View Full Version : Lost in Space: Missing scrubbers on orbit, engineering documents on ground

2006-Mar-23, 01:35 AM
NASA: No canisters -- no spacewalks (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/03/22/space.station.reut/index.html)

Lost chemical canisters and some suspect handrails will prevent astronauts on the international space station from doing any spacewalking in the near future, a NASA manager said on Wednesday.

There were no spacewalks planned until July, but anything unexpected that required a spacewalk will have to wait until the problems are resolved.

Spacewalks from the Russian side of the orbiting research outpost have been ruled out until the station astronauts find lost chemical canisters that remove deadly carbon dioxide from the life-support systems of their spacesuits.

"Either we'll find them, or we'll launch more," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy space station program manager.

Not to be outdone, the US side of the ISS is also restricted from spacewalks due to unexpected degradation of the training handrails here on Earth that has been traced back to a manufacturing defect. NASA cannot locate the engineering documents (according to the article) to determine if the defect also affects the handrail that are on orbit.

2006-Mar-23, 01:42 PM
Missing pieces for a suit? Did they check the sock drawer? :shifty:

I hope this article is more CNN overhype. I don't see too much about what the crews are saying, which implies to me that it would soften the article too much.

"NASA does not know if the rails aboard the station have the same problem because it can't find the paperwork." Since that's not a direct quote, I would think the word "yet" is probable. There's probably tons of documents to look through.

Since it was a manufacturing flaw and not a design flaw, it may only be a safety precaution until they can check for anomolies.

Since I am generally an optimist, I can only hope its not a "bungling" situation.

2006-Mar-30, 01:42 AM
Apparently, both ISS issues have now been resolved. First, the Russian scrubbers (http://www.space.com/astronotes/astronotes.html):

NASA astronaut Bill McArthur has found a set of missing Russian spacesuit air scrubbers during a weekend search aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the U.S. space agency said Monday.

McArthur, who commands the ISS Expedition 12 mission, discovered the four lithium hydroxide canisters – which are used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Russian-built Orlan spacesuits during spacewalks – on Saturday during an off-duty search, NASA said.

The missing canisters were tucked behind a panel inside the space station’s Russian-built Zvezda service module. Without them, the ISS astronauts would have not been able to use Orlan spacesuits, which are tailored for work outside the station’s Russian-built segments, until additional lithium hydroxide units arrived aboard an automated cargo ship in mid-April.

I guess it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall (a science experiment - work with me here) when the "I gave up my Saturday for this crap" lecture from the commander.

In a more serious note, the US handrails were cleared for operations (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060323_iss_handrails.html) after a work-around was devised until more information can be gathered to determine if the same defect exists in the orbiting handrails as exists in the training equipment. The defect has been traced back to improper heating of the aluminum during manufacture.

“The handrails can be used with a slight variation,” Clem told SPACE.com, adding that should a spacewalk be needed, astronauts would use a metal hook to latch onto the stanchions that connect the rails to the station hull, rather than the bar itself. “The analysis will continue to return to normal procedures through mid-April.”

No spacewalks are currently scheduled for the space station’s present crew, Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev, but NASA flight controllers wanted to resolve the issue should one be required in the event of an emergency, NASA officials said.

Corrosion on the aluminum handrail bars, which engineers traced back to improper heating during their manufacture, led ISS officials to question the health of handrails already installed on the space station’s hull. Astronauts use the rails to secure science experiments and themselves to the outpost’s exterior, as well as pull themselves between work stations.

2006-Mar-30, 01:02 PM
I guess it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall (a science experiment - work with me here)
I agree, but to find out a few details, like: Was it, or why was it, unusual to have the canisters there. And, if not, why didn't anyone think of looking there. And, are there not standard places to put things like that (even understanding the cramped and sometimes chaotic conditions)

In a more serious note, the US handrails were cleared for operations (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060323_iss_handrails.html)
It's interesting how such a small workaround was such a big deal. But; when lives are at stake....