International Space Station and Beyond


Houston we have a podcast. Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson. Space CENTER EPISODE ONE Thirty Three International Space Station and beyond. I'm Gary Jordan. I'll be your host today if you're new to the show we bring in the experts. Scientists engineers astronauts historians. We bring them on to go and dive deep into everything human spaceflight. We're coming up. On twenty years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station and orbiting platform that has provided countless insights into living and working in space is brought us More on understanding the universe about the effects on gravity and about the benefits that research can bring to all humankind. The International Space Station has taught us what humans are truly capable of and inspired so many more to pursue great things so last episode. We sat down with Dr Gary Kit Macher Communications and education mission manager and the International Space Station program and an author of several books about the space station among other things and he took us back in time to discuss some of the early space station. Concept's and the space station's of history up to the International Space Station today. We're continuing our conversation with Gary starting with early concepts for space station freedom we detail the life of the International Space Station thus far. And we explore what we can expect for the future of space stations. This episode was inspired in part by comic reader on twitter. Who wanted to know more about a specific part of International Space Station? History we touch on that during this. Today's episode and thanks for sitting the comic reader. So here we go the International Space Station beyond with Dr Gary Kit. Macher enjoy counting one. We have Gary Welcome back to the PODCAST. To continue our conversation about me so we left off kind of it this overlap period with Mir we were talking about the end of Mir in the beginning of space station. Wanted to start with space station but just from talking a little bit just beforehand. It really I think. Starting in the late nineties wouldn't be appropriate. We really have to start kind of even back in the eighties To start talking about the concept in the early ideas for what would be the International Space Station. Really the shuttle and the space station were both thought of at the same time and they were intended to go hand in hand. The shuttle was the means to build and support. Logistically supply the space station and the space station was necessarily going to have to look like something that the shuttle could build and and The first ideas got started even before the program was begun in the late seventies and early eighties Here at the Johnson Space Center. We focused on something called the Space Operation Center and it was going to be a base for doing all kinds of activities in lower orbit At Marshall Space Center in Alabama. They were focused more on utilization and science payloads and They had been working closely with the Europeans on the SPACELAB and so a lot of their ideas were based on a takeoff off from From the Spacelab. That was being carried up in the shuttle We wanted to get the president to actually announce the beginning of the program and once James Begs came in his the NASA administrator about the time that Ronald Reagan became President That was really the focus was getting Reagan to announce the program and it didn't happen very quickly We kept expecting it to be announced but it didn't actually occur until the state of the union paragraphs nine thousand nine hundred eighty four and Ronald. Reagan announced that we would build a space station. We would do it within a decade so it would be up in orbiting by the early nineteen nineties And one of the things that he announced that he told James Begs right from the start. Was We wanted to do this in cooperation? And collaboration with our friendly partners and So bags went out Around the around the world looking for a partnership to establish With the Japanese the Europeans the Canadians Anybody who had worked with previously on a space activities and so that was the beginnings of the international aspect of the space station. Okay so all of these All of these different countries maybe not necessarily had fully formed space agencies but they had maybe agencies government agencies dedicated to space activities in some way They were variety Some of the agencies had worked with US previously and some of them had worked as agencies and some of them had specific industries within their country. So for instance in Canada While there was a Canadian Space Agency there was a specific company that was focused on the development of the robotic arm used on the space shuttle and they wanted to be all day next generation arm. That would be used on the space station in the case of the Europeans although there was there's actually been several. European. Space Agency's had evolved over the years. There were also specific companies in Germany and Italy Had been responsible for designing and building a modules like the SPACELAB and they wanted to build modules of for the International Space Station Some of these actually would go through a a An evolution for instance the Spacehab Company. Which was a commercial company. One of the early NASA foreign commercialization in the mid to late nineteen eighties Their module was actually built by the Italians and so They would become the basis for modules. That would be built for. The space station was that the primary reason for collaboration was for the pitch was. Hey we want to go and build this modular space station and we want you to build modules. Was that the It was part of the reason. Really the the international aspect route of the fact that Because we were launching it on the space shuttle they had to be modular. The shuttle was only capable of launching a specific mass in a specific size. We knew that they had to be within about sixty feet. Long fifteen feet in diameter and depending on the altitude that we would place it in orbit between about thirty and fifty thousand pounds for each launch and so So we were very constrained by the payload capacity of the shuttle but it also led to kind of a natural mechanism to decide that this country's participation would be limited to these pieces that would go up in one segment or in multiple segments and the case the Japanese. Okay Yeah we had to we were thinking modular we were thinking and when it comes to the logic of how this was going to happen and I guess what we were pitching. We were thinking about I know in Space. Assembly was one of those elements versus. I guess building larger rocket. Because you you already mentioned the space shuttle as one of the drivers for what would be the components of the International Space Station. So Assembly was going to be a big part of it which meant spacewalks which meant Robotics to really make this thing to come together There was right along about building. A large booster based on the shuttle Something called the shuttle c Although there was never really an initiative to get going with that and shuttle. We were already launching shuttles at the rate of about one month by nineteen eighty four nine thousand nine hundred eighty five and So we anticipated that the shuttle would be capable workhorse We were already doing some E. V. as When we started looking at what it would take to build an assembly space station. We came up. What Some people called the wall of Eda because it was now going to take just ten jer heard dozens of hours it was gonna take hundreds and thousands of hours of EPA in order to assemble station and that was one of the areas that caused us to go back and do a lot of Relooking scrubbing trying to pare down the amount of activity that would be required to assemble the station So when we were thinking about what it would take tell me about You know in terms of resources in terms of how we thought. Desperate all come together. Thinks of the early designs was space station freedom and then how we went from that concept and that idea for how to build this space station to what was eventually the International Space Station We started looking at the modules. That was An area that I was particularly focused on I was part of what was called the man systems division and so here at the Johnson Space Center and Building Fifteen. We built the first mockup of a module of the space station out of foam core out of Basically cardboard and Styrofoam it was based very much on the Spacelab modules racks similar to were inside the space lab module and we looked at well. How many of these modules would we need? How large could the modules be and then other people started looking at? How would you connect the modules together To the power supply to radiators to the other systems that would be required to support a space station and out of all of that study Came the concept of the common module. Where all of the modules looked essentially the same and the power tower. It was a long truss and then up at one end of a trust was a t shaped segment that attached all of the solar power cells and at the opposite end of the long truss were a series of about five of these common modules attached. Together some of these modules would be habitation modules. Some of them would be laboratory modules so that was our initial design of what would later become space station freedom. It wasn't named for a couple of years at this point The common module we thought was a good idea because we Likened it to building an airliner where airliners are turned out If you look at the Boeing airliners in particular The fuselage's of most of the smaller airliners are the same and they just keep building segments abuse laws and they cut them off depending on the kind of airliner. A seven. Twenty-seven is one length. Seven thirty seven is a different length. And then they put a nose detail on and we were looking at modules. That would be built in the same way. So you build a module to a certain length put The ends on either side and hatches around certain pieces From that we evolved a little bit to the idea that modules would be specialized Some of the modules would be used to connect other modules this was because if we had too many hatches and too many docking attachments which the first common modules had a series of four docking hatches And docking segments. Around the periphery around the circumference. And then one on either end than the module was too heavy to put much inside during launch and also the the The hatches used up an awful lot of the interior volume. And so you really couldn't put as much on inside so we very quickly evolved to a along module which became the US lab in the US Hab and nodes which were short modules but which contained all docking interfaces and in fact that still the design that we use today where we have three nodes and we have the US lab which is the long module. The Interestingly enough the European module they decided they could make even shorter and by putting some of the systems on the end cones of the module so the European Columbus module started out like the. Us modules put grew shorter but the Japanese module on the other hand state exactly the same length as it was originally and in fact it's now the longest module of the space station. But they were all supposed to be that long originally Oh interesting. So what was the driver for the size of the International Space Station and the modules? That would be quote unquote needed for this. Orbital Laboratory? We were initially looking at a crew size of at least eight people and perhaps growing to as many as twelve people There were some discussions early early on in the late nineteen seventies early eighties that perhaps Assize of only four people would be adequate and then there were other studies that said well. With four people you really can't do as much utilization as much science and so you need a larger crew and so there was Some discussion given take on that and We wound up going for a crew size of eight and that necessitated the two large modules the HAB in the lab and a series of smaller. Nodes that would contain some of the supporting systems One of the areas that I got involved in early on in around eighty six eighty seven was looking at what were all of the systems. And how would they be packaged? And so We went through all the different kinds of hardware that you might put on a space station a we had to design. What kinds of support systems? We were going. These beasts applying for instance in the case of food we thought a frozen and refrigerated foods system would be the best it was the most palatable We had a lot of our food specialists at the time contributing and that necessitated refrigerators and freezers When we got into some of the budget battles as well as electric city battles of how much power they used other people came in and said no. A refrigerators and freezers are not good. They use a lot of power to a lot more expensive to build those and so let's go to an ambient temperature food sup- support system Something like What became Mr East in? The military actually started with a lot of the study work that we were doing here at the Johnson. Space Center We looked at things like irradiated food. Which at that. Time in the nineteen eighties Had not been certified not been approved by the US federal food and Drug Administration but Because of some of the pioneering work that we were doing here that later adopted and so now you see a lot of ambient temperature food on your supermarket shelves as a direct result. Right as a direct result of the needs driven by Buds 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 trust segment with with solar rays with batteries with a the habitable modules. The way towards 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 and we went to a somewhat 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 a 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. We were developing was not put through a lot of testing When we first launched it into orbit and so the first crew started using it around the year two thousand immediately collapsed it had not been tested adequately and So we had to go back and redesign and rebuild it to be much stronger and we discovered that if the crew cannot exercise this as a critical failure and you start thinking about bringing the crew home within a matter of a month or less and So it turns out it is really critical hardware and it is something that you need to give serious thought to and has to be adequately tested before it goes into orbit so we were learning a lot of these lessons as we were going We started out with the Mir flights that allowed us to test a lot of this equipment. including some of the scientific payloads we sent up the first microgravity glove boxes Prototypes for what would later fly on the ISS. We sent up Other kinds of devices that were intended to limit the number of vibrations between the payload and the vibrations of the structure of the space station. So we tested those out and then we would launch more Significant systems for the ISS. We looked at the design of the Russian waste management system and also how they use different systems for recycling air and water and We were already involved in developing some of that for the ISS But the Russian approach was often very simple Almost elegant in its simplicity. And so we adopted some of those approaches And made our systems a little bit simpler to and I think in the long run that has worked out better In terms of being able to maintain and support the system in orbit about data and communications. I know that was a big one over time. And the improvements there will a lot of A lot of things really did improve significantly mirror. showed us a lot of the problems of a space station. A lot of the potential problems lot of the art experience on Mir was pretty negative because first of all Mir was very old when the US started flying the shuttle up there it was only intended to last about five years and by the the first shuttle visited it was had been there for nine years allow and by the end of the program We were going on about fifteen years. Mir had very limited communications Because of the the collapse of the Soviet government They really no longer had the t teed risk kind of a satellite that would allow them to maintain continuous communications geosynchronous communication satellite and therefore astronauts and cosmonauts could only communicate when they were within range of a few ground stations mainly across the old Soviet Empire and so they're fairly limited. How much communications could go back and forth. In the meantime we had computer systems that were growing more sophisticated For instance we had wi fi In the first laptop computers that we put on the Mir but the Russians were somewhat hesitant to use something like that because of the potential interference electromagnetic signals and so on and so we were learning a lot about how to do that and they were learning quite a bit about How that could affect things by the time. The International Space Station comes along just a few years later We we have learned a lot of those lessons. We had grown somewhat more sophisticated Our systems were new and they were working well We were very dependent on computers on the ISS whereas Mir had evolved from being a pre computer age kind of a station in the seventies and early eighties prior to Mirror They were more dependent on computers but by the time of ISS in nineteen eighty eight We we are very dependent on computers. In fact the The first crew that reaches the space station says they can't turn the lights on. They can't turn the lights on because you do it through the computer and they can't find the computer because the lights are off and so So that were some of the lessons that That we were learning at that time so So the computers were going far. More sophisticated and capable. Communications was Was almost continuous Because we did have the cheater system in orbit. Now what did we learn about life on the station because this was really are? We were jumping right into some of these long expeditions. And whatever it takes to operate over these periods of time again we have learned on the mirror that a lot of the crew time spent just maintaining the station and fortunately because the the ISS was somewhat simpler and there wasn't as much stuff in on the inside it was a little bit easier to access different areas so it didn't take quite as much time to maintain the systems. And what I'm talking about maintaining just wiping down the interior with the various kind of biological materials to control the growth of any kind of hazardous contaminants That was something that we had faced on Mir man Don. I assess Fortunately we didn't have to deal with that as much but we still had to spend at least about a day a week for by the crew cleaning and maintaining a lot of the systems We learned quite a bit about The health of the astronauts and how the health of the astronauts interface with the environmental control and Life Support. System so for instance. We knew for a long time that the astronauts were losing minerals from their bones. Her bones were growing weaker. Like an osteoporosis. In the case of the elderly it was the same kind of thing in orb as well as the muscle. Mass of the astronauts was decreasing. And so these were things that we needed. Various kinds of countermeasures Exercise Countermeasures What we did not appreciate was a lot of these minerals that were coming out of. The astronauts was coming out in the urine and therefore in our waste management system which was processing the urine We formed What you mystically call urine brickell and it was clogging up the systems on the environmental control recycling equipment and so we were learning quite a bit And had to go back and redesign. Some of the components said that it was a less susceptible some of these kinds of problems. Wow now you talked about a lot crew time especially on Mir was dedicated to just maintaining fixing this or scrubbing down that. But I think the the goal of the International Space Station was eventually to move towards maximizing utilization time or the time you dedicate the science we had Looked at how best to use the space station right along from the very beginning A lot of the top level NASA management felt that it was all about science. It was all about building. He user community. That was going to be supportive of human spaceflight and therefore we were trying to develop experiments. I on shuttle later for SPACELAB. And then Mir that took could be developed into more sophisticated systems for use on the ISS. the problems early on on the ISS was that with the small number of crew members. Initially Just a three and then eventually growing to four and not getting to eight until Later years after about ten years or so We really did not have as much crew time as we would have liked if you take a look at the crewman's day and how much time they have to spend Maintaining themselves whether for exercise or cleanliness and so on but then How much time they actually had available for a for doing scientific work. It was a pretty constrained so we're learning quite a bit about how to either automate. Some of the systems how to operate a lot of the systems from the ground and so This has been developed really to the point now where the astronauts although they do have to do. Some on-orbit Actual maintenance of the station most of the system level activities operating the systems is done from the ground and so the astronauts do not have to focus on that so much and they do have more time to focus on scientific experiments. Yeah and they're every kind that you can imagine there earth observation. Their biological their systems. They're they're really everything going. I WanNa take a kind of zoom in on International Space Station history to the Columbia accident. What happened there in terms of the assembly? And then what we had to rethink and Redo and then get back up on our feet turf. Thin eventually finished construction of the space station or of course the initial Assembly mission occurred in nineteen eighty eight and so from eight until two thousand and three when the Columbia accident occurred We were able to do a fair amount of assembly work although we were somewhat limited because the Russians Were not moving along quite as quickly as we had hoped with the service module The survey the Russians only have a limited number of people that they apply on any of their modules. And so they had to I. do the F. B. B. and it wasn't until the F. B. was in orbit that they were able to move on to the service module and get it ready to fly That was finally ready The first crew went up of the first long duration crew went up in. I think two thousand and so they took their place in orbit and so then we had it about another Almost three years to work in space before the Columbia accident occurred at the time. The Columbia accident occurred. We really were not In the best of situation in terms of having all of the electrical power and and radiator systems in place. We had just started building out the trust We in a way. We were fortunate in that. We did have a fairly balanced station. Where equal amounts of trust had been placed on both sides and therefore it was somewhat easier to control and maintain in orbit. But of course we had been so focused on building assembling the station using the shuttle that when the shuttle stopped flying after Columbia We really were not able to do any more assembly work and so that That stopped everything for about two years or so until the return to flight and they returned to fly. Did that kick off a rapid set of assembly missions. So one of the problems we had run into prior to Columbia was we were bringing the different elements of the station Down to Kennedy and preparing them to fly but often times we would have one element there and the next element to add to connect Was Not really there to do any kind of testing on So we frequently had to do simulators place of the actual test articles when the Columbia accident happened In a way it worked out fortunate. Net all of the equipment began to coalesce at Kennedy Space Center. And so we could put a lot more of it together. Test it out more thoroughly Prior to launch and that way when we when we returned the shuttle to flight the the assembly missions could go off Much more rapidly almost at the pace of about one month or so when one of every month and a half or so and so we were able to move along pretty quickly. Okay now I WANNA Talk Abou Operations for a second. Because I think you've mentioned it a few times that You you mentioned this. Space Station was designed to be a bit simpler so the crew didn't have to do much but really this is different from even shuttle where it was the crew that was that was flying the shuttle. The space station is almost flown from the ground operated from the ground. Twenty four seven operations and then on top of that you have international operations. Tell me how that structure can about well. Of course computers and computer networking has evolved quite a bit over the years over the course of the last twenty years and so this is allowed the people on the ground to have almost as much sometimes even more insight into situation on the station the crew has It also means that you can have specialists all over the world Specializing in their own systems. They don't necessarily have to come here to Houston or in the case of payloads the Marshall Center in Alabama They can oftentimes stay in their own. Local control centers and operate their systems from Oberpfaffenhofen Germany or from From Chikuba in Japan or from wherever the location is So that means A lot more of the people that maintain and operate the station. can do it remotely Not only remote from the station but remote parts of the Earth. And what is it? What did it take to switch to Because when it comes to Michigan troll Before the International Space Station a lot of what we know is mission. Control was staffed for a mission and you. Would you would train and you would do simulations and you would do that. But this now we're talking about continuous staffing making sure that someone's in the room at all times because you already mentioned it. Almost twenty years of continuous human presence. Now someone's gotTa be honoring those guys on the one hand we have people on the ground. Continuously monitoring and continuously operating the systems and on the other hand Through the use of Intelligence Systems and a lot more understanding of how the systems operate we can have a relatively small number of people operating the station and so The number of people we have during a holiday or on a weekend is not narrowly what we would have during a normal workday Whether in Houston or in other parts of the world now keep in mind While this is somewhat simplified and made somewhat less expensive the operation of the station today When we start talking about whether it's a moon base where there's a communications lapse of several seconds or Mars mission where the communications laps can be more on the order of forty five minutes We have to start rethinking Is Is this going to be the way in which we can operate How do we? How do we operate the systems When you can't do it real time yeah definitely a huge consideration and I want to kind of take that as a jumping off point from. We've had this long conversation about the International Space Station. And what I what that really. I'm trying to establish is just what went into this thing. What it what it takes to put this thing together to construct it to to make it permanently habitable for twenty years thinking about that thinking about those lessons. What are we taking now and putting towards the gateway which is not meant to be continuously inhabited? But there's you know. We talked about improvements of technology and just lessons that we've learned throughout the whole year all of these years going towards a moon orbiting platform. Well the Right from the very start. We envisioned the Space Station and low-earth orbit is being prototype for the kind of vehicle that you would use for not so much lunar as much is planetary missions vehicle that would take off for many months or even years to carry astronauts to distant planets early on we were thinking about the planets. Venus and Mars now. Our our main focus is particularly Mars and so depending on the mission that we would be going on it could be a mission of anywhere from eighteen of probably at the minimum to several years three or four years. Maybe even longer than that. A gateway is a particularly particular kind of space station. That would be used to support the lunar missions and so Because of the way in which the Orion is developed it would need a base in orbit around the moon that it would be able to to dock to stay there while astronauts. You're down on the lunar surface and then carry the astronauts back from the gateway back to the year and so Right from the outset were looking at developing the kinds of systems that would be required for taking care of people for very long durations and when I say taking care of people they not only have to be operable They really have to be able to operate with minimal maintenance with minimal kinds of systems difficulties over very long periods and. I think we've been doing that. We've been doing that with the not only the environmental control system The exercise systems that are Fairly critical and keeping the people Healthy and active But with computer systems communication systems all of the different systems that we need to support a space station were learning how to depend upon them and Through some of the problems we have faced. Were were learning how to redesign and develop them in such a way that they are dependable for future years. Now What's interesting is we're talking about the international space station being a lesson for travelling further out into solar system which I think was one of many purposes from the get-go was was to learn how to how to do that. Zion systems how to live and work in space for a long period of time. But I know we still want low earth orbit as a place to continue to practice to continue to develop technologies to continue to train. Crews this is. This is a place we need and looking further further into the future of the International Space. Station's not meant to be there forever so the transition is to a more commercial economy. Tell me about the transition on the International Space Station. What we what we're learning and what we're doing now to eventually transition to this low-earth-orbit economy of course the space station. Because of its location in lower orbit as a number of attributes that are useful. One of them is a micro gravity or zero gravity so that we can look at different kinds of physical processes in orbit in this very low gravity field environment as compared with one gravity. Here on the your another aspect is the the observational aspect. And so we have Scientific Windows we have the KUPUNA windows of the station. And the astronauts suspend a fair amount of time looking at the earth and particularly Looking at things which really haven't been planned in advance so if there are fires in Australia volcanic eruptions They're right there looking at them. Taking Pictures Making observations And of course these were all things that were foreseen from the outset. And we've seen that they Have been useful for different kinds of companies some of them looking at very basic research. Others are more specific looking much more specific kinds of products In two thousand five the ISS was designated a National Laboratory and in two thousand eleven they brought in an independent organization called Casus to operate the national lab and They go out around the country and try to tell people about the The availability in the possibilities of using the International Space Station Other companies have been coming along. axiom space Mister bigalow with his inflatable modules and so Others are coming along and depending on whether there is a A commercial opportunity or not whether they can make access to space reasonably inexpensive and they have an orbiting platform then in the future the The opportunity will be there for commercial operations in a space station in the meantime the ISS is being used in this way already Not only by the US the Russians. Of course have Famously been bring various tourists up to To the space station for visits and in the future we think that we'll have more opportunity For various kinds of commercial activities on the station. Do you think I what you're talking about now? I mean we talked about International Space Station Informing Lunar Exploration Informing Mars exploration everything. It takes their Being in this place where there's commercial viability For for operating space. Do you think the Internet. How how big of a role do you think? The International Space Station played in that. And do you think we can even be in this place without the International Space Station? I think the the International Space Station has been critical in learning how to design build and operate different kinds of hardware and systems learning how to work together with international partners. Keep in mind. We have not only the Russians but Sixteen or seventeen. Different countries number has varied over the years And we've learned how to work with them I know early on. I worked cleric closely with the Russians. They did not really have a good of how the US went about Putting things in orbit on the shuttle or on the station and we developed joint integration processes joint documentation. I know I was talking with my Russian counterpart from the mirrors just a few weeks ago and he says well the work that we had laid in nineteen ninety four nineteen ninety three is still the basis for how the Russians work today so they were learned a great deal about How the more advanced world I guess? does payloads in science and experiments in orbit At the same time we've learned how a lot of their hardware is built and designed. I know I was involved in the design of moon bases and Mars vehicles back during the first President Bush's space exploration initiative and a lot of the hardware that we have actually built for the space station today whether it's the most basic hardware the modules the nodes the racks the cupola or down to the more detailed aspects of the. Ctb's the stowage bags the computer systems communication systems. A lot of these will actually become the components of future moon bases and Mars spacecraft justice. Today we're looking at using a lot of these pieces on the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. Well what are you looking forward to the most then for the future you have this gigantic history in your brain of everything. That's happened over the years to get to this point. What are you looking forward to the most? Well I've I've been lucky enough to participate in a lot of these programs and even have a hand in the design and development of the law. A lot of the hardware and so every time I see whether it's the CTB's or the Cucolo or the cost computer system. These were all things that I had a direct hand in and I'm looking forward to seeing some of those same systems on the first moon base Or on the first Mars spacecraft Right now I'm looking at them in orbit around the earth. The the cool of course is famous as the the astronauts favorite place in space to observe the earth That grew out of a lot of In terms of what we the astronauts needed what we had to be able to provide for the astronauts and We're lucky that we have in orbit today. But now I'm looking at putting the system just like that base on March leaving your mark on human space exploration forever. That's amazing Gary. Thank you so much. We're going through this history. This has been fascinating to discussions really through the concept of space stations. Through what we've learned in what would what is taken to put together the International Space Station and laying the groundwork for what's to come really appreciate your time. Thanks for having me as a glide that is able to to offer something of interest. I loved it. Thank you runner only. Hey thanks for sticking around Hopi. Listen to two of these parts with our conversation with Dr Gary Gary Kit Macher. This is episode. One thirty three. If you haven't go back and listen to episode one thirty two it's a fascinating compass Conversation on everything that happened before the International Space Station. Hope you tune in. You can find it at NASA GOV slash podcasts. Along with the other NASA podcasts. That we have there are the many space centers here at NASA. If you want to learn more about the international space station I'd be surprised. But there is more the investigate and NASA GOV slash I S S. We got Social media places where you can go facebook twitter instagram. Just search the International Space Station. We gotTA count on all three of those use the Hashtag ask NASA on your favorite platform to submit an idea for the show and make sure to mention it's for Houston. We have a podcast. For our students out there I have a quick plug for you. Research in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station is still as important as ever and to celebrate twenty years of continuous human presence. Both living and working in space are stem on stationed team here at the Johnson. Space Center will fund five. Student designed payloads to fly to and return from the space station. As part of the student payload opportunity with citizen science or SPOCK'S S. P. O. CS For more information and to submit proposals and Just make sure to check out NASA DOT GOV slash stem on station slash Spock's. Spf Mark. Your calendars that. The submissions are due by five. Pm Eastern on March twenty. Seven th twenty twenty. This episode was recorded on January. Twenty four th twenty twenty. Thanks to Alex. Perryman Pat Ryan nor Moran Belinda Polio. Kelly Humphries thanks again. Dr Gary Marker for coming on the show give us a rating and feedback on whatever platform. You're listening to us on and Tell us what you think about the show. We'll be back next week.

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