your window to space
CapCom Volume 24 Number 2 November/December 2013
CapCom is Published by Midlands Spaceflight Society www.midspace.org.uk Dedicated to Andy Salmon (1962 - 2013) Editor: Mike Bryce | President: David J Shayler | Secretary: Dave Evetts Honorary Member: Helen Sharman OBE
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
space news roundup ESA rover completes exploring Mars-like desert
The Soyuz TMA-08M Spacecraft Departs (Cover Picture)
Braving high winds, dust devils and unpredictable terrain, ESA’s test rover has completed its exploration across – and under – Chile’s Mars-like Atacama Desert. The five-day Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover, or SAFER, field trial concluded on Saturday 12 October. An early version of ESA’s 2018 ExoMars rover fitted with a trio of prototype ExoMars instruments was overseen from a remote control centre at the Satellite Applications Catapult facility in Harwell, UK.
The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft departs from the International Space Station’s Poisk Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM2) and heads toward a landing in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on 11 September 2013 (Kazakhstan time). Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, Expedition 36 commander; along with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, both flight engineers, are ending a five-and-a-half month stay at the space station where they served as members of the Expedition 35 and 36 crews. NASA http://www.nasa.gov
The controllers sat in front of a large video wall, combining data from the rover’s instruments with their own 3D planning maps. Over the course of six simulated martian days, they reviewed rover data to select new targets or trajectories for subsequent investigation. “SAFER’s purpose is really to build up experience in rover field testing, so the remote team worked as realistically as possible,” explains Michel van Winnendael, overseeing the testing for ESA. “They had to plan good observation points for the instruments and safe paths for navigation. Once a plan was prepared it was dispatched to the local team in the field who then forwarded it to the rover, while trying to remain as ‘invisible’ as possible for the remote operators.” This extended to brushing away tyre tracks and their own footprints with a broom, so as not to give the remote control centre any inadvertent positioning clues. The ExoMars rover was used as the ‘reference mission’ for the trial, helping to maximise the level of realism. Just as the actual rover will do on Mars, the test rover – supplied by Astrium in Stevenage, UK and dubbed ‘Bridget’ – hosted a panoramic camera, close-up imager resembling a geologist’s lens and groundpenetrating radar to identify promising sites for subsurface excavation. The one item the rover lacked was a working drill, so whenever the control centre ordered an excavation the local team stepped in to manually dig the site. This obtained samples for ‘ground truth’ – checking that the radar analysis was accurate as well as enabling closeup analysis. “At our second simulated drill location the field team found a layer of rock starting at a depth of 60 cm,” remarks Sev Gunes-Lasnet, project manager for RAL Space. “This comes close to the kind of features the team was looking for: analogues for locations on Mars which could hold traces of past or present life.”
As a thank you to the European Southern Observatory on Mount Paranal, which played host to the SAFER team, Bridget was brought up to the mountain to meet its staff. They were able to see the rover on the move, and given the chance to teleoperate it for themselves.
A valuable element of the field trial was its unpredictability: high desert winds and a close encounter with a dust devil led the local ream to shelter their control centre behind a huddle of cars, although the rover itself was untroubled.
The SAFER field trial was overseen by ESA’s Directorate of Technical and Quality Management, with its international industrial team led by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space. The activity is funded by ESA’s Basic Technology Research Programme, with additional co-funding from the UK Space Agency.
A flat rock that was suddenly flipped by the passage of Bridget’s front wheel was another unexpected problem – useful food for thought for rover designers and operators. “Both the remote and field team members are now looking forward to seeing how things went ‘at the other side’,” concludes Michel. “Analysis will continue in the coming weeks.” On Saturday evening the rover made one final trip, prior to being boxed up for its return to the UK.
SAFER: http://safertrial.wordpress.com. ESA: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/ralspace/default.aspx Astrium: http://www.astrium.eads.net/ ExoMars: http://exploration.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index. cfm?fobjectid=46048
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
Countdown to Astronauts Practice Launching in NASA’s launch of ESA’s New Orion Spacecraft billion-star surveyor Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman (see image below) try out a prototype display On 22 October, the decision was taken to postpone the launch of ESA’s Gaia mission after a technical issue was identified in another satellite already in orbit.
and control system inside an Orion spacecraft mockup at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston during the first ascent and abort simulations for the program. For the first time, NASA astronauts are practicing a launch into space aboard the agency’s Orion spacecraft, and provided feedback on the new capsule’s cockpit design.
Gaia shares some of the components involved in this technical issue and prompt notification of this problem has allowed engineers working on the final preparations for Gaia’s launch to take additional precautionary measures.
In the ascent simulations, which took place over the course of two weeks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston this month, astronauts rehearsed their roles during an eightminute climb into space aboard Orion. The rehearsals included procedures that would be required in the event of an emergency with the agency’s new heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket, which is being designed to carry Orion to low-Earth orbit on the first portion of its flights to deep space.
The issue concerns components used in two transponders on Gaia that generate ‘timing signals’ for downlinking the science telemetry. To avoid potential problems, they will be replaced.
Ten pairs of astronauts participated in two normal launch simulations and two launch-abort simulations inside an Orion mockup fitted with instrument panels and other equipment being designed for the actual capsule. As the two-person crews made their way through a series of tasks, engineers took careful notes of every comment and question from the crew. Their feedback will be considered in the process of fine-tuning the design and build requirements for the displays and controls.
The transponders will be removed from Gaia at Kourou and returned to Europe, where the potentially faulty components will be replaced and verified. After the replacements have been made, the transponders will be refitted to Gaia and a final verification test made. As a consequence of these precautionary measures, it will not be possible to launch Gaia within the window that includes the previously targeted launch date of 20 November. The upcoming launch manifest of Arianespace has now been established. Gaia is scheduled for launch on 20 December. More details will be given as soon as they are available. The new launch date will be announced when the timeline for completing the additional work has been confirmed and the overall launch manifest of Arianespace has been established.
“Simulations like these provide valuable experience by giving astronauts and the operations team an early look at what going to deep space in Orion will be like,” said astronaut Lee Morin, who has been working on the Orion displays as supervisor of Johnson’s rapid prototyping laboratory. “Rehearsing launch and ascent -- two of the most challenging parts of Orion’s mission -- also gives us an opportunity to work toward optimizing how the crew interacts with the spacecraft.” Designing a spacecraft’s cockpit to maximize simplicity and efficiency is not easy. Each of NASA’s space shuttles had 10 display screens, more than 1,200 switches, dials and gauges, and pages of procedures weighing hundreds of pounds on paper. By comparison, Orion, which is designed for deep-space exploration and autonomous or piloted rendezvous and docking, will have just three computer screens, each the size of a sheet of paper, which take advantage of information technology advancements made since the space shuttles were designed in the early 1970s. “It’s very rewarding work, knowing the displays we are creating and testing now will be what future astronauts will be looking at as they rendezvous with an asteroid, orbit the moon, and even travel to Mars,” Morin said. “Getting this right is key to making Orion and other future vehicles safer and easier to use.” Orion’s first crewed launch, Exploration Mission-2, is scheduled for 2021, when NASA plans to send two astronauts to an asteroid in lunar orbit. Orion ultimately will allow us to go farther into space than ever before, including destinations such as Mars.
Gaia is ESA’s billion-star surveyor, designed to provide a precise 3D map of our Milky NASA plans to make Orion’s data and software available to the agency’s commercial Way galaxy in order to understand its partners, who may adapt it for use in spacecraft that could transport astronauts to and from composition, formation and evolution. the International Space Station. ESA NASA http://www.esa.int http://www.nasa.gov/orion
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
Autographica 19: 20th September, 2013 Martin Dawson I started going to these in 2007 and have not missed one since. If, like me you are interested in spaceflight then I can not recommend them highly enough. There’s some thing special about meeting the people involved in the events of some 40+ years ago that led to man walking on the moon or some other famous event from history… There were several people I wanted to meet at this year’s Autographica and I was not disappointed. First up was Terry Pappas who flew Lockheed SR-71 ‘Blackbird’s’, perhaps the fastest air breathing aeroplane ever created. He signed a photograph for me and was very charming. Next up where two people involved in the Dams Raid of 70 years ago. Mary Stopes Roe, Barnes Wallis’s daughter and George ‘Johnny’ Johnson who flew on the raid and bombed the Sorpe Dam. Mary was very nice and signed two books for me, she asked if I wanted a message and I said ‘Daddy, Wonderful Daddy’ she smiled and said ‘Why oh why do you want that?’ I replied it was brilliant what she did lending her father the marbles he used in his experiments and the letter she wrote to him the day after the raid. ‘I was only 14 when it all happened’. I said ‘ah but you are part of the story and you contributed’. A lovely lady, born in York (my home town) when Barnes was at Howden working on Vickers R100 airship. Like she said ‘that was the proper airship’ I said I agree and that I am an ex-Vickers employee. George ‘Johnny’ Johnson was so funny and alert at 97 years of age and I had a very good conversation with him telling him I visited RAF Scampton and Reculver earlier in the year. He laughed asking if I was following the Dambusters to which I said yes! he signed a couple of books for me including the Haynes Manual on the Dambusters. Next up was Walter Cunningham (If you don’t agree with the global warming scare stories read he’s Personal Viewpoint) veteran of the Apollo 7 flight in October 1967. While I was queuing to meet him, he quipped a joke to Terry Pappas about Terry ‘playing’ with simulators and when he had finished with them he should try a real flying machine’ . There was lots of raucous laughter! He signed my ‘big blue
book’ and I recounted how I remember walking in to my class room at school thinking ‘there are men up there’ while he was on his flight. He smiled and I shewed him my Speedmaster watch, he took a big interest in it and told me his that he used on Apollo 7 is in a museum and that his Speedmaster watch that he bought was broken and he shewed me a very nice watch he was wearing. He said it cost $18, I smiled and told him the price of mine and he laughed out loud and shook my hand! Finally I met Russell Schweickart (if you love cats click on Recent Photos) who flew on Apollo 9. He too signed my ‘big blue book’. I said he should have had command of a later mission and he smiled ‘ah well, that’s NASA for you’ Here was the man who tested the spacesuit astronauts would wear on the surface of the moon, he conducted an EVA and stood on the Lunar Module porch. To think the next person who would wear such a suit and exit a lunar module would be Neil Armstrong…
Autographica 19; http://showmastersonline.com/forums/index. php?showtopic=80010; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes_ Wallis#Personal; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise; http://www.waltercunningham.com/index.htm ; http://www.well. com/~rs/ MD
NASA Spacecraft Hardware Ready for Pressure Testing in Preparation for Upcoming Orion Launch The design and fabrication of critical flight hardware that will be used to keep NASA’s Orion spacecraft safe during launch was recently completed at Janicki Industries in Hamilton, Wash. The hardware arrived 26 Sepember at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. for final preparations before Orion’s first mission planned for September 2014.
The diaphragm will undergo pressurized testing at Marshall before being integrated with the spacecraft’s stage adapter – certifying it for flight conditions. EFT-1 will send an Orion spacecraft 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface, 15 times farther away than the International Space Station. During the 2014 test, Orion will return to Earth at a speed of about 20,000 mph, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans.
Orion’s stage adapter diaphragm serves as a barrier between the upper-stage of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft, preventing hydrogen gas build up from the rocket beneath the spacecraft before and during launch. “The close relationship between NASA and Janicki Industries on the diaphragm enables us to optimize performance, mass and even take advantage of some cost savings in the process,” said Kevin Rivers, Orion Launch Abort System project manager. The diaphragm, a light-weight composite structure, was designed by a team of engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., in close collaboration with Marshall. The component is an integral part of the stage adapter that will connect Orion to a Delta IV Heavy rocket during its first mission, Exploration Flight Test1, and on the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System in 2017.
SLS will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for crew or cargo missions, the SLS will be safe, affordable, and sustainable, to continue America’s journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space. SLS is a rocket that can carry the Orion spacecraft’s crew, equipment and experiments to places we’ve never been before in our solar system.
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
ISS MISSION REPORT By George Spiteri Expedition Thirty-Seven is in its early stages with the International Space Station (ISS) commanded by Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin who is joined by Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, Americans Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins and ESA’s Italian Luca Parmitano. Russian cosmonauts, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and American Chris Cassidy returned safely to Earth in mid-September. Yurchikhin and Misurkin left the Pirs Module at 1536 BST on 16th August to begin Expedition Thirty-Six’s fourth spacewalk. Most of the EVA was devoted to rerouting cables outside the Zarya Module in preparation for the launching of the next Russian Module later this year. They also installed an experimental pallet outside the Poisk Module to study the space environment and installed two connector patch panels and gap spanners on Poisk. The cosmonauts ended their spacewalk after 7 hours 29 minutes at 2305 BST, making this the longest Russian/Soviet EVA in history, beating Solovyev and Balandin’s EVA in July 1990 by 13 minutes. However, Yurchikhin spent 7 hours 41 minutes in a US EMU suit conducting an ISS EVA with Clay Anderson in July 2007. Yurchikhin and Misurkin left Pirs again for another spacewalk at 1234 BST on 22nd August. They installed a new telescope mount outside the complex despite a flaw in the device. The cosmonauts also removed a laser communication experiment and after 5 hours 58 minutes re-entered Pirs at 1832 BST, completing the 173rd EVA dedicated to ISS assembly and maintenance. The Station’s Commander celebrated his 60th birthday on 31st August, the same day that the complex was boosted into a higher orbit by the European Automated Transfer Vehicle-4’s (ATV-4) thrusters firing for 204.8 seconds. The complex was now in a 256 x 260 mile orbit to accommodate the next Soyuz arrival. The Japanese HTV-4 Kounotori-4 (White Stork-4) unmanned cargo vehicle was unberthed from the Station’s Harmony Module at 1307 BST on 4th September and with Nyberg at the controls was released by the robotic Canadarm2 over four hours later at 1720 BST and sent to a destructive re-entry north-east of New Zealand on 7th September. Yurchikhin assumed command of the Station from Vinogradov in a brief ceremony on 9th September. Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin undocked their Soyuz TMA-08M/34S vehicle from the Station’s Poisk Module at 0035 BST on 11th September, signalling the official start of Expedition Thirty-Seven. See cover picture. Soyuz landed south
east of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan three and a half hours later at 0358 BST (0858 local time). The crew were in space for 166 days 6 hours 16 minutes and Vinogradov became the oldest person to ride a Soyuz spacecraft logging a total of 547 days in space on his three spaceflights. Orbital Sciences launched the unmanned Cygnus commercial spacecraft from its mid-Atlantic launch pad at Wallops in Virginia at 1558 BST on 18th September (1058 local time). It was the first demonstration mission by Orbital to the ISS, carrying 1,543 pounds of supplies, including food and clothes for the crew. The arrival of Cygnus (see image below) was delayed till after the latest Soyuz crew’s docking at the ISS due to a software problem with Cygnus on the original planned arrival date of 22nd September. Soyuz TMA-10M/36S with veteran Oleg Kotov and rookies Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy were launched from Baikonur at 2158 BST on 25th September (0258 26th September local time) and following the now usual fast-track rendezvous profile docked at the Station’s Poisk Module at 0345 BST on 26th September. The hatches were opened nearly two hours later at 0534 BST and the Station returned to a six person complement. The following day Parmitano celebrated his 37th birthday and sent his thanks to all well wishers via his Twitter page from orbit. Cygnus was eventually grappled by Canadarm2 at 1200 BST on 29th September and berthed to the Earth facing port of Harmony nearly two hours later at 1344 BST. The crew opened the hatches and entered Cygnus the following day to begin unloading its cargo. By 7th October the crew began loading Cygnus with unwanted items in preparation for its undocking from the complex in late October. Since the US Government shutdown on 1st October there has been scant information about activities aboard the ISS due to the shutdown of the NASA and related websites. However, Nyberg did tweet a thank you to everyone who wished her a happy 44th birthday on 7th October. Presumably the US part of the crew are conducting scientific experiments and NASA’s JSC in Houston is being kept open to support the crew despite 97% of NASA staff furloughed by the shutdown. As of 11th October Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano have been in space for 137 days whilst Kotov, Hopkins and Ryazanskiy have logged 17 days in orbit. GAS Image left: the Orbital Sciences Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft is grappled by the Stations’s Robot arm. Image: Orbital Sciences via NASA
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
ASTRONAUT NEWS ROB WOOD
ISS Crewing Updates
Following on from the last issue and the unofficial crew selections that were discussed, NASA has now confirmed that Timothy Kopra is the missing crew member for International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 46. He will launch on Soyuz TMA-19M in November 2015 with Britain’s ESA astronaut Timothy Peake and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Zalyotin. Zalyotin was not mentioned in the NASA release but he is shown in a press release from the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center dated 16 September 2013 as being part of the crew. NASA’s release dated 30 September 2013 noted that Kopra and Peake would be joining Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korniyenko to form part of ISS Expedition 46. Although also not mentioned Sergei Volkov is the remaining member of the expedition. Zalyotin, Peake and Kopra will also form the first half of the crew for ISS Expedition 47. Peake’s assignment was well known as the British Space Agency and ESA had made the announcement on 20 May 2013 (see July/ August 2013 CapCom for full details). Timothy Lennart Kopra (Colonel, US Army Ret.) was born in Austin, Texas, on 9 April 1963. He has degrees in Computer Science, Aerospace Engineering, Strategic Studies and Business Administration. He was in the US Army from 1985 to 2010. As a helicopter pilot he made a combat deployment to the Middle East in support of the war against Iraq in the early 1990’s and qualified as a test pilot in 1996. In 1998 he was assigned to NASA at the Johnson Space Center as a vehicle integration test engineer. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 (NASA Group 18). He served as a back-up crew member for ISS Expedition 16/17 in 2008 before flying as a flight engineer on ISS Expedition 20 on a two month spaceflight in 2009. He launched on STS-127 Endeavour and landed in STS-128 Discovery. Due to a broken hip in a bicycle accident in January 2011 he was replaced as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-133 which was launched on 24 February 2011. Sergei Viktorovich Zalyotin (Colonel, Russian Air Force) was born in Shchyokino, Tula Oblast, Russia, on 21 April 1962. He qualified as a Soviet Air Force pilot in 1983 and served with aviation units in the Moscow Military District flying MiG-21’s, MiG-23’s and Su-17’s until his selection as a cosmonaut. He has degrees in Environmental Management and Jurisprudence. He was selected for cosmonaut training in 1990 and went on to make two spaceflights. After serving on a back-up crew for the Mir space station he was the commander for Mir-28, the final expedition to Mir in 2000. His spacecraft was Soyuz TM-30 and he made one spacewalk during the 72 day mission. His second flight saw him command Soyuz TMA-1 on its taxi-mission to the ISS. He returned to Earth on Soyuz TM-34. This 10-day mission in 2002 exchanged Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS. In 2004 he left the cosmonaut team to enter local politics. However, in January 2011 he returned to the team having received medical approval the previous year. He will serve as a back-up for ISS Expedition 44/45 before making his third spaceflight. Timothy Nagel Peake (Major, Army Air Corps Ret.) was born in Chichester, UK, on 7 April 1972. He has a degree in Flight Dynamics and Evaluation. He was in the British Army from 1990 to 2009. He made a deployment to Northern Ireland in an infantry role before learning to fly helicopters. He was awarded his Army Flying Wings in 1994 and saw service in many countries. He qualified as a test pilot in 2005 and served as the senior Apache test pilot in addition to a test pilot for Special Forces aircraft projects. He was selected as an ESA astronaut in 2009 and successfully completed basic training the following year. He was part of ESA’s
‘CAVES 2011’ project and the following year was an aquanaut on NASA’s ‘NEEMO 16’ underwater crew. ISS Expedition 46/47 will be his first spaceflight.
Danish Astronaut to Visit ISS
On 28 August 2013 the European Space Agency (ESA) released confirmation that ESA’s Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen had been assigned to a mission to the ISS. He is currently scheduled to be launched on Soyuz TMA-18M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 30 September 2015 for a 10-day mission to the ISS. He will return to Earth on 10 October 2015 using the descent module of Soyuz TMA-16M It will be his first spaceflight and the first by a Danish astronaut. He will be accompanied by Sarah Brightman, the first space tourist since Guy Laliberté in 2009 and Sergei Volkov. Brightman will return with him but Volkov will remain on the space station. The descent crew will also include a Russian cosmonaut on completion of their 6-month tour of duty on the station. “I’m happy to announce this mission as this is already the fifth flight assignment for the class recruited in 2009,” said Thomas Reiter, former ESA astronaut and currently ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations. “With the first of the new class, Luca Parmitano, currently working on the space station and three other astronauts already training for their imminent missions, ESA’s new astronauts are very busy. Thanks to the decisions of the Member States at the Ministerial Council last November, we will be able to fulfil our commitment to fly all six newly selected astronauts before the end of 2017,” said Reiter. “This mission is the fulfilment of a life-long dream and the culmination of many years of hard work and training,” said Mogensen. “I am excited to be able to participate in ESA’s outstanding programme of science and technology development on board the International Space Station and I am honoured to represent Denmark and Europe in space. The mission is a unique opportunity for Europe to develop and test the technologies necessary for the future of human space exploration.” Mogensen’s experiment programme includes testing novel ways of interaction between the ground and space crews with a mobile device that allows astronauts to operate it hands-free and with several multi-user communication techniques. The system will have also advanced 3D visualisation and augmented reality features that will be fully exploited with added wearable computers and cameras to allow the general public to follow activities on the ISS ‘through the eyes of an ESA astronaut’, potentially in real time. The short flight will also provide the opportunity for several science studies, particularly in life science. For example, by adding samples and measurements from a short-duration mission to material gathered and being collected during long-duration missions the value of the biomedical statistics is increased. A short-duration mission is also perfect for testing a new generation of health sensors, vital measurement devices and electro-musclemobility devices. These have direct benefit for future exploration missions and even sooner on Earth, for instance with operators of heavy machinery or with rehabilitation after sports injuries. Mogensen will also assess a new ‘skinsuit’ during normal daily activities. This is a tight garment made from elastic material mimicking Earth gravity and thus passively mitigating deconditioning of an astronaut’s body during spaceflight. Andreas Enevold Mogensen (Ph., D.) was born on 2 November 1976 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He received a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London, in 1999,
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 followed by a doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2007. Following his doctorate he worked as an attitude and orbit control systems engineer for HE Space Operations. He was subcontracted to EADS Astrium in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where he worked on ESA’s Swarm mission. Prior to his selection as an astronaut he worked as a research fellow at the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey in the UK. His research focused on spacecraft guidance, navigation and control during entry, descent and landing for lunar missions. He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009 and completed the astronaut basic training programme in November 2010. Since then he has qualified as a private pilot by the Lufthansa flight school and has worked as a CapCom at Europe’s Mission Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Germany. He has also conducted work for ESA on the Lunar Lander Programme at ESTEC, Noordwijk, in the Netherlands, where he was involved in the design of the guidance, navigation and control system for a precision lunar landing. He was part of ESA’s CAVES 2012 mission where a team of six astronauts spent a week living in and exploring caves in Sardinia. In September 2013 he took part in NASA’s SEATEST 2 mission at the Aquarius undersea research laboratory.
Please Sir I Want Some More
I promised you more on the Lonchakov story in the last issue of Astronaut News and indeed the day after I had sent it to our editor I discovered more information. What we have is a story in the true spirit of tabloid reporting. The headline in the Daily Express newspaper of 7 September 2013 reads ‘Spaceman quits £18k job for gas board after wife nags about low pay’. But I get a little ahead of myself. It was on 14 August 2013 that I picked up the first news that Yuri Lonchakov might not be flying on Soyuz TMA-16M in 2015. The ISS schedule on the message board of nasaspaceflight.com showed he was no longer in situ for the flight. It is not unusual for Russian cosmonauts to swap around a bit where their mission is still a few years away and so I did not think much of it at the time. On 29 August 2013 the message board of Novosti Kosmonavtika (NK) was reporting that Gennady Padalka had replaced Lonchakov and then on the following day adding that Lonchakov is to leave cosmonaut team on 13 September 2013 at his own request in connection with taking up a new job. On 5 September 2013 the NK board provided Internet links to Russian press reports that carried the story. The Interfax News Agency reported that the Chief of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and former cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyov said that Lonchakov had come to his office and told him that he had found a more interesting job than working in space. Krikalyov reportedly did not understand this as all he had ever wanted was to work in space.
having phoned a friend at the training centre who did not want to be named but told her that Lonchakov had already got himself a new job. This was with the Russian state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom. The friend said that Lonchakov’s wife had not always been happy with their income and Gazprom had offered a salary several times higher than what he was receiving through the space programme. The following day there was more on Padalka. On 7 September 2013 Robert Pearlman of Collect Space wrote “Some say Padalka is not only confirmed but has known he was going to fly for months.” But, as Robert pointed out, not according to the official statements. He also provided the link to the Express article I mentioned at the beginning.. The Express went tabloid hardcore with the story. Beginning with the headline about his nagging wife through to his bosses accusing him of betrayal. They said Lonchakov’s resignation had provoked fury in the space agency. Rogova was quoted as saying “Now we are urgently looking for a new commander. It is the first time we have such a shocking situation.” In the article another source from the space agency was given as saying Lonchakov “has a bank loan and his wife was not happy with his income. He thought he had done enough in space and he got an offer he could not turn down.” Rogova’s comments were similar to what had been reported in the Komsomolskaya Pravda article but if they have been reported accurately then her knowledge of history is incomplete. In July 2012 Dmitri Kondratiyev had resigned from the cosmonaut team after being assigned to an upcoming mission. The reporting seemed to suggest that Lonchakov’s resignation created a serious problem but I struggle to buy into this. As well as Kondratiyev there have also been drop-outs for medical and other reasons. For example Konstantin Valkov in 2011 and Sergei Moshchenko in 2002 are two that come to mind and I am sure there are others. They were replaced and the programme continued smoothly. There are sufficient cosmonauts available and plenty of time to replace Lonchakov so why is it such a problem in this instance? Or, as in true tabloid tradition, why let the truth get in the way of a good story [allegedly]. Yuri Valentinovich Lonchakov (Colonel, Russian Air Force, Ret.) was born on 4 March 1965 in Balkhash, Dzhezkazgan Region, Kazakhstan Soviet Socialist Republic. He graduated from military flight school in 1986 and served as a pilot in Navy and Air Force units until his selection for cosmonaut training in 1997. In 1998 he earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. He completed his basic cosmonaut training in late 1999 and was awarded the title of ‘Test-Cosmonaut’. During his time as a cosmonaut he made three spaceflights, firstly on the US Space Shuttle, followed by two Soyuz missions. All of them were to the ISS.
RIA Novosti News Agency told the same story adding that Irina Rogova, a spokesperson for the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, advised them that Lochakov was to be formerly discharged from the cosmonaut team on 14 September 2015 (depending on the source the date is given as either 13 or 14). RIA Novosti also said that the training centre had been “rocked by reorganization problems since 2009, when it was transferred from the Defense Ministry to the civilian Federal Space Agency. They reported that an unnamed Russian cosmonaut had told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper last year that the prolonged reorganization had affected cosmonauts’ income and career prospects, breeding discontent in the ranks.
He flew on STS-100 Endeavour in 2001, an 11-day ISS assembly flight that installed Canadarm-2. His second flight saw him launch on Soyuz TMA-1 and return to Earth on Soyuz TM-34. This 10-day mission in 2002 exchanged Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS. This type of flight in known as a taxi-mission and is in connection with the use of the Soyuz as a ‘Lifeboat’ if there is an emergency. His third and what would turn out to be final spaceflight was as a flight engineer for ISS Expedition 18. He launched in Soyuz TMA-13 on 12 October 2008 and returned to Earth on 8 April 2009 using the descent module of the same Soyuz. During his time on the ISS he conducted two spacewalks.
Neither reports contained details of Lonchakov’s the new job but on 6 September 2013 a further Internet link provided more details. The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper ran the story and indicated that Krikalyov had tried to persuade Lonchakov to change his mind but without any luck.
Astronaut Retirements from NASA
The Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist, Anna Veligžanina, related
After a fifteen year career with NASA, Gregory Johnson left to take
The astronaut drain from NASA continues at quite a pace as three more call it a day. On 26 August 2013 NASA announced that Gregory H Johnson was leaving the agency and on 30 September 2013 they advised of the departures of Gregory Chamitoff and Ron Garan.
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 up a position with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). Chamitoff is joining the faculty of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and the University of Sydney in Australia, and Garan, according to the NASA release, will work on a range of new entrepreneurial and humanitarian efforts.
to working alongside the CASIS staff as we continue to enhance the scope of spaceflight research and enable groundbreaking innovations for the benefit of humankind.”
Garan himself tweeted with a comment that suggests NASA’s take on what he was going to do next was NASA speak for ‘don’t know’. Garan’s tweet was “Who said anything about retiring? I’m just getting started... As soon as I figure out what I want to do.”
Gregory Errol Chamitoff (Ph.D.) was born on 6 August 1962 in Montreal, Canada. He moved to the USA in 1974 and became a US citizen about 10 years later. He has degrees in Electrical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Space Science (Planetary Geology). His doctorate was in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992.
Gregory Harold Johnson (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was born on 12 May 1962 in South Ruislip, Middlesex, United Kingdom, whilst his parents were on a military posting to the UK. He has degrees in Aeronautical Engineering (1984), Flight Structures Engineering (1985) and Business Administration (2005). He completed USAF pilot training in 1986. He flew combat missions over Iraq during the early 1990’s before qualifying as a test pilot in 1994 at the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. He retired from the USAF in 2009.
Throughout his pre-NASA career he worked on many projects with spaceflight applications as well as on actual space programmes including developing a self-guided robot for his undergraduate thesis project, Hubble Space Telescope stability analysis, designing flight control upgrades for the Space Shuttle autopilot and developing attitude control system software for the ISS. In his doctoral thesis, he developed a new approach for robust intelligent flight control of hypersonic vehicles.
He was selected as a pilot astronaut in 1998 (NASA Group 17). Following the Columbia accident in 2003 he was the astronaut representative to the External Tank (ET) foam impact test team that eventually proved that ET foam debris on ascent could critically damage the shuttle’s leading edge thermal protection system Over the next five years, he became Deputy Chief and ultimately, Chief of the Astronaut Safety Branch, focusing on all aspects of Space Shuttle, ISS and T-38 safety.
From 1993 to 1995, he was a visiting professor at the University of Sydney, Australia, where he led a research group in the development of autonomous flight vehicles and taught courses in flight dynamics and control. In 1995 he joined Mission Operations at the Johnson Space Center, where he led the development of software applications for spacecraft attitude control monitoring, prediction, analysis, and manoeuvre optimization.
He flew two shuttle missions, serving as the pilot on Endeavour on both occasions as it visited the ISS; STS-123 in 2008 and STS-134 in 2011. His first flight delivered part of the Japanese section of the space station and the final element of the station mobile servicing system. The second flight was the penultimate shuttle mission and Endeavour’s final visit to space, which delivered equipment and spare parts to the ISS. Johnson was the lead robotic arm operator for both the shuttle and station robotic arms during mission operations, which completed station assembly. Other NASA duties included serving as pilot and primary robotic arm operator for STS-400, a contingency flight to rescue the crew of STS-125 during its 2009 Hubble repair mission that fortunately was not required and as Associate Director of External Programs, Center Operations, at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, for one year over 2011/2012. His final position at NASA was as head of the Visiting Vehicle Working Group within the Astronaut Office. This group helps plan, train and execute missions of NASA’s commercial and international partners including Space X Dragon, Orbital Cygnus and JAXA HTV cargo vehicles to and from the ISS. He left NASA in August 2013. “Greg contributed greatly to the construction of the International Space Station and I very much enjoyed my time in orbit with him,” said Bob Behnken, Chief of the Astronaut Office. “We are grateful for his service to NASA and wish him well in his new career.” He has taken up the position of Executive Director of CASIS. CASIS is a non-profit organisation chosen by NASA to manage the utilization of the US portion of the ISS. He took up the post effective 1 September 2013. “Col. Johnson’s combination of experience within our nation’s space programme, leadership skills and familiarity with the aerospace industry make him an ideal fit for CASIS,” said CASIS Board of Directors Chair D. France Cordova. “With Col. Johnson’s appointment by the Board, a critical role within the organization has been filled. He will drive forward the mission of CASIS, which is to enable and maximize use of the ISS National Laboratory as a unique resource for scientific discovery, technology development and education.”
He applied for the 1996 astronaut group but was not successful until the following selection. He was selected as an astronaut in 1998 (NASA Group 17). In 2002, he took part in NEEMO 3 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations), an exploration research mission held in the undersea research laboratory Aquarius located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. He was a back-up flight engineer for ISS Expedition 15/16 before making his spaceflight debut as a flight engineer and science officer for Expedition 17/18. He was launched on STS-124 Discovery on 31 May 2008 and returned to Earth on STS-126 Endeavour on 30 November 2008. He replaced Garrett Reisman on the ISS. In 2011, he returned to space as a mission specialist on the last flight of Endeavour, STS-134. He performed two spacewalks, the second completed assembly of the ISS and was the last involving the space shuttle. He left NASA at the end of September 2013 to take up positions with Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and the University of Sydney in Australia. “Greg will certainly be missed by the Astronaut Office,” said Bob Behnken. “Greg’s passion for sharing the spaceflight experience will serve him well as he begins a new adventure in academia and continues to inspire the next generation of innovators and explorers.” Ronald John Garan (Colonel USAF Ret.) was born on 30 October 1961 in Yonkers, New York. He has degrees in Business Economics, Aeronautical Science and Aerospace Engineering. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the USAF in 1984 and earned his wings the following year. He flew 32 combat missions in the General Dynamics F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ (see note 1) over Iraq during the 1990/1991 war. In 1997 he graduated from the USN Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. He retired from the USAF in 2009. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 (NASA Group 18). In 2006, he took part in NEEMO 9 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations), an exploration research mission held in the undersea research laboratory Aquarius. Although he was selected as a pilot astronaut he made his only shuttle flight as a mission specialist on STS-24 Discovery in 2008, an ISS assembly flight, during which he made three EVA’s. Discovery delivered part of the Japanese section of the space station.
“It is an honour to accept the role of Executive Director with CASIS and promote the benefits of conducting research on the ISS,” said Johnson. “To see the strides this organization has made in less than two years of existence is highly encouraging, and I look forward
His second spaceflight was as a flight engineer for ISS Expedition 27/28 using the Russian Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft (4 April 2011 - 15 September 2011). He made one EVA on 12 July 2011 whilst the final shuttle mission, STS-135, was docked to the space station.
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 Following post flight rehabilitation and downtime he was assigned to work on NASA’s Open Government Initiative, which seeks to develop innovative collaborations within government, industry and with citizens around the world. From 1 March 2013 he was ‘on loan’ to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help apply space technology to the challenges facing the developing world. He left NASA at the end of September 2013. “Ron will certainly be missed by the Astronaut Office,” said Bob Behnken. “I’ll miss Ron both as a contributor to our office and as a classmate.”
UK Astronaut Sightings
1/ Jeffrey Hoffman, a veteran of five space shuttle flights, is an ‘Onboard Speaker’ on Cunard’s transatlantic ocean liner Queen Mary 2 for its Southampton to New York cruise from 15 to 22 December 2013 – see http://www.cunard.co.uk/ for more details. Look up the Westbound Transatlantic Crossing for December 2013. 2/ Chris Hadfield will be undertaking a book tour to promote his first book ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ due for release on 29 October 2013. Colonel Hadfield has tweeted that the tour will be from November 2013 to January 2014 and will include Canada, USA, UK and Ireland. Dublin will be a venue on 9 December 2013 but I do not yet have any other details for this side of the pond. I will certainly be moving heaven and earth (pun intended) to get to this sighting 3/ Autographica 20 will be held at the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Hotel in London over 21 to 23 March 2014. On 13 May 2013 the organizers announced two moonwalkers for the show, Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Apollo 12’s Alan Bean. A third astronaut named later was Bruce McCandless who made the first untethered MMU EVA on the Space Shuttle in 1984. Joe Allen who flew twice on the Space Shuttle in the 1980’s had to cancel his attendance at Autographica 19 due to illness in his family and has re-scheduled for the London show. On 17 October 2013 it was announced that two more shuttle astronauts were scheduled to appear. These are the husband and wife team of Robert ‘Hoot’ Gibson and Rhea Seddon. They were both selected in the first shuttle astronaut group in 1978 and between them have accumulated eight shuttle flights.
NB: If anyone wants to know more about these or other sightings and they do not have access to the Collect Space Sightings pages on the Internet please contact me by email at rwbg15158@ blueyonder.co.uk. I often find out about visits at too short notice to put in CapCom. But, a word of warning. It is always best to check in advance of travelling that an event is taking place as planned. I travelled all the way to London a number of years ago to meet a cosmonaut only to discover he had cancelled because of work commitments. I had not phoned before travelling. I have no involvement in the organisation of the above astronaut events and therefore no liability is accepted for any changes that occur in the details shown.
Bits & Pieces
1/ On 31 August 2013 Pavel Vinogradov celebrated his sixtieth birthday on the ISS. This is his third spaceflight and each time he was in space on his birthday. 2/ The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators presented Gemini and Apollo astronaut James Lovell with their premier award ‘The Guild Award of Honour’ on 23 October 2013. The award is given for courage, achievement and the highest standards of airmanship and is regarded among the world’s premier aviation accolades. Note 1 - The May/June 2013 issue of CapCom ran an item in Astronaut News about Garan under the heading of ‘Astronaut on Loan’. Unfortunately in error I recorded his aircraft during the war against Iraq as the F-15. It is correctly shown as the F-16 in this issue.
Acknowledgements and sources:
Astronaut.ru; Autographica; CapCom (previous issues); Center for the Advancement of Science in Space; Collect Space; Cunard; Daily Express; ESA; Gapan.org; Google; Interfax News Agency; Komsomolskaya Pravda; Moskovsky Komsomolets; NASA (and their various websites); NASA Astronaut Selections ©2003 AIS Publications; NASASpaceflight.com; Newsru.com; Novosti Kosmonavtika; RIA Novosti News Agency; Showmasters; Spacefacts; Texas A&M University; Who’s Who in Space ©1999 by Michael Cassutt; Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center; Wikipedia. RW
Orbital Sciences Cygnus Spacecraft Departs Space Station, Ends Demonstration Mission for NASA A cargo resupply demonstration mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. drew to a close on Tuesday 22nd as Expedition 37 crew members aboard the International Space Station detached and released the Dulles, Virginia, company’s Cygnus spacecraft from the orbiting laboratory.
series of planned burns and manoeuvres to move Cygnus toward a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere. Cygnus was launched 18 September on Orbital’s Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Cygnus had been attached to the space station’s Harmony module for 23 days. The spacecraft delivered about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food, clothing and student experiments. Future Cygnus flights will ensure a robust national capability to deliver critical science research to orbit, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new science investigations to the only laboratory in microgravity. “Congratulations to the teams at Orbital Sciences and NASA who worked hard to make this demonstration mission to the International Space Station an overwhelming success,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “We are delighted to now have two American companies able to resupply the station. U.S. innovation and inspiration have once again shown their great strength in the design and operation of a new generation of vehicles to carry cargo to our laboratory in space. Orbital’s success today is helping make NASA’s future exploration to farther destinations possible.” Prior to its departure from the station, Cygnus was loaded with items no longer needed aboard the station. Astronauts Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency detached the spacecraft using the station’s robotic arm and released Cygnus at 7:31 a.m. EDT. Orbital Sciences engineers then conducted a
The maiden flight of Cygnus and its 11-day journey to the station included a number of tests designed to demonstrate the spacecraft’s ability to navigate, maneuver, lock on to the station and abort its approach. Following these demonstrations NASA cleared the spacecraft to approach the station on 29 September. Cygnus had been scheduled for a rendezvous with the space station 22 September, but because of a data format mismatch, the first rendezvous attempt was postponed. Orbital updated and tested a software patch to resolve the issue. Orbital built and tested its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Program. NASA initiatives, such as COTS, are helping to develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from low-Earth orbit to meet the needs of both commercial and government customers. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program also is working with commercial partners to enable the availability of U.S. commercial human spaceflight capabilities in the next few years.
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
Malcolm Scott Carpenter 1925-2013 Rob Wood It is always sad to report the death of any astronaut but it is with a little extra feeling that I write about Scott Carpenter. Scott was a true gentleman and although it is nine years since my wife and I had dinner with him in Coventry, Jill will often talk about that wonderful evening we spent in his company. Scott had recently suffered a stroke and died on 10 October 2013 as a result of complications following a deterioration in his condition. It was 3 April 1959 and the ‘Hornet’ aircraft carrier was preparing to sail from its home port following its conversion to a new role as an anti-submarine warfare support carrier. Charles Donlan, Deputy Director of the Space Task Group who were selecting America’s first astronauts, was trying to make contact with the carrier’s Air Intelligence Officer.
programme than normal and it was not until July 1945 that he commenced flight training. When World War 2 ended in September 1945 the Navy did not need all its young recruits and Scott was demobilised before he could obtain his wings. He entered the University of Colorado to study aeronautical engineering but he was very disappointed at missing a flying career. In 1949 he got a second chance when the navy started recruiting engineering students that offered a commission and flight training. He received flight training at Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas, and was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1951. The Korean War (1950-1953) was already underway and he made three combat deployments with Patrol Squadron Six, flying
The carrier’s officer in charge, Captain Marshall White, was standing on the Bridge preparing for departure when what he saw gave him a sinking feeling. He watched his Air Intelligence Officer sprint down the gangway to a payphone on the wharf. Scott Carpenter spoke into the telephone to Donlan who offered Scott a new job opportunity. He readily accepted but added, “We’re sailing today. Someone will have to square things with my skipper”.
Melcolm Scott Carpenter was born on 1 May 1925 in Boulder, Colorado. He graduated from high school in 1943 and volunteered to become a naval aviation cadet. However, because of the number of candidates he underwent a longer pre-flight training
With the war over he attended the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and graduated in 1954. He then worked at the Naval Air Test Center, also at Patuxent, flying every type of naval aircraft, including multiand single-engine jet and propeller-driven fighters, attack planes, patrol bombers, transports, and seaplanes. From 1957 to 1959 he attended the Navy General Line School and the Navy Air Intelligence School and was assigned as Air Intelligence Officer to the Aircraft Carrier, USS Hornet. But history was calling and as fate would have he would not deploy with the carrier. He reported for work with NASA at their centre at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia on 27 April 1959. The first part of the training was to get to know the Mercury Programme including visits to the various contractor sites producing the hardware and some academic work in astronautics. There was also survival training for sea or ground landings.
Scott reported to Captain White, who not surprisingly was not too pleased at the prospect of losing one of his senior officers at this late stage in sailing preparations. “You’ll leave this ship over my dead body!” was part of what Captain White said. There was more but those words are not for people of a sensitive disposition. It took the intervention of the Chief of Naval Operations (and it does not get much senior than that) to get Scott off the ship. Six days later, America’s first astronaut group, ‘The Mercury Seven’ were introduced to the press. It was 2pm and about 100 reporters had gathered in the auditorium at NASA’s headquarters in Washington DC. NASA’s first Administrator, Keith Glennan, introduced the astronauts in alphabetical order. Scott was the first named. Although they were introduced in alphabetical order that was not the order they flew into space. Scott would become the fourth of the Mercury Seven to get a ride into space.
anti-submarine, ship surveillance, aerial mining and ferret missions over the Yellow Sea, South China Sea and the Formosa Straits. His aircraft was the Lockheed P2V Neptune. With a crew of seven, Scott was originally the co-pilot but graduated to the command seat by the time of his third tour.
Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom flew suborbital flights in May 1961 and July 1961. On 29 November 1961 NASA announced that John Glenn would fly the first US orbital flight with Scott acting as his back-up using the Mercury-Atlas 6 spacecraft. The same release and said Mercury-Atlas 7 would be flown by Deke Slayton with Walter Schirra as his backup. Glenn flew in February 1962 and next up should have been Slayton. It was already known that Slayton had a minor heart irregularity. No one thought much of it initially, but the nearer it got to flight time the more it became an issue with a few people. In the end it was decided that although it was not a significant problem why take a risk when NASA had other astronauts without the irregularity. On 16 March 1962 came the public announcement. Scott would fly Mercury-Atlas 7 with Schirra continuing in the back-up role.
Image Above: The Mercury 7 Monument was dedicated on 10 November 1964 as a tribute to the United States Original Seven Astronauts. The memorial is located near the entrance to Launch Complex 14 where the first manned space flights were launched. Image credit: www.scottcarpenter.com
Scott was picked ahead of Schirra because he had more pre-flight and simulator training time and so was considered better prepared. There was still a lot to do as this mission would have more scientific experiments than the earlier flights.
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 The flight took place on 24 May 1962. Scott made three revolutions of the Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean after 4 hours and 56 minutes of flight time. Splashdown was over 250 miles off-target. For the media and the public it was a worrying time but NASA pretty much knew where Scott was and recovery teams knew the exact position after six minutes. Within an hour, aircraft were over-head and dropped USAF pararescue swimmers, although it would take another two hours before Scott was lifted into a helicopter. Historically, the flight is somewhat controversial with individuals having different views on Scott’s performance. Deke Slayton would later note that he thought Scott was somewhat sloppy. Chris Kraft, who was NASA’s main flight director for Mercury, believed Scott was not paying enough attention to him and apparently said, “that son of a b**** is never gonna fly for me again.” In his autobiography Kraft does confirm he made an oath to that effect. There were a number of problems during the flight. Fuel usage was high, there was a malfunctioning horizon indicator, Scott’s pressure suit temperature was too high due to contamination in the cooling system, and automatic retro-fire failed leading to Scott having to initiate retro-fire manually. Post flight investigations showed that most of the problems were caused by malfunctioning equipment but during the mission an impression was formed that Scott’s performance was lacking. Despite the personal memoirs of some people an objective analysis of what went wrong do not indicate that Scott made any serious mistakes. Most of what went wrong was due to equipment failure and if there was any human element then this was down to the lack of spaceflight experience at this point in the US Space Programme. Even at the end of this fourth mission NASA had less than half-a-day of human spaceflight experience. The flight and de-briefing period was followed by a lot of post-flight ceremonial
duties. Back at work Scott was a CapCom for the last two Mercury flights. Walter Schirra’s mission in October 1962 and Gordon Cooper’s in October 1963. He was also involved in design review meetings for NASA’s second generation Gemini manned spacecraft. In the spring of 1964 Scott took leave of absence from NASA to participate in the Navy’s Sealab project but in July 1964 he sustained a compound fracture of the ulna in a motorbike accident. As a result of complications resulting from the injury NASA flight doctors told Scott they would have to declare him unfit for future spaceflight. Further surgery was an option but there was no guarantee of success. He was able to return to the Sealab project and in the summer of 1965 spent a record 30 days living and working on the ocean floor at a depth of 205 feet as part of Sealab II. He returned to duties with NASA as Executive Assistant to the Director of the Manned Spaceflight Center and was active in the design of the Apollo Lunar Landing Module and in underwater extravehicular activity crew training. In August 1967 he resigned from NASA but was again able to return to the Sealab project. He was Director of Aquanaut Operations for Sealab III but was unable to take part in diving operations due to bone necrosis. In 1969 he retired from the Navy with the rank of Commander. He founded and was Chief Executive Officer of Sea Sciences, Inc., a venture capital corporation active in oceanographic and environmental activities. He worked closely with ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. and his Calypso team. He acted as a consultant to various companies involved in aerospace and ocean engineering and contributed to design improvements in underwater equipment. He has guided companies in biological pest control and waste management in an environmentally friendly manner.
In 1962 the Mercury astronauts co-authored ‘We Seven’ on the early days of the space programme. In 1969 he wrote a nonfiction account of underwater exploration called ‘Inner Space’. He co-authored his autobiography ‘For Spacious Skies’ with his daughter Kristen Stoever in 2002. He also penned two fictional techno-thrillers, ‘The Steel Albatross’ in 1992 and a sequel ‘Deep Flight’ in 1994 calling on his aeronautical and underwater experiences. With Scott’s passing, 92 year-old John Glenn is the only member of ‘The Mercury Seven’ still alive. Gus Grissom died in the Apollo fire in 1967 during a simulation for the Apollo 7 mission. The other four died from natural causes, Deke Slayton in 1993, Alan Shepard in 1998, Gordon Cooper in 2004 and Wally Schirra in 2007. Scott’s first three marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his fourth wife Patty and six children. One son predeceased him. Rob Wood
Acknowledgements and sources: Boggs Spacebooks; CapCom (previous issues); Collect Space; Deke! US Manned Space From Mercury to the Shuttle ©1994 by Donald ‘Deke’ Slayton with Michael Cassutt; Flight ©2001 by Christopher Kraft; For Spacious Skies ©2002 by Scott Carpenter and Kristen Stoever; Google; The History of Manned Spaceflight ©1981 by David Baker; NASA (and their various websites); NASASpaceflight.com; NBC News; New York Times; Project Mercury ©2001 by John Catchpole; ScottCarpenter.com; Who’s Who in Space ©1999 by Michael Cassutt; Wikipedia.
He has been involved in a number of books.
CapCom Subscriptions For just £14, you can join the Midlands Spaceflight Society and receive CapCom magazine for one year. That’s six issues. There are two ways to pay: Online: go to the MSS website www.midspace.org.uk and follow the links for a secure purchase through PayPal. By post: cheques and postal orders payable to Midlands Spaceflight Society can be posted to the MSS Secretary, Dave Evetts, 124 Stanhope Road, Smethwick B67 6HP. Tel. 0121 429 8606
(evenings & weekends only) or e-mail email@example.com. page 11
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
“You and the Rest”: The Repair of the Hubble Space Telescope by Ben Evans Twenty years since the first Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission Ben looks back at the Mission, the crew, and the hardware of this historic space shuttle mission. In the summer of 1992, astronaut Jeff Hoffman was in quarantine, preparing to launch aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis with the Tethered Satellite and the EURECA free-flying payload, when he fell into conversation with Don Puddy, the head of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Center. Puddy was interested in Hoffman’s future plans. Several astronauts had already been approached about their willingness to be considered for flights to the Mir space station, but Hoffman’s height ruled that out. Only one other mission captured his attention. The first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope stood out like a jewel on the Shuttle manifest in December 1993 and as a professional astronomer, Hoffman found that it exerted an irresistible pull. “What I’d really love,” he told Puddy, “is to go on this Hubble mission.” Puddy laughed. “Oh, yeah. You and the rest of the office!” Hoffman assumed that his chances of selection were minimal, but in addition to his flight experience he had one other credential which made him an attractive choice for the mission: he was one of few astronauts in the office, at that time, with EVA experience. Several years earlier, in April 1985, Hoffman had participated in the Shuttle programme’s first contingency spacewalk in a fruitless attempt to activate a deployment switch on the malfunctioning Syncom 4-3 satellite. With several intricate and complex EVAs scheduled for the Hubble mission, NASA mandated that all members of the four-person spacewalking team must have prior EVA expertise. This obviously disappointed several unflown members of the office, including rookie astronaut Leroy Chiao. “I was doing EVA training and showing some proficiency at it in the water tank,” Chiao told the NASA oral historian. He had been approached by Dave Leestma, then serving as deputy chief of the office and later to serve as head of Flight Crew Operations, with what Chiao perceived to be a strong hint that he was in line to receive one of the EVA spots on the Hubble mission. “I was very excited about that,” Chiao continued, “and my classmate Eileen Collins...had heard through the grapevine that she was going to get assigned as the pilot on that flight. Then I started hearing rumours that the crew for that flight was going to be changed. They didn’t want any rookies, at least on the EVA team. I have to say that was hard to swallow, because I had worked hard and I had shown proficiency and I had been told I was going to be on that flight and then, for political reasons or visibility reasons, they wanted to be able to say that it was an experienced crew if something had gone wrong.” Certainly, in March 1994, Flight International noted that Collins’ name had been proposed, “but was overruled because it was felt that an experienced pilot was needed”. It was not simply a case of NASA being overly cautious. With the loss of Challenger still fresh and the embarrassing failure of Hubble’s ability to resolve distant objects, due to a flaw in its primary optics, the mission to fix the $1.5 billion showpiece telescope was crucial. Congressional support for Space Station Freedom hung on the edge of a knife and any failure on NASA’s part could spell its cancellation. Today, Hubble has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as one of the most successful space-based observatories ever launched.
Across more than two decades of operations, its instruments have peered deeper into the cosmos than ever before. It has acquired images of distant galaxies, made breakthroughs in physics and cosmology by accurately determining the Universe’s rate of expansion, detected planets around far-off stars, witnessed the impact of a comet into Jupiter, tracked cloud movements in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune and created the best currently achievable ‘map’ of the surface of Pluto. With the advent of the Space Age, it was hardly surprising that plans for a space-based telescope would become an important step forward and an attractive option for the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Yet the ideas long pre-dated even the launch of Sputnik. Shortly after the Second World War, physicist Lyman Spitzer of Yale University had argued that an orbiting telescope would offer enormous advantages over ground-based instruments, its abilities unimpaired by the distorting effect of Earth’s atmosphere and its sensors able to detect high-energy emissions, including X-rays, from distant celestial sources. Following the creation of NASA, the first real efforts to develop a space telescope got underway and in 1975 the agency tried to sell the project to the politicians. Funding was initially denied by the House Appropriations Subcommittee, who reasoned that it was too ambitious, too expensive at around $400 million and lacked the required support from the National Academy of Sciences. This prompted large-scale lobbying from NASA and leading astronomers and a supportive report from the National Academy of Sciences. International co-operation was directed by Congress and the newly-formed European Space Agency was invited to participate, with its role encompassing the creation of inexpensive solar panels for the telescope. The size of the mirror was reduced from 3 m to 2.4 m and together these measures halved the cost from $400 million to $200 million. There were other reasons for the reduction in mirror size. “The Shuttle could not lift a 3 m telescope to the required orbit,” wrote Andrew Dunar and Stephen Waring in their book Power to Explore. “In addition, changing to a 2.4 m mirror would lessen fabrication costs by using manufacturing technologies developed for military spy satellites. The smaller mirror would also abbreviate polishing time from 3.5 years to 2.5 years.” In 1977 Congress granted approval for what was then known as the ‘Large Space Telescope’. The primary candidates for the fabrication of the observatory’s mirror were Perkin-Elmer Corporation, whose bid ran to $64.2 million, and Eastman Kodak, teamed with the defence contractor Itek, at almost $99.8 million. Despite being significantly higher, the Kodak-Itek joint bid included two independent tests of the grinding and polishing quality of the finished optics…a ‘double-checking’ provision which Perkin-Elmer did not offer and which would not go unnoticed more than a decade later, when investigators dug into the cause of the telescope’s unfortunate spherical aberration. Perkin-Elmer received approval from NASA to proceed with their bid in 1979. Meanwhile, Lockheed would build the spacecraft itself and the Europeans would make the solar arrays. In anticipation of the research bonanza, a Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) was established at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in 1983 and the telescope itself was scheduled for launch by the Shuttle in 1985. By this time, it had been named in honour of the American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who, in
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 the earlier part of the century, had not only conducted extensive research into the structure of stars and galaxies, but also made the surprising discovery that the Universe was expanding. The mirror was one of the most complex headaches of the project – both before and after launch. Optically, Hubble was a Cassegrain reflector and its two hyperbolic mirrors offered good imaging performance across what, for such a large telescope, was a wide field of view… whilst also having shapes which were difficult to fabricate and test. Perkin-Elmer used custom polishing machines to precisely grind the mirror and, in case problems were encountered, NASA required the company to subcontract to Kodak to build a backup mirror using traditional polishing techniques. (The Kodak mirror is today on permanent display in the Smithsonian.) In 1979, the construction of the Perkin-Elmer mirror began and was completed two years later, washed in hot, deionised water and coated with aluminium and protective magnesium fluoride. NASA remained sceptical about Perkin-Elmer’s ability to competently fabricate the mirror and the delays ultimately pushed Hubble’s launch back from April 1985 to first the summer and then the autumn of 1986. By this time, the total cost of the project had risen to a little more than $1 billion. At the time of its completion, Hubble housed five instruments: the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC, nicknamed ‘the whiffpick’), the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS), the High Speed Photometer (HSP), the Faint Object Camera (FOC) and the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS). These devices gave the telescope a range which encompassed not only the visible area of the electromagnetic spectrum, but also the ultraviolet. Physically, Hubble was a cylindrical spacecraft, measuring over 13 m in length and weighing nearly 11,000 kg, which meant that it virtually filled the payload bay. It had been designed to be serviced by future Shuttle crews and, as such, was fitted with EVA-friendly hand holds, and would be deployed and retrieved using the RMS arm. By the time that Challenger was lost, further processing delays had pushed Hubble’s launch back to October 1986. The problems faced by Perkin-Elmer have already been mentioned, but the manufacturer of the telescope’s bodywork, Lockheed, had also suffered difficulties. By the end of 1985, Hubble was over-budget by 30 percent and three months behind schedule, bringing it dangerously close to breaking the ‘ceiling’ which Congress had imposed on its budget. If Challenger smashed the dreams of so many within America’s space programme, it also provided breathing room for payload development. Hubble came through a major thermal vacuum test with flying colours in June 1986 and the enforced down time was used to add more powerful solar arrays, enhance redundancy capabilities, improve the software, install better connectors and replace the nickel-cadmium batteries that were prone to failure with nickel-hydrogen ones. As a result, by the start of 1990 the Hubble team felt supremely confident that their observatory heralded a new dawn in the study of astronomy. As long ago as 1983, NASA Administrator Jim Beggs had encouraged his subordinates to treat Hubble in terms of significance on a par with the Shuttle itself and had even labelled it “the eighth wonder of the world”. In the first few weeks after Hubble’s April 1990 launch, the problems seemed reasonably benign: a few communications glitches, drifting star trackers and snagged coaxial cables were part and parcel in the process of wringing out a new spacecraft. More serious concerns arose when temperature changes bent materials in the solar arrays’ booms, the effect of which was magnified by the orientation mechanism in such a way that it ‘bounced’ the whole telescope. The result was a ‘jittering’ in Hubble’s images and, since the booms only stabilised in the final few minutes of orbital daylight, the pointing system was only able to meet its design specifications for a fraction of its orbit. Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center worked with their counterparts at Lockheed to change the control program in the spacecraft’s computer and successfully counteracted the vibrations. On 21 May, Hubble returned its first images of a double star in the constellation of Carina and these were lauded as being much clearer than were achievable with ground-based instruments. Four weeks later, calamity befell the mission in a manner which could hardly have been anticipated. On 24 June, Hubble failed
a focusing test. Its secondary mirror had been adjusted to focus the incoming light from a celestial source, but a fuzzy ring – like a halo – encircled even its best images, creating a blur. Additional tests revealed that the telescope was suffering from a ‘spherical aberration’ in its primary mirror; in essence, Perkin-Elmer had ground it to the wrong specification, removing too much glass and polishing it too flat…by a mere fiftieth of the width of a human hair. The consequence was that Hubble was unable to acquire sharp images. With mounting horror, NASA realised that its attempts to sell its scientific showpiece on the basis of its ability to see further into the cosmos than ever before, with unprecedented clarity, now became very hollow indeed. The promised white knight of astronomy was now a white elephant. Even Hubble’s chief scientist, Ed Weiler, admitted that it was comparable only to “a very good ground telescope on a very good night”. Marshall staff were astounded and Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, exploded that Hubble wasted taxpayers’ money and was little more than “a techno-turkey”. Meanwhile, Senator Al Gore – then a Democrat for Tennessee and later Vice President during the Clinton Administration – observed that, for the second time in less than half a decade, quality control shortcomings at NASA had been publicly exposed. The media had a field day. On 28 July 1990, the New York Times pointed out that – had Kodak-Itek’s bid been accepted – then the mirror would have been subjected to two independent checks of its grinding and polishing accuracy, which certainly would have caught the error and enabled it to be rectified before launch. NASA responded to critics by asserting that, with 20-20 hindsight, it would have cost in excess of $100 million to incorporate additional testing and independent checking of the telescope optics into Perkin-Elmer’s contract, but the effect on the general public was the same. The once-proud agency was rendered a laughing-stock on late-night TV talk shows. David Letterman compiled a pejorative list of Top Ten Hubble Excuses, whilst others criticised the Marshall Space Flight Center for having been in charge of both the Hubble development and the Shuttle’s SRBs. Several analysts noted that NASA’s attitude had changed from the 1960s, in which problems were anticipated and incorporated into planning, into one where there was apparently little effort to prepare for unforeseen obstacles. In the words of space policy analyst John Logsdon of George Washington University, “the agency was not being honest with itself or with anyone else”. In early July 1990, NASA established an investigating committee, chaired by Lew Allen, head of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His report – published in November – harshly criticised the incorrect assembly of the ‘reflective null corrector’, an optical device used to determine the figure of Hubble’s mirror. The location of a lens in the device was improperly measured and the null corrector guided the polisher to shape a perfectly smooth mirror…with the wrong curvature. Analysis revealed that the curvature flaw in the primary mirror exactly matched the flaw in the null corrector. A second null corrector, made only with lenses, was also built to measure the vertex radius of the finished mirror. It, too, clearly identified an error in the primary mirror. However, neither of these warning signs were heeded and Allen’s report noted that “both indicators of error were discounted at the time as being themselves flawed”. During the fabrication process, technicians had simply assumed the perfection of the mirror and of the reflective null corrector and therefore had rejected information from other independent tests, having convinced themselves that no problems existed. These errors were ultimately traced back to 1981-82, when Perkin-Elmer and the Marshall Space Flight Center had been distracted by serious cost and schedule difficulties. Allen’s report was particularly critical of Perkin-Elmer quality control and communications failures, as well as the failure of the Marshall Space Flight Center to correct them. In orbit, the spherical aberration was particularly obvious in its effect on Hubble’s WFPC and FOC, both of which suffered in terms of spatial resolution and their ability to acquire images of individual celestial objects, including planets, star clusters and galaxies. Having said this, the aberration was well characterised and stable and, over time, astronomers were able to optimise the results obtained from Hubble by using sophisticated techniques, such as ‘deconvolution’, whereby software algorithms and microwave image processing methods were employed in an effort to remove many of the blurring effects of optical distortion. However, the results were still
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 less than ideal. Spectroscopy by the FOS and GHRS instruments was less severely affected, because the instruments required less focused light, and by increasing exposure times it became possible to gather valuable images. Nevertheless, by the end of 1991, Hubble had made almost 2,000 quality observations of hundreds of astronomical objects, including storms on Saturn and images of Pluto’s moon, Charon. At the start of the following year, a quarter of all the papers presented before the American Astronomical Society’s meeting drew on Hubble data. A repair was critical in order to restore the telescope to its pre-flight billing, although NASA announced in July 1991 that it was “not planning an early visit” to repair the telescope, preferring instead to stick with the previous schedule of an allup servicing mission in late 1993. Even though Kodak-Itek had produced their mirror, this could not simply be inserted into the spacecraft, so the solution would have to overcome the problem with the existing primary mirror. A new device – the $50 million Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) – would need to be developed and manifested onto the first servicing mission to revitalise its vision. In October 1991, NASA awarded a $30.4 million contract to Ball Aerospace to fabricate COSTAR, whose ten small, coin-sized mirrors were expected to correct the spherical aberration and restore the potential of the affected instruments. Interestingly, Bruce McCandless, one of the astronauts who carried Hubble into orbit on STS-31 in April 1990, was closely involved with the development of the optics, as related by his former crewmate Kathy Sullivan. She remembered McCandless telling her that all ideas of how to restore its capabilities were entertained, even the wildest and most outlandish ones, such as directly entering Hubble’s telescope barrel. “The bad news is you did indeed screw up the mirror by an amount that is significant and should be avoidable in figuring astronomical mirrors,” Sullivan told the NASA oral historian. “The good news is you screwed it up very precisely! This meant you knew the actual mirror shape, very precisely, and could do a precise difference calculation of the ‘actual’ versus the ‘desired’ and determine the needed correction out of that.” This realisation was met with a determination that the correction could be accomplished through reflective lenses, instead of transmissive ones, and was intricate in its scope and brilliantly clever. As Sullivan put it: “I don’t have to make all that light come through a lens. I can bounce it off several mirrors and through a couple of steps basically restore it to the focus that it should have had.” COSTAR’s mandate was to optically correct the effects of spherical aberration upon the instruments...at the expense of losing the phonebox-sized High Speed Photometer, which had been rendered virtually useless by the solar array jitters. COSTAR was invented by the Hubble Space Telescope Strategy Panel, a group of scientists and engineers convened by the STScI in late 1990, and after the removal of the 220 kg HSP would be installed in its stead. “Once in place,” explained NASA’s pre-mission press kit, “COSTAR will deploy a set of mechanical arms, no longer than a human hand, that will place corrective mirrors in front of the openings that admit light” into the affected instruments. In doing so, it would refocus light from Hubble’s primary mirror before it reached those instruments and was expected to bring their overall optical performance “very close” to original specifications. Subsequent instruments for the telescope would be specifically designed with their own corrective optics. Dr John Wood of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was placed in charge of the COSTAR development effort. Its installation and that of a new whiffpick (WFPC-2) would come atop an already hefty pile of work for the First Servicing Mission (SM-1), which already involved the replacement of Hubble’s twin solar arrays and drive electronics, two of the three Rate Sensing Units, one of two Electronic Control Units, one of two magnetometers and fuse plugs to correct wiring and sizing discrepancies. “Whoever was going to be doing something on the Hubble mission had to have done it before,” recalled Jeff Hoffman in his NASA oral history. “You had to have somebody who had already been a commander, somebody who had already been a pilot, four people who had already done EVAs and somebody who had already done a significant arm operation.” In March 1992, Story Musgrave was assigned as payload commander for the flight, designated STS-
61, and in August Hoffman and fellow astronauts Kathy Thornton and Tom Akers joined him to support at least five ambitious EVAs. The mission thus morphed into something which would represent nothing less than an opportunity for NASA to prove itself triumphantly...or fail spectacularly. In its January 1990 manifest, the agency listed SM-1 as a five-day flight with a crew of five, suggesting a maximum of only two or three EVAs, but as 1991 wore into 1992 and onward into 1993 it became increasingly clear that the mission would run to as long as 11 days and evaluations of underwater simulations convinced managers that they should schedule as many as five back-to-back EVAs over five days. According to Mission Director Randy Brinkley, the decision served to “repackage our margin” and offered the chance to “respond to the dynamics, or unknowns, of spacewalks”. (The flight plan actually provided for a sixth and seventh EVA, and a mission duration of up to 13 days, although this was did not become necessary.) Such an enormous workload demanded a crew of seven, with two alternating teams of spacewalkers, to reduce fatigue and enhance the likelihood of mission success. Original plans called for all tools to be kept outside, in the Shuttle’s payload bay, but the crew recognised at an early stage that EVA time was a critical limiting consumable and decided that the hour spent preparing equipment at the start of each excursion could be better spent starting the repair work. It was therefore decided that some tools would be kept inside Endeavour’s crew cabin, enabling the spacewalkers to ‘loadup’ before opening the airlock and utilising their suits’ consumables. “What we’ve done by going to five EVAs, rather than three, is to repackage our margin,” said STS-61 Mission Director Randy Brinkley, “so that we have the capability to respond to the dynamics, or unknowns, of spacewalks. It improves the probabilities for mission success, while providing added flexibility and adaptability for reacting to real-time situations.” In December 1992, Dick Covey, Ken Bowersox and Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier were named, respectively, as commander, pilot and operator of the RMS arm, which would pluck Hubble out of orbit, anchor it into the payload bay for repairs and subsequently deploy it back into space to begin its reinvigorated studies of the Universe. According to Tim Furniss, writing in Flight International in March 1994, Nicollier was specifically requested by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin for the RMS task, “to reflect the European involvement in the Hubble programme”. Having received such a plum assignment, the STS-61 team bore the brunt of much good-natured ribbing from their fellow astronauts. On one occasion, Thornton quipped to her crewmates: “Well, guys, everybody is gonna hate us now!” Covey’s arrival on the crew was particularly interesting; in Flight International, Tim Furniss noted that he had been “strangely sidelined” since his last mission, STS-38. Covey had flown the Syncom 4-3 retrieval and repair mission in August 1985 and thus was well-versed in the rendezvous, proximity operations and servicing associated with a large payload, but his previous stints as acting chief of the astronaut office and acting head of Flight Crew Operations certainly also factored into his selection. Late in 1992, he was called to a meeting by JSC Director Aaron Cohen and his deputy, Paul Weitz, and offered a choice: he could either be the ‘permanent’ Chief of the astronaut office or he could command the Hubble flight. By his own admission, it took Covey “about two seconds” to make his choice. “Doing five [EVAs] really pushed the bounds of what people thought we could do,” Covey recalled in his oral history. “Even with four EVA crew members, even with an 11-day mission, it just started pushing the bounds. There was a lot of scrutiny on it and a lot of focus on it.” The size of their quarry posed additional problems. Hubble was far larger than anything with which the Shuttle had previously rendezvoused in orbit and Claude Nicollier was faced with the unenviable challenge of manoeuvring his EVA crewmates, along with phonebox-sized pieces of hardware, into position with extreme delicacy and precision. “The integrated operations,” said Covey, “of Shuttle manoeuvring, RMS activities and EVAs, although now commonplace, wasn’t back then. So integrating all of those activities and the crew activities together was a big part of my role as the commander.”
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 To be fair, the audacity of the mission filled NASA’s top brass with dread and the memory of Challenger still loomed large in many minds. In May 1993, the Task Force on the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission – established by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin the previous January and chaired by Dr Joe Shea – concluded that “the mission is achievable”. This was primarily due to the fact that Hubble and most of its subsystems were originally designed for orbital maintenance. However, Shea’s report noted that such missions were enormously complex in their scope and required more EVA time than had been achieved on any flight up to that time. With this stark reality in mind, the group advised that planning for the next Hubble servicing should enter the planning stage within 6-12 months of STS-61, in order to “handle tasks that might not be completed during the first mission or respond to failures that occur in the intervening months”. Shea also found that the appointment of a Mission Director (Brinkley) was “necessary if the mission is to be carried out with confidence”. However, the August 1993 loss of Mars Observer, only days before it was due to enter orbit around the Red Planet, added to the popular sense of NASA as an organisation of failure. An article in Aviation Week hinted that WFPC-2 might also be flawed and it so unnerved the Clinton Administration that Goldin was invited to attend an audience with the President to discuss the agency’s level of preparedness for SM-1. It has been suggested that Clinton told Goldin that the agency had either to make the Hubble repair mission work or be drastically restructured. Mistakes could not be tolerated. The heat was on the agency, on the STS-61 crew and on the thousands of engineers and technicians responsible for ensuring that COSTAR and WFPC-2 were ready for launch in December 1993. Nerves frequently became frayed in the final months. Late in September, NASA announced that “further testing” of WFPC-2 “might be necessary”, requiring it to be shipped back from the Kennedy Space Center to the Goddard Space Flight Center, although such a move was not expected to affect the scheduled launch in early December. According to Joseph Rothenberg, Associate Director of Flight Projects for Hubble Space Telescope at Goddard, results from earlier tests suggested that the focus point for HST might be outside the COSTAR adjustment range and that focusing both it and WFPC-2, simultaneously, might not be achievable. As circumstances transpired, such a move was unnecessary, but time constraints were critical. Are we missing something? was the introspective question often asked of themselves and each other. Others were irritated by constant claims that they were ‘testing things to death’ and therein causing further delays, which prompted one manager to explode: “We wouldn’t be here if you guys had tested this thing to death the first time!” Some engineers jokingly offered to spend the New Year in Acapulco, figuring that if SM-1 succeeded they might be able to return home to the United States and if it failed they would be forced to wait on restaurant tables in Mexico for the rest of their lives! Training for the STS-61 astronauts was also difficult at times. “We were invited to come down to NASA Headquarters to meet with Dan Goldin,” remembered Jeff Hoffman. “He told us quite frankly that NASA’s future was in our hands. That was the time when we were waiting for Congress to approve the construction of the space station. Everybody recognised that assembling the space station was going to take a lot of sophisticated EVAs, of the sort that we were getting ready to do for Hubble, so if we went up thinking that we could fix Hubble and then it turned out that we couldn’t, how could people trust NASA to build a space station? That was the attitude.” Story Musgrave had been assigned to lead the planning of the EVAs, as payload commander, and he had pushed very hard to commit to Endeavour as the orbiter which would carry out the mission. He particularly highlighted the vehicle’s improved capabilities over her sisters, including the capacity for a long mission. He got his way: in NASA’s August 1991 manifest the SM-1 mission was scheduled for Discovery and by January 1992 had moved to Atlantis and by December 1992 it had been shifted to Endeavour. All of the spacewalkers recognised the need to develop physical strength to handle the demands of their space suits and build the necessary stamina for six or seven hours outside. Kathy Thornton worked out in the gym, as did the others, although by Hoffman’s admission most of the servicing tasks did not demand immense physical strength,
but placed greater emphasis on “technical co-ordination”, involving them “being very careful in how you moved things around and not messing anything up”. The delicacy involved in each of the spacewalking tasks was further complicated by the need for sunlight never to enter Hubble’s interior, because it carried the potential to evaporate organic contaminants and potentially ruin the sensitive ultraviolet optics. In normal operation the telescope was never allowed to point anywhere near the Sun. Consequently, the mission was planned with the Shuttle’s belly positioned to face the Sun – but this, in turn, meant that temperatures in the payload bay and upon the astronauts’ suits would fall precipitously. Already, the critical nature of the EVAs had obliged NASA to assign veteran spacewalker Greg Harbaugh in March 1993 to train as a backup crewman and provide “some insurance in the event of the unavailability late in the training cycle of any of the four prime EVA crew members”. Harbaugh would be ready to step in if circumstances dictated. And they almost did. On 28 May, Musgrave was performing an eight-hour suited equipment test in one of the thermal vacuum chambers at the Johnson Space Center, when he complained of intense coldness in his right hand. He persevered and then upon removing his suit at the end of the test, he noticed discolouration and numbness in his fingers. (They were “black and purple,” according to Jeff Hoffman.) Flight surgeons quickly identified a case of severe frostbite and Musgrave was referred to a specialist in Alaska for treatment. At this stage, Hoffman was unsure what would happen. “I don’t know exactly what they did to him,” he told the oral historian, “but they managed to save his fingers, and he flew, but that definitely got management’s attention.” That ‘attention’ was both positive and negative for Musgrave. On the positive side, it led to the elimination of the belly-to-Sun attitude, in favour of an attitude whereby Covey and Bowersox would execute attitude manoeuvres, during each orbit, to ensure that sunlight did not enter the telescope. In Dick Covey’s recollections, the singlemindedness of Musgrave towards training for the mission caused some anger and even demands for his removal from the crew. “Story had been around for a long time,” said Covey. “There was this concerted effort to use Story’s injury as a reason to get him thrown off the crew by some people with the agency and [JSC] and I had to go fight that...The reasons were political and personality-based, rather than technically based on his capabilities and whether he was going to recover from his injuries. That was hard to deal with.” Harbaugh was also recovering from recent knee surgery and, for a while, struggled to even don a space suit, but both he and Musgrave were declared ready to support the mission. In fact, Harbaugh went on to serve as EVA Capcom for STS-61 and also flew aboard the second Hubble servicing mission in February 1997. A windstorm on 30 October 1993 prompted the movement of Endeavour from Pad 39A to Pad 39B, following sand-blasting grit contamination of the payload changeout room, with much anticipation of a successful launch in the small hours of 1 December. The attempt was scrubbed due to high winds at the Shuttle Landing Facility, together with excessive cloud cover and the presence of a ship in the restricted waters, but, after a 24-hour delay, STS-61 blazed into the darkened Florida skies at 4:27 am EST on the 2nd. Several burns of Endeavour’s thrusters over the following two days closed their separation distance from Hubble by around 95 km per orbit, until, early on the 4th, Hoffman spotted the telescope through his binoculars...and noted that one of its solar arrays – due to be replaced by Thornton and Akers during the second EVA – appeared to be bent in a 90-degree angle. “It was a beautiful sight when we finally could really see the Hubble,” Dick Covey remembered in his NASA oral history, “and it is as bright as anything you can imagine, because of the silver-coloured insulation, and the gold of the solar arrays just made it spectacular when it first came into visual range and tracked on in.” Two hours ahead of retrieval, at a distance of 12 km, Covey executed the Terminal Initiation burn, then performed several small mid-course correction firings to bring Endeavour to a position some 360 m ‘below’ and 150 m ‘behind’ Hubble. By this
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 time, the telescope’s twin high-gain antennas had been stowed against its main body. Closing in on their quarry just after orbital sunset, this approach was designed to minimise contamination from the Shuttle’s thrusters pulses. As the orbiter drew closer, a groundcommanded manoeuvre of the telescope aligned its grapple fixture convenient for the RMS. Finally, at 3:48 am, Covey brought the orbiter to a position just ten metres from Hubble and Nicollier gingerly extended the arm and grappled the target. Endeavour was high above the South Pacific, to the east of Australia, at the moment of capture. “Houston,” radioed Covey, triumphantly, “Endeavour has a firm handshake with Mr Hubble’s telescope.” “Roger, Covey,” replied Capcom Susan Helms. “There’s smiles galore down here.” The first major objective of the mission had been accomplished. Yet the real challenge of the five back-to-back EVAs and the uncertainty about whether the efforts of the astronauts would succeed remained to be seen. With the enormous bulk of Hubble safely anchored to the Flight Support Structure – a rotatable and ‘tiltable’ turntable, a little like an oversized ‘lazy susan’ – in Endeavour’s payload bay, the next step was EVA-1. The spacewalks would be performed daily, with Musgrave and Hoffman charged with the first, third and fifth and Thornton and Akers assigned to the second and fourth. Encased within their pressurised suits, the astronauts were identified by the presence (or absence) of markings on their legs: Hoffman (EV1) would have red stripes, Musgrave (EV2) would have no stripes, Thornton (EV3) would have dashed red stripes and Akers (EV4) would have diagonal broken red stripes. All four spacewalkers were extensively ‘cross-trained’ to allow them to perform any one of the mission’s given EVA tasks and around 200 tools – from power ratchets and sockets to safety bars and articulating foot restraints and from portable work lights and locking connectors to instrument covers, handles and umbilical connectors – and a total of 7,200 kg of equipment would be transported into orbit for the repair. Looking back on those adrenaline-charged days, Covey was filled with pride that his crew accomplished everything they set out to do. “There wasn’t anybody that was chilling down on the middeck,” he said. “Everybody was up top, working. There was concern about whether we could sustain that tempo. We went five straight days doing EVAs and that was the right answer. Everybody felt good about that. Nobody was getting excessively fatigued. The EVA crew members, because they were getting a day off in between were okay with that and so that facilitated us pressing on with five straight days of spacewalks.” It was testament to the planning of each of these six-hour-plus excursions that Musgrave and Hoffman were outside in the payload bay, an hour earlier than planned, at 10:46 pm EST on 4 December, to kick off EVA-1. Their main task was the replacement of Hubble’s twin sets of Rate Sensing Units (RSU), which carried gyroscopes to effect tracking of the telescope. Three of a total complement of six gyroscopes had failed between December 1990 and November 1992...and at least three were required to maintain proper pointing. After setting up tools, safety tethers and equipment, Hoffman fitted a foot restraint onto the end of the RMS and was manoeuvred by Nicollier towards Hubble. In the meantime, Musgrave installed protective covers over the telescope’s low-gain antenna and exposed voltage-bearing connectors. Next, the two men (whom Dick Covey had lightheartedly nicknamed “the odd couple” during training because they were assigned the ‘odd-numbered’ EVAs) opened Hubble’s equipment bay doors and emplaced another foot restraint inside. Working inside the bowels of the largest space telescope yet placed into orbit, astronomer Hoffman had little time to ponder, and by 12:24 am EST on the 5th, less than two hours into the EVA, the first set of new RSUs were in place. The second set followed, as did the installation of eight fuse plugs to protect the electrical circuits. By now, Hubble had a full, healthy set of gyroscopes.
gyro compartment refused to close and seal properly. “The doors in the telescope gyro compartment are the biggest doors in the whole telescope,” Hoffman explained. “In fact, they’re asymmetrical; one of the doors is bigger than the other. We had opened and closed those doors a hundred times in the water. We knew how they worked. There were several latches, but there was one big handle. You turned that handle and that basically closed the latches; then you just had to throw a couple of bolts and tighten up the bolts and the door is secured.” Upon closer inspection, it appeared that two door bolts did not reset correctly and Hoffman suspected the doors had somehow become ‘warped’, perhaps by uneven heating. If the doors did not close, Hubble would be lost, for its thermal control capability would be gone and light leaking into the telescope’s innards would ruin its delicate instruments. Whenever he tried to close the top of the door, the bottom would refuse to close, and its height precluded Hoffman from holding both ends at once. He asked Musgrave to help him. Unfortunately, Musgrave was tethered and floating freely and could only push the door with one hand, since he needed to steady himself with the other hand. “It was basically a five-handed job,” said Hoffman, “and we only had four hands. We tried a few times.” On one occasion, Musgrave even tried pushing with his helmeted head, to no avail. At length, the spacewalkers recommended to Mission Control the use of the payload restraint device – “kind of a webbing tool, with a ratchet” – to help bring the doors into closure. Lead Flight Director Milt Heflin agreed that the crew were in the best position to make the decision and gave them the go-ahead. It worked and the doors were successfully closed and latched...but at the expense of EVA-1 turning into the second-longest Shuttle spacewalk to date: seven hours and 54 minutes. With Kathy Thornton and Tom Akers slated to replace Hubble’s twin solar arrays on the next day’s EVA-2, the complexity of the back-to-back spacewalks became evident. “All four of us worked together,” said Hoffman, “because when you get a space suit ready, you try to be each other’s personal valet. There’s just a lot of work to be done. When you’re doing a spacewalk, it really takes over the entire Shuttle. You can’t really be doing anything else while the EVAs are planned.” Pre-flight training indicated that changing both arrays would require around five hours, thereby necessitating an entire EVA to be devoted to this objective. Although the arrays were designed to accommodate expansion and contraction caused by heating and cooling during orbital daytime and nighttime, actual experience demonstrated that this did not occur as smoothly as hoped. A temporary fix had been effected, whereby Hubble’s pointing system compensated automatically for the jitter induced by the solar panels, but ESA was assigned the responsibility to produce a new set and reduce the effect to an acceptable level. The new arrays included thermal insulation sleeves on their ‘bi-stem’ supports to minimise heating and cooling and springs worked like shock absorbers to take up tension at the ends.
Then the spacewalkers hit their first major problem: the doors to the
to be continued in the next issue ...
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013
Shenzhou 10 Mission Report- Part Two Rob Wood
On 13 June 2013 Shenzhou 10 had successfully docked with Tiangong 1, China’s first manned space station, becoming the second manned spacecraft to do so following Shenzhou 9 in the summer of 2012. It had launched from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre on 11 June 2013 and had spent almost two days travelling to the space station. Its crew were awaiting the all clear to open the hatch to Tiangong.
“Dear Wang Yaping. On behalf of teachers and students around the world, I send you greetings of honor and love as you orbit our Earth and prepare to teach your lessons from space. We are proud of you. We wish you and your crewmates safety and success. You will be very busy up there, but please remember to take time to look out the window. China and all of this world are beautiful. Sincerely yours, Barbara Morgan.”
The crew commander, 48 year-old People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Major-General Nie Haisheng and his co-pilot, 47 year-old PLAAF Senior-Colonel Zhang Xiaoguang were brushing up on Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion with the hatch key and other equipment. This was serious business as could be seen by the broad grins on the faces of the two astronauts as they manoeuvred the items in micro-gravity.
This was probably prompted by the already announced space lecture that Wang was due to give to students later in the mission. This was a first for the Chinese Space Programme. It was this that would see the next major coverage of the mission. On 19 June 2013 more details were given for the lecture which was to take place the following day. It was noted that about 60 million teachers and students from 80,000 schools nationwide would watch the live lecture through a video feed system commencing at 10:00.
With the all clear given, Nie opened the hatch at 17:17 on 13 June 2013 (all times and dates are Beijing Time) and was the first to enter. He was followed by Zhang and then by the third member of the crew, 33 year-old PLAAF Major Wang Yaping who was China’s second female astronaut. Like all astronauts newly arrived at a space station their movements looked awkward but this will change as they get used to microgravity. They lined up in the centre of Tiangong 1 for the arrival greetings and photo-op with Mission Control. On 14 June 2013 the astronauts installed new interior flooring inside Tiangong 1. During the first visit to Tiangong in 2012 the astronauts had problems with the floor coverings and handles which had too much give in them. This could be seen on television broadcasts at the time. The new ones were more rigid and allowed the astronauts to better control their movements. For the previous mission Chinese media coverage was very comprehensive but this time it was toned down, although there continued to be brief reports in both Chinese and English language media outlets. The South China Morning Post explained the change in policy quoting from a China Central Television staff member who had commented that they had been told by the authorities to cut back because this was how routine events were covered in other countries. Part of the concern was that blanket coverage would see the public lose interest. “We have been told that CNN and the BBC do not have live broadcasts of routine dockings at the ISS and that as the state broadcaster in China we shouldn’t make too much of a fuss about docking from now on,” the CCTV staff member said. “The scaling down of media coverage also signals the maturity of the Chinese space programme,” they added. There has also been talk that the Chinese leadership thought state media had exceeded their remit for coverage of the last mission and it had got a little over the top. This of course did not mean that the astronauts were not kept busy. They were due to conduct about 30 scientific experiments, which was twice as many as on the first visit to the space station.
Have You Seen Any Ufo’s?
There was some coverage on 15 June 2013 regarding a congratulatory message to Wang from Barbara Morgan who was the first professional teacher in space when she flew on the US Space Shuttle in 2007. This was relayed from a Xinhua correspondence in Los Angeles.
In Beijing, a special classroom was set up at the high school affiliated to Renmin University. There were 335 primary and secondary school students representing 16 schools present. There were at least two other schools that could link live to the space station in orbit. The lecture was also broadcast live by Chinese Television so many people around the world could watch. At 10:04 the lesson started with two teachers providing the introduction from the Beijing classroom. The students and teachers watched a video clip that showed how astronauts live in space. At 10:11, with dual-directional communication links between the ground and Tiangong 1 established, the space lesson formally started. Wang was ably assisted by Nie and Zhang. Zhang carried out the function of cameraman. Basic physics principles were covered and experiments conducted. Wang demonstrated motion in a micro-gravity environment, explained how micro-gravity magnifies the surface tension of water, and helped students understand the concepts of weight and mass and Newton’s laws of motion. Questions were taken from the students, including about the difference between up and down in space, the recycling of water in space, space debris, the impact of a gravity-free environment on the human body and the view through windows of Tiangong-1. The students showed they were like others around the world as one fourth grader asked the ubiquitous question about UFO’s. “Through the front windows, we can see the Earth and many other stars, but up to now we haven’t seen any UFOs,” Wang said. After the lecture Wang responded to Barbara Morgan’s letter with a message of her own. “Dear Ms Barbara Morgan. My colleagues and I are delighted to receive your letter so far from Earth. Thank you for your care and good wishes for us. We also want to extend to you our admiration and respect for what you have done for manned space programs and for education as well. Today, we successfully delivered a lecture to millions of Chinese students, sharing with them the majesty and beauty of outer space and the joy of learning new things. I hope you and all of the teachers and students elsewhere on Earth enjoyed the lecture. During our ongoing flight, I have frequently gazed upon our beautiful home Earth through the window of our space module. Space is where mankind places its most fantastic dreams while knowledge is the ladder to a better understanding of what exists
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 beyond our Earth. We would like to join the efforts, as you have done, to bring science-loving youth around the world closer to their dreams of exploring the universe. Wang Yaping. Chinese astronaut. From Tiangong-1 June 20, 2013.”
The three astronauts formerly saluted and this was followed by a more informal wave and friendly smiles between the crew and President Xi.
Jin Sheng, from the expert panel that had planned the experiments for the lecture, said ideas were requested from the public and talked about how important the lecture was, “In a spacecraft with limited space, where supplies are measured by grams instead of kilograms, the fact the astronauts had brought 2.9 kg of teaching aids shows China has attached great importance to education,” he said.
It was an early start for the astronauts on 25 June 2013. From early morning the astronauts, with support from the ground, completed the loading of the Shenzhou descent module with the results of their experiments, ceremonial items and certain items of equipment for study. They then conducted a leaving ceremony with Mission Control. They thanked the ground staff for their companionship and help during the mission using verbal and sign language. Hatch closure between the two spacecraft came at 05:07. The astronauts then settled into the descent module of Shenzhou to prepare for undocking.
Jin continued, “Listening about things differs greatly from seeing things with your own eyes. After seeing these wonderful phenomena, the children will develop interests in science and think of questions from a different angle. This is the meaning of this class.” Rigzin Jigme Doje, a high school freshman in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, said he was most impressed by Wang’s demonstration of the ‘water ball’ that illustrated the surface tension of water in a micro-gravity environment. He said the lecture had reinforced his dream of becoming a physicist.
Under automatic control from the ground Shenzhou 10 undocked from Tiangong 1 at 07:05 and moved away from the space station. The spacecraft stopped at a pre-set distance. It underwent orbit transfer control and successfully conducted a fly-around and rendezvous test with Tiangong in the first of its kind for the Chinese Space Programme. The procedure was automatically controlled from the ground. Shenzhou 10 flew around the Tiangong 1 target vehicle across its top to its rear. During the manoeuvres Shenzhou adopted a forward-flying position while Tiangong adopted a backward-flying position. Shenzhou then started to approach the space station and completed a short-distance rendezvous smoothly. Throughout the test the astronauts remained in the descent module observing and reporting on proceedings. The test was conducted to practice procedures related to future space station construction.
The next major milestone for the mission was the manual docking procedure on 23 June 2013. At 08:26 Shenzhou 10 separated from Tiangong 1 under remote control from Mission Control. The spacecraft moved away from the space station. At 09:50 control was handed over to the astronauts. Two minutes late Nie started operating the controls to move Shenzhou back Tiangong. Zhang and Wang monitored instruments and relayed confirmation to Nie that they were on target. At 10:00 contact was made with Tiangong 1 and the hard dock was completed 7 minutes later. At 13:09, the astronauts re-entered the space station to continue their experimental programme. Later that day Chinese authorities confirmed that the astronauts would return to Earth on 26 June 2013. On 24 June 2013 China’s President Xi Jinping visited Mission Control and spoke to the astronauts. He started by thanking them for their hard work on behalf of all the Chinese peoples and the party. He asked about how they were feeling and about the progress of their mission. Nie replied on behalf of the crew, “Thank you for your kind thoughts. My colleagues and I are in very good physical condition and the mission is proceeding as planned. We feel very proud to be able to contribute to realizing China’s dream in exploring outer space.” President Xi commented that, “Reaching out to outer space is a vital part of China’s rejuvenation and with the rapid development of China’s Space Programme China will take bigger steps in efforts to explore outer space.” He then asked the first time fliers how they felt. Zhang and Wang reported that everything was going well. They felt good and were working hard on their experiments. “During our 13 days in space we have become adjusted to the environment and we feel very good and are pleased with the progress of our mission, said Zhang who ended by saying. “We are committed to the success of our mission.” Wang added that “for myself, it is a very rewarding experience” “You have done well and we are confident in all of you” said President Xi. He commented on the space lecture and how it would encourage students in science and exploration. “The spaceflight has reflected your bravery, dedication and commitment,” he noted. “This kind of spirit will serve as a role model for all the Chinese peoples and inspire them. We hope that the mission will continue successfully and we will look forward to your safe return, and in Beijing I will be waiting for you.” Nie completed the conversation by assuring President Xi that they would continue the mission and complete all their assigned tasks.
The Dream Is Complete
Shenzhou 10 made two orbital corrections on 25 June 2013, the first just before midday and the second just after 21:00. Following one last night in orbit final preparations were made for the return to Earth. The search and recovery teams were ready at the main landing site in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the weather was reported to be favourable with early morning sun shining in the landing zone. At 07:19 on 26 June 2013 Shenzhou 10 started its re-entry procedures, orbital module separation occurred followed one minute later by the start of the de-orbit burn as the main engines were fired. At 07:43 the service module was jettisoned. The service module followed the descent module but burned up as it entered Earth’s atmosphere. There was the normal radio black-out period when the air around the descent module became electrically charged as it reached its hottest temperatures but infrared and radars deployed on the ground continued to monitor the craft as it continued its normal progress towards the main landing area. Parachute deployment was at 07:55 and three minutes later the heat shield was jettisoned, exposing the gamma ray altimeter and the four soft-landing rockets. There were four solid propulsion soft-landing rockets. They had been developed for Shenzhou by the Shanghai Institute of Aerospace. Their solid propulsion technology team had spent ten years on their development. Each of the rockets produces three tons of thrust and once the ignition signal is given any firing error must be within 20 milliseconds. The soft-landing rockets worked as planned and touchdown occurred at 08:07. There was more cloud cover at the landing site than there had been for the lift-off but the position was well within the expected landing zone. The rescue helicopters were close enough for the landing to be clearly seen on the live coverage from Mission Control that was showing on the English language broadcast from Chinese Central Television. The parachute dragged the descent module across the ground for about two minutes, leaving a visible track. For Shenzhou 9 the parachute had been jettisoned almost immediately after landing. Whether what happened this time was a planned change is not known but it might have been done to reduce the tumbling
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 that was seen at the end of the earlier mission. The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong based English language newspaper, noted however that the parachute was supposed to be manually disconnected by an astronaut from inside.
and manoeuvring tests. The missions to Tiangong 1 have also helped consolidate China’s aerospace technology, and improve the overall capabilities and expertise of their space industry, Wang Zhaoyao added.
Rescue team members were on site in 6 minutes following touchdown. The hatch was opened after almost 14 minutes and ground staff soon entered the ship. They carried out medical checks and provided energy drinks to the astronauts. Due to the longer duration of this flight it would take a little longer for the astronauts to come out than on the previous mission last year. This was to give them increased recovery time.
There had been some queries on the age of Wang Yaping and other selection matters and in response to a question, Deng Yibing said, “We have carried out five manned space missions and all the personal information about the astronauts was released just one day before the launching date. Any information reported prior to these dates may be untrue as they are based on gossip,”
At 09:22 Nie could be seen at the hatch entrance and at 09:31 he was helped out. Wang followed five minutes later. This was a change to the last flight when the female astronaut was the last to be helped out. At 09:41 Zhang was the last to be helped out. All the astronauts were well and China’s fifth manned spaceflight was over and had been a great success. The astronauts were seated in chairs a few yards from their landing module. They waved to the crowd and clasped hands together in a celebratory gesture. There was a short welcome home ceremony and the astronauts were presented with flowers and scarves. A Chinese Central TV reporter then briefly interviewed the astronauts. Nie said it felt good to be back home and they all spoke about how good it was to achieve their dreams. At Mission Control in Beijing, Zhang Youxia, Commander-in-Chief of China’s Human Space Programme, said that the Tiangong 1/ Shenzhou 10 mission had achieved complete success. Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli was also in Mission Control and watched the live broadcast of the return and recovery. Zhang delivered a congratulatory note on behalf of the Government.
“We will check their personal information in their citizen identity registration records, their enlistment registration records and their personal archives. We will also get the astronauts’ own signatures on this information,” Deng said, “I can tell you that all these documents reveal that Wang was born in January 1980.” He also added that there is no marital or parenthood requirements in the selection criteria for astronauts. Deng also called for more international co-operation, “We believe that more extensive exchanges could help deepen understanding between us and establish a better basis for more concrete cooperation in the future,” he said. He made clear China’s willingness to explore co-operation in areas such as astronaut training, joint flights and exchanges between Chinese astronauts and their international counterparts. Deng said this would foster mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits, as well as transparency between space nations. During the afternoon of 26 June 2013, the three astronauts flew into Beijing and were transported by road to the China Astronaut Research and Training Center, located in a northwest suburb of Beijing, where they will enter a period of medical quarantine and undergo comprehensive medical examination and evaluation.
At 10:00 a press conference was held presented by Wang Zhaoyao, Director General of the China Manned Space Agency. Also present were, Yuan Jie, Vice President of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and Deng Yibing, Director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.
On 27 June 2013 the descent module was returned to its designers at the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing where it will undergo a thorough check-out. The following afternoon it was opened, and experimental samples and ceremonial items were removed.
Wang Zhaoyao gave a resume of the flight and confirmed its success. He talked about the importance of the flight as shown by the personal appearances and comments made by senior members of the Government. He thanked everyone at home and abroad for their support including the Chinese peoples and foreign friends. He talked about the success of Tiangong 1.
On 11 July 2013 it was announced that the astronauts had completed their medical quarantine and they appeared in public for the first time since their flight ended. They attended a press conference at the Astronaut Center of China the same day. They were all reported to be well and returned to their pre-flight physical condition although they will continue in rehabilitation until the end of July and fully monitored for another three months to ensure all remains well.
“With complete success of this spaceflight mission as a milestone, China’s Manned Space Programme will enter into a new phase of manned space station construction. As we celebrate our success, we also realize the fact that there is still a gap between China and the leading countries in terms of manned space technology and capability,” Wang Zhaoyao said. “Much remains to be done for us to live up to the state’s needs and our people’s expectations. We still have a long way to go to fulfil the goals of our manned space programme’s ‘three-step’ strategy. The follow-on tasks are still arduous.”
On 26 July 2013 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the Central Military Commission authorized the awards of medals and honorary titles to the astronauts for their outstanding service to China and its space exploration. In a ceremony in Beijing on 20 August 2013 they received their awards.
Wang Zhaoyao continued, “Bearing in mind the needs for comprehensive development of the whole nation, we will insist on developing China’s Manned Space Programme in an innovationoriented and sustainable way. In exploring space and benefiting mankind, China will make its shared contributions.” Questions were then taken from the audience and those on the top table provided details of the current mission and future plans. Wang Zhaoyao said that the Shenzhou 10 mission was a good end to the first phase of the second step in China’s Human Spaceflight Programme. He added that the flight had laid a solid foundation of knowledge for building a space station in the future. Amongst the work carried out during the mission included space-earth remote sensing, space life science, material science, environment survey, on-orbit repair operation as well as the docking
Nie Haisheng was honored with a second-class aerospace achievement medal. Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping were both given third-class aerospace achievement medals and the honorary title of ‘heroic astronaut’. Nie had already received the honorary astronaut title following his first spaceflight in 2005. The manned portion of the Tiangong 1 mission was now said to be over. Six astronauts had visited the station, three on Shenzhou 9 in 2012 and the three who had just completed their mission. The unmanned Shenzhou 8 had also visited the station in 2011. Four automatic and two manual dockings had taken place as well as additional rendezvous operations. Tiangong 1 was sent to a higher orbit to enable further studies of the station in an unmanned role. This was a highly impressive set of space station operations for China and hopefully is a sign of things to come. Future plans include Tiangong 2, a follow up to Tiangong 1, in about 2015 before the construction of a larger modular space station. A
Midlands Spaceflight Society: CapCom: Volume 24 no 2 November/December 2013 new supply vehicle is being developed which is hoped to be tested during the Tiangong 2 mission. The core module is planned for launch around 2018 with basic configuration completed by 2020. There will be a new generation of launch vehicles for use with the modular space station.
Acknowledgements and sources:
CapCom (previous issues); China Central Television; Chinadaily.com; China in Space; The Great Leap Forward ©2013 Brian Harvey; China Manned Space Engineering Office; gbtimes. org; Google; Go Taikonauts; NASAspaceflight.com (and many of its forum members); 9ifly. cn (and many of its forum members); People’s Daily Online; SinoDefence.com; South China Morning Post; Spacefacts; Space-Multimedia; Wikipedia; Xinhua News Agency; Zarya.info.
Earth from Juno On 9 October Juno flew by Earth using the home planet’s gravity to get a boost needed to reach Jupiter. The JunoCam caught this image of Earth, and other instruments were tested to ensure they work as designed during a close planetary encounter. The Juno spacecraft was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 5 August, 2011. Juno’s rocket, the Atlas 551, was only capable of giving Juno enough energy or speed to reach the asteroid belt, at which point the Sun’s gravity pulled Juno back toward the inner solar system. The Earth flyby gravity assist increases the spacecraft’s speed to put it on course for arrival at Jupiter on 4 July, 2016. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
Midlands Spaceflight Society Contact Dave Evetts, Secretary, Midlands Spaceflight Society 124 Stanhope Road, Smethwick. B67 6HP Tel. 0121 429 8606 (evenings & weekends only) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.midspace.org.uk ---------------------------------------------Contributions to CapCom The Editor welcomes contributions for CapCom. Articles on any aspect of space exploration are considered. Articles in Word format or text files should be sent by email to email@example.com. Material is accepted in any form whether hand written or typed. Editorial Address: Mike Bryce, Editor CapCom, 16 Yellowhammer Court, KIDDERMINSTER. DY10 4RR. The Society is not responsible for individual opinions expressed in articles, reviews or reports of any kind. Such opinions are solely those of the author. Material published in CapCom does not necessarily reflect the views of the Society. Any comments directly concerning the magazine should be addressed to the Editor at the address above.
All copy intended for the January/ February 2014 issue should be emailed to the editor by
Friday13 December 2013 page 20