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Mir

Letter From Frank Culbertson to Valery Ryumin Regarding Flight Readiness Review

By Keith Cowing
April 22, 1997
Filed under , ,

Apr 22 1997
Valery Ryumin
RSC Energiya
4 Lenin Street
Kaliningrad
Moscow Region, 141070
RUSSIA
Greetings, Valeri!
The information you have sent us recently on the Mir systems status, plans for repair, and the consumables status has been very helpful in preparing for the upcoming Flight Readiness Reviews. I would like, However, for us to be able to present a joint picture of the Russian criteria for mission continuation and out rationale for concurrence with that criteria. I am forwarding a sample of some of the areas of concern that we feel should be addressed to answer the questions of senior NASA management. This information is based on the information from you and existing joint documents. Please review this and we will discuss it at our regular telecon on Tuesday. And please understand that this is in addition to current status. We are trying to show that we understand each other’s safety criteria and mission management philosophy so that upper management can let us do our jobs without anxiety.
A part of the American approach to managing a spacecraft in flight is to develop a minimum equipment list which identifies the set of hardware that must be operational to initiate or continue the mission. This makes perfect sense when you are preparing to launch a spacecraft such as the Shuttle. Some of our managers expect us to provide such a list indicating what must be operational on the Mir before we would agree to transfer Foale or otherwise continue the mission, We understand that the Russian side does not manage Mir in that fashion, and we are trying to communicate what we believe is your philosophy to our management.

For example, where some American managers might say they want two operational Elektron systems at all times, we believe that the Russian approach is to have a minimum of one operational Elektron with adequate spare parts to keep it operating until the next logistics flight with the oxygen generator and candles to provide oxygen during maintenance periods. We also understand that you intend to get both Elektrons working as well as to assemble a second Vosduhk from parts.
With that kind of statement of operating philosophy for each of the critical systems we can keep our management happy without having to address very failure or change that occurs on the station.
In summary, we continue to respect the work of your people in support of the Mir operations, and I am confident that we will be able to proceed. This activity is designed to show that we are proceeding with safety and health as the number one concern and that there is sufficient redundancy to handle failures and either effect a repair or return to earth.
Respectfully,
Frank

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.