Mastracchio’s glove damage cause revealed – PMA-3 relocated

by Chris Bergin

Endeavour spacewalker Rick Mastracchio’s glove incident – which called for the early termination of EVA-3 during STS-118 – was caused by “contact with a sharp edge.” A review is being carried out to pinpoint where the problem area on the station is located.

Meanwhile, the relocation of the PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 3) – required ahead of STS-120 – has been completed, and the ISS will not need to make a Debris Avoidance Maneuver (DAM) to miss an old Russian ICBM body.

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Mastracchio – and his EVA partner Clay Anderson – were heading into the last quarter of their EVA-3 tasks, which had completed the main elements of the spacewalk: the P6 S-Band Antenna Subassembly Relocation to the P1 Truss, and the P1 Truss Baseband Signal Processor and transponder installation.

The damage, seen from the helmet camera of Mastracchio, showed a small tear/cut in the upper part thumb area of his glove. He immediately noticed it during a scheduled check, and referenced it over the flight loop. This caused the termination of the EVA as a precaution, sending the spacewalkers back to the airlock. This was the first time that has been actioned.

The problem with a damaged EMU glove was during only the second mission since new procedures were brought in for checking the gloves of spacewalkers during an EVA. This came about after damage was seen on Robert ‘Beamer’ Curbeam’s EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) gloves, once STS-116 had landed.

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However, the cause of the damage on Mastracchio’s glove has been found a lot faster, thanks to those new procedures.

‘Ground inspection has now determined that the hole in the Vectran layer of Rick Mastracchio’s EMU glove was not caused by abrasion but is a cut caused by a sharp edge (these gloves were not the same lot as the glove damaged/cut on Curbeam’s 12A.1 EVA),’ noted a report on the glove damage on Thursday.

‘Teams are assessing work site areas to try to isolate the source and are attempting to manifest additional sets of gloves for any crewmembers doing an EVA on 10A (STS-120). The current terminate criteria for an EVA will remain as is. A program review will be performed prior to giving a GO for an EVA in this worksite area.’

Thursday also saw the highlight of a full week of preparations for the relocation of the PMA-3 docking port from the Node 1 (Unity) portside CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) to the Nadir port.

The move makes room for the installation of the Node 2 (Harmony) module, which will be carried to the station in shuttle Discovery payload bay during October’s STS-120.

‘Clay Anderson, having verified proper closure of the protective Lab window shutter, checked on completion of the overnight PMA depressurization and conducted a 30-min leak check,’ noted Thursday’s On Orbit status report, with an expansive overview of the activities.

‘At 5:35am EDT, flight controllers disabled the Russian thrusters for the duration of SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) and CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) operations – with safing and recovery procedures in place in case of an unlikely LoAC/Loss of Attitude Control event. Next, Anderson powered on the CBCS (Centerline Berthing Camera System) on the Node nadir hatch window.

‘Anderson and Oleg Kotov then grappled PMA-3 with the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System), as Fyodor Yurchikhin initiated demate activities, i.e., worked with the CBM bolt mechanism.’

A problem with a number of the sensors on attachment bolts caused a temporary halt to operations. The issue will require further evaluations ahead of STS-120.

‘Demate ops were stopped for a while by a problem with two fault-indicating bolts (RBOLT #2-1, #2-4), and a third bolt (#3-4) showing intermittent failure. The faults were identified as a sensor issue of the bolts’ force load cells for measuring the torque applied (seen before, i.e., nothing physically wrong with the CBM mechanism).

‘Since the known bolt-driving motor currents are also quantitative torque indicators, demating proceeded. More in-depth analysis work, already underway, to be performed before the planned temporary attachment of Node 2 to the port CBM on 10A).

‘After Nadir CBM was reconfigured by the ground, Clay and Oleg continued to maneuver PMA-3 through a quarter circle around the Node to the nadir port while Fyodor performed pre-mate verification on its CBM; then PMA-3 was successfully installed.’

In other ISS news, the station will not need to make a Debris Avoidance Maneuver (DAM) to miss an old Russian ICBM body.

‘MCC-H ballistics specialists are monitoring a conjunction with orbital debris (old Russian Strela ICBM body, NATO designation: SS-11 Sego), with TCA (time of closest approach) tomorrow evening at ~7:00pm EDT,’ added the On Orbit status report for Thursday. ‘Current predictions show a miss distance of ~29.3 km. No DAM (Debris Avoidance Maneuver) considered.’

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