WASHINGTON — NASA has effectively maximized the use of the International Space Station given the crew’s time and restrictions on cargo moving in and out of the station, NASA officials said on Jan. 30. Stated.
Kurt Costello, NASA ISS chief scientist, said at a meeting of the National Academies Board, which is working on a decade-long study of the biological and physical sciences in space, that NASA’s share of the station’s resources for conducting research has reached its limit. said to have reached
“I will tell you that I believe we are already there when it comes to discussing what is full capacity,” he said. “We have maximized the functionality of the station, not only to conduct research, but also to maintain the available resources that we have.”
For most of the station’s history, the limitation to conducting research on the station was available crew time. But after the introduction of a commercial crew vehicle that would allow NASA to support his four astronauts instead of his three on the U.S. segment of the station, that became less of an issue, and more crew time. , he said.
Moving cargo to and from stations has become a bigger problem. According to Costello, this is due to restrictions on carrying large cargo, called “big bags,” which are larger than standard cargo shipping bags, and “materials such as biological samples,” which must be stored in a freezer or cooler. This is reflected in “adjusted loading”.
The freight vehicles currently supporting the station do not have room for more research payloads, especially those that require bulky big bags or coordinated stowage. “We are flying everything full,” he said. The only question is whether the vehicle reaches maximum cargo capacity or mass first. “It completely fills these vehicles, either in mass or volume.”
The station itself is crowded, with Costello showing the image in the station’s “Enhanced Loading” presentation. Cargo bags line the station aisle because there is nowhere else to place them in the station module. This also affects utilization.
“The crew must go through this stowage and find a suitable bag in order to obtain equipment for the investigation,” he said. “We are currently seeing an increase in crew hours being added to crew activities just to retrieve cargo.”
Costello said NASA is looking to introduce new vehicles, including the maiden flight of Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser cargo vehicle, Japan’s HTV-X, an upgraded version of the HTV cargo vehicle, and commercials for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. I said I hope. Passenger car. “We have three new vehicles awaiting us to be able to offer the same crew and cargo service capabilities we have seen over the last three and a half years.”
He said NASA and its researchers need to rethink their approach if they want to increase their use. This includes doing more analysis on the station itself rather than sending samples to Earth for research. This is especially important, he said, because the ability to send cargo to Earth is far less than the ability to transport it to the station.
He also said researchers need to minimize “round trips” in which research equipment is sent to the station and changed back for future missions to the station. For example, you don’t have to fly a very large item and then return it to do the next experiment,” he said. If we can keep it to a minimum, we can help everyone.”
He pointed out that the study only deals with resources for NASA to share the resources of the ISS. Half of the US segment is assigned to the ISS National Laboratory, which is operated by CASIS. Costello said studies are underway to examine the utilization of resources at national laboratories.