STS-122 spacewalkers gain extra protection – FRR focus on EVAs

by Chris Bergin

NASA’s agency-level Flight Readiness Review (FRR) will confirm all of STS-122’s EVAs will be conducted with the use of the over-glove. The spacewalkers will only be allowed to remove the protective layer when on orbit work requires dexterous manipulation.

The final FRR, which is set to announce December 6 as the launch date for Atlantis and her crew, is being conducted at the end of the week, with no major problems being worked on the shuttle.

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Currently, STS-122 will consist of three EVAs, with the potential for a fourth, should consumables allow a two day extension to the mission

Given Atlantis is the only orbiter remaining without the SSPTS (Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System), NASA will have to wait until Atlantis is part way through her docked period to decide on the viability – via consumable status – of adding the two extra days for an EVA-4 to carry out further inspections on the starboard SARJ (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint).

Protecting the spacewalkers during their assembly work has always been a top mission priority. However, following incidents of cut EMU gloves during recent missions, NASA has refined safety rules via more regular inspections of the gloves during each EVA.

The concern was highlighted during STS-118, when Endeavour spacewalker Rick Mastracchio suffered a cut glove incident, live on NASA TV. The incident called for the early termination of EVA-3, though the spacewalker was never in any danger. The damage was later confirmed as being caused by ‘contact with a sharp edge.’

Mastracchio’s problem with the damaged EMU glove came 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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Damage to gloves was also noted on STS-120, requiring spare gloves to be used for later EVAs – including Doug Wheelock and Scott Parazynski’s epic repair effort on the P6 4B solar array, which debuted the over-glove for part of the spacewalk.

Now, NASA has decided to implement use of the over-glove on all EVAs during STS-120. The protective sheath will protect the areas of the gloves that are most prone to wear and tear.

‘Three crewmember’s gloves damaged (STS-116, STS-118 and STS-120). EVA Office recommendation made for STS-120’s EVA 4 and for the three subsequent Stage EVA crewmembers to use over-gloves,’ noted the EVA FRR presentation for STS-122.

‘For STS-120 EVA 4, MOD implementation was to nominally use the over-glove except for tasks that required dexterous manipulation (All tasks performed by Parazynski on the SSRMS).

‘Wear over-gloves for the duration of STS-122 EVAs. The over-glove can be removed at the crews discretion where warranted for safety reasons or task efficiency in order to complete the task.

‘If wearing of the over-gloves are deemed to cause crew to fall behind in the timeline, the over-gloves may be removed based on recommendation of the Flight Control Team in order to complete assembly critical tasks within the remaining EVA time. If the over-glove is removed, a glove inspection will be performed prior to re-donning the over-glove.

‘Glove inspection criteria will remain the same. When the over-glove is worn, inspection criteria will apply to the over-glove. If the over-glove is damaged, it will be removed and the glove will be inspected. If the over-glove is removed to perform any task, the gloves will be inspected at the end of the task prior to donning the over-glove.

‘Use of the over-glove could result in certain tasks not being completed. MOD assessing impact of use of over-glove on STS-122 EVAs.’

In addition to the over-glove, Atlantis will be carrying a total of seven sets of spare gloves, should damage still occur during the EVAs – along with the safety measure of terminating the EVA should any damage be found on the vectran layer of the glove.

Rex Walheim, Hans Schlegel and Stanley Love will be tasked with the EVAs, as STS-122 carries out the installation of the European Columbus module to the growing ISS.

‘Flight Rule in the STS-122 annex addresses EVA termination for vectran damage. Rule rationale will be updated to address specific STS-122 EVA tasks,’ noted another STS-122 FRR presentation.

‘STS-118 and STS-120 techniques for glove inspections will be implemented on STS-122. Glove inspections will be performed at the end of a task or set of tasks at a given worksite, and also checked after the crew works in an area of interest such as the S0 face 1 or on CETA carts.

‘Both EVA crewmembers gloves will be photographed as part of the Post EVA procedure and crew will provide a verbal assessment of glove condition. Photos will be downlinked and glove condition will be assessed after each EVA. The crew has been trained, and the timeline accommodates this activity

‘EV1 (Walheim) will have an additional pair of gloves (three pairs total). EV2 (Schlegel) and EV 3 (Love) will have two pairs each.’

The three EVAs dedicated to the installation of Columbus are as follows:

EVA-1 and Flight Day 4 tasks: STS Ku Band antenna stowed prior to egress. Demate Columbus LTA Cable. Prep and remove MDPS Panels. Retrieve PDGF from sidewall carrier and install PDGF on Columbus. Reinstall MDPS panels. Demate N2 Lines and break torque on P1 NTA

Columbus install on Node 2 starboard. SSRMS grapples Columbus and maneuvers to pre-install position. SSRMS/CBM ops; Node 2/Columbus vestibule pressurization and gross leak check. Setup for fine leak check overnight.

EVA-2: Release new NTA from ICC. Remove old P1 NTA, temp stow on CETA cart. Install new P1 NTA. Maneuver to PLB and install old NTA on ICC. Install Columbus trunnion covers. Route and mate SSPTS Cables.

EVA-3: Release Solar from ICC. Maneuver to EPF and install Solar. Engage adjustable shims on CMG FSE. Release and maneuver CMG to PLB/ICC. Install CMG on ICC. Release EUTEF from ICC. Maneuver to EPF and install EUTEF. Install Columbus WIFs and Handrails. Install Keel Pin Cover.

The fourth EVA – if implemented – was requested by ISS management to help their understanding of the problems with the starboard SARJ, with FRR documentation appearing to point at the consumable margins ‘expected’ to be achievable for the required mission extension.

‘Starboard SARJ Inspection: Options discussed at Space Station Program Control Requirements Board (SSPRCB): Considering addition of 4th EVA, requires 13 day mission. Margin to achieve 13 days expected with on time launch. Go forward plan still in discussions within the team.’

Atlantis will also carry a spare DLA (Drive Lock Assembly) to the ISS, with a goal of adding to the on orbit spares, ahead of a potential repair and replace (R&R) effort, potentially/likely ahead/during of the upcoming JAXA module flights next year.

‘The samples of debris returned on STS-120/10A have been analyzed. The first report is that all the material is the same and it is the 15-5 Nitrited Race Ring. Significant items discussed with a potential impact to STS-122/1E flight content and MOD forward work,’ added the MOD FRR presentation.

‘In an effort to get all the required hardware on orbit at every earliest opportunity, a DLA will be ready to fly on 1E in the shuttle middeck. One DLA will be going up, although any DLA R&R would fall after 1E, subsequent to forward work on the fault tree and failure analysis.

‘1E Mission Duration is 11+1+2. With an on time launch, other buybacks, and no other anomalies, we expect to be able to get 11+2+2 with minimal effort. If we can get 2 extra days, we would consider adding (in real-time, but planning for pre-flight) a 4th EVA to inspect the Starboard SARJ.’

Engineers on the ground are still evaluating the images taken of the SARJ during ISS stage EVA-12, with initial findings – even prior to the spacewalk – pointing towards a multi-EVA effort to bring the SARJ back into operation – required for next year’s additional expansion of the station.

L2 members: All documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, updated live.

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