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Overview Lessons & Materials Pre Mission Prep. Mission Day Assessment


Mission Day

Mission Day


Communications Center


Data Answer Key


Mission Day Tips


Post Brief Questions


Description Of Mission Day Events  
(Please do not share this with your students)

I. Introduction

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 radiation.

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 Lines

A. Radiation Team’s Story Line

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 Story Line

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 Story Line

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 crew.

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 their problems.

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.



Copyright 2002. Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University. All rights reserved.