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sarongsong
2003-Jun-14, 04:20 AM
"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is trying to identify a small object spotted floating outside the International Space Station Thursday, according to a report. Astronaut Ed Lu spotted the object outside the window of the U.S. laboratory and took pictures of it, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported. Ground controllers are analyzing Lu's photos but don't yet have enough information about the object's direction of travel to determine where it came from. The object, which has moved out of sight, is likely from the station itself, according to the report..."
http://www.local6.com/news/2267894/detail.html

kilopi
2003-Jun-14, 10:57 AM
So, it might be a label? How big is a label, and where are they supposed to be?

BigJim
2003-Jun-14, 02:08 PM
At least it won't be life-threatening like it was on the shuttle. As long as you don't get a depressurization up there it doesn't matter if you have a few stray objects. It's probably a label, anyway. Maybe when they next do an EVA they'll be able to find it.

Jigsaw
2003-Jun-14, 03:19 PM
They need to get better stickum for their labels. They should talk to the Illinois DMV, get some of that stuff they put on the back of license plate stickers. :D

Kilopi, if you're really interested in learning "All About Labels", I found the official "ISS Label Inventory Management Manual" online in PDF format.

http://mvl.mit.edu/ISS/StationDocs/SSP_50007_rev_A.pdf


The actual manual starts on page 14 (13 pages of cover sheets, etc.) A sample label is on page 21. Page 27 starts the actual specs for labels. Starting with Page 38 are all the system abbreviations.

Evidently (I did not know this) there are bar code labels that go on practically EVERYTHING loose that's up there (I mean, as opposed to the permanent factory-installed hardware--I don't think there's a label on the solar array that says "SOLAR ARRAY" :D ). On Page 14 it says what gets labels: "consumables, loose equipment, Orbital Replacement Units, assemblies, and subassemblies...as well as all loose or ORU equipment that must be resupplied or refurbished and require handling."

Well, it just makes sense, because there you are with this incredibly complex and difficult task (running a space station) and here comes the shuttle with more *stuff* for you to deal with, and you're expected to refurbish your space station with all this *stuff* that the Big Brains in Houston have sent to you, and you have NO idea what it is or what it's for. "Is this a replacement part for the vacuum cleaner, or should I plug it into the solar array?"

So this means that it's fairly important for them to figure out which object has lost its label, so they'll know not to try to plug the vacuum cleaner part into the solar array. "Hmmm, what is this? Think I'll plug it in here, see if it works..." :D


And page 24--that can't really be a label for a "Rat Expiration Kit", can it? Hmmm, is it a wedge-shaped yellow box with "D-Con" as the vendor's name...? :D


I also found a bit on the history of it. Basically it boils down to "stowage", or, "What is this and where should I put it?"

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/shuttle-mir/science/iss/sc-iss-ims.htm

kilopi
2003-Jun-14, 03:54 PM
The actual manual starts on page 14 (13 pages of cover sheets, etc.) A sample label is on page 21. Page 27 starts the actual specs for labels. Starting with Page 38 are all the system abbreviations.
Thanks, Jigsaw, I think pages 23 (3-8) and 24 (3-9) are what I was looking for--dimensions are in inches, so these labels are no bigger than 1.52 inches by .85 inch. That's the floater? Maybe it just scraped off something. Do they think it bust off some larger part that might have a problem too?

Colt
2003-Jun-14, 09:22 PM
I would imagine the vacuum part would have Hoover on it. :D -Colt

Jigsaw
2003-Jun-14, 09:35 PM
Well, from my reading, I'm assuming that it's not a lifethreatening mechanical-type problem, but just an issue that somewhere in the ISS there's an object that may not be easily identifiable as *what it is*, and they might need that *thing* at some point and not be able to lay their hands on it, because its label fell off and the space station folks aren't sure what it looks like.

Picture the scenario: The frannistan breaks--it needs a new ramalamadingdong. Houston says, "We sent you an extra ramalamadingdong in the last shipment. It was supposed to have been put away with all the other FRNSTN coded stuff. Go get it and wire it up."

And so they beep the ISS barcode scanner across all the FRNSTN coded stuff, but an object that says it's a ramalamadingdong is not found. So then they figure, "Ah ha! That must have been the label that fell off, it must have belonged to the ramalamadingdong." So now the question is, which piece of equipment--with no label--in all this roughly 2,000+ pounds of *stuff* must be the ramalamadingdong. They are going to have to check every single freakin' object in the ISS to find one that doesn't have a label, and that one will be the ramalamadingdong.

Now, this isn't a crisis if the frannistan is only running the vacuum cleaner, say, or the microwave. But if the broken frannistan is supposed to be running the air supply or the computer, then they don't have a whole lot of time to go through all the luggage to find the object with no label that must be the ramalamadingdong.

More info. (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sts113_update_021129.html)

Most of the activity centered on moving equipment and supplies between Endeavour and the station. Officials said that as of Friday more than 75 percent of the transfer work was complete -- a percentage that represents about 1,705 pounds of material moved from the shuttle into the station, and about 756 pounds from the station into the shuttle.

While the actual movement of the cargo isn't that tough, knowing where everything is can be more of a challenge.

In fact, the Expedition Five crew have spent a lot of time this week just showing the Expedition Six crew where everything is stored.

"There is stuff everywhere on the station and we have a pretty good computer system that keeps track of it, but it's quicker if you just know where some of the common items are," Bowersox said, noting that Whitson has provided a lot of good insight on the inventory management system.

"She's been steadily showing us little nooks and crannies where everything's located and I think that's what we're going to appreciate when they're all gone," Bowersox said.
You just never know when you're gonna need to lay your hands on a replacement ramalamadingdong in a hurry, so it needs to have its label on it and be put away properly.

There is also the issue of simple inventory control, the same as with any large operation that needs resupplying from a distance, like an army at war. You need to keep track of things like how much food, clothing, and spare parts they're using at the Front, in order to know when to send more food, clothing, and spare parts to the Front, and it messes up the whole inventory system if there's an item with no label on it. Until they figure it out, every time they do their IMS checklists, the numbers aren't gonna come out, and it'll drive them crazy wondering what's missing.

IMS is also part of the "rules" for the ISS--the project requires them to do this. So if the numbers aren't coming out when they do their IMS checklist, there's gonna be trouble in River City at some point in the chain of command.

carolyn
2003-Jun-14, 10:25 PM
ok thought you guys were joking about the vac cleaner and rat kit labels, :roll: But I see you are not :o :o :o what then is a RAT EXT kit.
I know they are traditionaly supposed to stow away on ships but really!

Have a feeling that wolf could do a lovely picture for this one.

nebularain
2003-Jun-15, 02:33 AM
"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is trying to identify a small object spotted floating outside the International Space Station Thursday, according to a report. Astronaut Ed Lu spotted the object outside the window of the U.S. laboratory . . . .

I just had a flashback to a scene from Babylon 5. :o

(Hint: Babearlon 5 :lol: )

pmcolt
2003-Jun-15, 05:11 AM
I just had a flashback to a scene from Babylon 5. :o


Maybe NASA should send out a Starfury to check it out. Has the ISS crew opened a merchandise store to raise revenue for continued operations? :o

Jigsaw
2003-Jun-15, 07:28 PM
Browsing around in NASA's acronym files...

Well, an RATCC is a "Radar Air Traffic Control Center", so my guess would be that something labeled "RAT" probably has something to do with radar.

http://appl.nasa.gov/resources/acronyms.htm

But it's more fun to have it be D-Con... :D

sarongsong
2003-Jun-15, 08:26 PM
6/15/03:
"...ground-based experts e-mailed images of several potential candidates for the object to the space station astronaut for identification. Lu selected the image resembling one of the many numbered tags used to identify individual power and data cables in large wire bundles outside the space station, said agency spokesman Kyle Herring. The tags are secured to the cables with a woven fiberglass lacing cord, and engineers are not certain how the high-tech string came apart or worked itself free..."
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/1953023