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NASA Science Technology

Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module 300

Coldeagle writes "Astronauts ran into trouble while trying to connect up the new Tranquility module onto the ISS. A critical insulating cover didn't fit quite right: 'The fabric, multilayered cover is supposed to go between Tranquility and its observation deck, but the metal bars are not locking down properly because of interference from a hand rail or some other structure at the hatch.' One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu."
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Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module

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  • Not an issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by pyrrhonist ( 701154 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:35PM (#31137818)

    One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu.

    Probably not. From the article:

    The $27 million, Italian-built observation deck sports the biggest window ever flown in space. In all, there are seven windows that will offer 360-degree views.

    The 11 astronauts aboard the shuttle-station complex opened the door Friday to the $380 million Tranquility, also made in Italy for the European Space Agency. The door leading from Tranquility into the observation deck was opened soon afterward, and that's when shuttle pilot Terry Virts and Kay Hire encountered the cover problem.

    So, now even submitters aren't reading the article? Damn...

  • Re:In before... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:41PM (#31137878)

    At least 200 degrees - twice the boiling temperature of water

    Any thermodynamics guy will tell you that "twice the boiling temperature of water" is 473.15 C.

  • by chelberg ( 1712998 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:42PM (#31137882)

    The problem has been fixed, it was interference by some bolts.

    "Late Saturday, the space station's commander, Jeffrey Williams, reported that bolts seemed to be causing the interference. He removed all eight bolts, saying the clearance would be tight but that the cover likely would fit. It did, with some coaxing Sunday." []

  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @06:58PM (#31138020)

    Even if this gets modded up to +5, it's going to be buried under a dozen pointless and irrelevant posts about imperial vs. metric ...

    From the ISS Flight Director briefing on NASA TV at 1:30pm today: []
    [transcribing] "Crew was able to use their eyes and hands and gave good info on interference along with photos, Jeff has had a lot of hands on the hardware and he's given us the best info. His info allowed us to validate what he's seeing with our records on the ground. Actual interference is just a bolthead, that caused us to question our clearance analysis. We went back and looked at it since we don't want clearance issue when we install Cupola on nadir, and found that we have more clearance than originally expected."

    From the Flight Day 8 "execute package" sent up around 3pm to the Endeavour astronauts:
    ( [] )
    "Because of your excellent work in checking interferences, we are now comfortable with
    proceeding with cupola depress and relocate today!!! Thanks so much!!!"

    From the NASA TV schedule, Tuesday:

    After that the windows can be opened, which is what we're all waiting for!

  • Re:Metric Everywhere (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:04PM (#31138062)

    That is pretty much how it is in the UK. We are effectively a "dual" nation, however we are a Metric nation when it comes to new implementations. Milk can be bought in Pints, however it has to be primarily labelled in Litres. We buy pints of Beer, Petrol is sold in Litres, Sugar/Flour etc is sold in Grams/KG's. Products are measured in mm/m, but almost anything on the road is done in Yards and Miles. Temperature is all listed as Celsius, but almost every weather broadcast translates that into Fahrenheit also. Our currency is pretty much metric to, working in 1's 2's 5's 10s and 100's. We have no quarter of a £ like you have with the $.

    The only possible benefit to the Imperial systems is it's workings on numbers divisible by 2, 3 and 4. You can half it, third it and quarter it easily - great when people worked with small numbers all the time. Otherwise, Metric systems are fantastic - its far easier to work in 10s/100s and to add/remove 0's quickly and easily when the numbers get bigger.

    Personally, I doubt in my lifetime i'll see the Pint disappear as it's too much of a tradition; both in Beer and Milk. The roads will no doubt stay the same for a long time through cost of sign replacement. Seems quite difficult to see us moving from the status quo we are in at the moment where things are all officially Metric, but the Imperial system is digging in it's heels.

  • Inside Scoop (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:10PM (#31138102)

    I work for Boeing (the main contractors for the ISS) and the problem is that the cover will not retract over one of the CBM (common berthing mechanisms) where they wish to install the Cupola. It is actually no impact to Tranquility which is working wonderfully so far. This issue has at this time already been resolved and the Cupola is being relocated to this area, while PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter #3) is being relocated to where the Cupola used to be. This was done so that the Cupola could face the earth and create all those fantastic views everybody envisioned from the ISS, while being able to be launched in the shuttle payload bay.

  • Re:Metric Everywhere (Score:3, Informative)

    by skine ( 1524819 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:30PM (#31138304)

    Yes, metric is easier to convert between different types of units (cups to ft^3, as in your example), and often different units within a single measure (inches to miles). This is why it's the customary measurement for scientific purposes.

    However, in daily life, it's rare for any extremely difficult conversion to come up. Cooking is an example where it may prove difficult, but when I started cooking as a child I memorized "3 tsp to a tbsp, 4 tbsp to 1/4 cup," and "8 fl oz to a cup, 2 cups to a pint, two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon." As I know the powers of two, this means that, off the top of my head, there are 768 tsp in a gallon, which again is 128 fl oz.

    Distance can be tricky, but I would say that, again, it works in practice. Also, I'll claim that it's much more interesting (to a certain kind of nerd, at least).

    The history of Standard (US Customary) Units of course comes from Britain, and most of them are in some way organic. The foot, of course, should be fairly obvious. The inch has been postulated to derive from words meaning one-twelfth, or thumb. Either way, in English law, it was defined as three widths of a barleycorn. The yard is generally considered to be half a fathom (ie half a "wingspan").

    The mile has a stranger history. It comes from the miles used by Ancient Romans, which was exactly 5000 Roman feet (which, with the increase in foot size over time, would be about 4500 feet today). However, the English compared a mile to eight furlongs, where a furlong is about how far a horse could pull a plow before needing to rest. The difference between common measures and measures used specifically for surveying led this to be 5280 ft.

    Wikipedia finds it important to mention that Abe Simpson claims “My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!” That is, where a rod is 1/40 furlong, or 1/320 mi and a hogshead is roughly 63 gallons. This means that the fuel economy is .002 miles per gallon.

  • Re:In before... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:30PM (#31138308)
    Celsius? Fahrenheit? Who gives a shit? Both are just based around some physical referents. Neither is inherently "better" than the other. Both are equally descriptive of temperature. The main "selling point" is really the number of other folks using one or the other. For that reason alone, I would choose Celsius since more people use it. (And no, I don't natively use Celsius as I was born in, and live in, the US.) Oh, and both are the same at -40.
  • Re:Cliche mushup (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:04PM (#31138628) Homepage Journal

    They should have aborted. He wouldn't think it was so funny after that.

    Only the crew had access to the abort button and I doubt any of the crews would have used it if they had a small chance of making a landing. There is some discussion in the ALSJ of what would have happened if the radar altimeter had failed to lock after high gate, preventing automatic throttle control during powered descent. Generally, engineers felt that a landing would be impossible and pilots felt that it was worth a go.

    And the engineers are probably right. Pilots tended to fly too high, and too slow while the computer saved fuel for a final deceleration close to the ground. If a pilot stopped the descent at 10000 feet to organize the landing he would run out of fuel.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich