December 1997 Archives


22 December 1997: Securacom Inc. Appoints Lt. General James A. Abrahamson, USAF- Retired - to its Board, press release, Yahoo

21 December 1997: Astrophysicist Schramm Dies in Plane Crash, Reuters, Yahoo

19 December 1997: KSC Launch Director Harrington to retire; successors named, KSC press relase, Florida Today

18 December 1997: Administrator's Holiday Greeting, from Dan Goldin

"NASA's successes did not happen because we have good luck.
Nor did they happen because of any one person. Each happened
because high goals were set and talented men and women, like
you, worked together to meet the challenges.."

And the reward for 600 of these "talented men and women" at KSC from Dan "Scrooge" Goldin and Paul "Grinch" Smith? A Christmas Eve layoff announcement!

17 December 1997:   Paul M. Johnstone, Chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, passed away on Wednesday, December 17,1997.

14 December 1997: Special Report: Florida's Future in Space Competing with the world, Florida Today

"The state's long dominance in launching rockets is over, a victim
of global competition. Unless strong action is taken, Florida's spaceports could become ghost towns in the 21st century."

13 December 1997: NASA, Goldin looking hard at options in face of budget shortfall, Florida Today

14 December 1997: 
Latest MSFC rumors.

This is the latest: Roy Estes moves from his current position as Stennis center director to become center director at MSFC;
astronaut Jan Davis (former MSFC employee and UAH graduate) moves from JSC to become deputy MSFC center director (she'd be JSC center director George Abbey's eyes and ears we suppose). Another part of this rumor has Carolyn Griner, the current MSFC deputy center director (usually an obvious choice to be considered for center director) moving back to NASA HQ, possibly to replace Wil Trafton as as Code M AA.

14 December 1997: 
Another Associate Administrator to leave NASA HQ?

We understand that Code H (Office of Procurement) Associate Administrator Deidre Lee has been telling folks that she will be leaving NASA. Add this to vacancies at Code J, L, M, R, and Y and you have 7 of the 19 (one third) HQ Offices without an AA.

Why hasn't Dan replaced any of these folks with permanent appointees? As we understand the situation, most of the people who are qualified do not want the position. Those that would take the job are either not qualified or not politically acceptable to Dan Goldin and/or George Abbey.

There may be more departures soon: we know of at least two other AA's (both from Codes near the beginning of the alphabet) who has also expressed an interest in leaving the agency.

This is hardly the way to head into 1998, Dan - a year which many inside and outside NASA see as being one of the most challenging NASA has ever faced.

12 December 1997: Brevard deserves some answers about space center's future, an open letter to Dan Goldin, A Florida Today editorial (Goldin speaks in Cocoa Beach today)

10 December 1997: Personnel Changes at MSFC

Outgoing Center Director, Dr. Wayne Littles, announced Wednesday some
personnel changes. Sid Saucier, Propulsion Lab Director, will
become MSFC's Associate Director, replacing Susan Smith who is
retiring. Bill Taylor, Deputy Director of Science and
Engineering, will assume duties as the Director of Science and
Engineering, replacing Sherman Jobe who also retires this month.
The changes are effective Dec. 21.

8 December 1997: JSCA 97-101 - Key Personnel Assignment

"With Capt. Wetherbee's return, Col. Brian Duffy will resume his responsibilities as Assistant Director (Technical)."

7 December 1997:  Wil Trafton has landed.

We have received word that Wil Trafton, former Associate Administrator for Space Flight, will begin work on Monday, 8 December, as Executive Vice President of International Launch Services.

1 December 1997:  Rich Christiansen was named as Acting AA for Code R.

This was announced at an all-hands today. Given all of the bad news we hear about NASA's FY 1999 budget we don't expect Rich to be having much fun.

20 November 1997:  A Mission By Any Other Name. Why is Dan Goldin changing Code Y's name?

Mission to Planet Earth is getting a new name. But is that all that will change? We have been getting lots of different spins on this.

"This name change was mentioned by Dan Goldin in an SES Leadership meeting in Washington D.C. two weeks ago. At that meeting, Dan said that he was changing the name to something such as "The Office of Earth Science" and is reported to have said that he just felt that the current name "didn't send the right vibes" and that "Earth Science" is more consistent- and explainable - than was "Mission to Planet Earth".

20 November 1997:  MSFC buyout application date deadline extended to COB, 12 December 1997.

Some MSFC cynics suggest that this is being done so that people can see who the new MSFC Center Director is before they make their decision.......

13 November 1997: 
Wil Trafton is leaving NASA

Office of Space Flight Associate Administrator Wil Trafton announced this morning at an all-hands meeting that he was leaving NASA sometime in December. No word (yet) as to where he is going or who will replace Trafton.

13 November 1997: 
Trafton announces his departure from NASA, NASA press release

13 November 1997: 
Statement by House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee chair Dana Rohrabacher

"Wil Trafton is an incredibly decent and capable man who time and time again was sent up here to run interference for the decisions of other
NASA managers. While I understand he is leaving for personal reasons, I
know that if I were in his shoes I would be very tired of taking other
people's medicine for them. "

14 November 1997: NASA space station, shuttle chief calls it quits , Orlando Sentinel

14 November 1997: NASA's associate administrator for space flight quits, Florida Today

13 November 1997:  A note from Jim Oberg.

I did resign from USA on November 12. This caught everyone (including my employers) by surprise.  However, it had been on my mind to do this for some time and to move on to more exciting opportunities. I hope to stay in touch with all my friends, old and new.

Email, phone/fax 281-337-2838.

NASA Watch note: The truth is out there.

10 November :  Letter from GSFC Associate Director Art Fuchs to all GSFC employees regarding "Project Goddard restructuring" and GESTA/AFGE negotiations.

7 November 1997: 
Susan Smith, Associate Center Director at MSFC, announced today that she will be retiring.

Ms. Smith was formerly the Chief Counsel at MSFC before being named to her present position by current Center Director, Wayne Littles.

7 November 1997: MSFC Center Director rumors abound.

The astronaut Shannon Lucid/astronaut Bonnie Dunbar rumors are starting to fade. They have been replaced with Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (Code Q) AA (and former astronaut) Fred Greogry and RLV Program Head (and former astronaut) Gary Payton.

UPDATE: Now these rumors are starting to fade. NASA Watch sources around NASA HQ and MSFC point to someone from the outside as the new MSFC Center Director. Supposedly, a military nominee with 3 or 4 stars is under consideration.

6 November 1997: MSFC's Sherman Jobe to retire.

MSFC Science and Engineering Director, Sherman Jobe
announced his retirement yesterday. He was in this postion for less than 2 years. NASA Watch sources at MSFC expect another 2-3 top level MSFC managers to announce their retirement before the end of next week. 14 November is the last day to apply for the buyout at MSFC.

5 November 1997: Bud Jupin, USA head at KSC has up and quit.

5 November 1997: 
Robert Whitehead, Associate Administrator, Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology (OASTT) Code R is leaving NASA.

Whitehead announced at a 4 November all hands meeting that he was going to be leaving NASA in December. UPDATE: Some speculation suggests that Gary Payton might be under consideration to replace Whitehead.

4 November 1997: 
Time for a new phone book at NASA HQ?

We have heard that Code C AA Chris Christensen is working on a reorganization plan for NASA Headquarters. Among the rumoured consolidations is a merger of Code F and Code J -- and possibly, a Code F, J ,and H merger. Perhaps the long- rumoured consolidation of HEDS and Space Station payload activities within Code M (currently split between Code U and M) will be part of this.

3 November 1997: 
Taking the Fall, Government Executive Magazine.

Downsizing, management, etc. Some NASA folks are interviewed. Wanna be a Team Leader?

29 October 1997:  National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Use of
Appropriations to Fund Expansion of "Career Transition Assistance
, B-272040, October 29, 1997, General Accounting Office


The General Counsel, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has requested a decision on the propriety of using appropriations to fund an expansion of its "Career Transition Assistance Program" (CTAP). The CTAP is operated by a contractor and offers outplacement services to NASA employees. NASA is considering an expansion of the program to offer additional services in part to offset the costs of agency downsizing. As explained below, we would not object to NASA using otherwise available funds for the expanded program provided NASA determines that the expenditures primarily inure to NASA's benefit and the additional cost is reasonable in light of the anticipated benefits to NASA. "

27 October 1997: Wayne Littles resigns as Director of MSFC

At the end of a staff meeting this morning, Dr. Littles announced that he was retiring from NASA effective 3 January 1998. Current Deputy Director Carolyn Griner would be an obvious (and desirable) choice to replace Littles. However, rumors are circulating that JSC Center Director George Abbey would like to see an astronaut named as the new MSFC center director. A female astronaut.

28 October 1997: Marshall Center Director Dr. Wayne Littles to Retire, NASA Press Release

27 October 1997: New Deputy Director at LeRC

LeRC has announced a new Deputy Director position and someone to fill it: Dr. Phillip Walker, currently Director for Diversity Management. From what we understand there was no advertised vacancy announcement for this position.

6 October 1997: Letter regarding MSFC's roles and mission sent to Dan Goldin from Sen. Shelby, Sen. Sessions, and Rep. Cramer.

13 August 1997: Big cuts at Code M?

Word has reached us that Dan Goldin has directed Code M to finally make the big cuts in its HQ personnel. The current head count of 106 is supposed to get down to 65. Word has it that Chris Christensen at Code C has been given carte blanche in selecting Code M folks for reassignment - to Code C.

Why is it that all the HQ codes are cutting personnel while Code C, the supportive infrastructure, is growing? Seems counter-intuitive to us, but then again, this is Dan Goldin's NASA i.e. Never A Straight Answer.

8 August 1997: Memo from Doug Stone to Space Station Employees

"Because of where we are, and the continued strains on program funding, we are in the process of restructuring our organization to meet program needs in a more efficient manner."

29 April 1997: It's been a month Dan.

Hey Dan, it has been one month since your all hands meeting, office visits, and pledge to communicate more often with your employees. You haven't done anything.

We have been watching the Headquarters Restructuring Website for a month now (Yawn). Little or nothing happening there. Virtually no one seems to want to call the hotline and there seems to be little interest in setting up the electronic feedback service that has been promised for a month now.

And just what is this service center anyways? The words have been bounced around for several months now yet we just can't seem to find a description of it anywhere. Will this Service Center actually do anything or is this yet another attempt to look like you are thinking about people's well-being when in fact you are doing nothing but pretending to be concerned?

The charts [1] [2] [3] regarding the service center from the 26 February 1997 "HQ Workforce Restructuring Options Discussion briefing" mention that NASA will "Set up service group function May 97". May is 2 days away.

On 24 March, you made a series of committments to be more communicative with your staff at Headquarters. We gave you some action items on 25 March. We see no evidence whatsoever that you have paid attention to them - or to any of the committments you made on 24 March.

And yet you still wonder why people are dissatisfied with the way you manage them?

24 March 1997: Recommendations and Action Items

At one point in the morning's Q&A session, Dan did say that he was going to walk around HQ more often and would try and visit a different code every week. We think this is a great idea and that Dan should be doing this all over NASA - not just at Headquarters.

Dan, today's effort, while years over due, was a good start. One session shows that you are concerned. A second meeting will demonstrate interest. However, subsequent meetings must show clear evidence that you are acting on the input you have received or your words will once again start to ring hollow.

Action item for Dan Goldin: publish the schedule for each HQ Code visit on the NASA Headquarters website. Do the same for the visits you do to the NASA Centers. Once the visit is complete, post the questions/issues raised by your employees, and the actions you take to deal with these issues. As you complete these actions, please post the results. Today's activities should be the first of these reports to your workforce.

Do these things and more people might just believe that you are truly concerned about the people at NASA - as well as NASA's programs. As former JSC Center Director Gerry Griffin said in his 31 December 1996 editorial,

"The men and women of NASA and their contractors can do anything this country wants them to do. All it takes is leadership -- not management, leadership."

1997 and earlier

24 December 1997: Spacehab gets $62 mln in space contracts, Reuters, Yahoo

19 December 1997: Science Fiction-Like Exploits Of The Space Shuttle, USA press release, Yahoo

16 December 1997: 
NASA officials criticize space report, UPI, Yahoo

16 December 1997: 
Report: space debris threatens shuttle,UPI, Yahoo

16 December 1997: 
Tiny deadly space debris seen as threat, Wired, Yahoo

16 December 1997: 
Orbital Debris May Pose Significant Risk to the Space Shuttle, Press release, National Research Council

16 December 1997: 
Protecting the Space Shuttle from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris, Committee on Space Shuttle Meteoroid/Debris Risk Management, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, National Research Council

12 December 1997: Looks like John Glenn will be flying on a Space Shuttle mission.

Editor's comment: The White House is involved - and, from what we have learned, this is all but a done deal. More details to follow. Once this is announced, you can expect NASA to hurriedly come up with some spur of the moment, after the fact "experiments" to justify flying an elderly former astronaut in space. Glenn's exposure to space flight was so brief and so long ago as to make a scientific basis for this flight utterly meaningless. This is about politics and public relations - not science. Anyone at NASA - or Senator Glenn's office - who attempts to put a scientific spin on the reason for this space junket is being less than truthful with the public.

Since this is all about politics, we urge Senator Glenn to use the obvious media exposure that will result from his flight to call for a reversal of the punitive budget cuts being inflicted upon NASA by the Clinton Administration. THAT would have some clear value to the agency.

Otherwise NASA, if you really want to study the effects of space flight on senior citizens, keep flying Story Musgrave until he's old enough.

10 December 1997: Shuttle Contractor Wants Payloads to Pay Off, Washington Post

9 December 1997: Commerce Business Daily: Presolicitation Notice: DOD Shuttle/ISS Payload Support Contract, Space Test Program (STP) at Kirtland Air Force Base New Mexico

"The scope of the DoD Shuttle/ISS Payload includes operational engineering support for the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program (STP) Shuttle/ISS Payload Support Contract (DPSC). "

25 November 1997:  Terms of Reference, Administrator's Policy Review, Issues Associated with Policies, Plans, and Budget Commitments to Execute the Space Transportation Implementation Plan, online at the Code Z website.

1 October 1997: Space Shuttle: Upgrade Activities and Carryover Balances. T-NSIAD-98-21. 8 pp. plus 1 appendix (3 pp.) [.pdf format]

1 October 1997: prepared statement by Will Trafton, Associate Administrator, Office of Space Flight, as he testifed before the House Science Committee regarding Space Shuttle safety.

The hearings covered the impact on safety of the recent transfer of funds away from the Shuttle program; the effects on Shuttle launch requirements resulting from the slippage of the Space Station assembly schedule; and the amount of uncosted carryovers and possible plans for its disposition.

Word has it that the Committee did a fair amount of testimony "read-back" to the NASA people testifying i.e. "well, in previous testimony, you made the following [contradictory] statement."

Ouch. Don't you hate it when they do that.

30 September 1997:Rick Stephens to Lead Boeing Bid to Consolidate NASA Space
, press release, Yahoo

9 September 1997:  United Space Alliance Names Lunney, DeCastro to Key Executive
, Press release, Yahoo

20 July 1997: Has NASA Decided to Cancel the remaining Shuttle/Mir flights?

We have learned from KSC that word was passsed down recently from the top to plan on cancellation of the 4 remaining Shuttle/Mir flights. KSC folks were told to start planning for what they were going
to do when the flight rate dropped to 2 and 4 flights/year for a couple of years. Apparently, this rather low flight rate being projected is due to NASA's lack of payloads which could be ready in time to fly. In the meantime, when not flying shuttles, KSC personnel will apparently dedicate their time towards continual improvement projects, cost reduction projects, etc.

22 May 1997: Threat to NASA funding a factor in Weldon's `no' vote on budget, By Larry Wheeler, Florida Today.

19 May 1997: Boeing Press Release: Boeing To Study Consolidation of NASA Space Operations

19 May 1997: Boeing Co awarded NASA contract, Reuters, Yahoo

16 May 1997: Despite Objections, NASA Headquarters Moves Forward With Plan to Cut Shuttle Program, News release from U.S. Congressman Dave Weldon, online at Florida Today

15 May 1997: United Space Alliance to trim KSC workforce, By Robyn Suriano, Florida Today

14 May 1997: Novel work incentives at USA

NASA Watch has learned that USA (United Space Alliance) is finally waking up to the hemorrhage of people leaving the ranks in training and flight control. There is now a new incentive plan in place- it is called a "Retention Bonus". Employees remaining within those groups at USA with the highest attrition rates get supplemental checks every month - presumably to entice them to stay onboard.

On the surface, this would seem to be an effective mechanism to make people hang around.

Think about this for a moment. It is also rewarding bad management.

7 May 1997:Hey, who's that looking over STS-2 astronaut Joe Engle's shoulder as he shaves? Its George Abbey! [NASA Photo ID: S81-39573]

29 April 1997: Israel selects astronaut for US shuttle, UPI, at Yahoo

29 April 1997: Honeycutt takes Lockheed job in Houston, By Todd Halvorson
Florida Today

24 April 1997: Boeing Will Bid on NASA Project (CSOC), AP, Washington Post

Consolidated Space Operations Contract Information

21 April 1997: Defense Department might use NASA's shuttle for launches, again, By Todd Halvorson, online at Florida Today

19 April 1997: Hey Boeing: who's on Mir right now?

According to their ISS website : "To date, the Space Shuttle has flown four times to Mir -- one rendezvous mission and three docking flights. Astronaut Shannon Lucid currently is living and working aboard Mir. "

Nope. Wrong answer. Care to try again?

18 April 1997: Columbia gets July re-flight, other missions move back, by Todd Halvorson Florida Today

17 April 1997: NASA Will Re-Try Failed Mission, Associated Press, online at the Washington Post

17 April 1997: [Press Release] NASA and Air Force Space Command Announce Cooperative Efforts

13 April 1997:More new Spacelab missions?

We have also learned that three new Spacelab missions are being planned for serious consideration during the 8 month slip in ISS assembly:

    MSL-2 in 1999
    Neurolab-2 in 1999.
    MC-2 in 1999

30 September 1996: NASA and USA press releases regarding the signing of the Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC).

26 March 1996: [NSIAD-96-73] Space Shuttle: Need to Sustain Launch Risk Assessment Process
Improvements TEXT

13 March 1997:NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel 1996 Annual Report

28 February 1997: Space Operations management Plan, TA/Space Operations Management Office, NASA JSC

30 November 1995:Rep. Weldon (R-FL) Questions Goldin About NASA's Plan to Consolidate Shuttle Program. Weldon hears that "safety and schedule" drove the selection of United Space Alliance

7 November 1995: NASA to Pursue Non-competitive Shuttle Contract with U.S. Alliance NASA Press Release

22 September 1995: NASA Receives over 40 Responses of Interest from Industry for Shuttle Program Retructure Effort NASA Press Release

The Lower Tiers of the Space Transportation Industrial Base (August 1995)

August 1995: The Lower Tiers of the Space Transportation Industrial Base, Office of Technology Assessment

28 July 1995: [NSIAD-95-171] Space Shuttle: Declining Budget and Tight Schedule Could Jeopardize Space
Station Support

15 June 1995: [NSIAD-95-118] Space Shuttle: NASA Must Reduce Costs Further to Operate Within Future Projected Funds

May 1995: The National Space Transportation Policy: Issues for Congress, Office of Technology Assessment

15 March 1995: Shuttle Management Team Issues Final Report NASA Press Release

15 March 1995: The Kraft Report On Space Shuttle Operations

2 February 1995: Red Team Report

30 November 1995:Rep. Weldon (R-FL) Questions Goldin About NASA's Plan to Consolidate Shuttle Program. Weldon hears that "safety and schedule" drove the selection of United Space Alliance

9 December 1994: GAO Report: Overhead Costs: Unallowable Costs Charged by Rockwell Corporation,
Rocketdyne Division
(Letter Report, 12/09/94, GAO/NSIAD-95-41).

7 November 1995: NASA to Pursue Non-competitive Shuttle Contract with U.S. Alliance NASA Press Release

22 September 1995: NASA Receives over 40 Responses of Interest from Industry for Shuttle Program Retructure Effort NASA Press Release

21 July 1994: GAO Report: Space Shuttle: NASA's Plans for Repairing or Replacing a Damaged or
Destroyed Orbiter
(Letter Report, 07/21/94, GAO/NSIAD-94-197).

26 May 1994: GAO Report: Space Shuttle: Incomplete Data and Funding Approach Increase Cost Risk
for Upgrade Program
(Letter Report, 05/26/94, GAO/NSIAD-94-23).

8 June 1992: Shuttle Management Reogranization Announced

28 April 1992:NASA Administrator Announces Headquarters Appoinments ( Pearson replaces Lenoir as Associate Administrator, Office of Space Flight; O'Connor to become Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Space Flight for Programs.

30 March 1992: Lenoir Announces Plans to Leave NASA

Access to Space: The Future of U.S. Space Transportation Systems (April 1990), Office of Technology Assessment

Affordable Spacecraft: Design and Launch Alternatives (January 1990), Office of Technology Assessment

Date: Tuesday, December 23, 1997 // MD 140/89
Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities

This past weekend, during changeout of the Base Block air conditioner compressor unit, a check valve failed inside the air conditioner unit (not the new compressor) resulting in a Freon 218 leak of approximately 500 grams. The Moscow Operations team is assessing options to deliver a new air conditioner and compressor either on Shuttle or Progress. The manifesting of another compressor is not required. It is being assessed simply to provide another spare.

With the failure of the air conditioner, the Condensate Recovery System is running with supply solely from the Soyuz dehumidifier. Production quantity is between 1 and 2 liters/day. An option to increase water production is to allow the temperature in the Soyuz habitation module to decrease from 14 degrees to 7 degrees. However lowering the temperature in the habitation module will decrease the temperature in the descent module, resulting in temperatures below the dewpoint causing undesired condensation. The ground team is looking at options to disconnect the descent module thermal control system to prevent condensation.

Preliminary consumables delivered in the Progress vehicle include 300 liters of water, 39 food containers, and 50 kg of pure gaseous Oxygen. Quantities of other consumables are expected to be reported Wednesday.

Late last week it was asked if the crew routinely performs litmus tests on the collected condensate. Mr. Antosheshkin reported that the crew performs these checks at their discretion and typically only performs them if the condensate is collected on or in the vicinity of the thermal piping.

Base Block Vozdukh installation has been temporarily stopped while the ground determines the impacts of disconnecting the cables and equipment needed to make the necessary space for connection of the Vozdukh Drying Unit. The ground is expected to provide direction (either an approval for disconnection or a recommendation for a new location) in the next day or two.

NASA MIR Program Mir 24 / NASA 6 Status Date:09
Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Mission Day:09
Mir 24 / NASA 6 MD 134/83

Mir Station System/Subsystem Activities All primary major systems continue to operate nominally. Inspector activities were terminated today due to a problem with the Inspector star tracker. The crew kept receiving an input that the star tracker was overheating. The logic of the Inspector payload is such that without an operating start tracker, no burns can be performed

All Progress burns were executed with no anomalies. The Inspector and the Progress are on safe trajectories and there are no trajectory concerns. The crew did not perform burns to separate Mir from the Inspektor. According to Shift Flight Director Viktor Shedrin, there was a formatting problem in software uplinked to the Mir, and this prevented the burn from occurring. The current plan is to wait until the morning, when the crew will determine the distance to Inspektor, and a decision will be made at that time whether to reattempt a station burn. At about 21:00 DMT, the crew stated that the Inspektor was approximately 425 meters behind and 45-47 degrees higher than the Mir. The entire crew went to sleep following the comm pass ending at 21:20.

Synopsis: Dan Goldin made some rather interesting comments today during his closing session commentary on the recommendations made by the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC). His comments were prompted by the recommendations made by the NAC regarding an earlier presentation on what NASA thinks "Better - Cheaper - Faster" means. The NAC had expressed some concern over just what this phrase meant at NASA - and how all three components could be achieved - and measured.

Goldin stated that when he says Better -Faster-cheaper "I mean better, I mean faster, and I mean cheaper." He immediately moved on to complain that instead of heeding his guidance, many aerospace companies and NASA managers have manipulated his words to mean whatever them to mean. He sated that he was 'furious with the JPL Director" for stating that as far as Mars Pathfinder was concerned adopting a better-cheaper -faster approach had meant a decision to go with a single string design approach - and that "Goldin had said so".



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