WASHINGTON — The non-public astronauts who spent two weeks on the Worldwide Area Station in April mentioned they tried to pack an excessive amount of into their schedules whereas on the station, placing a pressure on each themselves and the skilled astronauts there.
At a Might 13 information convention, the 4 individuals who flew on Axiom Area’s Ax-1 mission to the station mentioned that whereas they’d a superb journey to the station, they overestimated how a lot work they may get finished after their arrival on the ISS April 9 for what was initially scheduled to be an eight-day keep.
“Our timeline was very aggressive, particularly early within the mission,” mentioned Michael López-Alegría, the previous NASA astronaut and present Axiom worker who commanded Ax-1. “The tempo was frenetic to start with.”
“With the worth of hindsight, we had been method too aggressive on our schedule, particularly the primary couple days,” mentioned Larry Connor, one of many three prospects who accompanied López-Alegría on Ax-1. He gave an instance of 1 experiment that was scheduled to take two and a half hours to finish primarily based on preflight coaching however ended up taking 5 hours.
López-Alegría thanked the 4 Crew-3 astronauts from NASA and the European Area Company who had been on the station throughout their go to for help, calling them “terribly useful, gracious, variety, sharing” throughout their keep. “I can’t say sufficient good issues about them, and we actually wanted them.”
That had an impression on the Crew-3 astronauts’ personal work schedule. Throughout a Might 12 assembly of the Aerospace Security Advisory Panel, Susan Helms, a former NASA astronaut who serves on the panel, mentioned the Ax-1 go to posed “no obvious overt questions of safety” however that it did have an effect on the efficiency of the astronauts.
“There have been some real-time dynamics associated to the flight crew timelines with the addition of those 4 Axiom personnel, who did have their very own flight goals,” she mentioned. “In essence, the arrival of the Axiom personnel appeared to have a larger-than-expected impression on the each day workload on the skilled Worldwide Area Station crew.”
Whereas the Ax-1 mission did permit for some new science, and the flexibility to move some NASA cargo again to Earth, “there was additionally some alternative price within the type of overly stressing the workload of the onboard ISS members and the mission controllers who help them on the bottom,” Helms mentioned. She really useful that future non-public astronaut missions be managed in “normalized processes” that totally combine them into general ISS actions.
“It’s incumbent on us to cut back our burden on the crew,” mentioned Michael Suffredini, president and chief govt of Axiom Area, on the information convention, saying that was a part of “classes discovered” discussions with NASA and SpaceX that can inform future missions to the station. “Over time, we’ll cut back what the crew has to do.”
One solution to cut back that burden is to stretch out the work over an extended keep. The Ax-1 mission ended up spending greater than 15 days on the ISS, quite the unique 8 days, due to unfavorable climate situations at touchdown websites off the Florida coast.
“It was a blessing to have the additional time,” López-Alegría mentioned. “I believe we had been so centered on analysis and outreach within the first 8 or 10 days on orbit that we wanted the additional time to finish the expertise by having time to look out the window, to make contact with family and friends, to simply benefit from the sensation.”
Suffredini mentioned longer missions must match right into a busy schedule on the ISS and deal with points corresponding to results on the life help system of getting 11 folks there for an prolonged interval. He did notice, although, that Axiom has deliberate 30-day missions to the station and want to go so long as 60 days.
“This flight was actually wildly profitable,” he mentioned. “From our perspective, we are going to go be somewhat extra environment friendly, practice somewhat in another way, do just a few issues to assist out the timeline.”
He added the corporate had offered three seats on future missions since Ax-1, which included an settlement introduced April 29 with the United Arab Emirates to fly an Emirati astronaut on a long-duration mission utilizing a seat supplied by NASA in trade for a Soyuz seat Axiom had beforehand bought from Roscosmos. He declined to reveal the opposite prospects who signed up.