Stafford Task Force Fact-Finding Meeting Denver, CO July 23-24, 1997 Meeting Summary

General Stafford gave a general introduction and thanked members for attending. He stressed the importance of the upcoming safety and operational readiness assessment for STS-86. General Stafford explained that he was creating a Task Force Red Team, led by General Ralph Jacobson, to lead the Task Force STS-86 assessment effort to gain efficiencies due to the time constraints under which the Task Force was working.

Frank Culbertson briefed the Task Force on the Progress-Mir Mishap that occurred on June 25, 1997. He reported that during the attempted Mir docking of Progress 223 that led to the collision of the two vehicles and the depressurization of the Spektr module, the crew attempted to complete a manual docking using the TORU docking system without range or range rate. NASA had not historically participated in the test plans for these kinds of maneuvers. Ground controllers at Moscow Mission Control reported that they had good control over the Progress vehicle until they turned control over to the crew. It is not clear how the weight of the vehicle might have affected the performance of the Progress or TORU, but it was clear that the closure rates were higher than nominal.

Mr. Culbertson reported that NASA now has flight directors permanently stationed at TsUP, who are working closely with the Russian Flight Director, Victor Blagov. NASA expects to participate in any similar testing procedures for similar maneuvers. The Task Force agreed that the Phase I Program Office Director needs more oversight into the planning and risks associated with the Russian's Detailed Test Objectives (DTOs).

The Task Force agreed that there needs to be a standardization of proximity operations between the international partners on the ISS.

Mr. Culbertson said that one reason that RSA wanted to move from the KURS docking system to the TORU is because they are afraid that spare parts will not be available for the KURS system due to the fact that it is a Ukrainian supplied system rather than a Russian system. It was unclear whether the specific problem lay with the KURS suppliers or in the availability of spare parts, the Task Force agreed that logistics issues should not be allowed to drive operations requirements.

Mr. Culbertson was asked what he thought the chances were that the Russians would attempt to re-pressurize the Spektr module. Mr. Culbertson replied that he did not know, but that he would recommend against re-habitation since there are no program requirements for it, he mentioned that repressurizing it could be good operations experience for the ISS.

Regarding concerns by Mr. Culbertson on specific instances, the Task Force agreed that TsUP response to crew situations was not adequate to assure that the best possible actions were always taken response to system anomalies, incidents, crises or emergencies.

Captain Mike Baker gave a brief presentation on his preliminary understanding and available database regarding the Progress-Mir collision, with emphasis on his goal to extract only potential countermeasures for application to subsequent Phase I and ISS operations.

During a discussion with Chet Vaughn and Frank Buzzard on leak rates of ISS pressurized element, it was pointed out that some Russians think that the ISS elements are subject to microcracks since the ISS leak rate specifications are so high compared to the Mir. Vaughn and Buzzard reported that the ISS leak specs are high, but that the ISS itself will be a tight vehicle with low leak rates. The present leak rate specs are a hold-over from Space Station Freedom and if the program were to change the specs now it would result in unnecessary and detrimental budget hits to the program costs. The ISS Program Office is in the position of having to convince the Russians that the ISS leak rates will be low even though the leak rate specs may be high. The Task Force agreed to further pursue this issue and discuss it with the Advisory Expert Council (AEC) during joint TF-AEC meetings in Russia, September 15-19, 1997.

The Task Force discussed the issue of Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) shielding on ISS with Mr. Jeff Theall, who reported that current ISS Program office shielding plans for the Service Module would require an extra Shuttle mission that is not currently in the assembly manifest. The Task Force questioned Mr. Theall on the model that the Phase I Program Office is using to determine the risk of MMOD hits to the ISS. The Task Force also questioned the cost benefits of providing such shielding for the Service Module so late in the assembly sequence. The Task Force agreed that the issue of MMOD shielding for the Service Module is an issue it needs to continue to work.

The Task Force discussed the issue of Shuttle-Mir and ISS Lessons Learned. The Task Force was concerned that there currently may not be an adequate transfer of the Lessons Learned database being developed for Shuttle-Mir and that being developed for ISS by the separate program offices. The Task Force recognized that it has a role in drafting a core set of Phase I Lessons Learned that can be applied to ISS. The Task Force agreed that it did not want to get involved in changing ISS requirements since that would have a significant cost impact; instead, the Task Force agreed that it should concentrate on developing a short list of overarching lessons learned that could help focus the ISS efforts and that could be used to explain in simple, direct terms what NASA is learning from Phase I and how that will help it assemble and operate ISS in a safer and more effective manner.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 24, 1997 4:23 PM.

Better-Cheaper-Faster: The Risk of Being Open and Honest (Part 2) was the previous entry in this blog.

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