Interview: Pam Melroy
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.
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
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."
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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...
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.
Now, are those bolts automatic like they run them and then they
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
let's go to the EVAs. Give me a brief overview or kind of like the
goal of the EVAs 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
Now, it may be the same and you could even use the same explanations,
but specifically for each day...
first spacewalk, what will they do?
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.
what's the goal for the second one?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.