Orbital ATK – Space Station (2023)

Orbital ATK – Space Station (1)
  • Crew: Capt. Scott "The Maker" Tingle, US Navy
  • ISS Location: Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: March 4, 2018
  • Earth Time (GMT): 13:30

Wow, how time flies. This interim development phase is short lived for me as the new crew (Drew Festel, Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev) will arrive on March 23rd and then we will have at least one spacewalk on the 29th followed by the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft that has scheduled to arrive on April 4th. It's kind of weird to be here with two other crew members. We are still busy, but the total workload is half of what it was a week ago. My teammate Nemo (Norishige Kanai) and I have been trying to use this time to prepare for a very busy schedule ahead of us, and we've been very successful in dealing with a lot of details.

I can't believe the 55th mission is over. Today is Sunday and we will be leaving the International Space Station (ISS) next Sunday morning. Spend 168 days in space. We had many challenging moments on the ISS, but there were also more positive points. Last March, a new crew from the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft (Oleg Artimiev, Drew Festel and Ricky Arnold) joined Takashi Kanai (Nemo), Anton Shkaplerov and I in the ranks. Since then we have completed two spacewalks, captured and released the SpaceX Dragon-14 cargo spacecraft, captured the Cygnus OA-9 cargo spacecraft, and completed countless maintenance and science activities. The ground control, monitoring, support and planning teams did an amazing job. They are always great to work with, especially when equipment, tools, processes or personnel need help. It's incredible how much a good team can achieve when they methodically put one foot in front of the other. I was lucky that the first crew (Mark Vande Hei, Joe Acaba and Alexander Misurkin (Sasha)) and the second crew (Drew, Ricky and Oleg) worked very well together. I believe the planets are aligning for my mission to the International Space Station. Drew and Ricky have always been friends and hearing them bite each other provides plenty of humor for both the ground and us. Their one-pieces reminded me of some scenes from the movie "Space Cowboys". Here's a good example of what happened to me while writing this log entry:

Ricky: Hey, is that your smoothie?
Manufacturer: None.
Ricky: It must be Drew's.
Drew: Hey Ricky, don't drink my smoothie.
Ricky: What smoothie? This one has my name on it (because he wrote his name on it).
Drew: Okay grandpa underpants, put down my smoothie.
Ricky: Okay, Feustelnaut - we have rules here, so now this is my smoothie!
All: Lots of laughs.

To quote my child: "HAHA!"

One of the hardest things to do in space is to maintain active control over individual items such as tools, parts, fasteners, etc. We try very hard not to lose things, but even with all our focus and active control, things can get lost. Move away and disappear. We usually store items in a crew carry bag (CTB). Within CTB there are many projects for the systems it supports. When the CTB is open, items float freely within the bag and leak easily. Keeping track of items can be very difficult—especially when they're small and don't have Velcro closures, or when the daily schedule is so tight and we're rushing to get there on time. We always try to seal CTB and Ziploc bags after each item is removed or replaced to maintain positive control, but this takes more time to process individual items and if time is limited, we take more risk by rushing. The same goes for tools, which we usually keep in sealed bags when working on individual systems and tasks. Last month I was installing a new cryogenic circulation pump which failed a month or two ago. As usual, I gather the tools I need in a modified (with velcro) airtight bag and float to the work area. When I got there, one of the tools in my collection was missing. I searched for 30 minutes and couldn't find it. Lost items can be difficult to find because lost items usually barely move and quickly blend into the environment. A lost object may be right in front of us, but we never see it. With these lessons learned, our crew decided that when someone lost something, we would tell the rest of the crew what we had lost and provide an approximate location. This has a huge impact on finding items. If the other crew members can help within the first few minutes after the object is lost, the new crew has a good chance of finding the object. We've proven this technique many times during our missions - Nemo is the best at quickly finding lost items. However, in my case we could not find the missing tool. Our fantastic ground team understood and guided me through the replacement tools and I got the job done. I spent the next three weeks tracking, finding and never forgetting the missing tool. Then one day last week, Oleg came to the lab and gave us a tool he found on the Soyuz spacecraft, which is in the tail of the International Space Station. Surprising. We finally found this tool and I am very happy again. It's a happy ending. The International Space Station has many nooks, crannies and hard-to-reach areas where lost objects can hide and never be found.

We captured a Cygnus freighter last Thursday. The whole team left a deep impression on me. Our mission control specialists and training professionals have done an excellent job preparing the necessary procedures and ensuring we are capable and ready to operate. The robotic arm is a wonderful system, we can't operate the International Space Station without it. In space, however, it has some very unique handling properties. If you think of a spring-mass-damper system as you did in physics or control theory class, and then remove the damper, you will see a system that is very prone to slow oscillations. On the test pilot side, the damping ratio was very low and the lag was well over half a second. From a test pilot's point of view, this is an induced oscillation (PIO) generator. These features required the crew to "fly" the robotic arm using open-loop techniques, which required enormous patience. Test pilots are not very patient at times, but understanding the system and practicing with the incredible simulators that the ground teams build and maintain helps us keep our proficiency levels as high as possible. The capture process was flawless and I was so impressed with the professionalism of the entire team - crew, flight controllers and training professionals - what a job!

Drew, Ricky and I played guitar a few times on the ISS. It's interesting! Connect the pickup to the acoustic guitar, then connect the pickup to our tablet for amplification. I have never heard an acoustic guitar sound as good for heavy metal as an electric guitar. We had a great riff on the song "Gloria" and a few others. Keep rocking!

We had our last movie night last night. The entire cast gathered at Node 2 to watch Avengers: Infinity War on the big screen. We enjoyed each other's company, as we did during Expedition 54, and it was a welcome break from the daily grind of trying to complete the required loading, maintenance, and science activities as we prepared to launch.

Our last full weekend on the ISS. I gave myself a haircut. We usually clean our premises every weekend to ensure we can maintain good levels of organisation, efficiency and morale. This weekend was no exception and it was time to wipe down all the filters and vents. You'll be surprised at what we find!

The top five things I miss when I'm no longer in space are:

  1. Incredible team supporting ISS operations from our control center
  2. Friendship on the International Space Station
  3. Stunning views of the Earth, Moon, Sun and stars
  4. Float/fly from one location to another with ease
  5. Operations in the extreme environment of space


How does the space station not get hit by debris? ›

Given enough notice, cargo vehicles launched to the ISS carry extra fuel so that they can fire their thrusters and adjust the station's orbit when needed to help the laboratory complex avoid space debris.

Is orbital ATK partnered with NASA? ›

NASA then awarded Orbital ATK and SpaceX commercial resupply services contracts to each deliver at least 20 metric tons of cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

What is the few lines of space station? ›

The space station is made of parts that were assembled in space by astronauts. It orbits Earth at an average altitude of approximately 250 miles. It travels at 17,500 mph. This means it orbits Earth every 90 minutes.

How long does it take for a rocket to pass the Kármán line? ›

How fast can you get to space with modern rockets? As you can see, it takes 3-4 minutes on average to pass the Kármán line. It takes another 5-7 minutes to reach a stable LEO (200 km).

What are the odds of being hit by space debris? ›

There are many different estimates of the chances of space debris hitting someone, but most are in the one-in-10,000 range. This is the chance of any person being hit, anywhere in the world.

Has the ISS ever been hit by debris? ›

Over the station's 23-year orbital lifetime, there have been about 30 close encounters with orbital debris requiring evasive action. Three of these near-misses occurred in 2020. In May this year there was a hit: a tiny piece of space junk punched a 5mm hole in the ISS's Canadian-built robot arm.

Does ATK still exist? ›

Upon consummation of the transaction, the name of Orbital ATK will change to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Inc. After the transaction, Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC will continue to exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Orbital ATK (renamed Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Inc.).

Who bought out Orbital ATK? ›

Northrop Grumman's $9.2 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK, announced in September 2017, closed last June. When the deal was announced, the companies said they expected a variety of benefits, from cost savings to new business opportunities, from incorporating Orbital ATK into Northrop Grumman.

Who is ATK owned by? ›

Orbital ATK was bought by Northrop Grumman in June 2018.

What will replace the ISS? ›

The space agency plans to rent space on a privately built station, and it wants to have astronauts moved in to their new home before ISS operations end in 2030.

How much money do astronauts make? ›

The pay grades for civilian astronaut candidates are set by federal government pay scales and vary based on academic achievements and experience. According to NASA , civilian astronaut salaries range from $104,898 to $161,141 per year. Here are a few of the benefits offered to civilian astronauts: Health care.

Who owns space station? ›

The ISS is not owned by one single nation and is a "co-operative programme" between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Can a balloon reach the Kármán line? ›

defined as being at the Karman Line, 100 km up. Weather balloons don't get anywhere near that high, but at an altitude of 21 km, which is much higher than aeroplanes normally fly, you can get a good view of the curvature of the Earth and the thinness of the atmosphere.

What happens if you fly above the Kármán line? ›

The Kármán line is based on physical reality in the sense that it roughly marks the altitude where traditional aircraft can no longer effectively fly. Anything traveling above the Kármán line needs a propulsion system that doesn't rely on lift generated by Earth's atmosphere — the air is simply too thin that high up.

How far out is the Kármán line? ›

Where does space begin? For purposes of spaceflight some would say at the Karman line, currently defined as an altitude of 100 kilometers (60 miles).

How does a Space Station not fall down? ›

An orbiting spacecraft moves at the right speed so the curve of its fall matches the curve of Earth. Because of this, the spacecraft keeps falling toward the ground but never hits it. As a result, they fall around the planet. The moon stays in orbit around Earth for this same reason.

How does Voyager avoid debris? ›

How has the Voyager 1 avoided being obliterated by space debris, even at the speed it's traveling now? Voyager 1 has avoided significant damage by space debris because space is very empty and space is very, very big, so there's generally nothing in its path to hit except for a few stray solar wind ions.

How do they get rid of waste on Space Station? ›

Current waste disposal methods on the International Space Station rely on astronauts manually processing trash by placing it into bags then loading it onto a designated vehicle for short term storage, which depending on the craft, returns the trash to Earth or burns up in the atmosphere.

How are astronauts protected from space debris? ›

Spacesuits help protect astronauts from orbital debris. When astronauts go on spacewalks, they wear special suits. The suits include a layer of strong, thin material. This material protects astronauts from impacts.


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