The International Space Station’s Expeditions 26 and 27 crew members and lead flight directors recently honored individuals and teams from NASA’s Payload Operations Center (POC) at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). They were recognized for responding to failures of space station components to save critical science data.
TBE’s Cat Gibson, a Certified Data Management Coordinator, was called into the POC control room Christmas day 2010 to help with a problem that occurred because of an unexpected change to the payload data and video systems’ configuration. The Single Event Upset interfered with the data pathway from the space station to MSFC and Johnson Space Center (JSC), jeopardizing data loss. Because the POC manages the switch commands, the JSC flight director contacted MSFC personnel to reconfigure the system. The Data Management Control Team lead was called in on Christmas Eve night and accomplished this, also staying on the console most of the night to monitor emergency data per JSC’s request. Gibson then came in and relieved the team lead about 4 a.m. Christmas Day and sent the final commands to complete the needed reconfigurations requested by JSC when the ground system was restored about 4 hours later. Gibson spent 9 hours Christmas Day completing the job.
TBE Payload Operations Team member Jenn Whitworth was recognized for her work in saving science in one of the three Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezers (MELFI) that failed. These freezers are used to keep science samples frozen until they can be returned to Earth, and one of them had a failure in its electronics unit that required replacement. Whitworth, who is the MELFI Operations Lead, quickly worked with the MELFI Project Office to replace the failed unit, resulting in preserving all the valuable science samples stored within the MELFI. A few days later, however, the unit failed again, and Whitworth quickly responded by developing a new plan to move the samples to another freezer.
The Increment 27 Planning Team was also recognized for “its excellent work responding to late changes in onboard timelines and priorities. The Payload Planning Team consistently provided quick and high-quality inputs, even in the midst of a natural disaster (April 27 tornados), resulting in a significant increase in completion of onboard science objectives.” TBE’s Payload Planning Managers (PPMs) on console during this period were: Ryan Miller, Lead PPM; John Geiger; Linda Gibson; and Morgan Stevens. People working Operations Controller (OC) and Change Traffic Engineer positions were also key in the real-time replanning that had to be done. Nick Kopp and Patricia Graves spearheaded this effort from the OC console. Other TBE’ers working these positions include: Tessa Lucas, Stacey Steele, Damon Self, Heath Lester, Danielle Snyder, Josh Wallace, Justin Toone, Clark Herrington, and Pete Bailey.
It was also noted that despite the area tornados and their aftermath, the Payload Operations and Integration Center accomplished the most science during that week than in its 10-year history.
The individuals and teams were selected by the crews and flight directors for their important contributions to the success of the missions. The awards were presented in June at the Johnson Space Center’s visitor center in Houston by the crew members of Expeditions 26 and 27.