Status Report

XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report February 8, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
February 8, 2001
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Extravehicular Maneuvering/Mobility Unit (EMU) Lab Close Call

A close call was generated in the B7 EMU lab documenting an operation, which utilized an auxiliary flow meter in a potentially unsafe manner. The flow meter, which was rated for lower pressure ranges, was exposed to approximately 900 psi during a leakage test and was damaged in this process. No one was injured, but the potential existed for injury. Upon learning of the occurrence the EVA Project Office took the following corrective actions to understand the issue and address what steps were required to avoid reoccurrence. Immediately the EMU on-site processing was suspended for a mandatory “safety day” to focus on safe working practices and processes that could help avoid this type of incident. The safety stand down occurred on February 1, 2001, and was attended by all EMU processing contractor employees and management. The EVA Project Office requested that a single individual be assigned as the manager of all EMU lab operations, a deficiency that was evident in the initial assessment of the close call scenario. All future testing in this lab area will be conducted with formal Test Readiness Reviews that will address contributing factors to this issue, such as adequacy of the procedures being used to perform the testing and experience levels of the personnel. Lastly, the on-going procedure review process that was initiated as a result of the Short Extravehicular Mobility Unit 3018 drop incident was scrutinized and improvements were made to make these audits more effective.

STS-98 Short Extravehicular Mobility Unit (SEMU) Swap

A welded plug in the EMU Fan/Pump/Separator (F/P/S) pitot tube assembly became loose during testing at the EMU vendor. This occurrence, as experienced, generated a higher than normal current draw in the test set-up but in worst case conditions could have led to the termination of an EVA due to a failed F/P/S. A failed fan leads to termination of EVA since the crewmember no longer has cooling, vent flow and CO2 removal capability. This failure necessitates the opening of the Displays and Control Module (DCM) purge valve in the suit to cool his/her body and vent over board CO2. Once the purge valve is opened the flight rules dictate return to the vehicle airlock and termination of all EVA activities. The EVA Project Office recommended to the Space Shuttle Program that this potential failure scenario represented an unacceptable risk to mission success and a plan was implemented to remove suspect F/P/S’s from the orbiter and replace them with F/P/S’s that were known to be “good.” The integrity of the welds holding the plug in to the pitot tube have been verified through inspection for units which will support STS-98/5A and STS-102/ 5A.1. The suit swaps for STS-98/5A were safely and successfully completed through a well-coordinated effort on the part of NASA and contractor personnel in both JSC and KSC and allowed for the scheduled February 7, 2001, launch of the Orbiter.

NASA-NASDA Neutral Buoyancy Testing in Japan:

The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Operations #2 (OPS #2) Neutral Buoyancy EVA Test was successfully concluded last week at the NASDA Weightless Environment Test Facility. The joint NASA-NASDA EVA team completed all planned and optional test objectives. During the two-week test, astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Rex Walheim evaluated nominal and contingency EVA tasks associated with the 1J and 2J/A missions. Crew comments were recorded and incorporated into the preliminary EVA checklist. All test operations were conducted safely, efficiently, and without incident. In addition to the OPS #2 test, the joint EVA team conducted several EVA splinter meetings to discuss and resolve technical issues related to JEM, the H-II Transfer Vehicle, the Flight Readiness Review process, and NASDA Astronaut Candidate EVA training plans. In summary, the OPS #2 test and the EVA Technical Interchange Meetings were a complete success.

EVA Joint Airlock Technical Interchange Meeting

The EVA Project Office is hosting a Joint Airlock Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) with Russian EVA experts at Regents Park III the week of February 5-9, 2001. Topics under discussion include the planning, preparation and training for use of the Orlan suit from the Joint Airlock, use of NASA EVA tools with the Orlan suit, and specific EVA tasking such as the Ham radio antenna installation task. Representatives from Mission Operations and Engineering Directorates as well as the EVA Project Office and SR&QA Office are making the presentations during the TIM. Russian attendees include representatives from RSC-Energia, RD&PE Zvezda, and the Gregaran Cosmonaut Training Center.

Original signed by:

G. Allen Flynt

Gregory J. Harbaugh

Manager, EVA Project Office

SpaceRef staff editor.