Interview: Kenneth Cockrell
STS-98 Crew Interviews with Kenneth Cockrell, Commander.
Ken, why did you want to become an astronaut in the first place?
A. Oh, that
goes back a few years. I was not one of these guys that wanted
to be an astronaut when I was a little kid. I wanted to be a pilot
from as long as I can remember. I think, around age 5, my parents
tell me, is when I started focusing my eyes and attention on everything
that flew. And so, I pursued that goal from childhood, really,
and became a Navy pilot through a circuitous route - I won't go
into all the details - but eventually ended up joining up with
the Navy and learning to fly with the Navy, and being a single-seat
airplane jet pilot on aircraft carriers, which was what I did
most of my time in the Navy. I think my official record says something
like six years at sea flying jets off of carriers. My attention
turned to NASA and to the astronaut program when the space shuttle
started being generated. I had watched with a lot of interest
all of the missions that happened before that: Mercury, Gemini,
Apollo, Skylab. But, I think I had the mistaken impression that
because there were no wings on those spacecraft that they weren't
being flown. I was wrong. Especially starting with Gemini, we
flew amazing feats, did some amazing piloting feats, which I didn't
learn about until later. But when, when the visual effect of having
a rocket with wings on it struck me, that's when I thought, "Well,
there's something else in the piloting world that would be great."
So, I started trying. That was back in 1978.
selected your first time you applied, -
- I take
In fact, I think I'm tied for the record for the number of times
applying and to get the job. I first applied in 1979 and was interviewed
in '79 for the '80 class. Didn't make it. Didn't get an interview
for '84. Was interviewed in '85. Was interviewed in '87. And was
interviewed in '90, and that's when I was selected.
Do you consider
perseverance to be one of your strongest character traits?
Well, I think
it worked this time.
As you look
back over all of that time - as an astronaut, in the Navy, before
that - are there certain people who you think are or were the
most significant influences in your life? Can you tell us why?
there are a couple of people that have resurfaced here at NASA
actually. A man that I worked for in my first Navy squadron is
Dave Finney, and he is now the Deputy Director of Aircraft Ops
out at Ellington. And, he had a great work, work ethic and just
a great sense of humor -- a way of working and getting the job
done very professionally but enjoying himself while he did it.
And I took note of that. And then, there was another guy who later
became an astronaut, and essentially, I sort of followed in his
footsteps. And, his name is Steve Oswald. And he and I both got
out of the Navy about the same time. He came to work at Aircraft
Ops a couple of years before me. After he worked there for six
months or a year, he was hired into the Astronaut Office. And
then he was instrumental in helping me get the job at Aircraft
Ops from which I was hired into the Astronaut Office. So, I appreciate
him because he looked back at this guy that was sort of following
him and took care of me and remained a very good friend throughout
all of this and sort of smoothed the way for me to make the transition
from Navy life to civilian/NASA life and then on into the Astronaut
Office. And then, as it turned out, we flew together on my first
the only member of your crew who worked at other jobs in NASA
before becoming an astronaut.
a matter of fact, we're calling this "the AOD flight."
Aircraft Ops Division was the employer of Marsha, starting way
before I got here until she was hired an astronaut in '84. And
they employed me from '87 to '90 when I was hired. And they employed
Mark Polansky; both of us as research pilots and instructor pilots.
And he was hired in 1996 and, I think, employed at Aircraft Ops
from about '92 or '93 until '96. So, a lot of our pre-astronaut
days' heritage is, indeed, here at NASA. So, the front three seaters
- the commander, pilot and the MS-2 - are all from Aircraft Ops.
of you and your other crewmates have had quite a long time, much
longer than most shuttle crews have had in the past, to train
together for this mission. What's it been like to have that much
time to prepare? And, has it been difficult for you all as your
goal, the launch date, has moved away from you a few times?
kind of got used to that. It moved so frequently at the beginning,
and I wish I could say that it helped us to be assigned that long.
And it did help in several ways. One, we got to be a crew together
for a long period of time, which is a good thing. And we all like
each other, and we're having a great time. And so, that was good.
Unfortunately, the shuttle and the station programs aren't really
ready to deal with the next flight until it's time to deal with
the next flight. So, we had a lot of things we could do that were
sort of on the personal level that, developing our own skills.
Marsha worked hard on the Remote Manipulator System. And I was
her backup; worked hard on that, too, got my basic training at
it. The EVA guys got the basic skills done for the tasks that
they thought would be there, but some of the details of those
tasks just weren't forthcoming until the last year before we actually
flew. And then, finally, the real crunch has come about four months
prior to launch. A couple of months ago, when the final loads
of our software - almost final loads - the final releases of the
Flight Data File - the paperwork, the checklist for the flight;
we hope they're the final releases - they've all starting descending
upon us. And then, also, the final preparation in the simulator
doesn't really get going until somewhere around five months. So,
you can have five years of assignment, if you want to. It's not
going to help in the end. It's going to help a little bit in terms
of personal preparation, but in the end, it's still going to be
a crunch, and you'll still end up working the long weeks, as we
our attention to what you have been training for. But if I could
get you to start by summarizing the goals of STS-98, what is this
mission going to do? And what's the significance of the hardware
that you are bringing to the International Space Station?
answer is: We're going to attach the U.S. Laboratory to the space
station. But it turns out there're a lot more details that go
with it to accomplish that simple answer. Let me answer the last
part of your question first in that the Lab, of course, is a laboratory.
When we bring it up, it won't have any science going on in it
because the shuttle is just barely able to lift it with five of
the systems racks that are used to provide the good environment
for people to be inside it. Subsequent flights will bring up the
rest of the racks. So, the Lab not only will provide science,
although it doesn't yet - we provide everything that's needed
to put the science experiment racks in it later - it also provides
the environment control for the Laboratory as well as Node 1.
It will purify the air, circulate the air, and keep the equipment
cool and the people cool. And it has fans that circulate the purified
Lab air through Node 1, and it essentially acts as a surrogate
or a separate piece of the Lab that is run off the Lab systems.
So far I've mentioned the science application and the housekeeping
application of providing an environment that people can live in.
And then finally, the Lab contains the computers - called the
MDMs, Multiplexer-Demultiplexers. We should just call them computers;
that's what they are - that provide for the control and operation
of the entire space station. They provide the control of the Control
Moment Gyros -- the spinning gyros that are up on the Z1 Truss
that will eventually be attitude control for the station. And
we also have computers that assess the orientation of the station
through Global Positioning System - GPS -- and provide that information
to the attitude control system. So, the Lab becomes much more
than a lab. It becomes the nerve center for the space station;
much like the base block was for Mir. It was a place of science,
but it was also the control center of the Mir space station. That's
what the Lab is for this station.
Can you explain
to us what the importance is of being able to operate these Control
Moment Gyroscopes? What additional capacity does that give the
the smart way to control attitude on orbit because they don't
take any fuel. They just take a little electrical power, and that
we get from the Sun. They also are very smooth and provide very
gentle inputs to attitude control. So, we can control attitude
to such a degree that there's no disturbance from thruster firings
or any bumps to the cabin because of the firing of thrusters that
would upset the science that demands a very smooth micro-gravity
environment. So, the Control Moment Gyros give you the ability
to basically keep everything straight, but without kicking it.
And in what
I guess is a related aspect to it: There are computers inside
this Laboratory that are going to be able to talk to computers
in the Zvezda module for overall control of the station. Is that
a very complex setup? Most people see computers talk to other
computers at work. Is that the same kind of thing we're dealing
I think it's
even a simpler setup -- designed to be simple so it's a little
more robust or harder to break because there's not so many things
to break. But basically, they talk to each other in order to provide
the ability to hand over to the Russians in case we have difficulties
with the Control Moment Gyros. And there are cases that will be
routine where the Control Moment Gyros have to maneuver themselves
in order to keep the station straight. And eventually, they maneuver
themselves into a corner, and that corner is called "being
saturated." So, at some point, you have to say, "Okay,
science equipment, hang on. Put a stopper in whatever you got
going, and we're going to fire the Russian thrusters in order
to hold attitude while you just physically spin the Control Moment
Gyros back to a neutral position." So, as you spin them back,
they would try to move the station, and you hold the station from
moving with the thrusters. That's called "desaturating the
CMGs," the Control Moment Gyros. And that will have to be
done periodically. But, those periods are meant to be long; I
think, a period of many, many days; maybe 60 or 90 days. I can't
remember what the spec says, but there's a specification that
says, "The CMGs must be able to hold attitude without having
to use thrusters for a long period of time so that science has
the ability to progress."
I think that
many people understand, but to make sure that we haven't passed
over it, some of that commanding that you just referred to that
will be possible as a result of the addition of Destiny is commanding
that's coming from Mission Control in Houston. The addition of
this hardware offers that new capability to the station as well.
Up until the time the Lab is activated and all the computers are
working and the Control Moment Gyros are working, The Russians
have full responsibility for maintaining attitude and maintaining
an overall view of the health of the space station. So, right
now, control of the space station is out of Moscow. When the Lab
goes up there, primary control will shift to Houston. And of course,
Moscow is there, as we are now, to back us up if we have equipment
or communication failures. And they're there to deal with any
problems that are specific to one of their modules or to one of
their systems. But with the addition of the Lab, the beginning
of the way things will be for the life of the station will occur.
Mission Control Houston will be in charge, and Mission Control
Moscow will be supporting, primarily, and ready to take charge
by virtue -- no matter of all the other aspects of this piece
of hardware that we've discussed -- it is a laboratory, and a
large portion of it is devoted to the science work. Can you talk
a little bit about the philosophy of the science that they planned
to conduct on board the space station inside this module? What
kind of things can be learned?
give you the flip answer in that I have no idea what is manifested
because we're concentrating so hard on our portion of getting
the Lab up to station and activated, which is the operational
side of the Lab; Getting it ready to take over control of the
station. I think, primarily inside the Laboratory, there are sort
of two categories experiments that can go on. One is the kind
of experiment that performs best or you learn the most when you
remove gravity from the equation. And those, typically in the
past have been things like protein crystal growth or other kinds
of crystal growth. A lot of medical research where you can watch
what happens to an enzyme or to a drug or to a chemical composition
without the constraint of gravity so that maybe you can come to
understand what the core reason that things work the way they
work are and maybe make some breakthroughs. We also have an optical
quality window in the Lab, and there are a few experiments that
are designed to bolt to the window frame and make observations
of the atmosphere and the Earth. The window points downward. So,
I guess the Lab is not suited, in itself, for astronomical-type
observations since everything that can look out is looking downward,
and that will come later with the cupola.
big step in the success of this flight that will be the successful
joining of Atlantis to ISS. And you will be at the commands of
the space shuttle in order to accomplish that.
If you could,
talk us through that event. What happens on rendezvous day? And
describe some of the big mileposts for you as you stand at the
aft flight deck and try to bring these two together.
plan to have rendezvous day on the third day -- the second time
we wake up on orbit. We do that so that everybody's sort of adjusted
to zero-g and feels good. We also have such a mess in our middeck
with all the things that we'll be transferring over to Shep and
his crew that we need a day to get the middeck straightened out
so that we will be ready to transfer those things; get everything
organized, lined up at the hatch, ready to pass over to him once
we get docked. But when we launch, if we launch on January 18th
at the opening of our window, we'll be about, I believe, it's
306 degrees behind the station, which means almost a full revolution
of the Earth behind it, which means we're a little bit in front
of it. We'll launch and we'll end up in front of the station.
We'll have to go almost a complete lap to catch up with it. So,
we'll be flying in a lower orbit, which goes around the Earth
faster, and catching up at a pretty rapid rate. Because of the
amount of phase angle, the degrees that we have to catch up, we'll
be catching up very quickly. So, the first thing, there'll be
several burns that happen in the day before rendezvous that will
gradually tweak our orbit so that the catch-up rate is just right
for our wakeup on the third day. When we wake up, we'll do a fairly
large OMS burn -- Orbital Maneuvering System engine burn -- that
will slow that catch-up rate to something controllable and will
target us to reach a point 48,000 feet behind the station, a point
where we make the one last major burn that drives us in to rendezvous
with the station. So, as soon as we wake up on rendezvous day,
we'll be busy setting up the orbit correction burn, this first
OMS burn. And then, our Targeted Insertion Burn -- the TI burn
-- which is the one that happens about 6 or 8 miles behind station,
48,000 feet, that's another OMS burn. It's smaller than the other
one, so we'll use a single engine. And that happens after working
through a checklist of activities that takes about three hours
to get to that point. We make that burn, and then we're on one
more. This final burn changes our orbit from an elliptical orbit
to one that's more circular and more closely matches what the
station is in. And it all matches up just as we approach a point
about 600 feet below the station, directly below it on the radius
between the station and the center of the Earth. And we'll stay
on that radius -- the R-bar -- for the rest of the time, and that's
when the manual flying takes over, a little bit before that. But
that's when it becomes more interesting because we have the Lab
back in the back of our payload bay and the station is flying
Node 1 first and we're flying nose first. At some point - we're
going around the world this way - we have to turn around so that
there's room for the Lab to come out of the payload bay and be
attached to the station. It's called the tail forward maneuver.
And when I was first presented with this, looking at this flight
I thought, "Okay, tail forward maneuver. Put in some control
inputs and the orbiter swings around." It turns out, it's
a little more of a art than it is of a science, and it's taken
a lot of practice for us to begin the tail forward maneuver so
that we come out of it at the appropriate place and don't require
a lot of thruster firings that waste fuel. And so, if there's
a point you want to key into the rendezvous and note our response
to something we've done, that would be one of them. Because it
can either go well or it can go bad. It won't ruin the rendezvous.
But, if it goes badly, we may not have as much fuel as we'd like
to do the fly-around after we finish docking.
now swung around at about a distance…
at 600 feet, the tail forward maneuver. It's supposed to be finished
by 360 feet to avoid impinging thruster firings on the space station
itself. And then from that point on, we drive in to 170 feet.
If there's any timing we need to do to make the docking occur
at a specific point over the Earth, then we wait at 170 feet to
make that timing come true. From there, we drive in to 30 feet.
And at 30 feet, we zoom the camera that's looking at the station
right up through our docking adapter; zoom it all the way in,
look at the target, do what's called "read the target"
and determine whether there's any error in pitch, yaw or roll
of the station. And if there is, we just by visually using a little
scale and ruler measure how much error there is, apply it to a
formula, put it into the autopilot in the shuttle that will adjust
the way we're pointed so that we can then manually fly it on up
to the station. That happens at 30 feet. Once the pointing is
done and then when the timer counts down to the right amount if
we're trying to hit a specific spot over the Earth at docking
time, we push on in. And just from then on, it's just trying to
keep your 200,000-pound vehicle lined up with that 2 or 300,000-pound
vehicle to an accuracy of about 3 inches. We need to be no less,
no more than 3 inches off in our position. And then that will
engage, allow the petals that are on the station and the petals
on us to lock together and slide smoothly together and then capture
who's flying the same kind of rendezvous profile as you are, described
the fact that the centers of gravity of the two vehicles are not
really in line; that there's like an overlap. How does that make
this particularly different for you and to make the approach?
Well, I think
realistically we have to be ready for a failed capture. Because
with the station c.g. off the nose of the shuttle and the shuttle
c.g. -- center of gravity -- at the other side; here's the station
c.g. over here and here's the shuttle c.g. here, and the point
of contact's sort of toward the nose of each one of them. When
we hit like this and we will drive ourselves into a fairly firm
contact, then the station will have a natural tendency to bend
this way, and we'll have a natural tendency to bend this way.
And they'll put a little bit of a torque on the docking system.
The engineering analysis that's been done says it should work.
And so, I'm expecting it to; but I'm expecting also to see quite
a bit of dynamic interplay between the two vehicles for a couple
of minutes after we make the contact. It'll be almost the same
for Brent. In fact, the station c.g. will be a little bit further
aft for him because once he adds P6 to it, that'll move the weight
a little bit towards the shuttle, and it'll help us. So, we'll
be watching the docking of 4A really closely.
A short time
after the docking occurs is when it is scheduled for the hatches
on both sides of the PMA to open and for the two crews to go to
work together. Talk a little bit about what it is that's scheduled
for those first couple of hours that your two vessels are together
We only spend
a couple of hours with the hatch open, then we close it right
away. And what will happen is we'll, of course, have a nice greeting
with Shep and I'm sure they'll be happy to see us because we'll
have some fresh food and some gifts and maybe some chocolate,
or whatever they'd like, we'll be bringing to them. And then,
we'll get straight to work transferring things. Recently our flight
has had added to it a lot of food that will be transferred, because
one of the Progress flights has been shifted and won't be going
at the time that we thought. So, we'll have a bunch of containers
of their pantry that we'll be delivering. Marsha has organized
in a very organized way; the tools and the equipment and the pieces
that will be needed to do the physical outfitting of the Lab all
packed into individual bags so that each bag is sufficient for
an entire task. And she'll be handing all those bags over with
instructions for Shep to line them up in the Node, ready to go
into the Lab two days later when we start doing Lab outfitting
-- the physical outfitting of it inside. But then, we'll close
the hatch after we do this initial bit of transfer, clean up our
middeck a little bit, we'll close the hatch. Because it'll be
time for us to depressurize to 10.2 p.s.i., and that's to prepare
the EVA guys for the first EVA the next day.
day that the Destiny Lab is to be attached to the station, with
work both outside and the inside.
A big coordinated
the steps? Tell us what you'll be seeing, and what you'll be doing,
during that day while Bob Curbeam and Tom Jones are outside and
the Lab is being mated to the Node.
is a very coordinated operation. And, there are a lot of things
that have to happen before the next thing can happen, and it starts
right at the beginning. One of the details that I just glossed
over when I said we'll attach the Lab is that we have to remove
PMA 2, which has been resting on the front of Node 1 since it
was built -- since before it was launched on STS-88, which has
been a couple of years now. We hope it comes off; it's been there
a long time. So we have to remove PMA 2, and we don't even want
the EVA guys to come out of the airlock until we've successfully
unbolted PMA 2, using computer commands from the shuttle and pulled
it away from the Node. And then, we're going to allow the guys
to open the hatch and start their work. Tom will immediately,
as soon as he gets his tools together, head up to the interface
of the Z1 Truss and where the PMA is going to be stored temporarily.
We have this temporary storage location for PMA 2 that just puts
it up out of the way for a couple of days. And, it's sort of a
poor man's version of the Common Berthing Mechanism. It's one
that's driven by the power tool that the EVA guy carries. So,
Marsha will take PMA 2 off from Node 1, move it up higher to the
Z1 Truss, move it to within range of where some latches can capture
it, and then Tom will put his Pistol-Grip Tool -- the power tool;
basically, a motorized wrench -- and squeeze the trigger, and
that will spin a mechanism inside the latch and cause it to latch
on to the PMA and trap it to Z1. Once it's latched down, then
Marsha can let go of the arm; and then her job really begins.
She drives the arm over to grapple the Lab in the payload bay.
At this point, I'm backing her up doing the R2 functions. She's
R1, for RMS operator number 1. I'm R2. And that means I make inputs
to computer displays to condition the arm and to put the right
parameters assigned to it so that it works properly. She goes
over and grapples the Lab. I release the retention latches that
have held the Lab into the payload bay. And then she'll pull it
up out of the payload bay and flip it over, and then line it up
with the Node and berth it. And what I just said there will take
probably about an hour and a half. The Lab weighs almost 31,000
pounds, and the arm is not very strong. In fact, it can't even
hold its own weight in 1-G; so, we have to move very slowly to
overcome the inertia of the Lab. It takes a long time.
As you said,
if one were to look at the dock configuration on this mission,
it is almost as if the Lab could simply be lifted up and attached.
It's right below where it needs to go, but it's not in the right
And we puzzled over that question for a while in the first few
months of our assignment and actually asked the question. And
I guess, we didn't ask the right people, because no one knew why
the Lab flew uphill, upside down in the payload bay. They said,
"Well, we think it's because of center of gravity concerns
for the shuttle." And maybe that's true. But there's a much
more clever answer, and somebody was very smart when they figured
this out. But, when the Lab is finally attached, it has to have
some strong structure and a mounting pole at the top to which
will be attached the entire truss that holds the space station
solar arrays in the final configuration. That truss won't be there
when we get there because the Lab's not there yet. And that piece
of structure would be… Well, let me back up. That piece of
structure's needed to hold the truss. When the Lab launches, another
piece of structure is needed to hold it rigidly mounted to the
keel, to the bottom of the payload bay of the shuttle. Somebody,
some engineer must have had the bright idea that if we use the
same structure for both, it will save weight, and it'll be a very
efficient, elegant solution to the two pieces of structure. So,
that's exactly what we did. The keel pin on the shuttle - which
is a big, about a 4-inch diameter piece of stainless steel that
mounts down into a fitting in the bottom of the payload bay and
holds the Lab from rotating or swinging or moving fore and aft
during launch loads - is the same piece of structure that is used
to attach the large truss that holds the solar arrays. Before
the truss comes, it's also used in flight 6A, when the space station
robot arm is brought up. It's brought up on a pallet, and that
pallet is mounted to that same keel pin; and then the arm walks
itself off and grabs the grapple fixture that it uses later. So,
it actually has two functions; three, counting the one for launch.
So, that's the reason for the flip.
But we get
ahead of our story. Let's tail back to the space walk. You have
told us that Marsha Ivins has grappled the Lab, has turned it
around and now is bringing it in to where it's to be mated. Pick
up the story there.
we have an even tighter tolerance to the berthing operation than
we did with the docking operation to station. We're allowed no
more than 2 inches of lateral clearance or lateral offset. And
the roll angle is even more critical; it can't be any more than
about 2 degrees we think. That's what we're shooting for anyway,
to give everything the best chance of working. So, to do this
accurately -- and this is something we can't see visually because
when we're docked; we're staring out the back windows to PMA 2…
3, I'm sorry, the thing we're docked to - and over our overhead
windows is the Node. So, all the windows that can look towards
anything we're doing on station are blocked. So, everything we
do is by cameras. And, if you use a camera to look off to the
side and sort of judge when something's perfectly lined up, you'll
fail. Especially if the lineup has to be as tight as this one
does. So, we have a couple of systems. The one we plan to primarily
use is a camera that Shep will have installed in the hatch window
of the Node 1 forward hatch. And it'll look straight out towards
the orbiter tail. And when we lift the Lab up, flip it around,
it'll be looking at a target that we have already installed on
the aft hatch of the Lab. We use the hatch window as a reflector.
And we have some markings attached around the reflector to keep
ourselves centered. And using just that, she could bring the Lab
in to position, and it will be accurate enough to get us to a
berthing condition. To back that up, in case the centerline camera
fails, we'll also use the Canadian Space Vision System, which
has been used successfully on flights before this. And using the
measles that are all over the Node and the Lab - the SVS targets,
the little black dots on a light background - the SVS computers
will compute a solution and tell us when we're lined up. And the
way that shows up is a series of numbers that Marsha just tries
to keep at zero. Pitch, roll, yaw, and Y and Z. And then, she
gradually brings the X number down to zero. So, I think we have
accuracy coming out of our ears for berthing the Lab and backup
to backup. So, I think we've got ourselves covered for the case
we'll find ourselves in, which is we can't look directly at the
on to the following day. That's the day that your crew and the
space station crew both are going to be working inside Destiny
to activate it and to outfit it. And I know that one of your jobs
on that first day is to monitor operations of the Control Moment
Gyroscopes as they get started. Talk us again through the schedule
for that very busy day, the first day inside Destiny.
first day, we may get to the point of spinning the Control Moment
Gyros. But, we won't do the test yet. The first day is even more
basic. We have to make a couple of cable connections that are
inside - and Shep's crew should take care of this the night before
- that allows us to communicate with the Lab. And we will have
activated it remotely using our laptop station controllers the
night before, right after EVA 1. Then, what's remaining the next
day is certain things inside the Lab are launched in one configuration
and they have to be put into another configuration for use. And
there's just a list of those; and we've got it into a little what
we're calling a "job jar." And, as I mentioned earlier,
Marsha will have a bag that will have all the tools and equipment
to do each of those jobs. And Shep will not have seen the Lab
very recently. It will be several months since he's had a chance
to see the Lab by the time we get there. So, we intend to be the
ones that give him sort of the on-the-job training for these tasks
and then equip him to do that. There'll be further follow-on tasks
when more racks and more systems come up to the Lab on later flights.
of times we've used the word "rack." And I want to get
you to expand on that a little bit. This is like a plug-in module
that allows the Lab to be used for different things?
24 rack spaces, places where racks can go. And we're only taking
up five on our flight; again, because it would be too heavy to
take up more. Six more of them come on 5A.1 and eventually all
24 will be filled, I guess, except for one hole, which is where
the window is. And a rack is something that's about the size of
a refrigerator -- a small household refrigerator; a stand-up type.
It is made of composite carbon fiber; very high-tech construction
to make it light and strong and stiff. And, as you mentioned,
it's a plug-in-type thing. It mechanically hooks to a fitting
on one side of a wall, and then, it rotates to the next fitting,
and it's held there mechanically. And then at the bottom of the
rack, there are plug-ins to cooling water, either moderate-temperature
or a low-temperature loop; there're two cooling water loops inside
the Lab. Fresh air, as required for fans in that rack to fit,
it needs air circulation. And vacuum lines, both to evacuate effluents
from an experiment or just to apply a more pure vacuum to an experiment.
And then, electrical power and data connections are all made at
the bottom of this rack. So, at these various locations that are
set up for science or other kinds of equipment racks, there're
plugs. And when you physically mount a rack there, then you go
along and make the connections that it needs.
is some of what you guys will be doing on that first day in the
One of the
systems racks, the Air Revitalization system rack -- the AR rack
-- will launch in a location which is good for the center of gravity
of the Lab while it's in the payload bay, but it's in the wrong
spot for use. So, we unplug it from that location, go through
this complicated twisting, turning motion that we have written
down on a piece of paper so we won't do it wrong and stick it
in the proper location for the rack and then make those connections
and then activate them.
equipment to be installed on the Lab during the second space walk
of the mission, starting with that Pressurized Mating Adapter
that you had left up on Z1.
through the second EVA as you did the first and point out some
of the highlights. And, also note what you will be doing during
I'm a slave to everybody else. As the commander, I've tried not
to make myself be in the critical path for any operation that
I didn't have to be. And that is true for most everything, although
I'm prime for activating the Lab using the laptop PCs. So, that's
one place where I wasn't able to do that. But I'm basically watching
what Marsha does and watching what Mark Polansky does as he orchestrates
the EVA. On the second EVA, the dependencies are reversed. We
have to get Tom up there first before we can do anything. He has
to come up and be ready to unlatch PMA 2 from the Z1. Marsha grapples
PMA 2. Tom unlatches it. And then she takes it down to the end
of the Lab and installs it on the leading edge of the front-end
cone of the Lab. And PMA 2, on the front of the Lab, will be where
the next several flights dock to. So, it's important that it gets
installed there; otherwise, there's a break in the assembly process.
When PMA 2 is attached to the forward end of the Lab, it's attached
using the Common Berthing Mechanism, which is electric latches
that pull it close together and then electrically powered bolts,
16 of them, that bolt it down. But because it's been in a different
thermal condition up on Z1 than the front of the Lab has been,
we will only partially bolt it down. We'll bolt it down tight
enough to where she can let go of it with the arm, but then it
needs to sit there and wait 12 hours while the temperatures equalize
on the two interfaces. And then we'll come back to it later and
do the final torquing of those bolts. It depends on how smoothly
that goes what else we get done on EVA 2. But I believe the next
priority of task is to attach the Power Data Grapple Fixture,
which is the standardized grapple fixture that the space station
arm will use. And it goes on to a mechanical connection on the
side of the Lab. We carry it up on the sidewall of the orbiter.
It's too big to be inside. It's on the sidewall of the payload
bay of the orbiter and it's bolted into place there. And I believe
it's Tom that comes over and grabs the PDGF -- the payload, or
the Power Data Grapple Fixture -- and soft docks it to the side
of the Lab. And then he and Beamer together run the bolts that
completely mechanically attach it to the Lab, and then there's
several electrical power and data connections that are made. And
all of this has to happen under some shields that they remove
to get out of the way for that, and then re-install the shields
back around the PDGF. So, that's an important one because on two
flights later, when we bring the space station arm up, it'll sort
of self-activate and come off of its pallet and go looking for
that Power Data Grapple Fixture and attach itself to it. And the
station arm is unique in that, once it attaches to a Power Data
Grapple Fixture, that's as good as having it rigidly attached
as a base, and the other end can now be the free end. And it can
go find another Power Data Grapple Fixture, attach to it, let
go of this one, and leapfrog itself to any location on the station.
So, it's going to be really clever when this all works out. But
for any of that to begin, the PDGF that we're carrying up has
to be attached to the Lab. That'll happen on EVA 2.
a day with some time off. And then there's a third space walk.
go into the station in between those two because we don't have
enough nitrogen onboard to re-pressurize to the station pressure,
open the hatch, and go in there and then depressurize to 10.2,
which is where we need to do our EVA from. So, we'll just take
our time on our side and the station crew will be on their side,
and Shep can start enjoying the new space that we've brought him.
The third one, we have a preplanned spare part that we're bringing
up. It's a spare antenna electronics assembly; it's called SASA.
It's the Space-to-Ground Antenna Spare Unit, or Spare Assembly.
And we don't install it, we just mount it on to the Z1, ready
to be installed if and when the SASA that's in place fails. So,
it's considered a spare that's so critical that we need to have
one sitting right there ready to go. It has to do with communication,
so it's needed. Then, there's a number of outfitting things with
a order of priority that we'll do to different fittings on the
Lab. We'll put the shutter that goes over the window. There's
a shutter that just is a big plate that covers it to protect it
when it's not in use. And the shutter is run by a gearbox that
passes through the structure of the Lab that's already in place;
the pass-through part. And with a turn on the crank, the crew
inside can open and close the shutter. So, it's sort of like a
hurricane shutter that you'd see in a beach house in Galveston,
but just one big plate. And then there's a couple of other vents
and small pieces of equipment that need to be installed. They're
lower priority. If we don't get them done, we can leave them to
another crew. We'd like to not do that. And then there are some
other things that will be considered get-ahead tasks for the next
crew to come along that we'll, as time remains at the end of EVA
3, we'll do those.
third space walk is over, the hatches between the shuttle and
the station are to open again.
then once all of you, the eight of you, get together again?
of the same from Flight Day 5. This will be on Flight Day 9, I
guess. We will finish out any outfitting. Having finished with
all the station laptops on the shuttle side, we'll transfer those
to Shep and anything that he needs brought back down that's not
working, or whatever, we'll transfer into the shuttle. And then,
we'll pick up the trash. They will take out the trash to the Node,
and we'll load it onto the shuttle and, and bring it home on the
middeck. Not a very appetizing thought, but one that is going
to be necessary for most shuttle flights. Again, because it's
not flying when we thought it would be. Normally, most of the
trash would be put in the Progress; no people would have to deal
with it, and it would just be burned up on entry on the way back
in. But, we'll do it this way this time.
We have many
talents that you are going to put to use.
The day after
that is the day that you all are to say your final goodbyes and
to leave. Tell us about the undocking and the plans for flying
around the station and getting a look at what you've just delivered.
throughout the whole mission, and especially during the EVAs,
we will be doing photo documentation of everything that we do,
including details of bolts or of latches or of anything that may
give trouble in the future. We want to get a closeout photo that
shows how we left it. Basically to show that it wasn't our fault,
and we'll do that with a couple of methods. Both the EVA guys
will carry Nikon cameras that are certified for use outside. And,
by the way, they were flown for the first time on 3A and came
back with some really stunning photographs, not only of work-site
and closeout photos but also panoramic views of the Earth and
the shuttle. And they were just really beautiful. So, we're pleased
with the way the camera's performing. Our EVA guys will be doing
the second flight of the Wireless Video System, which is a helmet
cam on each EVA helmet. And so, just like the football games now,
we can watch what's going on from one person's helmet's perspective.
And we'll have the feed from those two video cameras always into
the cockpit. And when there's something we need to record for
posterity or for close-out documentation reasons, Mark Polansky,
the orchestrator of EVAs, will hit record on a couple of recorders.
And then the fly-around is, as you mentioned, for the big picture
look of the station. And it's something that we can pass on to
the next crew to say, "This is what it's going to look like.
This is how big it looks. This is how well the radar tracked it."
And the radar is going to start tracking this station worse and
worse. The bigger it gets, the noisier it is; the harder it is
for a radar to figure out what part of it it wants to track. And
it sort of gets confused. So, we'll track it with radar and we'll
fly around it, and we'll take photographs. Mark gets to do this
part. It gives him a little hands-on experience with the shuttle,
and for the time when he's a commander, it will serve him well
when he's the one doing the docking. Basically, we tell the docking
system to let go. And when it lets go, we do it with a button
push and we do it with a timer. When it lets go, there's some
gentle springs that push the vehicles apart. And when we're clear,
we make a couple of very small thruster firings that push us down
on the radius away from the station. When we get about 400 feet
away, then we do some more thruster firings just to fly us, and
a loop around the station to get a picture of her from every angle.
If we have enough fuel, we'll do two loops.
of the Destiny Laboratory really moves the station into a new
stage of its life. Can you tell me what are your thoughts about
the significance of the now more rapid expansion of this complex
and how the components from the various countries are coming together
to be one international station?
Well, I try
not to dwell too much on the specific significance for our flight
because it's going to be overshadowed by the significance of the
next flight. And they're all important, and each flight is critical
to the next flight. And so, the thing that I think of as we do
our task is everything set for Wetherbee? He's the commander of
the next flight. Will it be how he needs it to be so that his
flight can be successful? And in a way, his flight is crucial,
too, in that he brings up the second crew. I mean, it has its
own crucial portions, which are no less crucial than what we're
doing. I think the one thing that does weigh on me a little bit
is that getting the Lab attached and activated successfully is
required before we can get it to the configuration that we desire
to be in with Mission Control -- with Houston prime and Moscow
secondary. So, that has to go right. But then, everything else
does, too, or the assembly sequence breaks.
want that to happen.
would make me look pretty bad. So, we don't want that to happen.