NASA. I always like to talk to young people though and people that are in the military. And, I like to tell them that, you know, I joined the military with the express intent of going to NASA, but when I got in the Air Force, I really had a, what I found was a deep desire to serve and, our country, in a sense; and the military awakened that. And, I found that my journey through the Air Force to get to NASA has been just as rewarding, and I'm just as proud of my career in the Air Force, as I have been in my career here at NASA. And so, it was a choice I made for a reason to get to NASA. But, it was a very good choice I made because the Air Force has been very good to me and I've really enjoyed serving with the men and women of the United States Air Force.

Great. So, we flash forward.

Great.

And, you get the phone call that tells you that you're going to be a member of STS-111. How did it feel to get that phone call?

Well it, there were ten Pilots in our class. And, eight have been assigned already. And, we had some flights coming up. So, I figured that pretty soon I would get my chance to go. Plus, I had been working on a project for cockpit upgrades here with NASA for our shuttle. And, we had reached a milestone. We were about to finish. And so, I kind of put two and two together. I kind of figured that, "Oh, it's coming up to my turn, plus I'm finishing a project that frees me. So, maybe I'm eligible for one of these next few flights." So, when the call came one day it was kind of a combination of, "Well, I'm ready, I was expecting hopefully to get a call," but I think what I was most surprised at was the combination of the people that they put me with. Ken Cockrell, Philippe Perrin, and Franklin Chang-Diaz - I think I was most pleased and most surprised at the crew that I was being assigned with and the fact that it was a rotation crew.

Let's talk about the crew a little bit. Ken Cockrell is taking his fifth trip on the shuttle.

Right.

It's his second trip to the space station. How do you feel about Ken leading you on this journey out into space to the International Space Station?

Ken, who we call Taco, as you know, is a consummate professional. And, he brings with him a lot of the military aspects that I knew from my previous flight commanders and squadron commanders and so forth. And so, when I turn to him for advice, it's a reassuring supervisor…trainee type of situation or commander…student type of situation. So, I feel comfortable turning to him and saying, "How does this work in the shuttle?" You know, "What are the procedures?" and so forth. And, he's very good at explaining those procedures and putting it in terms that I'm used to. In other words, how best to get the job done. "This is what you need to pay attention to." And, he brings with him a wealth of experience through all of his flights, as you realize. And, he does this having couched it in his experience as having been a test pilot and then having been a military pilot, and now having gone through NASA...so, when he, I guess, teaches or when he tells me what to pay attention to and so forth, I know that he's zeroing in on the really critical things. And so, I learn what is most important to pay attention to and what's not. And so, he's very good at that. And so, I really rely on him to know what to concentrate on for my simulators and things of that nature.

You have another crewmate who will be going into space as many times as any other human has launched from Earth...

Right.

...Franklin Chang-Diaz. Does he give you any advice...

Yes.

...in your training?

He does. And, this is where, when I got the call to fly, I didn't realize it, but I knew that I had a diverse crew that I'd be flying with. And, it's proven true. Because, as I said, Ken Cockrell brings to me the expertise on how to handle the procedures, and how to fly the vehicle, and what to look for. Franklin Chang-Diaz brings to me the experiences of how to enjoy and adapt to space. So, whenever I generally have a question as to, "Well, what's it going to sound like?" or, "What am I going to feel right here?" or, "What should I do to make sure that I'm best rested or am I best feeling fit for the next job?" I turn to Franklin and I say, "Hey, Franklin, what should I be doing here? What should I be paying attention to here?" And, he always has the answer. He always has, "Well, on STS-such-and-such, my second flight I found that," or, "On my second, third, and fourth flights," and every time he says that I go, "Yeah, there's somebody who's got a wealth of experience, and I'd better listen to what he says."

Another one of your crewmates has a similar background to you...

Right.

...but he's representing the French Space Agency.

That's correct.

Can you tell us about Philippe Perrin?

I sure can. Philippe is in my class of 1996. And he is a French Mirage-2000 fighter pilot and then test pilot. (Sound of door closing) And so, Philippe has as his base of training and understanding the same background that I do, which is aircraft and then military and test flying. And so, I know, when I deal with Philippe that I'm dealing with somebody that has very high standards in what he does. In other words, he wants to make sure he understands whatever he is assigned to do very well. And, that's proven true in his ability to master all of the segments that he's responsible for in his training. But, Philippe also, more than most folks I think, is able to combine this base of understanding built around the military training that he has with a curiosity of science and space travel and so forth that I and other people that come from the military lack. So, I see Philippe as more of a, almost kind of like a Renaissance man in a sense. You have as your nucleus or as your kernel, the seed, a very operationally very strong professional, very proficient, and then you build around that quite a few layers of somebody who can speak two or three languages, that can discuss with Franklin Chang-Diaz a lot of the physics of what's gong on in space. And so I feel like I'm always kind of looking up to these two guys, because they've got such a wide, diverse range of interest and capabilities.

Speaking of diverse interests and capabilities, this is a crew exchange mission.

Right.

You will be changing out the Expedition Four crew with the Expedition Five crew on the space station. How has it been to train with the Expedition Five crew?

It's been, the training has been, what shall I say? It's isolated. So, we won't see the crew because they're in Russia for a long time. Then they come back, and then we'll have two or three intense sessions with them, and then they're gone; and then we'll have two or three intense sessions with them again. And so, I don't feel I know the crew as well as I wish I did. Except for Peggy Whitson, who is in my class of 1996 again. But I have had the chance to, through these training sessions, get to know Valery Korzun and Sergei Treschev well. Well enough to know that these are very very strong individuals, very responsible and very grounded individuals. People that I feel very comfortable going to space with. And, when you strip away the differences in terms of the languages and the different backgrounds that we have, Russian versus American culture, I realize when I'm standing next to Valery or Sergei and we start talking about our families and so forth, I can tell they're just like we are in the sense that we all have the same hopes and, you know, the same things that are important to us. And, it's a comforting fact, you know, that I realize that we're going to do well together when we fly.

What are the goals of STS-111?

Well, the express goals, of course, are to exchange the crews out and then to put the mobile base system on top of the mobile transporter so that they can put the robotic arm and it has a place to have power and data transfer and they can move across the truss, the S0 truss, that STS-110 is bringing up as we speak. And then also now to repair the Canadian robotic arm, which has one of its roll joints, a wrist roll joint, that's failed. Those are the express, you know, written objectives and so forth. Underlying that, of course, are the objectives of I think taking a diverse group of folks you know…Franklin Chang-Diaz who's originally from Costa Rica, our two French, or correction, our two Russian astronauts and putting together a team that's able to go up and perform some pretty difficult maneuvers and pretty difficult combinations of skills in order to complete a mission. And, I think it's something that we're well-trained for and we'll do very well.

With the addition of these new tasks, the target date for launch has slipped a few times.

Sure.

Has it been difficult to watch that, or is that just another example of how NASA is responding to the needs of a permanent crew in space?

The slip, you mean, of a few weeks and so forth?

In order to add these new tasks.

To add the new tasks? I think that NASA looked at the skills that our crew had and looked at the situation with the failed robotic arm, and they probably said, "These are our different possible solutions to fixing the robotic arm," and to do so best was to not interrupt the flow of the shuttle launches, and to best maintain the schedule that they have for putting the station together. And, I think that they came across several solutions, and then one of them being our crew going up and repairing and replacing the failed joint. And, I think because of the skill that Philippe and Franklin Chang-Diaz have shown in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in preparing for their first two EVAs, that they felt confident that our team could put it together. So, yes, I think that NASA was responding to the needs of the mission and also the crew up on orbit, knowing that they didn't want to delay their return any more. Also knowing that they needed to get the failed joint replaced, and they figured one of the solutions was to have our crew, on short notice, go through the training to replace that failed joint. And, having then looked at the capabilities that Philippe and Franklin have shown in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in training for our mission, they opted to go our route, which I think is a big challenge but one that we can meet.

Why is this mission designated Utilization Flight-2?

Well, Utilization Flight-2 was one of the original designations from years ago. And so, it was meant as a flight to the station where we really wouldn't be any construction of the station but actually utilizing the station as it is for experimentation. We'd be bringing up some of our micro-science gravity racks and things of this nature. Of course, as things changed through the original construction of the station at the beginning and tasks needed to be added just because any time you have a large sort of engineering project, you had to be flexible and adapt to changes then our flight adapted the look of also a construction flight, which is the mobile base system and now, as you can see, the replacing and repairing of the failed station robotic arm joint.

What new capabilities will this mission add to the ISS? We talked about the replacement of the wrist roll joint...

Right.

... of the Canadian arm, and you mentioned the MBS. What will these do for the International Space Station?

Well, the mobile base system is critical because it's an interface between the station robotic arm and the mobile transporter. And, the mobile transporter is a long name for a little railcar that can slide up and down the main truss, or the S0 truss, that will be on the station. And, the mobile base system as an interface, means that the station robotic arm can receive electrical power and data, so computer commands, and also return information about itself, you know, parameters of, you know, of its condition and so forth back to the computers on the station so that we know the status of the arm. And so, we are able then to control the arm and monitor its health and so forth. And so, move it up and down this truss, and enable it to expand its capabilities, you know, quite a bit. No longer are we restricted to having the station robotic arm in one location. In other words, right now it's attached to the Lab. And, it's attached on the nadir side, which is towards the Earth on the portside as the station is moving on its orbit. And, it's fixed. And, it can be used, but it's, of course, limited just because it's limited in movement. Once we get it on the mobile base system, then you can slide it up and down the truss. And, now you can, you know, you've greatly enhanced its capabilities.

To be attached to the mobile base system and the way it's attached now is through a device called power data grapple fixtures. Can you tell us what those are?

Yes, those power data grapple fixtures are, in a sense, the electrical outlets on the mobile base system. And, they're also the computer terminals and hydraulic ports. So, what they are, are circular fixtures that are on the mobile base system. And, there's four of them. And, you can attach the station robotic arm to them, and through a series of connections draw electrical power and hydraulic and data. And so, they are, in a sense, they are the nodes on the mobile base system through where, through which the robotic arm is attached. They are the actual, like I said, the electrical plugs and the computer terminal outlets there.

So, they act kind of as a shoulder to the robotic arm.

That's a very good description. Yes, they're a shoulder to the arm. And, they're the nerve endings. And then, the flow of, you know, of, as I said electrical power and the hydraulics in a sense could be the flow of blood through the robotic arm in a sense. Yes, that's a good analogy.

During this mission, Chang-Diaz and Perrin will also stow several service module debris panels during their space walk. What will this accomplish?

Well, the service module debris panels are built and designed to provide long-term protection against micrometeorites. And, they're going to be installed at a later time, probably by a station crew (I suspect) in critical areas along the, probably the functional cargo block to provide extra protection. And this is for the safety of the crew over a long period of time. They had looked originally at our crew not only taking the shields out of the cargo bay and then taking them to the place where they would be deployed and provide the protection but they opted because of some of the other things that we have to do, which is according the mobile base system and activating the, some of the electrical connections on the mobile base system and so forth, they opted to just have us drop those off and then some crews will come out later. And, they're really nothing more than just metal plates that have to be folded in the proper position and then bolted down. And so, they will probably leave that to one of the station crews later.

What else will you be delivering and bringing back from the ISS? This is a crew exchange mission.

Right.

It's not just moving clothes and furniture, is it? It's a multitude of other things that, we said this is Utilization Flight-2. What else will you be taking up with you?

Well, we're taking up the MPLM which is basically a logistics module. And in this logistics module it's partitioned into a series of storage cubicles and so forth. Some of them are called racks, some of them are called platforms. And, they're set up specifically to maintain a certain weight and center of gravity so that when we carry them on the Orbiter, we maintain the vehicle within the proper constraints. And, we use this in order to take up all of the supplies and the science equipment that's going to be needed on the station over the next period of several months. So, on this we're taking up what they call an EXPRESS rack which is carrying scientific equipment. We're carrying up what they call an MSG, which is a micro-sciences gravity rack also. And, we're also carrying up supplies for the ISS crews that will be on board. We're carrying up some of our EVA (extravehicular activity) supplies that Philippe and Franklin will be needing during some of their space walks. So, it's in a sense, it's one of the main reasons that we're going up there besides not only swapping out the crew but to carry all these supplies up.

Let's talk about some of these supplies a little bit more in detail. You mentioned an EXPRESS rack. You'll be carrying up EXPRESS rack number three.

Correct.

What makes this type of rack unique?

Well, the rack in a sense...

Is it just to hold science experiments?

Well, basically, it allows a certain interface between the crews that are up there and also the science equipment that's in there. As I said, there's several types, one of which is the MSG that we're carrying up (micro-sciences glovebox, I believe), and then our EXPRESS rack three. They're all bolted down in different ways and so forth. And, most of them are carrying a series of experiments that allow them to be taken apart once they're up there, and then reinstalled and then we can bring back.

You mentioned the microgravity sciences glovebox. Why is this useful for research?

Well, the glovebox allows a hands-on type of environment. So one of the expressed intent purposes of the space station is to attain and maintain, for a certain amount of time, a micro-scie…a microgravity environment. And, this is done by having an isolated region within the station that's isolated from, of course, any effects of gravity to the best they can, but then, also, vibrations and noise and things of this nature. And, this micro-sciences gravity…glovebox will be put in that part of the station where they can achieve those parameters. But, at the same time, it's going to have the capability of allowing the crews that are there to interface with the experiments that they're working on. So, the glovebox is just that; it's got a capability of the crew to insert their hands into a series of gloves that allows that to manipulate and turn some of the objects that they're working with.

Before you get there, you have to launch.

Correct.

And, you have to rendezvous with the station.

Right.

Can you take us through the steps of that? What do you need to do to catch up with the International Space Station?

Well, we can go back to Mr. Johannes Kepler, who first, you know, figured out the orbital mechanics of bodies as they revolve around another. And you can find that had we [an] unlimited amount of fuel and things of this nature, we could launch and basically go straight to the station and rejoin. However that would not be the optimum way to do it for a couple of reasons. For propellant, the amount of propellant that we have; and then also crew fatigue. As you can imagine, going through a launch preparing for that and then actually going through the launch and then what we call post-insertion takes quite a bit of toll on the crew. And, at the end of that first day most everybody is, needs to rest and refresh themselves and a bit to get ready for the next day. So, what we do is we launch and get into an orbit that's co-aligned at least with the station that we're trying to rendezvous with. And, we're generally at a lower altitude. But then, we have to do a series of burns with the orbital maneuvering system. And, these burns are just thrusts from the orbital maneuvering system that will take us from a lower orbit into a higher orbit, and we'll basically play catch-up with the station. And, we'll do a series of these burns over a period of time until we're somewhere around 50 miles behind the station. And then, we start taking these burns; and they become smaller and smaller, and we're making corrections that take us from 50 miles to eight miles, down to, you know, say, 1600 feet aft of the station and just a little bit below it. And, from there, Ken Cockrell will then start to fly the Orbiter by hand and do the actual rendezvous. And, once you get the two bodies, meaning the space station and the Orbiter, close to one another, you still have orbital mechanical effects. But, you can start flying the vehicle real time; in other words you can make an input into the Orbiter, and if it's going the right direction then you can maintain it. Or, if it's not, you can put an input to the reaction control system (we call the RCS), which fires little thrusters on the vehicle and actually move the vehicle back a different direction. So, once again, it's a series of large…burns. The first one, of course, is liftoff. That's the first burn. And then, a series of burns after that. They get us closer. And, towards the same elevation as the station. And then, the burns get smaller until finally we start taking over manually and flying the vehicle by hand till we dock.

After you dock, after a while the hatches will [be] opened. What happens during those first few hours when you actually get to meet the Expedition Four crew and start moving things around?

Well, there'll be the obligatory handshaking, I think. And, of course, everybody's going to be very excited to see each other. On our side, I think it's going to be a, we've accomplished one of the main goals. We've docked, and we've done so safely. So, I think there's going to be a lot of relief on our part. And, I also think that we're going to be happy to see the crew over there, because it means that we've done our job. On the other side, I think the crew over there is going to be really happy to see us because they've been there for about six months, and we've done our job, and now it means they have a ride home. So, I think there's going to be some good back slaps back there, back and forth across, especially between the two Commanders, because they've obviously put a good team together on both sides that's accomplished the mission well up to this point. After that you now have a small vehicle attached to a big vehicle. Two different types of vehicles. And, we're going to be living with each other for about eight days or so. So, we have to set in and make sure that we do so in a safe manner. So, what will probably happen then is the Commander of the station and his crew will basically brief us on the station and some of the safety aspects of it. And, so we'll get that out of the way, in a sense; and so we kind of get oriented towards our new home here for about eight days. And then, it's right down to work. Right from then, we start preparing for the EVAs that start beginning the next day. And so, we start having to bring the EVA suits you know, the spacewalking suits, we've got to start bringing them from the shuttle over into the station and getting those prepped for the next day's space walk.

Is there a certain time that the Expedition [Five] crew officially becomes members of the International Space Station? Where they're officially on board?

Yes, there is. And, the Commanders, of course, will basically determine all of this. But they, from what I've seen, they basically say it occurs whenever they're able to transfer the molded seats that go in the Soyuz, which are the crew return escape vehicle that is up there. And it's attached to the station. Whenever those seats get transferred. And so, what I mean by that is: right now, there's a crew on station that we're bringing back, and their molded seats that only they can sit in or fit in are there to be used in the event of an emergency. Once we take those seats and bring them into the shuttle, and we take the ones that are in shuttle for our crew that we're leaving there and we transfer them over, then officially those crews have been transferred over.

You mentioned just a minute ago the EVA. You'll be directing the EVAs from inside the shuttle. What does this job entail?

Well, those who have a flying background they'll recognize it. It's a little bit like what we used to call for flying events and so forth. What we used to call the "air boss" in a sense. I don't do any of the EVA work. However, I help direct and coordinate and execute, and I do that by having the checklist with me inside the space shuttle, inside the shuttle and I'm in communica…communication, direct communication, with both Philippe and Franklin as they do their space walks. And then, also with Mission Control on the ground. And, I have all the checklists. And so, my job is to maintain an overall understanding of where we stand in terms of executing the procedures, watching the timeline, watching the time itself, maintaining a presence of where Franklin and Philippe are, and helping them do their tasks. Once you go out on a space walk, you put this behemoth of a space suit on. Even though it's, you know, it's basically weightless, it's still very difficult because it's pressurized to 4.3 psi, it's difficult to maneuver around in. And, you put these huge gloves on. And then, you put this helmet on. You find that your capability to do tasks is really difficult. And so, what they have to do to even do a very small thing, such as turn a bolt or take two pieces of some structure and put them together or pull them apart, requires their entire concentration. Because they have to find a way to support themselves so that as they move their body this direction the effects of being in orbit means that they won't just rotate out of the picture. They have to find a way to support themselves, focus on the task, and do this simple thing. And, it requires almost their entire concentration. Because of that, they kind of like zero in on the task. And so, they're not always aware of their body position or how far or how long into the space walk they've been. And so, it's my responsibility to keep track of that and then to help remind them, "Okay, once you've completed this, your next task is to do this and you need to be using this tool." And so, I [am] just basically…helping them. And so, any time they need support on in it, I'm giving them, you know, I'm cheerleading them on, providing support, backing them up. And then, if anything off-nominal, meaning some, something happening with the suit or something, I'm there with the checklist and help provide support there.

Let's talk about the first space walk. What are the milestones of that space walk?

Well, the milestones are what you talked about earlier, that power data grapple fixture. We have one that we have to take out of the cargo bay of the Orbiter and we have to put up on one of the trusses of the space station. Then, we have those debris panel shields that you talked about earlier and that we discussed were going to be used for micrometeorite protection. Those have to be pulled out of the cargo bay of the space shuttle, and those have to be attached back on the space station at a certain location for further installation by, probably by one of the station crews. And then there is the crew coming back. And, they have to remove some blankets from some of the avionics on the mobile base system. And, what I mean by blankets is that they're thermal protection covers. You know, you've taken these set of avionics, which are on the Earth and they're maintained probably somewhere around 72 to 80 degrees all the time, and now we've taken them into space, we've jolted them, we've put them into space, and now they're going through the varying temperatures of space. You know, they'll have the Sun on them, get warm, go, Sun goes down, temperatures drop, so they have some extremes that they have to deal with. And so, we maintain blankets on those to provide a little micrometeorite protection and then also to keep the temperature stabilized. And, until we get power on those, where we can, what we call "keep-alive" power that keeps the internal electronics warm, they have blankets on them. Well, after we've dropped the debris panels off in the back they're going to use the robotic arm to, the station robotic arm, to apply power to those avionics. And then, we have to pull the blankets off. And then, that will terminate that first space walk.

So, what happens on the second space walk?

The second space walk is really critical. In the interim between the two space walks, they've taken the mobile base system, and they've actually taken it out of the cargo bay, and they've put it up on the mobile transporter, which is on the S0 truss, which STS-110 right now is attaching. And, we actually, since it's attached, we actually have to bolt it down. So, our crew is going up there, and they're going to attach the bolts as well as start to attach the umbilicals that give the mobile base system electrical power and data. So, as you can see, you have data and power that has to flow from the space station, through the S0 truss, through the mobile transporter, to the mobile base system. And, we go and make those connections to the mobile base system and the mobile transporter. And, all that's necessary because eventually we, as we talked about earlier, when you put the robotic arm on there, that's how we'll get power and data through the power data grapple fixtures, which are on the mobile base system itself.

The Canadian arm is a part of the focus of the third space walk.

Yes.

Let's talk about that. What is the problem with [the] arm that you're going to fix? And, what's NASA's plan to solve it?

Well, the robotic arm is well-named. It's an arm. So, it's got joints. It's got a shoulder joint. It's got an elbow. It's got a wrist. And, just like ours, arm, we can maneuver it in multi-dimensions. You know, meaning we can twist an arm and pull and push and point it and put it in basically any position we want, within limits. The robotic arm is much the same way. So, each joint has a, it can be further broken down into three other joints; a roll, pitch, and yaw. So, on the elbow, roll, pitch, and yaw, and on the wrist, roll, pitch, and yaw. And, on the wrist joint one of these other joints have failed. So, the roll joint on the wrist has failed. So, its capability to maneuver the end-effector on the station arm has been you know, degraded. I mean, they can move it in yaw, and they can move it in pitch; but they can't do it in roll, and that's pretty significant. That's a little bit like, "Well, I can't roll, I can't twist my hand left and right." And so, they, that severely limited the capability of the arm to perform its job up there. What the actual problem is, as to why it doesn't work, I think is internal. And, I don't think they know totally for sure. And, they're not going to know until we bring the piece back. So, what we're doing is taking up a new roll joint, and we're going to be replacing the failed one up there with this new one. So, what it means is: we have to take the end-effector, which is the actual end of the robotic arm (and it's kind of like the fingers of your hand), we're going to take that segment off first, temporary stow it, then we have to go back in and (I say "we," it's Philippe and Franklin, they're doing the actual hard work) then we, they go back in and they actually have to remove the roll joint itself. So, they have to dis-attach it and then take that down into the cargo bay of the Orbiter and stow this, and this is where working in space is a lot different from working on your car when you, you know, when you take pieces of you know, your car apart. Where here we take an oil filter off and we'll just set it down and it stays there, they actually have to take the piece down there and they have to attach it, otherwise, you know, it'd start to possibly float away. And then, we have to bring the new one up. And then, they have to attach it and then go back and get that end-effector (i.e., the fingers of the arm) and then reattach that. And, the critical thing is that when you, to do all this work, we have to power down the arm. And so, now you've taken away the capability to keep electronics and so forth warm. And so, there's kind of like a time constraint on this. We've got to be able to work efficiently and professionally.

Is there a certain configuration that the arm has to be in to be able to perform this operation?

I don't think it has to be in any like certain position or whatnot. It's attached now like I described earlier on the portside of the Lab. And, they're going to maneuver it so that Philippe and Franklin can get to it easy… and from there, when they take the LEE off, that end-effector, and roll the roll joint, they can go straight down and temporary stow it. So that will probably be Valery or Peggy will maneuver the arm to be in the best position to do the work in.

The day after that is the day that you all say your final goodbyes and leave.

That's correct.

Tell us about the undocking and the plans for flying around the station...

Yes.

...and getting a look at what you've just delivered.

And, that's my job. Yes, so, I get to be in the spotlight at that point. All my, all the training I've had in rendezvous now comes to a point. It's basically a reversal of the process of what we did when we docked. You know, when we docked, we came together and then we had to go through a series of steps in order to attach the two pieces together. And then, we had to go through a series of steps to open up all the hatches. Well, we've got to reverse that. We've got to start closing hatches, equalize pressures, and so forth. And then we have to actually go through the process that will separate the...the Orbiter…the shuttle from the station. And, we have a series of springs; once you come in, end docking and some of the mechanisms start to release springs and capture fixtures and so forth like this. Once they become released, there's a series of springs that actually push the Orbiter away from the station. And then, I will, with the guidance of Taco, Ken Cockrell, watching me start to fly the vehicle, start to fly the Orbiter away from the station. And, I liken a little bit of this and the rendezvous a little bit to air-to-air refueling in aircraft which some people may realize we have two vehicles that are moving at a high rate of speed, but their relative velocity is really low. So, the two vehicles themselves are moving at a high rate of speed, but they're moving real slow to each other. But, it's never stable. In other words, it's not like this one vehicle is parked and this vehicle is parked. It's always a constant maneuvering between the two. And so, when you dock and when you undock, it's the same thing. You get a separation; but immediately, you have orbital mechanics effects start to take effect. And, if I wasn't to do any other inputs, once we started to separate then my, the Orbiter itself, as I started backing away, would start to climb. So, I have to keep making inputs in order to maintain the axis that I want to separate on. And, I'll fly out to about 450 feet, which takes about 45 minutes or so, because we move away at a very slow rate of about 0.15 feet per second. And, that's just to maintain safety. But, it's also because we're concerned about impingement of my, of the shuttle reaction control system, the thrusters; we don't want to plume or have any of the gases from that hit part of the critical parts of the station. So, we'll move out to 450 feet at a slow rate; and then at 450 feet I'll begin to fly the Orbiter around the station. And, maintaining this 400 feet, between 400 and 500 feet, and I'll actually fly a 360 circle, or as much as fuel as there is allowed. And, the whole idea there is to, as we separate, start taking pictures of the Orbiter, or of the Orbiter itself and of the station. And then, specifically of the station as we separate. And then, as I fly around, we'll be taking lots of pictures. And, it's not just because we're taking pictures because it's something neat to look at, (which it is!) but because we have to document the condition that the station is in. They'll use it, our pictures, and look at those with previous pictures and the ones subsequent, and that way they can keep track of any damage to shields from micrometeorites and things of this nature.

Can you tell me what your thoughts about the significance of the now more rapid expansion of this complex, and how the components from the various countries around the world are coming together to be one International Space Station?

Well, we started out with a Russian and an American segment. And, we've been adding an American Lab and you know, it's a shuttle going up with an international crew. But, you're right when you say that with this S0 truss going on that it's going to rapidly expand from here. And, that's true because, pretty soon, we will be putting on the Japanese experimentation module. We're bringing up the Italian MPLM (the logistics module) in our vehicle. And, with the addition of the S0 truss that -110 brought up, the station now has a very strong backbone. This is a very strong truss from which they can start attaching a lot of things, solar arrays and things of this nature. And so, the station itself basically has reached a point where it is capable of growing rapidly and holding all the other nodes and components that we've envisioned. And, a lot of those do come from the international segment. And so, what I think you will see is if the station is allowed to grow as it was originally envisioned, all things considered, that you will start to see a greater involvement of some of [the] other foreign partners in the space program. As they actually see their components get into space, and as they start to see more of their citizens flying in space and performing work that was probably originated and conceived in their countries, then I think you're going to start to see more countries showing a more express interest in the space program. And, that's only good for us. And, I think it's only good for all of us combined because you know, the actual, you know, pluses that we'll get from the space program itself will then be disseminated amongst of all the people that helped do the work on it. And you know, that's only going to be of benefit to everyone.

What do you expect to be your favorite part of this mission?

Well, I think…my favorite…feeling is going to be after touchdown, and I've deployed the drag chute, and I've jettisoned it, and then Taco's brought the vehicle to a stop, and I can say, "We accomplished what we wanted to do." It'll be a feeling of, you know, "Hey, we came together as a team. We had a pretty complicated mission. And then, all of a sudden we had this third EVA that was given to us, and now it grew even more complicated. And, we were able to accomplish that, and do so well." Then, I think that'll be the time when I can sit back and say, "You know, I really have enjoyed this flight." And, I'll probably look back on it at that point and say, "You know, the points that I really did enjoy at that time, when I was up there, were the rendezvous and probably the fly-around that I get to do." And, then also the EVAs. When I do the IV support, that's going to be pretty fulfilling because you know, I feel like I've had a big part in that, in terms of some of the work that Philippe and Franklin have done. And, I feel like I've been with them the entire time, cheering them on and helping them prepare for their work. And so, I feel like when they're successful, you know, I'll have been partly successful, too. And, wrapped around this, though, is the actual hopefully little bit of time that we'll have to put to use some of the work or some of the training that we've had for Earth observation. You know, we've had some classes and they've pointed out some stuff. And, when you stop and you go to those classes it's really a, not a jolt but it's a "Hey, don't forget that there's an Earth down there, and you can kind of look at it and get some really good understanding of what's happening on the Earth from that perspective." And, as we go through training for rendezvous, you forget about that so much. You're just involved in procedures. "Got to get this done. Got to make sure this is right. Don't forget this switch. Put this in. Watch this." And, so forth. And then, you go to the Earth observation class, and they throw these pictures up there, and they say, "Hey, you know, we're really interested in this. Look for this." And so, I'm hoping some time through there that we have a few minutes where I can get a chance to do that and contribute at least somehow, maybe one picture that somebody will use somewhere. We'll see.


Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/24/2002
Web Accessibility and Policy Notices