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Crew Interviews
IMAGE: Pilot Paul Lockhart
Click on the image to hear Pilot Paul Lockhart's greeting (449 Kb wav).

Preflight Interview: Paul Lockhart

The STS-113 Crew Interview with Paul Lockhart, pilot.

Q: The STS-113 Crew Interviews with Paul Lockhart, the Pilot of space shuttle Endeavour on this trip to the International Space Station. Paul, let's start by asking you to give me a thumbnail sketch of the mission: What are the main goals of assembly mission 11A?

A: Well, we have quite a few important pieces of hardware that we have to bring up, but our most critical item that we're going to be bringing up are the next Expedition crew that's going to be up in space and replacing the Expedition Five crew there. So we're bringing up Expedition Six and bringing back Expedition Five. So that's our main focus is to bring up the next folks on our flight, which is, of course, Ken Bowersox and Nikolai Budarin and Don Pettit. And then, of course, if we bring them up we have to bring down the Expedition Five crew, so we've got to bring back Peggy Whitson and Valery Korzun and Sergei Treschev. Beyond that we have a very large piece of the space station that we have to bring up and attach, and that's called the P1 Truss - "P" stands for the Port 1 Truss -- and so it's a part of the major structure that's going to lie perpendicular to the long axis of the space station. In other words if you look at the space station head on our piece will be running from side to side, and it's going to be on the port, on the left side there, and it's going to be attached to what is called the S0 truss, which forms the backbone of this section.

As you mentioned, you're bringing home the Expedition Five crew on this mission. On your first flight into space you delivered the Expedition Five crew to the space station.

Right.

And you hadn't been back on Earth from that flight for more than a couple of months when you were asked to step in for a colleague on short notice on…

That's correct.

…STS-113. How did you and your new crewmates respond to the challenge of incorporating a new crewmember?

Well, for me, it was almost a case as if there wasn't a break in training. I found out approximately about forty-some-odd days after having landed from STS-111 that I'd be assigned to STS-113. So when we started training-actually two days after I found out, I found out on a Friday and on a Monday we were starting the simulation training at 0800 in the morning - I felt as if I hadn't even had a break in the training there. For my other crewmembers, I think they found out on Friday, too, that I would be joining, and so it was something different for them, too, when I started showing up on Monday morning. But what I found is that the crew that I'm with is very professional; they took me in, no problem, and they basically sat me down and said this is how we do STS-113. I compared that with STS-111, and I said, all right, this is what they do different, and I think I can adjust to that. And, they've been very good at making small changes for me … in other words, adjusting to how I say things and then how I throw switches and so forth … and letting me fit in with their protocol and the way they do operations. So, for me it's actually been very good because I've been able to pull the best out of STS-111 and quickly look at how another crew does their operation on STS-113. And so I've been able to actually probably benefit the most out of all this.

Well, tell me, which do you find more intriguing then: the similarities between these two missions, or the differences between them?

Most intriguing are the similarities. As you noted, I'll be bringing down the same group of folks that I'm bringing up, or that I brought up on STS-111, and so that's the major similarity right there. As soon as I realized that we would be bringing back the Expedition Five crew, the same ones that I brought up on STS-111, that kind of formed a core around which I thought of this entire STS-113 mission. In other words, everything else kind of revolves around my going up and seeing the same folks that I brought up. And I think it's going to allow us to have some good interaction once we get up there, especially when we open the hatch and go across and in a sense I'm their ride home, the same gentleman that brought them up. In addition to that I perform some of the same roles, and it, this matches almost exactly on STS-113 what I did on STS-111. You could almost say that the whole flight plan that was cut on STS-111, from my part at least matches exactly on STS-113. And that's why the training actually hasn't been too extremely difficult-I've been able to flow right in and follow the same type of procedures and so forth. So the similarities are really strong-I almost felt like since we're in the same vehicle, we're on the space shuttle Endeavour, that when we go back and sit in the cockpit and sit in the seat, that I'll basically find all the switches in the same position I left 'em in when we landed at Edwards Air Force Base in June. So the similarities far outweigh the differences.

Flying twice a year what you had expected when you became an astronaut?

No. It took close to 5-1/2 years or so before I was flying on my first flight, and I expected the wait would not be quite as long but would still entail months and years before my second flight. So when the, it was actually a matter of days -- 42 days before I got reassigned -- and will be within a matter of months before I actually perform the flight, has been a total surprise to me. And it shows that you can never basically guarantee what life will bring to you sometimes.

Tell me about how you became an astronaut, or how did you become a person who was astronaut material?

Well, there's a lot of folks that are astronaut material out there; I think the question to kind of like lead that in is, what made me want to become an astronaut, in a sense, and then, how did I form my life in order to get to this position. And, it goes back to the early days in the '60s with the first space program. I found myself watching the early space program on TV, the Gemini and Apollo missions, and I was just totally fascinated by it. And that was at the same time that a young boy'd be sleeping outside and going camping with his brother and stuff and see the stars and everything. And then so you take Walter Cronkite's wonderful voice describing what was happening, and combine that with, you know, looking out at the stars outside in West Texas, and all of a sudden you can kind of form a kind of like a yearning in somebody right there. And that's where it started with me-I just became enraptured with spaceflight. And I always said, well, that's what I want to do is go into the space program, but then as you go through junior high and high school other things kind of come in: you get sports, you get your studies and so forth that lead you one way or to the other. And so as I started in to college I really wasn't staying focused, I-want-to-go-into-the-space-program. But once I got my degree and I said, all right, what do I really want to do with this, I basically came back and said, well, my dream has always been to go into the space program; let's take this undergraduate degree and let's get a master's degree and see if I can get to this point. And it just so happens that I met one of those fateful people about that time that basically turns you in a certain direction in your life and heads you off in some direction whether it be the way you want to go or not. And that gentleman was [an] ROTC Air Force detachment commander who was trying to help me find some graduate studies in aerospace engineering, which I thought would lead me to the space program. And he looked me straight in the eye and he said do you really want to fly the space shuttle; and I basically said, absolutely. And he said, well then, if you want to fly the thing you need to become a military test pilot, and so the next thing I know I was going through the flight physicals with the Air Force. And that led me into the Air Force, and then it was just a case of being in touch … with people who'd been around the space program, reading about it, starting the application process. And it became clear that you had to go to test pilot school, after having flown high-performance aircraft, and then just basically round yourself out with a lot of different skills and so forth. And so, with the help of my family you know, specifically my wife and so forth, who helped me set up the training I needed, I was fortunate enough to kind of like gather the skills that NASA needed and began the application process and went through the same thing that, you know, everybody does here: basically, first time, you don't even come down for an interview, and then the second time, during the application process I was fortunate enough to get interviewed and then get selected.

Let's talk about what you're going to do on this, your second, spaceflight. The primary payload on this mission, after the Expedition Six crewmembers…

Right.

…is a piece of hardware that's known as the P1 truss, as you mentioned. Introduce me to it: how big is it, where does it go, what does it do?

Well, as I was describing earlier, if you looked at the space station head on, as it was coming at you in orbit the P1 truss is a large section of cantilever beam structure that's going to perform, that's going to act as kind of a support structure for radiators and solar panels that will be constructed with the space station later on. So in a sense it's part of a backbone, it's part of a, the muscular structure, it's part of the skeleton of the space station. So if you look at the space station head on, as it's coming at you, our portion runs perpendicular, so from side to side, and if you look at it head on, ours would be on the right side, but on the space station, as it's flying, that would be the left side, and so the left is termed the port side, so the P1 truss. And it looks like a large, triangular, cantilever beam structure, and that's basically what it's designed to do is provide support. However, weaving its way through this are all types of connections-hydraulic, electrical, fluid such as ammonia, and things of this nature-and so even though it's basically inert, steel-type material, it's got the lifelines much like an arm would in the body have. In other words, the nerves and the blood flowing and things of this nature; so you can kind of like make a comparison with that.

It's carrying the utilities for what's going on…the other end of it later…

Oh, absolutely. There's going to be more portions of the space station that will be attached onto that, onto the other end, and so as you can imagine it has to, in a sense, provide the rigidity in order so that the whole system is sound, structurally, and then, as you said it's got to carry all of the connections that go out to the pieces that will be attached later.

In order to accomplish a mission a space shuttle crew has got to possess a range of talents. Tell me what are going to be your top jobs on this mission?

Well as the pilot, I'll do almost everything that all the pilots do on ascent and entry, so I'll be in charge of the critical systems at least on my side of the vehicle, during ascent and entry. So that means the engines, the auxiliary power unit, the hydraulic systems, the orbital maneuvering system, the reaction control systems, and the electrical system. So, in a sense my side of the cockpit has all of these critical systems that allow the vehicle to basically maneuver and stay in control of itself. The commander, on his left side, is in control of the computers, or the brains, of the space shuttle as well as the environmental control and life support system unit, the pressurization and the oxygen and so forth. So, as any pilot, that's my responsibilities on ascent and entry-make sure all of those are functioning properly, and to back up the commander wherever he needs me to help him perform his duties. On orbit, my duties as a pilot will differ from other pilots on other missions because they put you into -- NASA does and the training teams -- put you into the positions that they need filled and they think that your skills fill the best. For my mission, it almost matches STS-111 exactly. So, when I am on orbit I'll help maintain the orbiter; I'll help maintain its water system, I'll help maintain its electrical system, I'll watch over it: I'll feed and [take] care [of] the orbiter, in a sense. But then, my main job in addition to that is to be kind of the choreographer or the director of the three spacewalks that my crew will be doing. We have Mike Lopez-Alegria and John Herrington will be our two Mission Specialists that'll be performing the three spacewalks, and when they go outside the confines of the space shuttle and are working around the space station they're enclosed in their spacesuit, and the spacesuit is very bulky, and it's got a large visor that they can see around and see with, but still it's confining; they can't see around and to the side, plus their capability to perceive what's around them is dramatically reduced. And it's very difficult work to be inside one of the spacesuits. So my job will be to help them maintain an awareness of where they are, what job are they supposed to be performing, what tools will they need, and to help them stay one step ahead of their task so that they are never in a situation where they don't understand what is occurring or what they should be doing.

Let's talk about the spacewalks, and take a couple of chunks at a time.

Sure.

For the first spacewalk, activity begins on orbit with the robot arms and Airlock prep hours before Mike and John ever go out the Airlock door.

That's right.

Describe what you're going to be doing during this time prior to when they actually go outside.

Well, any time you see a spacewalk, I think people realize that they can be a long task. In other words, the gentlemen that are out doing the spacewalks -- or the ladies -- can be out there six-and-a-half, seven hours for a spacewalk. But what most people don't realize is you have to tag on to the front of that, and also to the end of that, another set of three hours of work, sometimes four hours. So before we go on the spacewalk we have to prepare the guys to go outside of the confines of the space shuttle, and that requires some physiological preparation as well as equipment preparation. We have to take the crewmembers that are going out on the spacewalks and we have to basically prepare them to go out in a lower-pressure environment, which is what they experience in the spacesuit, and what that means is they have to rid their bodies of nitrogen much like somebody who does scuba diving has to be careful when they're coming up from underneath the water; they have to come up slowly so as to control the amount of nitrogen that's released in their joints and in their body. And so we have to do the same thing. We have to basically purge their bodies of nitrogen, which requires them to breathe in a protocol for several hours 100-percent oxygen; in addition, we have to get their suits all ready, they have to get them into the suits, the suits have to be connected, and then we have to do a checkout of the suits-we want to make sure that there's no problems, of course, before they go out. In addition we have to get their tools ready: it'd be a shame to send the guys out and [we] found out that we left a tool, or we found out that we had the wrong size socket, or we found whatever the case may be. It's not a case where the guys can come back into the garage, get the right tool, and go back out. If they go out and don't have the right tools, then we basically have to shut down the EVA to bring them back in, re-pressurize portions of the airlock, and then get the tools out to 'em. So it's real important that we think ahead, get everything set, and get them ready. Then they go out and do their spacewalks for six to seven hours. And, so they've been in these suits now for probably ten hours, but they've been in preparation for this about eleven hours. And then after they come back in from the spacewalks my job then is to help them do the postflight post-EVA work, which is we have to take the suits apart, and we have to carefully tend to the suits-because we only have one suit per person up there, basically; we have some spare parts, but there's not a lot-and we have [to] tend to both of the guys who come in from the spacewalks. So those guys are basically physically and mentally spent, 'cause they've been out there working so hard, and so we want to take care of them, get them comfortable and off to where they can get something to eat-of course, they haven't been eating for probably eight or nine hours-and then, I and another crewmember will probably help regenerate the water supplies on the spacesuits and things of this nature. So, a spacewalk day, from a Pilot's point of view, or as the IV -- which is going to be my job, the intravehicular person, the IV -- generally is a full-day job. If I compare it to what I did on STS-111. II would wake up in the morning, do a couple of my shuttle duties real quick -- in other words, make sure that the shuttle was in good shape -- and then I immediately started to set up for the preflight or the preparations for the spacewalks. And, only about three-and-a-half hours after that, just as they were about to go out the door, would I eat a little bit of breakfast, and then I would spend the rest of the time in the cockpit helping them do their spacewalks; they would come in from the spacewalks, I would help the postflight preparations, and then I'd look up at the clock and it was time for bed. So it's a full day.

In the case of the first spacewalk on this mission, while you're in the Airlock helping Mike and John get prepared, the P1 truss is going to be lifted out of the payload bay and moved over and attached to the port side of the S0 truss. But it's not until then that Mike and John go outside. From that point, describe to us what's going to happen outside the shuttle the rest of that day.

Well, when Mike and John come outside the shuttle for the first time with the P1 truss there, our main thing is to make sure that we get power to the truss. Because it has electrical connections that have to be made in order to keep a lot of the critical avionics systems that are on it alive, thermally alive; in other words keep them thermally warm and stuff. So their main job when they come out is to make a lot of these connections that go between the S0 truss that it's attached to and the P1 truss properly mated, electrical and things of this nature, so that we can keep the avionics alive. And that's on a time clock, so that's basically our primary job: get out there and make those connections, and provide what we call keep-alive power to the P1 truss.

You mentioned that there's a time limit; what, how much time are we talking about? Is this, do they have to rush to do this?

No, they don't have to rush to do this, they've got several hours to do it. But, what happens is if they start to bring the P1 truss out of the cargo bay, the clock has started because when you bring it out of the cargo bay you no longer have electrical power connected to it and so it's basically exposed to the, to space and so isn't thermally protected. If we start to go out on our spacewalks and we find that a suit has a problem and then they have to come back in, and then have to go through this entire process of de-suiting, replacing something, then go through the checks one more time, we could lose a couple of hours in that whole process. And then we would be rushed in order to try and get the clocks connected, or try to get everything connected in time so that we meet the thermal clock.

So, for the first spacewalk then it's primarily plugging it in?

Plugging it in, making sure it's alive, and then there are a few other things that we're going to be doing. We have to move a couple of, some of the braces which were used to support the truss inside the cargo bay, one of which are called drag links but they're just support structures, those have to be moved and put out away as well as we're going to be positioning what is called a wireless antenna for the helmet cameras on the spacesuits. The spacesuits have three little lenses across the visor of the spacesuit itself, and these cameras are wireless, and they allow us in the space station and the space shuttle and on ground to see what the astronauts that are doing the spacewalks are actually working on. So they're really critical because they help provide us situational awareness in the cockpit, but they also provide documentary evidence of what the space the astronauts that are doing the spacewalks are doing. So as they tighten a bolt, we see that, we can film it, and so forth. But these wireless little cameras that are on the spacesuits of course have to have an antenna in order to transmit the little signal, and so what we're bringing out there on the spacewalk number one, on EVA 1 and also on EVA 2, are these transmitters, these wireless antennas, that will help transmit the signal.

Before the second spacewalk there's another major task of this mission and, as we mentioned before, the exchange of the crewmembers.

Right.

Describe what's required-and that's to transpire on that day between the first two spacewalks-to change out Expedition Five for Expedition Six.

Well, I think there's two things. There's a physical aspect of it, and then there's a command leadership change aspect of it. And probably the physical aspect of it is the most important, and when I mean physical I'm referring to these hand-molded seats that crewmembers will use in a Soyuz to return back to the Earth in case there's an emergency. And these hand-molded seats are made, of course, in Russia, and they're, they fit inside the Soyuz, which is docked to the space station and provides a lifeboat, in a sense. So, the ones that are on the Soyuz right now fit Expedition Five crewmembers, and we're bringing up three to fit the Expedition Six crewmembers. And so, [an] actual change as to who would stay on the space station side and who would come back in the space shuttle…that question, or in terms of an emergency, that question is not decided until we know whose molded seats are where. So, if we haven't transferred over the molded seats for Expedition Six yet and we have to do an emergency undock, well, the Expedition Five crew would stay there and the Expedition Six crew would stay on the shuttle side. Once we've taken over those molded seats for Expedition Six then they basically, in a sense, inhabit the space station, and that's an important part of the transfer process. The other thing which occurs is each Expedition crew has a commander, of course, and on that day between the two spacewalks, as you alluded to, we have an official change of command ceremony, in a sense, where the Commander of Expedition Five will relinquish command over to Expedition Six.

The following day the second of the three spacewalks is planned on this mission, and you're the IV crewmember again?

Again.

Walk us through what the tasks are that involved for the second spacewalk of the mission.

Well, on this one we're basically continuing to bring alive and set up the truss for future activity, and so the first thing we have to do are hook up some very critical fluid lines that go between the S0 and the P1 truss, and these are some of the thermal control lines that will be carrying some of the thermal control fluids that will be used further on down as the whole truss gets larger. So we have to make those connections-there's some actual lines that are sitting there that have to be pulled off of the truss and then attached between S0 and P1. Then we have another wireless antenna that we have to deploy, and then we also have to go back down to the P1 truss and we have to take some of the, again, some of the support structures that were used to hold the truss in the cargo bay, and we have to pull those off, disengage them, and then place them up inside of the truss where they'll be out of the way. So, the way I look at [it] is it's…it's [an] EVA where we continue to set the truss up for use for later on. We provided electrical power, thermal capabilities in the first spacewalk, and in this one we're setting up a lot of the fluid connections.

So that by the third spacewalk you can spend time pretty much on I guess what might be called a maintenance task because Mike and John have got a lot of installation work to do.

Yes, on the third spacewalk this is one that basically changed over the course of their training. And I came late to the game, so I'm not real sure what they had been planning, but I do know, of course, now what they're doing on the third spacewalk. On the third spacewalk we have to deploy a lot of what are called spool positioning devices-and we call them SPDs-and these spool positioning devices are, they're temporary or they're permanent fixes to the quick disconnects that are found-excuse me-throughout the entire space station. Any time we have two fluid lines that are coming together they have fittings that allow the two pieces to come together and hold themselves. And, they're concerned about back pressures and about some leakage and so forth, and so what we're doing are bringing up these spool positioning devices and attaching these to all of the critical fluid lines to ensure that none of these quick disconnects leak or can inadvertently open or lock in the closed position where we can't open them in the future.

And this work is apparently taking place in a lot of different locations outside the station.

That's very true, and that's one of the differences between…STS-113 and STS-111. In STS-111 the two crewmembers I had there worked basically together the entire time, and so when we did the choreography on that I could use one sheet of paper because the two were working together as a team. On this one, with all of these spool positioning devices scattered throughout, John and Mike come out of the space station, come out of the space shuttle and move onto the space station and then they're gone to different sides. One person is behind the Z1 truss, and then down near the Lab, what we call the Lab heat exchanger, and then John's over at the end of the P1 truss. And so I basically have to track them in two different positions and so, it's made the job a little bit more difficult in that sense because I have to track two people at two different times. But, John and Mike are really capable of working at high speed by themselves, and so it's not going to be a problem at all.

Outside of the time of the spacewalks, during the docked phase of this mission, there's some other work involved that includes transfer of supplies and delivery of some experiments. Tell me a little bit about some of that other activity that's going to go on.

Well, we, of course, we have to bring up supplies for the Expedition Six crew and so we will be carrying some of these on the middeck portion of the space shuttle. This is one difference between STS-113 and 111: in 111 we carried a module in the cargo bay called the MPLM logistics module…it was just basically a, almost like a big U-Haul van, where we carried everything, and so we carried quite a few packages of things. On this mission, because the truss is so large and it takes up the entire cargo bay, the P1 truss, we're not carrying that logistics module but we are carrying supplies that'll be used to help the crew carry on and do their work over the next period of time until the next mission comes up that does have a logistics module. So we do bring these packages to and from. But one part of this mission which does match, just as STS-111, is we do have several powered payloads that are on the space station that are performing experiments right now that we have to bring out of the space station and put onto the space shuttle, and then power up and keep them alive, working properly, until we land. And that matches almost exactly what we did on 111, and in fact many of the experiments that we took from 111 and put onto the space station so that they could perform I'm sure are the ones that we're going to be bringing back.

After you depart the station you've got another drop-off to make on the way home; this involves an experiment package known by the acronym MEPSI. What is a MEMS-based Pico Satellite Inspector? What do you do with it, and what is it that it is investigating?

Well, this is an attempt with the Air Force Research Laboratory, to try and develop the capabilities of pico satellites, or micro-satellites, to perform basically an inspection task in space. So, what the Air Force Research Lab is looking to do is develop the capability to have little micro-satellites that can be flown attached to larger satellites or, I suspect, can be brought up on other types of vehicles later and can be deployed to actually come out and around a critical piece of equipment-i.e., a satellite or something else that's in orbit that is of concern-and actually have these pico satellites or micro-satellites fly out and then perform an inspection task; in other words, take sensor data and determine the health or the status of that critical item, whether it be a satellite or whatever. So for us, we're going to actually show that this little system of two pico satellites, or micro-satellites, can be deployed properly and that they will function together as one. They're tied together with a cord, and so they're interested in the capabilities of the thing being deployed properly, that the physics of it being in orbit doesn't cause the two micro-satellites to behave improperly, and then just to show in a gradual increase of capability, that these little micro-satellites can be functioning properly. So, on our flight I basically get to deploy one of these, and then we're just going to film them as they move on up, and then they're going to be transmitting the data back down to the ground.

By the time you and your crewmates get home with Valery, Peggy, and Sergei, it's going to be a little bit after the second anniversary of the arrival of the first Expedition crew on board ISS. Paul, in your opinion, in these first two years of crewed operations, what's been the best thing to come out of the International Space Station program?

When I got to the space station and went from the shuttle side over into the space station side, it was quite obvious that our team of NASA personnel, along with our cooperative nations, all of the nations coming together, have put together up there an extremely robust and capable and dependable piece of structure. When I floated through the Lab and then into the Node and then into the Airlock and then into the Functional Cargo Block and the Service Module, it is, it was and is very obvious to see that it's a very sturdy, well thought out structure that we're going to be able to use for a long time. I never had the feeling that I was coming into a structure that was makeshift or that was fragile or that couldn't perform the job that it was supposed to do. But the whole system as a whole allowed the, allowed our astronauts up there to perform their duties. And so I think that was the most impressive thing, and I think that's the thing that we've gotten the most out of it, is that I think we can all be very proud that we've been able to plan, produce, and put into orbit, and now use this thing much as we had designed it to do.


Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 12/10/2002
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