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Letter From Lt.Gen Stafford to OSF AA Rothenberg regarding safety issues associated with Dennis Tito's ISS visit

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

April 16, 2001

Mr. Joseph Rothenberg
Associate Administrator for Space Flight
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Washington DC 20546

Dear. Mr. Rothenberg:

I am disappointed to learn that Rosaviakosmos has not followed the recommendations of the Task Force Advisory Expert Council Joint Commission outlined in its letter of March 30, 2001. Specifically, from that letter, that Rosaviakosmos is not following the process or authority of the ISS Multilateral Coordination Board in resolving all ISS crew matters which affect all of the ISS partners. It is unfortunate that NASA must now take risk-mitigating actions that will affect the productivity of the ISS Expedition 2 crew should Mr. Tito arrive at the ISS on the Soyuz 2 taxi flight.

In response to your letter of April 12, 2001, I requested members of my Task Force to thoroughly review the NASA contingency plan to ensure NASA and the Expedition 2 crew take the appropriate actions to make Mr. Tito's potential visit to the ISS as safe as possible. Based on this review, it is my assessment that the following risk-mitigating actions proposed by the JSC mission operations experts are imperative and sufficient:

- Increase onboard safety training for the Soyuz 2 taxi crew

  • Double the briefing time for the Soyuz 2 taxi crew to ensure situational awareness of what to do in an emergency such as:
    • Escorting Mr. Tito into the U.S. Module for exposure to caution and warning alarms.
    • Briefing the crew on proper escape paths to their home vehicle.
    • Identifying location of emergency equipment and safety hazards throughout the ISS.
- Modify the Expedition 2 crew's timeline during the Soyuz 2 crew's visit to include only those activities required for:
  • health and safety of the crew and vehicle
  • nominal maintenance and operational activities to ensure the continued effective operation of the ISS
  • minimal ongoing ISS payload support
ACTIVITIES REMOVED
  • ISS Remote Manipulator System Functional Check out
  • Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS) Slat Replacement
  • Human Research Facility (HRF), Crew Health an Checkout System (CheCS), and Express Rack 2 Activations
OPTIONAL (CREW DISCRETION) TASK LIST
  • TVIS Slat Replacement
  • Post STS-100 (ISS Flight 6A) Stowage and Inventory Management System Update
  • CheCS Rack Activation and Outfitting
  • HRF and Express Rack 2 Operations
  • Station Support Computer (SSC) Network Reconfiguration
  • Reduction in the crew's timeline activities should allow increased monitoring of Mr. Tito (escort, translation) by the Expedition 2 crew.
In summary, the above risk-mitigating actions are a reasonable set of controls that will help to ensure the safety of the crew and the ISS during the visit of the Soyuz 2 taxi crew. I fully endorse the Soyuz 2 taxi crew receiving twice the amount of time normally allotted for on orbit safety briefings. The approach of removing some activities originally planned during the visit of the Soyuz 2 taxi crew and identifying other tasks as optional is a rational one. These mitigating actions will minimize the operational timeline and allow the Expedition 2 Crew Commander to determine, based on his real-time assessment, what is safest for the crew to achieve. While these actions may slow the progress towards ISS assembly complete, a long journey awaits us, and safety of the crew and the ISS cannot be compromised. I see no issues regarding these mitigating actions that would preclude the safe and successful completion of this mission to the ISS to replace the Soyuz crew return vehicle.

To further reduce risk, it should be made clear to Mr. Tito that his activities are limited to the Russian Modules, due to his lack of adequate training on the U.S. Modules, unless escorted by an Expedition 2 crewmember for the identification of emergency equipment and any required safety briefing. Additionally, it appears prudent that Mr. Tito should sleep in his designated Soyuz return vehicle in the event that an emergency should occur during his sleep cycle. Finally, Rosaviakosmos must guarantee to all of the ISS partners that it is fully liable for the flying of Mr. Tito, and that in the future, this type of unilateral decision will never happen again.

In addition to the above, I understand that Mr. Tito has been briefed on the ISS Crew Code of Conduct (CCoC), but NASA has not received written confirmation from Rosaviakosmos that he has signed it. I strongly recommend that Rosaviakosmos meet its commitments in accordance with the CCoC and confirm in writing that Mr. Tito has signed and will adhere to the CCoC.

As in every task you have asked me to perform, the cooperation and support of the ISS program office experts and managers has been outstanding. I applaud the pro-active planning of NASA to safely manage this situation.

This letter constitutes our completed assessment at this time. I understand that the ISS Program Office will continue to refine the risk-mitigating pan in the event that Mr. Tito arrives with the Soyuz 2 taxi flight. The Task Force will continue to monitor these plans and if I should develop any concerns prior to the Soyuz 2 taxi mission, I will contact you immediately.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Original. Signed by:

Thomas P. Stafford
Lieutenant General , USAF (Ret.)

Cc;

Mr. D. Goldin
Mr. R. Cabana
Mr. R. Estess
Mr. F. Gregory
Mr. W. Hawes
Mr. T. Holloway
Dr. C. Kennel
Mr. W. Readdy
Mr. J. Schumacher

// end //

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