Space Station, Nasa, Johnson Space Center discussed on Houston We Have a Podcast


Bay. Stage going into an ambient food system. Wow so on this topic of systems tell me about the logic of designing the space station as we see it now with a trust segment with with solar rays with batteries with a the habitable modules. The Way to those we started out the different systems are going to be developed and built by different what we called work packages different contractors and different NASA centers managing them and so the power system was originally going to be a product of the Glenn. what is now the Glenn Research Center up in Ohio The modules became a product of the Marshall Space Center in Alabama although with an important role for Johnson in managing those modules A lot of the supporting systems the guidance navigation control Computers were being developed here at the Johnson Space Center because of our role in managing the spaceflight program We looked at How do you package those systems? And how do you tie them together on the inside of the modules We looked at the Spacelab racks and we went to a somewhat a simpler and more elegant design of a common rack. That could be put into the floor. The in the walls of the space station They were basically refrigerator sized up to a mass of about a thousand pounds and they were sized in such a way that if we ever got punctured by micrometeorites or a piece of orbital debris and we had to plug a hole the route could be pulled away from the wall very quickly to gain access to the pressure. Shell keep in mind we were looking at. How do we maintain these modules over a very long period of time decades? And so it was very important that it be modular in approach and so A lot of the keywords that we we wrote into the documentation both for our requirements and into the contracts were associated with modulate parity and upgrade ability and So that we would be able to recover from any kind of problems and issues in orbit the other systems such as the solar power cells and the radiators and eventually even the computers We looked at. How can you put those things on the outside of the station? How can you attach them? Originally on the Space Operation Center it was a somewhat simpler design approach But they were not quite as easy to put into place during assembly. And if you've ever had to change them out it would be difficult thinking about eating park thinking span so looking at. Va Robotics and how you assemble the pieces. We designed around this idea of the central trusts and attaching these as as different modular entities that could be attached to the trust. The trust self went through quite an evolution. Originally we were going to build the trust Out of what we called sticks and balls kind of a of a Lego set in orbit lots of little pieces and because of some of the concerns associated. With all the EV hours We went to a modular truss approach. Where the trusses were pre integrated so he would fill the truss up with as much of the equipment as we could. It would be pre assembled and then we would launch them into fairly large segments on the shuttle and So from nineteen eighty five through about nineteen eighty nine or so Those aspects of the space station what became space station. Freedom Grew pretty definitive. Now keep in mind. We did a lot of the early work at different NASA centers Looking at the design approach to us and specifying the requirements ultimately. What was built was an outgrowth of the contract competition So for instance A number of us from Johnson Space Center because of our Integral work on the modules actually went off to work package one into the Marshall Space Center. I was one of those people who worked out of Marshall for about a year during the source board and Ultimately what came back from the different bidders was what was built for the space station and still Looks pretty much like the space station today. Now some of the things The contractors and NASA did not necessarily get right in for instance. One of these things was the size of the modules Nasa specified in the requirements that the contractors were to bid to that The modules were. Take up the full capacity of the space shuttle. Payload Bay and so one of the bidders on the work patch one contract that you bidders. By the way we're Boeing and Martin Marietta and so one of the bidders said they could put a sixty or sixty five foot long module and they could launch it. Fully outfitted fully loaded with gear and then the other contractors said well a fully outfitted module would never be able to be lifted by the shuttle into the required orbit and therefore we would have to either short in the modules or we would have to launch the modules up largely empty and then send them up send the the interior contents up later in logistics modules and fact because I had been involved with shuttle payload integration I one of my jobs during the source sport was to write a white paper comparing the two approaches and who was right and my My statement was neither one is right because NASA specified the wrong requirements. So what the need them. What what we end up choosing What we ultimately ended up doing was shortening most of the modules and launching the mop partially outfitted so much of the equipment that could be integral Integrated inside as we could given the mass limitations. Okay so the the modules wound up not being They were probably never going to be sixty feet long. But the original modules. The space station were supposed to be about forty eight feet long and in fact now the longest. Us module the US lab is only. I believe about thirty feet long. Okay and so We did have to constrain the length because the mass limitations so you're defining these requirements for the contractor and go on having this back and forth with the contractors for some of the US segment. What about the international side? The internationals were going through a similar kind of approach and in some cases they were a little bit further behind us. So for instance although we were working right from the very outset with the Japanese and with the Canadians and with the Europeans They were learning a lot from how we were looking at the situation. For instance as I mentioned earlier we were building the mockups of the modules here at Johnson and the work was being done within our group. That was not in engineering. It was in the space in life. Sciences Organization called Man's systems man dash systems These days it probably would not be politically correct to call it. That we were not So forward thinking at that time It was interesting because the Japanese came. I remember Sh- MR CHIRAC. Who was their program manager? Came very early on probably in eighty six or eighty seven and we toured him through the MOCKUPS and showed him how we were approaching the design and they thought it was very interesting that we would have such a focus on the human aspect of the space station. That was something he said. The Japanese really did not know how to do The next year they said we're coming to Houston with our man systems advisory group and so they learned very quickly from us how to establish exactly what we already had in place here in. Houston and Pretty soon they were using the same approach Some of the aspects were political for instance The Japanese just as we have to fight in Congress for a monetary support to build all of these things had to do the same thing with their government and They went through and they said you know. We want to build this large laboratory and along with the laboratory logistics module and External Platform. There was a lot of concern over robotics and so the Japanese said well the Canadians rebuilding the main robotic arm for the station. But we'll build a robotic arm to so a lot of these things wound up on the Japanese module when we ran into problems such is the mass limitations of the modules the Japanese because they had sold it to their government that they were going to have a big laboratory stuck with their big laboratory. Hasn't pro as a compared with the US where we reduce the size. And that's how the the Japanese wound up with the largest lab on the station. All right now Tell me about construction. You already alluded a little bit earlier in our discussion about this wall of. Va Sins with some of the early construction. Tell me about how started and where we were. We had a series of as going on in the shuttle program through the early nineteen eighties We had rescued some satellites that had been put into Aaron orbits they weren't the right orbit or the state and the satellite did not start working the way it was supposed to. In so NASA shuttle were sent to rescue the satellites Sometimes activities went as planned other times. Didn't we sent up some chests of space station hardware for instance we built A segment of trusts off of the space shuttle and some of the problems that we focused on during that test said it was going to perhaps be more difficult than we originally assumed We had a study conducted by Astronaut Bill Fisher And Charlie price of the engineering director so is called the Fisher price study and they said. Oh this E. V. A. situation could be a pretty difficult with thousands of hours required to build the station and especially if something doesn't go right if we can't get certain things put in place then it could affect the entire assembly sequence so that was what got us looking at the idea of the pre integrated trust Some of the people in the engineering director at Who are still here today. actually patented that idea of the pre-integrated trust and so that changed our direction little bit although ultimately a the number of as his that have been required on the International Space Station has been far more than any prior program. Still in the I believe thousands of hours now I think we'RE UP INTO THE O. Two hundred devier's thereabouts today. And so So it's required quite a number bb as a lot of activity just as was foretold back in the nineteen eighties. Yeah for sure I think. Yeah we're we're way up there thousands. Yeah I think fifteen hundred hours was the last statistic for last spacewalk that we did so. It's definitely because it's it's not just we're not we're beyond construction now. This is construction. This is maintenance you know. We're talking about switching out. The batteries. Use The batteries. Don't components have been up there for decades. Now that's exactly right so tell me about some of the early years of space station with some of the smaller segments. Here we're talking. Sds Eight Expedition One Life there and how that technology has improved over time going from the small station and then eventually building on with this assembly sequence what changed what upgraded. And how what we learned improved our understanding of how to operate this thing. We'll bring in NASA Mir here because NASA Mir was a program that we conducted between about nineteen ninety five in one thousand nine hundred ninety eight so it was leading up to the first Assembly missions of the ISS and especially for those of us who were working on the inside of the station was very important We learned What kinds of equipment we would need? We learned how to work with the Russians we learned how to establish appropriate documentation and immigration processes. And so a lot of that was done early on in my own case I had been the storage manager on the shuttle during the mid eighties and also was responsible for integrating a lot of the payloads on the shuttle. And so when I was put in charge of one of the last modules on Mir I said well we streamline the process for integrating payloads if had common interfaces an so I designed the the CTB's the soft storage bags That quite honestly with something no one else had ever thought of previously and so when the first mission was getting ready to dock with the Mir Sti Seventy one in nineteen ninety five. They discovered just a few weeks before the flight. We have no way to carry things over between the shuttle and the MIR. How can we do this and I said well I have these? Ctb's manufacturer we were actually building them here on site JSE. They were in orbit within a matter of really weeks and So we we were fortunate in having that of eligible. computers When we started the design of computers For the space station in the nineteen eighties. There was no such thing as a laptop computer The first small apples apple computers were coming out probably around eighty seven or thereabouts. I remember when I went off to the source board Because I was the scribe. I was the person writing a lot of these documents. The repackaged one of these apple computers. It wasn't by any means a portable. We called it a lovable and But We were looking at large refrigerator size racks full of computer equipment in the nineteen eighties By the time of Muir When our first astronaut went up to the Mir he said he really could have used some kind of a computer system to re documents on re training manuals because otherwise we had no way of sending up lots of different manuals Even during his off hours he said boy I could use something just to watch a movie on and so I was given the job to develop the first portable computer to be used as A training aid and also to be able to be used in off. Duty HOURS ARE MEMBER. We recorded onto small eight. Millimeter cassettes the Apollo thirteen movie among others sent those up in nineteen ninety five and of course now today all of the computers on the Space Station are basically portable computers the PCs system of the of the space station really is the heart of the computer system. That drives everything We have no rack sized computer equipment anymore thankfully so we've gone away from that but keep in mind in nineteen eighty five. When we got started just didn't exist. You hadn't been invented A lot of the other equipment. We were testing out. I on NASA Mir And then we were observing some of the equipment that the Russians were using their waste management system there treadmill We got into some arguments here at the Johnson. Space Center about how critical some hardware was so for instance The ISS program at the time did not feel that exercise equipment was critical and the exercise equipment..

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