(Please do not share this with your students)
On mission day the students should
be prepared with solid background information about the overall
mission. They will have had specific training in their particular
team assignment, or area of expertise. Before the official start
of the mission, the Flight Director will review communication
protocols with the Communications Team. This will help facilitate
a smooth exchange of information, both verbally and via the chat
window. Once the mission begins, the Flight Director at Mission
Control will provide the students with a brief overview and introduction
to their tasks. They will be introduced to the crew before liftoff,
and then the mission will start.
II. General Story Line
The space shuttle Discovery is in its final
stages before liftoff. It will transport the Expedition Two crew to
Space Station Alpha. The Expedition Two crew will be the second team
of astronauts to make the space station their home. Once the shuttle
rendezvous with the station, the crews will link up and begin the
process of changing crews. If all goes well, the Expedition Two crew
will take over the duties of running the space station, and the
Expedition One crew will return to Earth.
Unfortunately, all does not go well. Immediately following docking,
Mission Control receives an urgent bulletin from the Space Weather
Center in Boulder, CO, informing it that another huge solar storm is
imminent. As the sun makes its next rotation, a solar proton event is
likely. This should occur within the next few hours. Therefore, the
hatches between the shuttle and the station will need to remain closed
until further notice. The shuttle crew and Expedition Two crew are safer
in the shuttle where they are more adequately protected from solar
First and foremost, the focus of the mission will be to protect the
Expedition One crew currently on board the space station and minimize
their exposure to radiation.
Each student team will be asked to download a URL that will begin the
data stream for their team. Every five to six minutes, each team will
receive new data that will require calculations, conversions, and
subsequent recommendations for the space station crew. They will be
responsible for developing an action plan and communicating it to the
rest of the teams. They must take into consideration the interrelationships
between the space stationís systems. For this reason communication among
the teams is critical for a successful mission.
III. Individual Team Story
A. Radiation Team’s
The Radiation Teamís job is to monitor the
radiation levels from the two TEPC (tissue equivalent proportional
counter) monitors on board the station. TEPC 1 is portable. It can
be moved from place to place with the crew. The stationary TEPC 2
is located in the U.S. Destiny Laboratory on the end of the station
closest to the sun. The team will track the levels of radiation from
both TEPCs and alert Mission Control if it sees levels approaching
the danger zone. This team is also responsible for making any shielding
recommendations for the crew.
The Radiation Team will have a few readings before it starts to see the
radiation levels raise dramatically. Team members will make projections
regarding the total dose that the crew might receive in a 24-hour period
and compare this information to the effects chart found in their reference
guide. This should serve to emphasize the urgency of their role in the mission.
When the TEPCs register their first big jump, at UTC 15:40, the team should
begin considering recommendations. The first course of action is to suggest
reorienting the space station.
At 17:00 the radiation levels become even more alarming, and the difference
between the stationary and portable TEPCs becomes more pronounced. This
should be the impetus for the team to implement the ALARA guidelines and
make shielding recommendations. Expected recommendations could include
placing all of the astronauts into the Zvezda module, farthest from the
sun, building an ďiglooĒ of polyethylene shielding and crawling inside and
transferring and strapping water containers into place for additional shielding.
Zvezda is probably the safest choice because the crewís sleeping stations are
there. and the polyethylene shielding is designed to fit in this module. It
is critical to have a shielding plan in place by 17:20. If they are not making
recommendations, team members will be prompted to do so by Mission Control.
The Radiation Team should experience some satisfaction as it sees the radiation
levels begin to drop, around 18:20. Team members should compare the levels of
the two TEPCs and note that the portable TEPC that is with the crew is considerably
lower than the unshielded TEPC in Destiny. However, they will need to assess
the damage that might have occurred to the crew as result of the radiation
exposure when they were not shielded.
B. Life Support Team’s
The Life Support Teamís job is to monitor the living
environment on the space station. Team members will receive readings from
sensors on board for oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as for total air pressure.
It is critical that all of these readings remain in the normal range so that
the astronauts are living and working in a healthy environment. If after several
readings, the conditions are becoming dangerous, the team should inform Mission
Control and discuss possible solutions to the problem. The reference guide
describes various alternatives to maintaining a balanced atmosphere.
The carbon dioxide begins to steadily rise. The carbon dioxide level remains above
critical levels and continues to rise until 17:20. During this period
the team needs to consider the effectiveness of the available solutions and make
recommendations. Possible recommendations include activating the carbon dioxide
removal assembly, or checking to make sure that itís working, and using lithium
hydroxide canisters to clean the air.
While the carbon dioxide is rising, the oxygen level begins to fall.
The oxygen levels steadily fall until 17:20, and the team needs to make
recommendations to correct the problem. Temporary solutions include using
perchlorate candles or oxygen masks (PBAs). When making recommendations,
team members should consider that the astronauts are in the midst of a
radiation crisis and will be in the process of shielding themselves from
rising radiation levels. This may affect the astronautsí ability to use
some of the Life Support Teamís recommendations. Oxygen levels normalize
shortly after the crisis at 17:40.
C. Crisis Management Support Team’s
The Crisis Management Team is responsible for
keeping the class on track during the mission. It must keep all of the
teams informed regarding the current status of Space Station Alpha and
its crew. The team needs to be in continual contact with its respective
teams and constantly update the mission status board. This will provide
a visual for the teams as well as an up-to-the-minute status report on
The action for the Crisis Management Team will coincide with the critical
periods that the individual teams are experiencing, which are as follows:
Radiation Team: 16:20 – 18:00
Life Support Team: 16:20 – 17:20 (CO2) and 16:00
– 17:20 (O2)
The challenge for the Crisis Management Team is to negotiate the problems
that may arise when teams are experiencing a crisis and making recommendations
that affect another teamís ability to function. For example, at 17:00 the
Radiation Team is recommending that the crew relocate, probably to Zvezda.
At the same time, the Life Support Team may want to activate the carbon dioxide removal assembly
to solve the problem of rising carbon dioxide levels. This equipment also requires
dditional electrical power. The role of the Crisis Management Team is to
help the teams work out a solution that will assist both teams in solving
Because of the unique nature of every mission, there is no hard and fast
storyline for the Crisis Management Team. What the team does depends largely
upon what the other teams recommend. It is critical, however, that the team
continues to assert that the space station functions like a body and that
all of the systems are interrelated. This alone will go a long way toward
helping facilitate a successful mission.
IV. Mission Completion
All data begins to stabilize at 17:40 as the solar
storm wears itself out. There will be three more readings after that. We
hope each team will be pleased with their action plans and recommendations
as they assist the crew to weather the worst solar storm in the last 100
years! Team members will be asked to prepare a brief post-mission report
by answering questions sent to them from Mission Control. A representative
will be expected to answer the questions orally through the communications
link. This is a great opportunity for all of the students to be able to
get a summary of the other teamsí challenges.
Finally, the mission will end with a visual of the shuttle crew opening the
hatches between the shuttle and the space station. This is a momentous
occasion as the Expedition One crew turns over the reins to the Expedition
Two crew. The mission ends with the Expedition Two crew beginning another
day of living and working in space.