Author Topic: Eight crew members on STS-61A - why? and why has it not happened since?  (Read 4797 times)

Offline Ben E

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I've just read an interesting note on Wubbo Ockels' spacefacts bio:

http://www.spacefacts.de/english/bio_inte.htm

that he was a prime candidate for Spacelab-D2, but "the new safety rules after the Challenger accident (a maximum of seven crewmembers) prevented him from flying".

Does anyone know exactly why eight crew members were flown on STS-61A, rather than seven? Even in pre-Challenger days, the mission still stands out in terms of its size - and even pre-51L missions in 1986 limited crews at seven. Was it just an experiment to expand crew sizes still further, or was there a real reason for it? What could eight people on D1 do that seven people on D2 couldn't?



Offline shuttlefan

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Excellant thread to start!!

The only other time 8 crewmembers have flown on the Shuttle was on Atlantis during the STS-71 landing when the Mir-18 crew returned. :)

Offline Jim

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Ben E - 18/6/2006  12:28 PM

I've just read an interesting note on Wubbo Ockels' spacefacts bio:

http://www.spacefacts.de/english/bio_inte.htm

that he was a prime candidate for Spacelab-D2, but "the new safety rules after the Challenger accident (a maximum of seven crewmembers) prevented him from flying".

Does anyone know exactly why eight crew members were flown on STS-61A, rather than seven? Even in pre-Challenger days, the mission still stands out in terms of its size - and even pre-51L missions in 1986 limited crews at seven. Was it just an experiment to expand crew sizes still further, or was there a real reason for it? What could eight people on D1 do that seven people on D2 couldn't?




They did 8 because they could

Even four man shifts.  1 commander/pilot type, one orbiter ms, 1 payload ms and 1 ps

7 man crew   The commander covers both shifts  one plt/orbiter ms, 1 payload ms and 1 ps

D1 and D2 had difference payload complements, and D2 was post 51-L and the payload was probably adjusted for it

Offline nethegauner

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We're talking about a German mission here, right? So I assume a German is needed...

 ;)

I have a book at home called "D1 -- unser Weg ins All" (that's "D1 -- our way into space"). I think they also discuss the size of the crew in there. I will look it up and report back!

Hm, I believe it had to do with Ockels. He trained alongside Merbold for Spacelab-01, but was not selected -- if I remember correctly, the DFVLR (or DLR, as it is known nowadays) talked NASA into flying eight people to create a flight opportunity for Ockels from the Netherlands. And of course, there was much research work being done and an additional crew man was most welcome. D1 and D2 still rank amon the most complex Spacelab sorties ever.

But I must look that up in the Ockels chapter of the above mentioned book!

As a matter of fact, D2 started out as a mere re-flight of D1, but when Challenger was lost and the program was hit by a considerable delay, an entirely new mission was designed and launched as D2.

Offline nethegauner

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OK -- fasten Your seatbelts, everyone! Here it comes: the shocking truth about 61-A, terror beyond imagination, perils like You've never experienced them before...

Well, so much for attracting attention...  ;)

There's quite an interesting story behind all this. It all starts with Ulf Merbold's assignment to STS-9. Claude Nicolier and Wubbo Ockels also had been training for that flight, but when the start of the Spacelab program was delayed repeatedly, they joined a NASA astronaut class. Merbold could not, because he did not meet medical requirements for MS astronauts. He continued to train for Spacelab-01 and actually got the assignment.

As ESA contributed about 40 % of the D1 experiments, Ockels was promised a seat on the mission to compensate for his lost flight opportunity on SL-01.

Meanwhile, SL-D1 started out as a mission with a six-member crew. But experience on SL-01 showed that a third crew man in the Spacelab would come in handy. So instead of flying with a CDR, a PLT, 2 MSs and 2 PSs, an additional MS and PS were to fly. ESA could NASA talk into this, because at the same time, NASA realized it could fly more than six people aboard the shuttle for one week in space.

So eventually, eight people were assigned to 61-A.

:)  :)  :)

Th... that's all folks! That's how the story is told in "D1 -- unser Weg ins All"...

Offline Ben E

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Thanks, nethegauner,

It's interesting that Merbold didn't meet NASA's medical requirements, yet eventually flew three times, whereas Ockels was later barred from a Payload Specialist slot on IML-1 due to being medically disqualified.




Offline jacqmans

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Ben E - 20/6/2006  6:06 PM

Thanks, nethegauner,

It's interesting that Merbold didn't meet NASA's medical requirements, yet eventually flew three times, whereas Ockels was later barred from a Payload Specialist slot on IML-1 due to being medically disqualified.


Ockels was on Dutch TV last night (29-07-2006) on a show about the D1 mission, he said that he was loosing intrest to make a second flight....after 51L he still wanted to go but the long wait made him loose intrest...

And I belive Ockels was not medically disqualified for IML-1. ESA worked hard to get Ockels on IML-1, but NASA did not want to fly so many ESA astronauts in one year (Merbold on STS-42, Frimout on STS-45, Nicollier on STS-46).

Tags: Spacelab