Author Topic: Flight crew assignments questions  (Read 40429 times)

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #140 on: 02/08/2024 06:29 pm »
Thank you! Makes sense to me! I wonder if this means that the NASA astronaut on MS-28 will be a veteran, since Kim is the only qualified rookie now that Zena Cardman has an assignment.

I had not made the connection re Mike Hopkins--wow. Unless it's private information, any idea why Whitson was so desperate then?

I thought I remembered some Soyuz FE2s launching one year after assignment, but I think at least some of those may have been veterans, and I've gotten the idea that assignments are often really delayed relative to when training starts. Interestingly, however, Crew-3 launched a couple months short of two years after Raja Chari officially became an astronaut.

This answer will be in two parts. It's entirely possible that the ISS training flow has shrunk from 2.5 years to 2 years to, well, 22 months.

Also, I'm not sure how widely this is known, but Kjell Lindgren was supposed to command Crew-2 but had to step aside temporarily for a medical issue. Meaning that Kimbrough moved to the left from Crew-3, opening up a command spot for Chari around December 2020, if not a few weeks earlier. Lindgren, of course, returned to the ISS flow for Crew-4.

But that whole game of musical-medical chairs may explain Chari on Crew-3 at that time.

MC

Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #141 on: 02/08/2024 06:32 pm »
Personally, I think McClain makes sense as Pettit's backup, potentially rotating into Soyuz MS-27 if that mission does indeed get a U.S. seat. She's already well-versed in Soyuz systems both in a backup and prime capacity.

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #142 on: 02/08/2024 06:42 pm »
Thank you! Makes sense to me! I wonder if this means that the NASA astronaut on MS-28 will be a veteran, since Kim is the only qualified rookie now that Zena Cardman has an assignment.

I had not made the connection re Mike Hopkins--wow. Unless it's private information, any idea why Whitson was so desperate then?

I thought I remembered some Soyuz FE2s launching one year after assignment, but I think at least some of those may have been veterans, and I've gotten the idea that assignments are often really delayed relative to when training starts. Interestingly, however, Crew-3 launched a couple months short of two years after Raja Chari officially became an astronaut.

Part II:

Peggy Whitson became chief astronaut in October 2009 at a time when the end of the Shuttle program was in sight, and most if not all STS crews had been assigned. Her mission was to reconfigure the astronaut office for Soyuz-ISS ops for the next six, or as it turned out, ten years, until Commercial Crew went online.

The word to the astronaut corps was this: you're flying Soyuz for long-duration missions. If you can't or won't do that, time for a job change. Some astronauts left the office for that reason . . . others (I think Massimino was one) were too tall to qualify for a Soyuz assignment.

The real tentpole in Soyuz-ISS training then became Russian language skill. A lot of veteran astronauts stayed unassigned for years because they lagged at this.

Another complicator was the existence of two different Soyuz training assignments, one for flight engineer, one for FE2. The right seat FE job required a certain amount of operational training or skill on the part of the NASA astronaut, in addition to superior Russian language fluency.

In February 2011 or so, when I had the chance to actually talk with Whitson about this, she said that she had one possible FE and three possible FE2 she could assign.

Hopkins was one of the FE2s and was assigned to the ISS mission scheduled to commence fall 2013. Mastracchio was apparently the FE, who got the next open right seat slot.

MC


Offline John_Marshall

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #143 on: 02/08/2024 11:44 pm »
Also, I'm not sure how widely this is known, but Kjell Lindgren was supposed to command Crew-2 but had to step aside temporarily for a medical issue. Meaning that Kimbrough moved to the left from Crew-3, opening up a command spot for Chari around December 2020, if not a few weeks earlier. Lindgren, of course, returned to the ISS flow for Crew-4.

You had mentioned Lindgren previously in a discussion of why he was CDR and a fighter pilot was PLT, but you had not mentioned where Kimbrough was originally slated to fly.

Personally, I think McClain makes sense as Pettit's backup, potentially rotating into Soyuz MS-27 if that mission does indeed get a U.S. seat. She's already well-versed in Soyuz systems both in a backup and prime capacity.

Makes sense! I think she'll either back him up or fly on Crew-10.

The real tentpole in Soyuz-ISS training then became Russian language skill. A lot of veteran astronauts stayed unassigned for years because they lagged at this.

Another complicator was the existence of two different Soyuz training assignments, one for flight engineer, one for FE2. The right seat FE job required a certain amount of operational training or skill on the part of the NASA astronaut, in addition to superior Russian language fluency.

In February 2011 or so, when I had the chance to actually talk with Whitson about this, she said that she had one possible FE and three possible FE2 she could assign.

Hopkins was one of the FE2s and was assigned to the ISS mission scheduled to commence fall 2013. Mastracchio was apparently the FE, who got the next open right seat slot.

Interesting! I forgot the office was shorthanded for a while, and I wasn't thinking about the effect of the Russian-language training. I was surprised when Mastracchio got the Soyuz left-seater assignment over Wakata, but that makes sense.

Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #144 on: 02/09/2024 05:11 am »
Interesting that a Lindgren-led Crew-2 would have positioned him as CDR and McArthur, a more senior astro, as PLT.

Understandable perhaps if Lindgren was military, but both civilians. Then again, after backing up DM-2, I suppose it made sense. Also, perhaps McArthur didn't want a command.

As regards the "drought" of available astronauts after Shuttle retirement, I think both Clay Anderson and Leland Melvin were either not considered for future Soyuz seats or turned them down. I'm sure I read that in both of their books. I seem to recall something happened in Melvin's career before STS-122 that prevented him from EVA, but I can't find the reference.

Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #145 on: 02/09/2024 10:38 am »
Personally, I think McClain makes sense as Pettit's backup, potentially rotating into Soyuz MS-27 if that mission does indeed get a U.S. seat. She's already well-versed in Soyuz systems both in a backup and prime capacity.

There is also the possibility of Douglas Wheelock.

Because when you look to how Wiseman assigned crews, it look like he took the flown astronaut that haven't flown for while and pair them with an unflown (Crew-6/Crew-8/Crew-9 and MS-25/MS-26)

Personally, I think McClain makes sense as Pettit's backup, potentially rotating into Soyuz MS-27 if that mission does indeed get a U.S. seat. She's already well-versed in Soyuz systems both in a backup and prime capacity.

Makes sense! I think she'll either back him up or fly on Crew-10.

Because the one who will back-up Pettit on MS-26 will have the prime seat for MS-28.

And the Exp-74 might look something like :
MS-28 : Kud-Sverchkov / Zubritsky / Wheelock
Crew-10 : Kim / Onishi / ESA (maybe Adenot) / Russian (maybe Peskov)
« Last Edit: 02/09/2024 10:46 am by marcdrnl »

Offline David27

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #146 on: 02/09/2024 12:46 pm »

[...] Kjell Lindgren was supposed to command Crew-2 but had to step aside temporarily for a medical issue. Meaning that Kimbrough moved to the left from Crew-3, opening up a command spot for Chari around December 2020, if not a few weeks earlier. Lindgren, of course, returned to the ISS flow for Crew-4.

But that whole game of musical-medical chairs may explain Chari on Crew-3 at that time.

MC



Thankyou Michael. As this change occurred prior to the naming of Crew-2 in Jul '20, did Lindgren still complete his backup role for Crew-1 as all sources suggest? Also, is it known if Lindgren's original Crew-2 pilot was substituted (for McArthur) in order to maintain the commander/pilot pairing?

This prompts me to raise a subject that has been puzzling me for some time: backup crew assignments. With the exception of the original DM2/Crew-1 (Lindgren) and CFT/Starliner-1 (Wilmore) press release, I am not aware of any further official NASA announcements relating to CCP backup assignments. Various unofficial sources (sometimes the astronauts themselves) have identified backups (Lindgren/Hines - Crew-3, Bowen - Crew-4, Dominick - Starliner-1 ???, the Crew-8 astronauts backing up Crew-7) and (randomly) Stephanie Wilson's NASA biography listing her as backup for Crew-3.

A similar situation applies to the Soyuz assignments. I have not found an official release identifying Don Pettit as backup for MS-25, although it has been known for some time, having been 'confirmed' on the GCTC website. The only NASA confirmation is the recent release of crew photographs on the agency's Flickr channel.

Any thoughts or clarification would be much appreciated.

Best,

David

Offline hektor

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #147 on: 02/09/2024 03:52 pm »
I hear lots of rumours about various potential ESA project astronauts flying Axiom, from various ESA member states. Obviously Wandt and Uznański plans have triggered something across Europe.
« Last Edit: 02/09/2024 03:52 pm by hektor »

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #148 on: 02/09/2024 06:22 pm »
Interesting that a Lindgren-led Crew-2 would have positioned him as CDR and McArthur, a more senior astro, as PLT.

Understandable perhaps if Lindgren was military, but both civilians. Then again, after backing up DM-2, I suppose it made sense. Also, perhaps McArthur didn't want a command.

As regards the "drought" of available astronauts after Shuttle retirement, I think both Clay Anderson and Leland Melvin were either not considered for future Soyuz seats or turned them down. I'm sure I read that in both of their books. I seem to recall something happened in Melvin's career before STS-122 that prevented him from EVA, but I can't find the reference.

To Ben and John above, I don't actually have evidence that Kimbrough was originally Crew-3 but the move is logical. As for the senior/junior matter, history now suggests that this is not a consideration. (And Lindgren had been working Dragon for years prior to a flight assignment._

McClain in the Soyuz flow makes sense but there was some reason -- possibly a temp medical thing -- that took her out of the flow in the first place. No word on whether that was real or if so, resolved.

Anderson wrote eloquently about the reason he was not considered for a future Soyuz seat ;) Melvin had a medical issue, as I recall, and in fact almost lost his STS mission.

MC
« Last Edit: 02/09/2024 06:23 pm by Michael Cassutt »

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #149 on: 02/09/2024 06:29 pm »

[...] Kjell Lindgren was supposed to command Crew-2 but had to step aside temporarily for a medical issue. Meaning that Kimbrough moved to the left from Crew-3, opening up a command spot for Chari around December 2020, if not a few weeks earlier. Lindgren, of course, returned to the ISS flow for Crew-4.

But that whole game of musical-medical chairs may explain Chari on Crew-3 at that time.

MC

[...] Kjell Lindgren was supposed to command Crew-2 but had to step aside temporarily for a medical issue. Meaning that Kimbrough moved to the left from Crew-3, opening up a command spot for Chari around December 2020, if not a few weeks earlier. Lindgren, of course, returned to the ISS flow for Crew-4.

But that whole game of musical-medical chairs may explain Chari on Crew-3 at that time.

MC

Thankyou Michael. As this change occurred prior to the naming of Crew-2 in Jul '20, did Lindgren still complete his backup role for Crew-1 as all sources suggest? Also, is it known if Lindgren's original Crew-2 pilot was substituted (for McArthur) in order to maintain the commander/pilot pairing?

This prompts me to raise a subject that has been puzzling me for some time: backup crew assignments. With the exception of the original DM2/Crew-1 (Lindgren) and CFT/Starliner-1 (Wilmore) press release, I am not aware of any further official NASA announcements relating to CCP backup assignments. Various unofficial sources (sometimes the astronauts themselves) have identified backups (Lindgren/Hines - Crew-3, Bowen - Crew-4, Dominick - Starliner-1 ???, the Crew-8 astronauts backing up Crew-7) and (randomly) Stephanie Wilson's NASA biography listing her as backup for Crew-3.

A similar situation applies to the Soyuz assignments. I have not found an official release identifying Don Pettit as backup for MS-25, although it has been known for some time, having been 'confirmed' on the GCTC website. The only NASA confirmation is the recent release of crew photographs on the agency's Flickr channel.

Any thoughts or clarification would be much appreciated.

Best,

David

I don't know if or whether Lindgren retained his Crew-1 backup role. To sound a bit Spock-like, logic suggests not.

Backups aren't automatically assigned these days. For SpaceX Crew ISS missions, the next CDR/PLT in line are usually considered shadows in that role.

There may have been more than you list, though I've never heard of any. I assume those you cite were for various reasons, possibly medical (an assigned crew member with a temporary issue requiring a backup).

NASA has not officially announced Pettit yet but the new policy seems to be to wait until the last possible moment to confirm what's been obvious or real for months or in the case of Pettit, over a year.

MC

Offline vp.

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #150 on: 02/09/2024 07:12 pm »

NASA has not officially announced Pettit yet but the new policy seems to be to wait until the last possible moment to confirm what's been obvious or real for months or in the case of Pettit, over a year.

MC


Why this new policy?
Is it a Chinese inspiration?

Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #151 on: 02/09/2024 07:23 pm »
I wondered the same. We all "know" intuitively that ISS crews still undergo 2.5 years of dedicated, mission-specific training. But as recently as late in the last decade, we saw crews announced almost two years out from flight, then by 2017-2018 it was one year out, and now it's a matter of months out. Is there a reason?

I did try to ask NASA if any astronauts were currently training specifically for Soyuz. The reply: "A number of astronauts are in training." Helpful.

Offline David27

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #152 on: 02/10/2024 10:24 am »

Backups aren't automatically assigned these days. For SpaceX Crew ISS missions, the next CDR/PLT in line are usually considered shadows in that role.

MC


That is entirely logical Michael  ;) and is what I had thought. Thank you.



NASA has not officially announced Pettit yet but the new policy seems to be to wait until the last possible moment to confirm what's been obvious or real for months or in the case of Pettit, over a year.

MC


Yes, this new policy is rather frustrating especially when details are obviously known, in some cases for months before the official announcement.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2024 10:25 am by David27 »

Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #153 on: 02/10/2024 10:51 am »
I wondered the same. We all "know" intuitively that ISS crews still undergo 2.5 years of dedicated, mission-specific training. But as recently as late in the last decade, we saw crews announced almost two years out from flight, then by 2017-2018 it was one year out, and now it's a matter of months out. Is there a reason?

I think Jeanette Epps Soyuz MS-09 pullout might be a good reason... No crew officially announce, no need to explain why you change the crew.

Offline hektor

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #154 on: 02/22/2024 05:11 pm »
With Vast bidding for missions 5 and 6 I wonder what that means for the ones who had started a conversation with Axiom about Ax-5. Hungary for instance. Does that mean they will have to talk with both Axiom and Vast and go with the one NASA selects ?

Offline John_Marshall

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #155 on: 02/22/2024 08:17 pm »
With Vast bidding for missions 5 and 6 I wonder what that means for the ones who had started a conversation with Axiom about Ax-5. Hungary for instance. Does that mean they will have to talk with both Axiom and Vast and go with the one NASA selects ?

I hadn't even heard that they were bidding. Wow.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #156 on: 03/09/2024 03:30 pm »
Think Roscosmos could send up an all-female Soyuz crew in the future?

Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments questions
« Reply #157 on: 03/09/2024 05:56 pm »
With Pettit almost certainly pointed at the Soyuz MS-26 mission in September, am I correct in thinking that his putative backup must by now be in training alongside him?

Interesting that all the plausible candidates - McClain, Kim, Wheelock perhaps - are deathly quiet on their X feeds, and even Pettit continues to share his astrophotography work but hasn't given away the slightest hint even that he's currently training for a mission, even as a backup. Are they all sworn to silence for some reason?

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