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Mike Walsh wrote:
To the Russians credit, they actually have a working system up there and
if their Elektron fails then they might have to burn one of their
oxygen generating "candles" that have worked so well in the
past, at least if they didn't cause a major fire.
They are using O2 from Progress right now, from what I have read. In terms of
the O2 candle fire, as long as it doesn't occur again over a statistically
significant period of time , one can conclude that the russians have learned
their lesson and have changed procedures/design to help prevent this from
One negative is that I don't believe we even know whether or not
Russia has anyone actually spending the money to have any organization
actively trying to improve Elektron.
Hard to improve something before you know what actually happens to cause the
problem. And that is exactly what the crews are doing right now. And yes,
judging from comms, they do have engineers in russia providing support. But
again, until they know what exactly goes wrong in 0g, the ground engineers
can't really fix anything.
It appears to me that rather than accepting the Russian equipment as
super-qualified because it has been around for a long time that a
combined U.S. Russian program to improve certain specific
capabilities (Elektron, space suits, oxygen generating devices) could
be very productive.
No offense to americans, but they have exactly 0 experience with O2 generators
actually running in 0g, unless you count the handfull of US crewmembers who
have worked on elektron. So the USA really couldn't contribute much to fixing
The question you should be asking instead is: Have the americans finally made
CDRA totally reliable ? Remember that it too has been proiblematic from the start.
Lets not forget that Elektron has been running for close to 4 years now. You
hear more about its problems because it is more critical than CRDA which is
just a backup of the russian CO2 scrubber.
In terms of the suits, in terms of the US suits, NASA is having to learn to do
in-orbit maintenance due to the shuttle being grounded, so it is
understandable that failures are occuring. (They were designed to be brought
back to ground for regular maintenance).
Since the last EVA was succesful, one can conlude that they were able to
succesfully fix the kinks i the russian suits. Hopefully, they have improved
the pre-EVA testing and procedures to prevent thsoe kinks from occuring again.
They did learn about station attitude relative to russian suit exhausts if the
CMGs are offline.
All in all, I think that the couple of years without shuttle have been
extremely good for the station's programme in general since it has allowed
some innovation, and forced NASA to become more pragmatic (for instance,
accepting empty station during EVA, accepting that 2 crewmembers can don their
spacesuits without needing a 3rd person etc). It has also forced formerly "not
field serviceable" parts to be serviced in space. By having
unplanned/untrained operations, this proves that "skills based training" as
opposed to "specific task training" has far more value and works well.
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