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Crew Interviews
IMAGE: Pam Melroy
Click on the image to hear Pilot Pam Melroy's greeting (379 Kb wav).

Preflight Interview: Pam Melroy

The STS-112 Crew Interview with Pam Melroy, pilot.

Q: First of all, if you could tell me about where you grew up. Where's home for you?

Well, I had a little bit of an unusual [childhood] in that my father was in the military. Even after he got out of the military when I was in grade school, we sort of kept up the same habit of moving around. So, I actually have never lived in one place longer than four or five years, except for here in Houston. This is the longest I've ever lived anywhere. I've been here seven years. So, we moved all over. We lived in Hawaii, California, Chicago, Florida but now my parents live in upstate New York in, near Rochester, New York. And, that's what I consider to be my hometown.

Now when did you first want to become an astronaut? What kind of sparked that in you, that dream?

I was very inspired by the Apollo Program when I was a child. And, I think I was a very serious kid. It's kind of hard to imagine now, I was really shy and very studious. And, I took life pretty seriously. And, I thought I needed to decide what I wanted to be. And, the Apollo Program really inspired me as something worth doing, something that helped everyone in the world, and that was exciting, difficult and very wonderful to do. And so, that inspired me to become an astronaut.

Now, at what point, there's a point in somewhere in there in your life where you said, "Wow, I actually could do it!" I mean, it came from a dream, it became like a goal. What did that for you?

I was about 11 years old when I firmly made up my mind. I dropped the ballerina, the author and all the other ideas and I said, "I'm going to be an astronaut." And, it was about a year after the first Moon landing. And, I think it had been sort of percolating inside me. And, I announced to the entire world, when I was about 11, that I was going to be an astronaut when I grew up. And, pretty much for the rest of my life, it was the second thing that people learned about me after my name. "Hello. I'm Pam Melroy. I'm going to be an astronaut." And I just never really wavered from that. I had a lot of times when I rethought it. Challenges that came my way, professionally, that made me wonder if I was going to achieve my goal. Things that seemed really hard to do that I wasn't sure that I could do. And so, I would think again. I'd look in my heart and say, "Is this what I really want to do?" And, I kept coming back and saying, "Yes, this is what I really want to do with my life."

There seems to be quite a few different paths that people take to get here. What path did you take? How did you reach this point?

Well, when I made this decision when I was 11 years old, at that time the only astronauts that I knew about were military jet test pilots. So, I decided that I was going to be a military jet test pilot. At the time women were not even allowed to be pilots in the military. I was born at a very fortunate time. All the doors opened just a few years ahead of me for everything that I wanted to do. While I was in high school, they opened jet flying to women in the military. So I went through ROTC in college and then I got a masters degree, and I went on to pilot training and flew jets. I went to Test Pilot School, and pretty much did it exactly the way I had planned when I was 11 years old. Since then, of course, I've realized there are so many other ways to go, and there are other things that I could've done. But, I'm actually very happy with the way that I picked.

Now, who were or are your major role models that had some influence in your life growing up?
The major role models in my life are definitely my parents. Without a doubt. They're both extremely bright. My father is more intellectual. My mother is very social. I think together they really emphasized both parts, which are so important in an astronaut. You know, if you're going to live with people shut up in a, something the size of a minivan for a couple of weeks or on the station for, you know, several months, I think liking people and enjoying their company is really important. So, that was a, our family is very close. That was a very important thing that they showed me. Interestingly, I've also come to realize, as time has gone on, there were a couple of professors and mentors that I had at a fairly critical age when I was in college who treated me like an adult and encouraged me intellectually to feel that I could try things and do things, and they really pushed along the academic side and made me feel confident in that area. Wendy Bower from Wellesley College, Dick French and Dr. Bob Stacknick from, he was at the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at the time, and we're all still really good friends.

Now part of your training for this mission was with the Expedition Five crew before they went up. And you guys will be the first visitors, their first visitors. Are you going to be taking them anything? Or what's the reunion going to be like both for you and for them?

I am so excited about going to the station with people on board. The last time that I flew was the last flight before there was a crew on board station. So, we arrived to basically an empty house. It's going to be completely different now. And, I realize that I'll have to be careful. You know, this is now their house and we, you need to use the same level of tact that you do when you're a houseguest in somebody else's house. However, we're going to visit good friends. We've done training with them. We socialized with the Expedition Five crew before they left. They are all lovely people. Peggy is a special friend obviously. There aren't that many women in the Office, and we all know each other pretty well. So that is going to be extremely exciting for me to have this whole new experience of coming to visit with them on board. We also [have] a little bit of a sense of what they're going through and how exciting it is for them to have visitors. So, we will be bringing some special things up. It'll be fun. We're really excited about it.

I'm sure they'll be happy to see you guys around. Now this flight, STS-112, is the fifteenth flight to the station. It's assembly mission 9A. Give me a brief overview of your mission, of STS-112. What are the main goals for the mission overall?

We are the fifteenth flight to the station which sounds like a lot but obviously it's going to take a long time to build this giant laboratory in space. So, we have these different phases where certain capabilities are reached. Right now what we're pushing for, the next phase, will allow us to have sufficient power to power up many, many kinds of science experiments, which after all is the real reason that we're building the space station. So, we're expanding from just one laboratory, hopefully, to many from all the different countries around the world. Well, in order to have enough power to run a laboratory of that size, you have to have giant solar arrays. If you're creating electricity, you're also creating heat. So, whenever you add a solar array, you need to add a radiator as well so that it can radiate that excess heat to space. So, we're in the phase now where we're building an enormous truss in order to try to hold these solar arrays steady, and it will also have the radiators on it. We're starting to expand outwards on the station. It's kind of exciting to, to kind of, rather than making it longer, we're actually making it wider! So, that's kind of neat. So, we'll be adding a truss that has the radiators. That part will be added first. And, on the starboard side of the station; on the right side. Then there will be another truss added on the left side that will also have a set of radiators after us. And then, finally, the other truss segments that will have the solar arrays resting on them. We want to get the radiator part up first, and then the solar arrays so that we can activate them. So, we're part of basically a tied series of five flights: the central truss segment, starboard 1, port 1, starboard 3, port 3. All these segments tied together so that we can provide this power for the station.

Your mission specifically is the S1 truss installation as well as a few other things, but can you give me some details about the S1 truss? If you can, give me some things that are specific to the S1 that may make it different from the other ones. And, maybe some similarities as well.

Well, this starboard truss, S1 truss, is every, every piece is actually unique on the station. It's a lot like the P1 truss that'll be going on the portside. But, there are some significant differences. In fact, we've seen mix-ups in the diagrams, and it's almost immediately you can tell that it's the wrong truss if it's P1 when we're looking for our own thing. So, we happen to think it's extremely unique. Obviously, the most important purpose of the S1 truss is to provide the, structurally, [the] element that the solar arrays will be resting on. But, the other part of it that's just as important is having these radiators. So, it has three radiators on it that are all folded up, nice and tight, and they will be deployed when the time comes. On our flight, we're actually going to deploy just the center of the three, just to make sure that everything is working okay. We're going to get a little bit of a jump on things to do that. So, we're excited about seeing that radiator unfurl out into space. I think that'll be really neat and exciting. It's a bunch of folding panels. It's almost like folding a paper doll out. It's going to look really neat. So, that, those are probably the two most important parts of it. So, you can imagine structurally, it's got a lot of cross members and it looks very tough and sturdy. It has thermal blankets all over it, so you can't quite see that. We've been crawling around on the inside of the truss, so we know what it looks like inside and out plus this [radiator]. We use ammonia for our cooling system. And so, that's a very critical part of this radiator assembly is to have the ammonia, the ammonia is what actually transfers the heat. So, we have an ammonia tank, a nitrogen tank, which provides the pressure for the ammonia, it's, you know, a little bit of gas to push it down and help it circulate and we have many, many of these ammonia lines all over. Well, now that we've said that, how do you control all of this? Well, you have to have power, and you have to have some way of communicating, what we call data and commanding, really. So, we have cables that run all throughout to all the different systems that send both power for the system and also commanding capability so that from the ground or the station crew can actually command those systems on and off as needed. So, you can imagine: we have, you know, a couple of computers up there to help us run all these systems. But those are the main elements of the truss itself. One of the neat things about the truss, too, is that it has a bunch of these places where you can plug things in on the outside. And, this turns out to be really important for our EVA crew. We want to have lighting out there. And, we want to have cameras so that we can see what they're doing so that we can see how the truss is doing before we send an EVA crew out, or if there's any problem with the truss. So, we're actually attaching two camera groups, one to the truss, one is going to be on, actually on the Lab element of the station, but it'll be sort of looking at the truss, which is kind of neat. We have some lights that potentially we're going to add, if we have time. That's a get-ahead task. And then very important, an S-band antenna. And, that antenna is used for communications. And so, it will be adding additional redundancy to station communications, which of course, as everybody knows, is really important. So, we've got these extra little things that we're plugging in their holes, which is kind of neat.

One thing in, well, one thing I wanted you to talk about also is the CETA, the cart. Is that part of the truss as well?

Yes. The, another part of the truss is actually not really intended to be for the station systems. It's not required to keep the station operating. What it's required for is for the operators and maintainers to keep the station running should anything go wrong. So, we know that there are going to be times when things break down. They do, just like they do in your house. A light bulb goes out. The, you know, my air conditioning went out a month ago. It does happen. So, you have to go out and you have to replace parts. And to do that, you have to do spacewalks. Well, in spacewalks your visibility is very limited, the gloves are pressurized, it's almost like doing a workout. It's like lifting weights every time you get in to one of these suits. So, the physical dexterity that you can have is actually pretty low. So, the designers of the station took this into consideration, and what's neat is there's this little railroad cart that runs along the bottom of the truss. And, it goes all the way out, in both directions. It's got stops so that you can contain it wherever you need it to be. You can also park it. There's a little parking brake that you set. [It] kind of makes me think of one of those little railroad carts that you kind of see them in TV and cartoons. But in fact what the crew will do is they pull themselves along hand-over-hand with their feet stuck in the cart, and that's how they move it from place to place. So, this cart will be a part of the, we're taking up one of these carts on the S1 truss, and we'll be basically getting it ready. It's, of course, cinched down, bolted down very tightly for launch. You don't want this thing wiggling around or moving. So, the EVA crew will go outside. They will take all these bolts out. They will set the parking brake. They're going to practice moving it back and forth. It's the first time we've used it. We're very excited about it! There's places to stick tools in it. There's places to tether tools to it all over the place. All kinds of handholds. And, for our EVAs, it turns out that we're kind of using it as a home plate. It's home base. If you want to leave a tool somewhere and know exactly where it is, if you need to come back and get it that's where we're leaving it. So, it's where we start and finish almost all of our EVAs. You come straight out of the hatch, you go to the CETA cart, you get all your stuff set up just the way you want it, and then you go off and do your business and come back periodically to swap tools.

How, and this can be kind of a brief question, but how will the S1 truss install onto the S0? The most visible one is the claw. But what are the other connectors that help...

Yeah, I'll give you a brief rundown. When we go to attach the S1 to the S0 truss Peggy Whitson will be operating the arm with Sandy as her backup. They will take the two pieces and bring them together. The SSAS system has a claw on the S0 side, the current station side, that reaches out and grabs a pole to bring the S1 truss in tightly. However, that's not, it's still got a little bit of a wobble in it. So, there are four bolts on the corners of the truss that will then be run to actually cinch these things now and tight. And in fact, we have an exact same claw on the other end of S1 so that when S3 comes, we can do the same thing.

Okay. Now, are those bolts automatic like they run them and then they just...

They're like the CBM...

...automatically go...

I don't know how familiar you are with that system. But, like the Common Berthing Mechanism, which is used for attaching MPLMs and many of the other elements of the station, we used that on my last flight, these bolts are commanded through a laptop computer, through the PCS we call it and we send commands out. And, there's a series of stages of bolting, and, yes, they will, they do have a little motor drive that runs automatically. Should one of the bolts have a problem with it, we can go with three of the four bolts. If more than one bolt has a problem on it, that's when our trusty EVA crew goes out and they use their giant cordless drill and run the bolts manually.

Okay. Now this is a thing where space versus on Earth. How, with the S1 truss installed, obviously the P1 is not up there yet (it doesn't come up until -113, I believe STS-113), tell us, well, let me just ask the question this way. Does it affect the load on the station, you know, here on Earth we would think, you know, you have this huge thing off to one side. It's going to...


...tilt us. how does it, without the P1 up there yet, how is it going to, or does it affect it? Since you're in microgravity.

What's interesting is that our crew actually looked at, when we first got all the details of the mission, we thought, "Gee, there, you know, there's already the airlock on the starboard side. Now, we're adding this other thing. Why didn't they add the P1 first to kind of balance?" But in fact, things don't work quite that way in space. It's not like the thing is going to be heavy and tilt. Obviously there's no, there's microgravity out there. It's in free fall, so there is no gravity. There are some structural issues with flexing as you move, fire thrusters in the station. But, the beauty of the station is we have these control moment gyros that help us to maintain attitude without firing thrusters. And so, it's all absorbed in these gyros. And so, really, it's very stable structurally. So, we don't expect, you know, unless you impinge on it with a thruster from the shuttle, which we try very hard not to do, then it should be extremely stable and not have any of those effects at all.

Well, tell me about the arm and what he'll be doing and you as a backup might be doing.

This is a major transition in the assembly sequence of the station. At the beginning, the work area was all very close to the shuttle. It was a pretty small station. We were attached to it. We used, could use the shuttle robotic arm, which, by the way, we have a lot of experience on and feel very comfortable using. We could do all of our assembly tasks very close to the shuttle. Well, we're moving into a situation now, and the S1 truss is a classic example of it, it's way too far out there! It's on the other side of the shuttle from the robotic arm. There's just no way you can get it over there. So, we've transitioned to using the station arm for the assembly task. Reaching into the payload bay, pulling the S1 truss out, and putting it into position. Where the shuttle arm helps us, and we actually discussed early on in the flow, "Do we really need to fly the shuttle arm? I mean, the thing is heavy. We could add more other things inside the shuttle without it." But, it turns out that the most valuable thing about the shuttle arm right now is that it's got cameras. Two very strategically placed cameras, as a matter of fact. So, one on the elbow, and one on the wrist, which looks straight out. So, the most critical task that we're performing with the shuttle arm is to get into position to help Peggy and Sandy berth the S1 truss. So, if you can imagine the shuttle arm out here, and the S1 truss is going to be attached here about where my ear is, we're going to take the shuttle arm and take the wrist camera and look right at that interface. If you think about it, there's nowhere else you could get that view. There's no cameras out there. One of the cameras in the payload bay does pretty well, but it can't zoom in close enough. So, if we twist the shuttle arm around close enough, you can actually watch this. We also have several other positions that we're using the shuttle arm in to help in some of the unberthing tasks and the moving around. But, the only one that is, I mean, really, really critical is having this view here. We also plan to use the shuttle arm for a little bit of viewing some of the EVA tasks, places where we just can't get cameras just now. So...

And, you mentioned that we've transitioned into using the station arm for a lot of the or actually most of the assembly now. This will be the first mission where it's on the MBS, on the transport system. What's the significance of that? And how will that added mobility assist and make a difference?

It is significant, it's very significant that this is the first flight where we're using the station arm on the MBS. We are branching out, basically, into flexibility. And, we have to. It's a very challenging, very complicated task to keep adding these different elements in all of these different locations. The mobile system will allow us to move the arm to the most convenient place to perform a task. So, this is giant! I mean it's a little bit like what kind of a social life you can have with a car or without? So, you know, you don't have a car, you pretty much have to have parties at your house. But, if it's, if you want to go and do anything, you need to be able to get in the car and go where the fun is. And so, in this case, that's what the arm is going to do. The station arm will be able to go where the action is, using this mobile transporter. So, we're very proud to be the first ones to use it in that position. And, it's very important for the task because it's optimized to get the S1 in position.

Okay. Now, let's see. To get a little more specific, how will this installation, because in -110, they installed the S0. How will the S1 be different from that specific installation?

The S1 installation will be different from the S0 installation primarily because of the location of the installation. The S0 installation was kind of on the, very close to on top of the cockpit of the shuttle. So, that meant that a lot of the camera viewing things that we needed were set up in the forward cockpit, looking out the Pilot and Commander's window straight up. So, that's a little bit different, I mean, to have that kind of view for it. For us, we're going on to the starboard side. So, it turns out that the fabulous view of the EVAs and the installation, it turns out to be all from the Pilot side window. The problem is the angle is not quite as good. When you can look straight up and watch the S0 coming down, you have that visibility. When it's off to the side, actually in this case, into the side coming in, you have limited ability to actually see the interface, which is why we're using the shuttle robotic arm to get into that good position for viewing that installation. So, the significant difference is location.

Okay. In October 2000, you installed the Z1. How is this, and used the shuttle arm for that. How is this installation going to be different from that one? And then, how did that help you prepare for this one? Or, did it make a difference?

I don't know how it happened that I became a truss hauler! But, it seems like that's all I've done in my career at NASA installing the Z1 truss. Koichi Wakata, our Japanese crewmember on STS-92, installed the Z1 truss using the shuttle robotic arm. As I described previously, the work area was in a very good location to use the shuttle robotic arm. There was no station arm actually at the time. So I think that was the significant difference between that installation and the one that's coming. I find it interesting that the Z1 truss, one of the most important parts about that is that it was a significant structural element and it was also there to provide a resting place for the early solar arrays. And now, once again I'm installing the S1 truss, which is there as a structural element for the solar arrays. So, I think it's a very natural change from one phase of the building to the next. It's kind of neat for me because there are some similarities. There are obviously significant differences. The attachment system is different than it was for the Z1 truss; I was the attachment system operator last time. I think that really helped me understanding, this is a little bit more simple of a system, I believe. So, it helped me understand how the S1 truss is going to be attached with fairly little study and preparation. Just because I was very familiar with that system. I think the other things, when you that, that really very, tie in very closely is that during the spacewalks, we will be attaching these fluid connectors that are for ammonia, which is for cooling, power, and data. And there's a time limit on all of this stuff to get the heaters activated, to get the commands out there, and that is very similar to the Z1 truss. And, that was, made our installation day pretty exciting when you have time limits. When you have clocks. We had three or four clocks going with, "Okay, we've got to get this done in 20 minutes. We've got to get this one done in 2 hours." And so forth. And, we have many of the same issues for the S1 truss. So, I think that there's a real close relationship between the two missions.

Okay. And, are you kind of giving a little bit of advice, here and there, with some of the crewmembers with that specifically?

This is a different flight for me from last time in the sense that last time, I was the only rookie with six very experienced astronauts. They took really good care of me. They had a better grasp, I think, overall of what was going to happening operationally on board. But, they prepared me extremely well. Now, on this flight, we have three experienced astronauts and three rookies. And, I have suddenly been elevated to the position of being one of the old heads, you know, after just one flight! So it means that I've been more involved in the overall planning. And, I think the experience that S, STS-92, which was a very complex mission, we actually attached two elements to the station on that flight, so we had all these issues twice, I think that really helped me prepare for this and see where the potential pitfalls were. So I think that that's, I've been a little bit more involved in the planning and the concept of operations this time. And, that experience has really helped.

Now, let's go to the EVAs. Give me a brief overview or kind of like the goal of the EVAs overall.

The overall goal of the spacewalks on our flight is really to get the S1 functional. That's the most critical element of it. Of course, you can attach this thing mechanically and physically have it attached. But, you have to activate the systems on it. And, the only way to do that is to make the physical connections on the outside that have to be made. And, those include ammonia lines, the ammonia is used for cooling. Of course the radiator is one of the most important parts of the S1 truss, and the ammonia system is tied to that. We also have power and data to allow us to run those systems. So, we need to basically hook it up to the station brain. Those are the most critical elements of it. In addition, we're trying to add some functionality. We're going to be adding some camera groups and an S-band antenna. Those will all enhance the functionality of the station. Not necessarily just the S1 truss, but the whole station, providing capability. And, we'll also be doing some what we call get-ahead tasks. This is a monstrous effort to do this assembly. And as a result, there's always a few little shopping items that have to be done. After the radiator gets deployed, it would be nice to pull the plug on it and make sure that nothing bad happens to it after that. So, a few little things like that. And some other bigger things. If we know the next crew after us would really like it if for their most important task they had a foot restraint, because the EVA guys put their feet in and hold themselves steady so they can use both hands while they're making connectors, if they need a foot restraint or a tool stanchion to hang their tools on in a certain location for their first EVA, it would be really nice if it was already put into place there. We'll try to do some of those get-ahead tasks to help the next guys out.

Okay. Now, it may be the same and you could even use the same explanations, but specifically for each day...

Yeah. for...

You bet.

...the first spacewalk, what will they do?

The first spacewalk is by far the most critical. And, that's because we have a bunch of deadlines. Space is very cold and very hot. And so, everything that you have that's hanging out there on an element needs to have a heater on it to control its temperature. So, a lot of these systems, there are some real questions about whether they'll be functional if we don't get heat on them pretty quickly. In addition we want to be able to command certain systems so that they can start to operate right away. As a result, on the first spacewalk it's very, it's tied very closely. We'll be actually attaching the S1 truss and doing the first spacewalk on the same time, which will make for a very long day. But, we've got it all sequenced out so that, you know, just around the time that they're sure the S1 truss is attached I'm the IV (the internal EVA coordinator), I will be shoving the spacewalkers into the airlock and, you know, closing the door and saying, "Okay, go!" And their idea is they, you know, pretty vault it as quickly as they can. The two most important things: There's a zenith tray and a nadir tray, just called by their physical location, on the truss that have connectors. These power and data connectors. those are the most critical. The ammonia ones, we're not using the radiator yet, so we can wait a little bit on those. But, the power and data have to be done right away. The problem is you don't, it's sort of like plugging into something into a hot socket. You don't want to do that. So, the station actually has to power down everything that goes out to one tray at a time. So, you can't do this one right after the other. You can't do one set and the other. It takes time to power up all that equipment and then power down the equipment on the other tray. So, we've got a few things stuffed in between the two tasks. So, we'll get the zenith tray first, then we're going to take a break, well, and go off and get one of the most important tasks also on the EVA, which is to install the S-band antenna. This is just a big antenna that's essentially stuck onto the truss. So, the spacewalkers have to come over with their Pistol-Grip Tool, remove it, and carry it over to its final location and attach it. And, around that time, we think that it's possible they'll be ready for the other tray. So, the spacewalkers will zip over to that tray and work on those connectors. That's probably the most critical, time-critical part of the flight. We also have a camera group that's going to be onto the, to the truss. The reason why this camera group, which is probably not as critical as some of the other tasks, but the reason why it's on this first EVA is because these camera groups are so incredibly enormous. They're absolutely giant! It's almost like having a third person in the airlock with you. That's the problem. We can't cram two of them into the airlock with the spacewalkers on the next EVA. You can only get one of these things out the door at a time. So, we've included the first one on the first EVA so that we can get the second one out on the second EVA. So, that's another really important task though. We'll be excited about that, because then we can use the camera on the next EVA.

And, what's the goal for the second one?

The second EVA has changed quite a bit. We have had some more information come about these ammonia connections that are all over the station and used for cooling. And so, there's a special collar that needs to be attached to all of these to prevent, and this is sort of a multiple-failure case scenario, but some design engineers sort of discovered that, "Hey, this, you know, you could get into a situation where it would be very difficult to disconnect these. But, if we install the collar on these connections, you, you're sure that you can always open and close the valve and make the, make the connections." So, this sort of changed our whole EVA about a month ago. So, EVA-2 has changed quite a bit. The primary goal is to get the most critical of these collars, which we call SPDs, we call them "Spuds" or "Spids," so you'll probably hear that on the loop. "The 'Spuds' are installed," or so forth. These are just collars. So that's a really important [part] of EVA-2. In addition, we're attaching the second camera group, again just this enormous thing which is, takes up a tremendous amount of room. We'll be attaching that to the Lab, and I'm really especially looking forward to that task because I can look straight up out of the shuttle overhead windows and actually watch them do it, which is pretty, I don't know, it's pretty neat. It should make for some wonderful video and pictures. So those are really the critical tasks that are now being performed on that EVA. In addition, we have some connections between the ammonia tank and the nitrogen tank, so that we can pressurize this ammonia. That's a very important thing, too. On EVA-3 we have some more of these SPDs that we're going to be attaching so that'll be a significant part of that. In addition, we're doing some tidy work on the S1 truss. If you think about this monstrous thing, somehow you have to anchor it in the payload bay of the shuttle to get it upstairs. But, once you've got it up there, that stuff is kind of pointless. You don't need it anymore. Of course, it's some big structural pieces. You know, it might be just as easy to bring them back down, but what we do instead is we remove them. They're called keel pins. Sort of a big vertical V-shaped thing. You pull them off the S1 truss, and then we've got a nice little spot on the inside of the truss (you can actually get on the inside through this, where the CETA cart rolls up and down, you can actually go inside), and the guys will be doing that a couple of times. It makes me kind of nervous. You know, I'm like, "You've got to make a radio check when you go in there, you guys!" But, they're actually going to take these keel pins off, and they're going to tuck them, nice and tidy, right next to each other, just tucked out of the way on the inside. So, that'll be another, it'll be a fun task, I think.

And EVA-3 is the most, where you're doing most of your get-ahead tasks. Is that right?

Yes. We have lost some of our get-ahead tasks because of the criticality of the SPD task. But we hope to try to get a few of them done. Many of our get-aheads are oriented towards doing extra SPDs right now. But, we also hope to move some of these foot restraints around to get everything perfectly set up for STS-113.

Okay. Now, you've mentioned periodically the IV. What will you be doing as IV? Kind of explain what the IV does.

The most exciting part about this mission for me, because this is my second time as a Pilot, so the systems part as a Pilot (it's the Pilot's job to keep the shuttle running) that's, that stuff I've already done. I know how to do it. And, it's really fun, but it's not new. On this flight, what's new for me is to be the IV. The internal EVA coordinator. I didn't really understand this job, even after watching the IV do it last time on my flight, until I actually got involved in it. And, what you have to understand is that the spacewalkers go outside with a very small checklist on their cuff that handles critical emergencies, mostly dealing with their suit. You know, it's a little checklist, "Hey, if you, you know, you get this alarm, do this." And, that kind of stuff. There's no notes or crib sheets. So I have compared it, of course I have these, all of these feminine analogies. I love to cook. So, I imagine that it's as if you have a house on the other side of town. And, in it, someone has done all the grocery shopping. And so, the two guys have to get in a car, navigate their way across town, go inside the house, and cook Thanksgiving dinner. Okay? And, I'm on the phone with them the whole time, telling them where to turn, where to go, where the stuff is. Now, of course, they are very familiar. They can look at a map, and they go, "Oh, yeah, we need to turn here. And, we need to go here. When we get there, I know we're making a turkey. You know, I know we're making stuffing. So, there's got to be bread involved." You know, they know all of that stuff. They've even had a chance to look over all the recipes, and they really know what they're doing. But, they can't carry any paperwork with them. No map, no recipes, nothing. So, I'm there to be the person with all that information. So, they actually have to physically do it. But, I'm the one who sort of carries the brain for them. I've, you know, when they say, "Pam, how many cups of bread was in that?" "Two cups of bread." "Okay, got it. Thanks." So, those are, I mean, those, to me, that's the closest analogy that I can come up with. It's amazing how much effort it takes on the part of the IV to try to keep track of what two different people are doing at once task wise, and remembering that they have something else to do, you know, and how things, if there's been any problems, how it affects the whole flow. I love it! It's wonderful! It's like being in the mind meld with the two of those guys when they're outside. And, it's very challenging, and very fun.

Now, we're going to jump away from the EVAs. And then when the EVAs are not taking up your time, which they take up a majority of, of this flight, you're doing a lot of transfers. Tell me about some of the things that'll be transferred, both to the station and then back from the station.

We're very lucky on our crew. We have a widespread and array of talents. Sandy Magnus is our transfer queen. She is very detail oriented and very organized. And so, she's going to help us. She's going to be the general on transfer days. She carries all this in her head. The EVA crew, we're very, we're wrapped up in our EVAs. But, on the days in between EVAs, we become worker bees for Sandy. Sandy says, "Take this, and take it over to the station, and this is where I want you to put it, and this is what I want you to do with it, and then come back and tell me when you're done." And so as, kind of as a result, because we've had to divide and conquer the EVA team, we don't have as much familiarity with the transfer items as Sandy does. We do, we are taking powered payloads and unpowered payloads, which, you know, I think is extremely exciting. And, the whole purpose of station is science. So we know that the data that we're bringing back is very, we know that there are people on the ground very anxious to get their experiments back and their data. We also know that there are scientists on the ground who are extremely excited about their experiments going on. And, Sandy can tell you a little bit more of the details about the experiments. And, I believe Dave as well. But for me, I think on those days the most, the highest priority for all of us is to get the science and take care of that. And then only marginally below that is to take care of the crew. We will be transferring equipment and supplies for them as well. We're bringing up, you know, extra film. We'll take their film home. We're bringing up new checklists that have been updated, and taking home the old ones. Those kinds of things.

Another one of the things that you're going to be taking up there is, are the shuttle SAFERs. And, you transferring those to the ISS, are you going to be leaving them there?

This is a new philosophy. It's kind of a new way of doing business. It used to be that when we had spacewalks, you had your suit, your gloves, your equipment carried on the shuttle. You went up and you used it, and you brought it all home. And then, they refurbished it. Well, obviously, aboard the station, stuff is staying up there a lot longer. So, what we try to do is on every shuttle mission, we perform a rotation of that equipment. I think in every case, we're bringing things home well before their life limit. But we're being very cautious and conservative. We want to make sure that the space suits that are left up there, the SAFER, which is the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (it's the little jet pack in case you get in trouble, in case you fall off the station), we're going to be rotating that out. So, in this case, we're actually, we are actually bringing up Dave's EVA suit. But, we're not bringing up Piers's suit. We're only bringing up his arms and legs. The suit is actually designed to be used on station, but for one of the station crewmembers if they need to go EVA. So, we'll bring that up. And, we've got this mad scramble. It's crazy. We dock, and then the next thing you know the three, actually it's four of us, because Fyodor Yurchikhin, our Russian crewmember, is helping me with IV. The four of us will be going through a mad scramble to get the SAFER and both suits over to the station airlock. We're going to do a quick swap. They have Piers's body on board station, so we'll change the arms and legs onto his body. We've got a SAFER, a fresh one, that we're going to leave for the crew. And then, we'll use the ones that they have up there, and we'll be bringing one of those back with us as well. So, it's kind of a rotation thing going on. Both with the suit and with the SAFER. It makes for a pretty complicated transfer scenario. You have to really keep track of what you brought over and what you're supposed to bring back [break in tape] sort of pages of very detailed notes about, with serial numbers and everything. Because the last thing you want is to leave something aboard the station that can't be used by the crew. So, we're going to be very careful.

Okay. What are you most looking forward to on this mission?

I think, that's a tough call, what I'm looking forward to the most. I know that at the instant of main engine cutoff that I'm going to be so thrilled to be back in space. When I was a rookie, I didn't get it. You know, I was, I, you know, main engine cutoff, and I was just so blown away by the launch, and I was, you know, afraid I was going to make a mistake. And, I was, you know, I had the checklist, and I was doing all the switches. And, I was kind of like that for the first three days. And, all around me, everybody else in the crew was going, "Whoo-hoo! We're back in space!" I'm like, "Hey, you guys, we've got a checklist to do!" So, I didn't really understand. Now that I'm going back for my second time, I really understand how they felt. And, I think I'm going to be going through that as well. I think that, that feeling of being back in space and to enjoy this incredible environment, which is just pure magic, that's really, you know, exciting me. From the mission standpoint, definitely being IV is the part that really excites me the most. It is incredibly rewarding to do something difficult and challenging, where you have to really merge talents and thoughts and plans with two other people and, of course, with our controller on the ground is the other element of that. So, we all have to be on the same page, very, and it's, there's no time to have questions or anything. You have to really understand each other. You really have to keep moving in a direction. There's a time limit. They've only got so much air and power out there. These are very critical tasks. So, for me, that sensation of merging so completely with a team that's what I'm really looking forward to.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/24/2002
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