domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2008

Doença no espaço adia a montagem do módulo Columbus

Há um astronauta doente a bordo da Estação Espacial Internacional (ISS). Ontem foram pedidas teleconferências com pessoal médico em terra, cujo conteúdo, como seria de esperar, não foi divulgado. Apenas foi dito que não se trata de nada que ponha a vida de alguém em risco. Também não foi divulgado o nome do astronauta afectado, embora um controlador de vôo europeu tenha confirmado hoje que se tratava do alemão Hans Schlegel.

A equipa que iria começar a montagem do Columbus foi alterada, porque o Schlegel fazia parte dessa equipa.

Poderá não ser nada de grave, a maioria dos astronautas sofre indisposições de maior ou menor gravidade quando entram num ambiente de gravidade zero, aguardemos eventuais informações futuras.

  • Email da CBS Space News

CBS Space News

5:20 PM, 2/9/08, Update: Spacewalk delayed 24 hours by crew medical issue; Schlegel to be replaced by Love on first spacewalk; Shannon confirms mission extension, refuses to discuss reasons for delay

In a surprise announcement, flight controllers today told the shuttle-station astronauts shortly after Atlantis docked with the lab complex to delay a planned Sunday spacewalk - and installation of the new Columbus research module - by 24 hours, extending Atlantis' mission by one day because of a crew medical issue.

German astronaut Hans Schlegel, originally scheduled to join Rex Walheim for the first of three spacewalks planned for the mission, will be replaced by astronaut Stan Love when the module is attached on Monday. No reason was given for the delay and astronaut swap, but the shuttle crew requested two private medical conferences with flight surgeons earlier today.

NASA does not discuss astronaut health issues, citing concern about medical privacy issues, and John Shannon, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, refused to provide any details at an afternoon briefing.

"It's not life threatening," Shannon said, refusing to identify which astronaut was involved.

The shuttle docked with the space station at 12:17 p.m. but because of technical issues, only a few minutes of live video were downlinked. Late today, the astronauts replayed videotape showing the shuttle crew entering the station and Schlegel did not show any clear signs of discomfort.

"There was a medical issue with the crew," Shannon said during his briefing. "The flight surgeons - of course, we have flight surgeons who are closely involved with the crew at all times, they do private medical conferences with the crew throughout the mission - the crew called down and asked for one during the rendezvous, which was a little bit of a surprise to us. They talked to the crew members, they understood what the issue was. I will just say it is not going to impact any of the objectives of this mission."

But it will have a mission impact. The first of the three spacewalks planned for Atlantis' mission, originally scheduled for Sunday by Walheim and Schlegel, was devoted to helping attach the European Space Agency's Columbus research lab to the station. That work now will be delayed one day and Love, who is not believed to have trained as extensively for the work as Schlegel, will assist Walheim. Love already planned to join Walheim for the mission's third spacewalk.

Citing medical privacy concerns, Shannon repeatedly refused to answer any questions about the nature of the medical issue, including whether the astronauts face any sort of contagious threat or whether Schlegel might be available for the second spacewalk of the mission, now targeted for Wednesday.

"You guys can fish all day, but I won't bite," Shannon said.

But about half the men and women who fly in space suffer nausea and other vestibular problems known collectively as space adaptation syndrome. But those symptoms typically go away by the second or third day of a mission as the astronaut becomes accustomed to the effects of weightlessness. Whether Schlegel, a 57-year-old German and father of seven making his second shuttle flight, was suffering from SAS was not known.

There are at least two prior cases of crew illness interferring with a U.S. spacewalk. During Apollo 9, a shakedown flight for NASA's lunar lander, Rusty Schweickart became ill in orbit, forcing a one-day delay for a planned spacewalk. An EVA planned for the fifth shuttle mission was called off because of a crew health issue.

Shannon said astronaut Leland Melvin, making his first flight, is the designated crew medical officer on board Atlantis and as such is "experienced in a variety of medical procedures. We carry a kit on board that has several different types of medicines and different medical capabilities and the crew is in constant contact with the flight surgeons on the ground. The flight surgeons know all about each crew members' medical history. It's something that's very well prepared for."

Shannon said Atlantis has plenty of supplies to support the one-day mission extension and, with additional power downs ordered late today, probably enough for a second day. NASA went into the flight planning to extend it by one day anyway to give the astronauts more time to activate the Columbus module.

The undisclosed medical issue "will cause us to re-arrange a few activities," Shannon said. "I think you heard it called up to the crew a little bit earlier that we're going to delay EVA number one by one day and it will be executed on flight day five. They also called up that Stan Love will replace Hans Schlegel as an EVA crew member.

"Stan has practiced all the activities of EVA-1 extensively and we talked it over with the crew and they're very happy with that and that's how we're going to go execute it," Shannon said. "So no impacts to the mission objectives, we just need to re-arrange some of the crew activities and when they happen. You might remember we went into this flight with one additional day we could add to it and we are very close to having a second day based on how we use the cryogenic consumables that produce electricity.

"We asked the team, since we are essentially going to use that one extension day tomorrow as a day for the team to prepare for EVA number one, we asked the team to power down the orbiter just a little bit more than they had planned pre flight to make sure we can get that second additional extension day. We have not decided to add that, but we're preserving the option to add it later on. If we don't add it, then that will just be more oxygen we can transfer over to the international space station."

Otherwise, Shannon said Atlantis is in good condition and that so far, no major problems have emerged during analysis of ascent and on-orbit photography of the shuttle's protective heat shield.

A small corner of one insulation blanket midway back on the shuttle's right side orbital maneuvering system rocket pod is pulled up and under study, but Shannon said it did not appear to be a serious problem

"Nobody is very excited about this one," he said. "It is in a much different position (than a blanket that was repaired on Atlantis' last flight). ... This is really shadowed by the pod, it's also shadowed by the wing. It does not see a very significant thermal environment. I don't expect this to be an issue but the team will continue to work it."

The only other issue of any significance involves one of Atlantis' flight computers, general purpose computer No. 3. GPC-3 failed to properly transition from "standby" to "run" when the astronauts powered up the full redundant set as part of their normal rendezvous procedures earlier today. Engineers believe the computer is healthy, Shannon said, but troubleshooting was deferred until after docking.

Shannon said engineers plan to read out the computer's memory to verify no hardware problems exist and then they will re-load flight software and in all likelihood, "it'll be just as good as new."

Flight planners are in the process of developing an alternate flight plan for Sunday. A revised NASA television schedule will be posted as soon as it becomes available.


Astronaut illness forces delay in spacewalk
Shuttle delivers $2 billion lab to station; installation put off an extra day
The Associated Press
updated 8:42 a.m. ET Feb. 10, 2008

HOUSTON - The astronauts aboard the linked shuttle and space station geared up to inspect a damaged thermal blanket on Atlantis on Sunday after their main job — installing the Columbus lab — was delayed a day because of a crew medical problem.

German astronaut Hans Schlegel was pulled off the first spacewalk of the mission shortly after he arrived at the international space station Saturday aboard Atlantis. Managers bumped the spacewalk and Columbus’ hookup to the space station to Monday.

NASA declined to discuss the medical problem beyond saying it was not life-threatening, but a European flight controller confirmed Sunday that Schlegel was ill.

“We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for him to get better soon,” he said.

Sunday greetings
Schlegel, 56, a two-time space flier, sounded OK on Sunday morning when he spoke to Mission Control after waking up to music from fellow German Herbert Gronemeyer.

“Greetings to everybody in America, in Europe and in Germany, and especially of course to my close family and my lovely wife, Heike,” he said.

Schlegel was supposed to venture outside with American Rex Walheim on the first two of three planned spacewalks. His status on the second spacewalk, on Wednesday, was still uncertain.

The Columbus lab should have been unloaded from Atlantis and attached to the space station on Sunday, with two spacewalkers outside to help. Mission Control informed the astronauts that the installation would not take place until Monday just a few hours after the shuttle and the station joined up.

NASA said Schlegel’s shuttle crewmate, American Stanley Love, would take his place. Love trained for the work as a backup, just in case, and already was assigned to the mission’s third spacewalk, along with Walheim.

Shuttle commander Stephen Frick asked Mission Control on Sunday to clear Schlegel’s schedule the following day so he could help guide Love from inside the station.

After spending much of the morning preparing for Monday’s spacewalk, the crew will use cameras and a robotic arm to gather more images of a 1½ inch-by-1½ inch protrusion on one of the many blankets covering Atlantis’ right orbital maneuvering system pod, back near the tail.

The damage occurred during Thursday’s launch and was discovered Friday, flight director Mike Sarafin said.

Precise problem with blanket unclear
Space station flight director Ron Spencer said early Sunday that NASA did not know if the blanket was torn or if it was just sticking up a bit.

Engineers were trying to determine whether the damage posed a hazard for re-entry at flight’s end. The peeled-up section is smaller than one that required spacewalking repairs to Atlantis in June.

NASA is particularly attentive to the shuttle’s thermal shielding, ever since Columbia was destroyed during re-entry in 2003.

The delay in installing Columbus and carrying out the first spacewalk caused NASA to add a 12th day to the mission. Yet another day could be added; NASA had hoped to spend an extra day at the space station to help set up Columbus. Atlantis will remain at the orbiting complex until at least next weekend.

Sem comentários: