Shuttle News: February 2007 Archives

Editor's note: Today's edition of the Washington Post has a half page color advertisement on page A12 [close up]. The ad was placed by United Technologies and focuses on a rather detailed diagram of how a spacesuit is constructed.

Alas, one thing is missing: the urine collection system i.e. "diaper" that is worn underneath. Normally, this would not be a big deal. Yet, given recent detailed news about how astronauts use diapers, you'd think that such a detailed diagram - one that deliberately begs the question as to how complex and functional these suits are - could do a public service by showing exactly how a spacesuit really works - including waste management.

Alas, UT not only avoids that issue - they compound the omission by putting the following quote in the ad - thus raising the topic: "Which leads us to the #1 question: How do the astronauts go to the bathroom? Like everyone else".

"Like everyone else"? I don't think so. Would you lock yourself in a bulky body bag for hours at a time without a way to pee?

Editor's note: According to the National Academies of Science, "Review of NASA's Space Flight Health Standards-Setting Process" (Letter Report) is due to be released in March by the Institute of Medicine. This report "Assesses the current process by which NASA establishes space flight health standards such as fitness-for-duty criteria and limits on radiation and other exposures. The standards are intended to mitigate health risks astronauts face during long missions."

Hail Damage To Space Shuttle Causes NASA To Delay Launch, SpaceRef

"A hail storm at NASA Kennedy Space Center has damaged the external tank attached to Space Shuttle Atlantis. The damage is severe enough to cause the launch of Atlantis to be delayed at least one month - perhaps longer. According to Space Shuttle program manager Wayne Hale, a severe, localized thunderstorm developed over NASA Kennedy Space Center yesterday. The storm was rather intense and dropped a lot of golf ball sized hail on the launch pads. That hail was driven by 62 mph gusts."

The Curious Use of Combination Locks By NASA During Space Shuttle Missions, SpaceRef

"Given the recent problems Lisa Nowak experienced - problems that emerged only months after she flew on a Space Shuttle mission - questions have arisen as to how NASA might deal with an individual who exhibited problems during a mission - as well as how to catch such problems on the ground ahead of time.

The following interview was conducted with NASA's Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer, astronaut Bryan O'Connor in April 2006 - a few months before Lisa Nowak's space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. As such, his thoughts certainly represent his recent thinking about safety.

As such, it is somewhat disconcerting to read a recollection wherein O'Connor talks about adding a combination lock to Space Shuttle Columbia's middeck hatch on STS-40 in 1991 due to concerns over the competency of several payload specialists. Moreover, he repeats several times that he thought this whole story was "humorous" and "funny"."

Duct-Tape, Tranquilizers Part Of NASA's Plan For Mentally Unstable Astronauts In Space, AP

"It turns out NASA has a detailed set of written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary."

Editor's note: Yawn, this is not news. Excerpts from these documents were online here at NASA Watch and SpaceRef 7 years ago. For example, here is a suicide prevention procedure and here is one for acute psychosis. Oh yes, there's an on-orbit pregnancy test too. Mike Schneider could have just Googled NASA emergency medical and he'd have found this a lot faster.

Editor's 24 Feb Update: If you look here at the Smoking Gun you will note, by some unfathomable coincidence, that they grabbed precisely the same two emergency procedures I featured in this article (among many others that I have also linked to) and published them - without bothering to note their source.

Spacehab Dismisses RDM Claim With NASA

"SPACEHAB, Incorporated, a leading provider of commercial space services, today announced that the Company has filed for a formal dismissal with prejudice of all litigation against NASA relating to losses incurred by SPACEHAB as a result of the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident. In January 2004 the Company initiated a formal proceeding against NASA in which the Company was seeking damages in the amount of $87.7 million for the loss of its Research Double Module (RDM) as a result of the Columbia accident."

STS-116 Astronauts Honored at the White House (photo)

"President Bush recognizes NASA astronauts Joan Higginbotham, right, and Robert Curbeam, during a ceremony honoring African-American History Month, Monday, Feb. 12, 2007, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Curbeam and Higginbotham were crew members of Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-116 mission to the International Space Station in December 2006. It was the first shuttle mission with two African-American crew members."

Editor's note: Too bad the Pilot of STS-116 (Billy O) is hiding from the media in Florida and was not able to attend this important event.

Meanwhile, word has it that Robert Curbeam will replace Lauri Hansen as the Constellation Level II Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Manager. Hansen will reportedly become the Program Manager for development of the Lunar Lander (LSAM).

Making The Shuttle Go Away

NASA OIG Report: NASA's Plan for Space Shuttle Transition Could Be Improved by Following Project Management Guidelines

"Specifically, the transition plan did not comprehensively address the following elements: A work breakdown structure that divides the transition activities into manageable segments; Detailed cost estimates to support the budget preparation process and facilitate cost control; Metrics for measuring transition progress and success; Periodic milestone reviews; Internal and external communication plans to facilitate an efficient flow of information to the stakeholders; Asset end-state requirements and security provisions for Space Shuttle Program property; A centralized data management system to document transition-related recommendations and decisions; and Clearly defined responsibilities for the components of the transition governance structure and designation of the component responsible for post-2010 decisions.

NASA acknowledged that its transition plan does not address these elements, given that the plan "serves as initial, top-level strategic guidance and a governance framework for the development of lower-level directorate, program, and project transition planning guidance documents that will comprehensively capture and address all of the elements necessary for efficient and effective execution of. . ." the transition."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from February 2007.

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