September 1997 Archives


Date: Wednesday, September 24, 1997// MD 50/132

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities
All systems continued to function nominally today, except for the urine water
recovery system, which has not yet been repaired.

Mir Payload Activities
BTS Checkout; Interactions; MIPS telemetry prep

Date: Tuesday, September 23, 1997 // MD 49/131

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities -- The MCS is running normally and attitude control is being provided by 10 gyrodines. Elektron was reactivated today. Vozdukh repairs continued today, including installation of a newer fan and work on the cables. The crew reported at the DMT 04:15 that they had successfully activated the unit. No further work was performed on the urine water recovery system today.

Mir Payload Activities: Greenhouse Daily Ops (FE-1); Daily Exercise (Treadmill) with recording on 'ZY'; Greenhouse photography; MIM checkout; SAMS cleanup;

Mir 24 / NASA 5 Status
Date: Monday, September 22, 1997
Mission Day: Mir 24 / NASA 5 MD 48/130

Mir 24 CDR Anatoly Solovyov
Mir 24 FE Pavel Vinogradov
NASA 5 FE Mike Foale

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities

At 04:23 DMT this morning the motion control computer BTsVM-1 failed when two of three channels in the CPU failed. The gyrodines spun down and Elektron was shut down, but the ventilation system and thermal control loops remained active. The crew used Soyuz to initiate a spin, and within a few orbits the solar array current was 570 amps. The crew replaced Channel A with Channel C from the old computer, but it could not be determined which of the remaining two channels had failed, and there are no spares left onboard. However, the computer passed a self-test at 15:27 DMT, and the ground began reloading the software during the 18:21 DMT comm pass. The attitude reference was rebuilt during the DMT 23:01 comm pass, after which time thrusters-only attitude control was regained. Gyrodine spin-up began during the 00:28 pass.

The crew reported that they observed brown drops floating outside the vehicle around 10:00 DMT this morning, shortly after the Soyuz spinup. These drops seemed to emanate from the vicinity of Kvant-1 and moved in the direction of the other modules at about 20 deg. from the X axis. Mike reported they had a oily, shiny appearance, and that the previous crew had reported a similar sighting. Telemetry did not indicate any leaks.

Vozdukh continued to experience problems after being started on two vacuum valves (vacuum valve 2 was declared failed Saturday night). Further troubleshooting isolated the problem to the fan, which the crew replaced in the afternoon. This replacement did not solve the problem; the crew continued work, including looking for a new fan (there should apparently be two available onboard) until sleep. Work on Vozdukh will continue tomorrow.

No further maintenance was performed on the urine water recovery system SRV-U today.

NASA MIR PROGRAM/Mir 24 / NASA 5 Status Date: Saturday, September 20, 1997// MD 46/128

Experiment Hardware / PUP and MIPS checkout - Mike informed the ground crew that Priroda had not been powered up yet , therefore he would have to slip the PUP and MIPS checkout to a later date. Further discussions with the shift flight director revealed that the reason the Priroda had not been powered was due to the ground's inability to issue commands to the Priroda's Master Computer. It is believed that the reason for this is condensation in connectors. There is a concern that issuing commands to route power to the PUPs may result in an erroneous command being issued by the Master Computer due to condensation.

The computer must be deactivated before the connectors can be cleaned and the specialists needed to issue the commands for deactivation have gone home for the weekend. We have emphasized the absolute requirement that the Priroda be fully functional and the PUP, MIM and BTS systems be fully checked out prior to launch of STS-86. The shift flight director has made every effort to get in contact with the Priroda systems specialists, but so far has had no success.

There is one gentleman who has been located who is a general module expert who is tried to give the crew commands to shut down a portion of the Master Computer and that was unsuccessful. Further commands will be issued by the ground this evening.

Date: Saturday, September 20, 1997// MD 46/128

MIR STATION SYSTEM/SUBSYSTEM ACTIVITIES

Vacuum valve #2 (BVK-2) on Vozdukh failed at DMT 15:20. It had been operating for a total of 30,000 hours, well over its service life of 20,000 hours. The crew was instructed tonight to begin working procedures to reactivate Vozdukh on the remaining two valves. The SFD informed us that the valve would be replaced tomorrow. The crew also performed troubleshooting procedures on the urine water recovery system SRV-U, which has been unable since yesterday to drain the urine residue from the distillation process into the residue EDV. These procedures included attempts to drain the residue through various connectors into another EDV, but were unsuccessful in determining the location of the clog. The SFD informed us that they may have the crew replace the rotary pump and other equipment to fix the problem.

MIR PAYLOAD ACTIVITIES

Greenhouse Daily Ops (FE-1); CPA; Beetle Power Status Check
PUP check-out; MIPS check-out; Private Family Conference
OTHER ACTIVITIES: Physiolab

Experiment Hardware / PUP and MIPS checkout - Mike informed the ground crew that Priroda had not been powered up yet , therefore he would have to slip the PUP and MIPS checkout to a later date. Further discussions with the shift flight director revealed that the reason the Priroda had not been powered was due to the ground's inability to issue commands to the Priroda's Master Computer. It is believed that the reason for this is condensation in connectors. There is a concern that issuing commands to route power to the PUPs may result in an erroneous command being issued by the Master Computer due to condensation. The computer must be deactivated before the connectors can be cleaned and the specialists needed to issue the commands for deactivation have gone home for the weekend. We have emphasized the absolute requirement that the Priroda be fully functional and the PUP, MIM and BTS systems be fully checked out prior to launch of STS-86. The shift flight director has made every effort to get in contact with the Priroda systems specialists, but so far has had no success. There is one gentleman who has been located who is a general module expert who is tried to give the crew commands to shut down a portion of the Master Computer and that was unsuccessful. Further commands will be issued by the ground this evening.

Date: Friday, September 19, 1997 // MD 45/127

MIR STATION SYSTEM/SUBSYSTEM ACTIVITIES

Kvant-1 gyrodyne #3 was spun up overnight, bringing the total number of active units to ten. Kvant-2 gyrodyne #1 is awaiting the delivery of a spare electronics unit on STS-86. Mr. Skursky informed us that repair work on Kvant-1 gyrodyne #6 would require the station to be put on thruster attitude control for two days, and they don't want to expend the fuel that this would require.

The urine water recovery system SRV-U is unable to drain the urine residue (brine left over after the distillation process) into the residue EDV. This could be due to a clog or bubbles in the system. If this cannot be resolved, one possible solution will be installation of another EDV downstream of the distillator. The system was shut down this evening.

NASA MIR Program, Mir 24 / NASA 5 Status
Date: Thursday, September 18, 1997 // MD 44/126

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities

Gyrodynes #2, 5, and 6 on Kvant-2 were spun up last night, but #1 did not spin up, and #6 was spinning up more slowly than the others. This brings the number of active units to nine, although #6 is not yet in the control loop. Work continues on Kvant-2 #1 Gyrodyne, and Mr. Antoshechkin informed us that the crew would replace the main axis drive control unit for Kvant-1 Gyrodyne #3 and attempt to spin it up later today.

The Kvant-1 Elektron was reactivated at DMT 16:33 yesterday and is running fine.

Core module external loop KOX-1H was switched off at DMT 21:27 last night due to the dewpoint being reached on the Antares coldplate on the joint KOX-1B/VGK loop. Both Altair passes for today were cancelled due to the dewpoint concern. Mr. Antoshechkin told us that one fix would be to raise the setpoint of the KOX-1H loop to bring the Antares coldplate above the dewpoint, but this would also increase the temperature of the coolant flowing to Elektron, so they cannot exercise this option.

NASA MIR Program / Mir 24 / NASA 5 Status
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 1997// MD 43/125

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities

Early today, the gyrodynes were reactivated. Six were nominally spun up, but four appear to have sustained damage to the electronic control units during the off-nominal powerdown of Kvant-2 following Sunday's failure. The crew is working today to replace these electronics units, and flight controllers hope to get those four gyrodynes spun up this evening. On the final comm pass of the evening, Mike reported that he could hear the four gyrodynes spinning up.

Date: Tuesday, September 16, 1997 // MD 42/124

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities -- Early this morning thruster-only attitude control was successfully regained. The gyrodynes are expected to be spun up overnight.

The external cooling loop on the base block (KOH-1N) remains off to preclude condensate gathering on the Antares transmitter coldplate. Elektron remains off as well. Condensate recovery (SRV-K), urine recovery (SRV-U), and Vozdukh are all on. Kvant-2 is powering up and its batteries are being charged.

The crew also spent time today cleaning up the worksite in the area of loop VGK in Kvant-1. Several weeks ago, leak repairs were performed in this area and today the crew finally cleaned up the work area. There are no leaks.

As you know, the Mir station is currently in its twelfth year on orbit, and of course all of its systems are operating beyond their intended service life. Our philosophy on service life is that we assess the impact of failure of any instruments or assemblies, and if such failure poses no threat to crew safety, then we allow them to operate not only for the length of their service life, but until they actually fail.

In general, the operating life of the majority of instruments will greatly exceed their official service life. Based on this, a plan was formed to supply the station with the necessary spare parts for instruments and assemblies. Where critical instruments that affect crew safety are concerned, we keep a supply of spares on board; for noncritical instruments, the spares are on the ground and are delivered to the station by the Shuttle or Progress as needed. Of course, there is a certain amount of risk associated with such an approach, and it is not beyond criticism, but taking into account our limited choices, it is perhaps the only possible option, and one that will allow us to achieve out ultimate goal of having a constant crew presence on board the station.

In terms of the expendable materials, in terms of the present state of affairs we are within the agreed limits established by the joint document "Primary Mir Station system requirements enabling continuation of the American astronaut's mission."

by someone@nasa.gov

Despite the common claim that being on Mir means "invaluable experience" for NASA astronauts, it turns out that if the experience doesn't fit what officials want the public to believe, the experience is hidden away. A glaring example of this is how Jerry Linenger REALLY felt when he made his E.V.A. on April 29. Here's how he described it during a debriefing session at NASA on June 6:

The airlock hatch is a piece of junk with a broken hinge, "jury rigged with a couple of C-clamps holding it together" that you have to "very gingerly open". Noted Linenger, "It gives you an uneasy feeling as you leave." Once outside, "You have a continuous feeling you're falling off the station," he recalled. "It's a very uneasy feeling, a very strong feeling of falling that had to be overcome." He warned that he "could see someone getting very panicky out there, especially if they had a fear of heights."

The external surface of Mir was a hazardous environment with razor sharp edged objects. Many translation paths led to blind alleys, and it was extremely difficult to know where you were on the external surface (sometimes his only hope was peering into a window and recognizing the part of Mir he was outside of). Training in the water tank was nowhere near the reality ("I think the people in Star City don't really know the configuration out there").

He was out on the end of the Strela arm, constantly worrying it would snap and send him off into space. "I'm just out there kinda dangling, not comfortable out there, very uncomfortable," he recalled. "You don't have a lot of confidence the things aren't gonna break," he explained (he had heard about handrails breaking on previous spacewalks so always tried to stay attached at two points).

Worry piled on worry: "It's risk upon risk. Is the station going to work? Is the space suit going to work? Is the Strela going to break? I suspect that some other people wouldn't have been able to do that. If there had been one more sensation, or one more thing go wrong, I wouldn't have been able to do it. It was a surprise to me how frightening it was. And I was surprised how I was able to overcome it. It was close to overwhelming, it's right on the edge of a very bad feeling."

Mike Foale was already aboard Mir when Linenger gave this honest description. Let's hope that somebody at NASA briefed Foale about it.


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