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  STS-133: Lead spacewalker hurt in accident

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Author Topic:   STS-133: Lead spacewalker hurt in accident
Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-15-2011 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-133: Lead spacewalker hurt in accident

NASA statement:

STS-133 Mission Specialist Tim Kopra was injured today [Saturday, Jan. 15] in a bicycle accident, but he will be okay. However, there could be an impact to his mission duties for STS-133 -- that concern is still being evaluated. Further details of his injury are not available at this time due to concerns for his medical privacy.
CBS News [via Spaceflight Now] reports that Kopra, who is scheduled for launch Feb. 24 on shuttle Discovery, may have broken his hip.
The injury was not life threatening and the NASA official, citing medical privacy issues, provided no additional details. But multiple sources said Kopra may have broken his hip, raising the prospect of a significant impact to the already-delayed mission.

In training to serve as flight engineer for launch and entry, Kopra also is the mission's lead spacewalker for a pair of excursions outside the station. He and his crewmates have been in training since September 2009...

NASA does not train backup crews and a replacement, even a recently flown veteran, would need time to rehearse spacewalk scenarios and receive mission-specific training for Discovery's flight. How long that might take, if required, and what impact it might have on the shuttle's launch date is not yet known.


Tim Kopra exercises on a bicycle ergometer on space shuttle Discovery in 2009.

Delta7
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posted 01-15-2011 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When it rains it pours.

Here's hoping for a quick recovery.

randy
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posted 01-15-2011 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ditto.

Henry Heatherbank
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posted 01-15-2011 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seriously, what is the plan here? There is no way they will let Kopra fly the mission in five weeks time with a broken hip on the mend, given the launch stresses, and also given the risk is event of a launch/landing emergency.

A delayed flight raises interesting possibilities, however. If the injury is not too bad, NASA could take the view that the time needed to delay the mission to up-skill a recently flown EVA crew-member as a replacement may be as long as the time needed to allow Kopra's hip to heal. In that scenario, the flight is then delayed to allow for Kopra's recuperation.

If the injury is bad, some hips can take +3 months to heal, in which case NASA will not want to delay (otherwise 133 leapfrogs 134), and so Kopra must be replaced.

Of course, this is all speculation until more is known about Kopra's condition. While NASA cites the ol' medical privacy line, this goes beyond that as a matter having a direct (you would have thought) impact on the ability for the mission to proceed on the anticipated schedule.

Delta7
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posted 01-16-2011 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect that if Kopra has indeed broken his hip, he will be replaced fairly quickly. Another member of the crew could assume FE duties, Al Drew become the lead spacewalker, and a new crewmember with fairly recent ISS EVA experience assigned to the mission. A number of people come to mind.

Nicole Stott or Mike Barratt could also become the other EVA crewmember, but then you'd have to train someone new to perform some of their duties. It seems to me more practical to make a single substitution rather than have two people changing their mission duties on such short notice.

jimsz
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posted 01-16-2011 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why would NASA not train backup crews?

Tom
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posted 01-16-2011 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With the exception of the four person STS-5 and STS-6 crews, is this the first time NASA assigned the Flight Engineer position and (Lead) EV1 to the same crew member?

Delta7
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posted 01-16-2011 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Which raises another question. How are the roles of each particular crew member determined? Is it by management/mission planning staff, or does the crew work it out among themselves as to who is going to do EVA, Robotics, FE duties etc.?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-16-2011 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
Why would NASA not train backup crews?
At least part of the answer is staffing requirements. Of the 62 active astronauts, all but six are either assigned to flights, are assigned to support crews or are temporarily medically ineligible to fly. To support a fully-trained backup crew, would require a much larger astronaut corps.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-16-2011 09:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
...is this the first time NASA assigned the Flight Engineer position and (Lead) EV1 to the same crew member?
Steve Swanson was lead spacewalker and flight engineer on STS-119. Rex Walheim served both roles for STS-122. (There may be other examples, too.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-16-2011 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
How are the roles of each particular crew member determined?
For shuttle missions, I believe the roles are assigned by the commander with input from management.

STS-128 commander Ken Ham touched briefly on this during the pre-flight crew news conference when explaining why veteran spacewalker Piers Sellers would be leading robotic operations rather than making any spacewalks during the mission:

One of the only pieces of direction I got from my boss when this crew was assigned was "Don't let Piers go outside."

issman1
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posted 01-16-2011 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In recent weeks, I've seen veteran spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio, Stan Love and Bobby Satcher working as Capcoms in the ISS control room.

Could one of them replace Tim Kopra if his injury is that severe?

brianjbradley
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posted 01-16-2011 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that if a replacement would be enacted, the crew member would have experience flying an MPLM and acting as at least contingency spacewalker, so they would be familiar with the payload and berthing mechanism. Mastracchio would have that experience. Satcher could be an option (even though he does not have MPLM experience) and Love is no longer eligible for flight assignment.

Nonetheless, I think all of this would take a lot of time where there are dollar constraints to support this program. Maybe another -134 and -133 flip in the manifest would be the ultimate resolution, with Sturckow in command of -134 and to give Kopra time to heal.

issman1
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posted 01-16-2011 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by brianjbradley:
Love is no longer eligible for flight assignment.
Could you or anyone else elaborate? As for any replacement, I suppose the best alternative is to have one of the other STS-133 mission specialists train for the EVAs. Fly as a five-person crew?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-16-2011 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Love remains with NASA but is no longer an active astronaut (as reflected recently by his bio being moved to the "management astronauts" list on NASA's website).

I believe as a matter of course, the other two veteran spacewalkers on the mission, Nicole Stott and Mike Barratt, have undergone limited NBL training in support of the STS-133 EVAs, and both have trained in tandem with Kopra to provide IVA support.

A reduction in crew size would probably necessitate removing tasks planned for this flight, as crew size is matched to work load.

Delta7
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posted 01-16-2011 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could see someone like Steve Bowen, Garrett Reisman or Clay Anderson stepping in and filling the role.

KSCartist
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posted 01-16-2011 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know it's a long shot but I hope there's a way for Tim to fly. If not on 133 then on 135 maybe swapping places with Rex Walheim.

Tim -here's wishing you get well soon.

ASCAN1984
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posted 01-16-2011 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My heart really goes out to Tim Kopra. So very very close only to have this happen. I remember reading about Don Thomas's reaction when he lost his ISS flight. May you be well enough for the flight.

pokey
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posted 01-16-2011 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for pokey   Click Here to Email pokey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of Don Thomas - he broke his leg prior to one of his flights but it mended in time. Halsell also damaged his ankle prior to one of his flights but I don't recall if it delayed his flight.

Seeing astronauts assigned to flights pedaling on public roads has aggravated me for several decades. No one asks me for my opinion out here at JSC on this kind of thing but I could never see why this was allowed. And I always thought they should have been assigned professional drivers from NASA's car pool to get them from A to B in the month prior to their flight.

I am imagining that Kopra opted to ride his bike outside instead of in a gym because the gym reminded him of his limitations on ISS. Riding in the open air with birds, breezes and the blue sky overhead are still very likely hard to resist. I'm hoping very much that he will launch with STS-133.

PowerCat
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posted 01-18-2011 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PowerCat   Click Here to Email PowerCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another possible question...could one of the current ISS crew members (Kelly, Coleman or Nespoli) fill in as an EVA crew member? I'm not sure what training any of the Russian ISS crew members have in US spacesuits.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-19-2011 11:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steven Bowen has replaced Tim Kopra on space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 crew as Kopra recuperates from his injuries.

This thread will remain open to update Kopra's status, as appropriate. A new topic has been started to discuss Bowen's assignment to the crew.

astro-nut
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posted 01-23-2011 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hoping Colonel Kopra gets well soon and he has a full recovery and hopefully he will fly on a later ISS flight.

All times are CT (US)

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