Author Topic: Flight crew assignments  (Read 1726028 times)

Offline Delta7

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2740 on: 01/22/2018 05:38 pm »
It seems a bit confusing. Is Meir the backup, or replacing Ann McClain? Why would they announce the backup when there is nobody in the prime crew slot? Is it a typo error? Could Burbank be the prime crew member?
« Last Edit: 01/22/2018 05:40 pm by Delta7 »

Offline Olaf

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2741 on: 01/23/2018 05:28 am »
According to the always well informed Shams in the NK Forum, Mrs. Meir will be the Flight Engineer 1 in the back-up crew of Soyuz MS-13(EC 60/61) for launch in May/June 2019 and then in the prime crew of Soyuz MS-15(EC 63/64) in March 2020.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2018 05:32 pm by Olaf »

Online hektor

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2742 on: 01/23/2018 02:50 pm »
« Last Edit: 01/23/2018 02:51 pm by hektor »

Offline ZachS09

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2743 on: 01/23/2018 03:00 pm »
Look, guys: I understand that it's disappointing for Jeanette Epps to have been removed from the Soyuz-MS 09 crew, but on the bright side, she's still eligible for future missions. Plus, we have another astronaut, Serena Aun-Chancellor, from the 20th NASA astronaut corps that's filling in that empty seat.

So, why don't we just move past this issue and focus on more important stuff?
« Last Edit: 01/24/2018 04:22 am by ZachS09 »
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Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2744 on: 01/23/2018 09:05 pm »
Personally, I don't think it's any more "fair" to ask about African American astronauts than it is to "wonder" why any other minorities haven't flown long-duration missions. Why didn't Chang-Diaz or Ochoa get a spot as a Hispanic American?

The figures are also stark that there are not a huge number of African American astronauts in the corps, any more than there are Hispanic Americans in the corps. In his memoir, "Chasing Space", Leland Melvin describes the medical reasons why he wasn't assigned a long-duration mission. Other Americans have been dropped from crews and later reassigned (or not), including Mark Lee, Don Thomas, Carlos Noriega, to name a few. Still more never even received an assignment, including Caldeiro, Woodward, Cagle etc. Many more Russian cosmonauts have been dropped from flights or were never assigned or never flew.

My roundabout point is that (unless evidence suggests otherwise) we can't make assumptions about Epps' removal. If NASA and the IPs seriously didn't want her on a crew, they (a) wouldn't have selected her for ASCAN training back in 2009 and (b) certainly wouldn't have given her the assignment in Jan 2017.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2745 on: 01/23/2018 09:20 pm »
Have a read of the book 'Dragonfly' by Bryan Burroughs done during the Mir station era. I was once told by impeccable sources that it's a very accurate recounting of the Machiavellian shenanigans surrounding crew selection for that era. I have my own theories about what has happened to Dr Epps, but since I've met the lady a couple of times (she's great) I'm keeping them to myself.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2018 10:41 pm by MATTBLAK »
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2746 on: 01/23/2018 10:15 pm »
Have a read of the book 'Dragonfly' by Bryan Burroughs done during the Mir station era. It gives - I was once told by impeccable sources - that it's a very accurate recounting of the Machiavellian shenanigans surrounding crew selection for that era (italics added by zubenelgenubi).

Caution here--and if I'm wrong, may our resident experts on the astronaut/cosmonaut cadres correct me, or Matt--but I'd be leery of any direct comparison of astronaut assignment today to the George Abbey era of astronaut flight assignment, which includes the  Shuttle/Mir era.

(Has any astronaut expressed regret after Dr. Abbey's retirement in 2001 that he would no longer be involved in crew selection?)

As the 2019/2020 ISS Expedition assignments are filled in, we may learn (or deduce) more of, or all of "the rest of the story."  (As Paul Harvey used to say)

Or it may have to wait for current astronauts to write and publish memoirs--and that could be years or decades away.
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Offline meberbs

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2747 on: 01/23/2018 10:25 pm »
Epps says health and family issues not to blame "and that her overseas training in Russia and Kazakhstan had been successful".
http://www.newsweek.com/jeanette-epps-nasa-astronaut-iss-health-family-787650

I believe it is entirely fair to ask why no African American astronauts have served on (not just visited) ISS.  The station has been up there since 1998 and something like 230 astro or cosmonauts have visited - and nearly 110 have stayed long-term - during that span.  Those are stark numbers staring us in the face. 

 - Ed Kyle
No, your question is not fair and the numbers that you have provided are completely deceptive.

As implied, but not explicitly stated in your post, African Americans have in fact visited the station, so the 230 visited number is meaningless without a breakdown by race, country of origin etc.

As for the 110 crew members, you first need to consider the country of origin. Around half would be Russian, and then more would be European. Russia and Europe both have very small (<1%) African population, so you expect 0 contribution from them.

In America, African Americans make up about one eighth of the population. This means that all else being equal, if there have been 40 unique American crew members,* you would expect 5 to be African American. Of course all else is not equal and other (very off topic) issues in the U.S. mean that there is a smaller percentage of African Americans that meet basic astronaut requirements (education/experience).

Using the fraction of African American astronauts (14/339 ~= 4%), then in a random selection of 40 of them you expect 1-2 African Americans. This clearly falls into the law of small numbers, and getting a result of 0 is well within expected statistical fluctuations.

The only thing "stark" about the numbers you provided is how wrong the picture you painted is.

* I couldn't quickly find the number for this, 110 is clearly for unique crew members. I quickly counted 63 American crew members total, but that was double counting people who have multiple visits.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2018 10:26 pm by meberbs »

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2748 on: 01/23/2018 10:46 pm »
Have a read of the book 'Dragonfly' by Bryan Burroughs done during the Mir station era. It gives - I was once told by impeccable sources - that it's a very accurate recounting of the Machiavellian shenanigans surrounding crew selection for that era (italics added by zubenelgenubi).

Caution here--and if I'm wrong, may our resident experts on the astronaut/cosmonaut cadres correct me, or Matt--but I'd be leery of any direct comparison of astronaut assignment today to the George Abbey era of astronaut flight assignment, which includes the  Shuttle/Mir era.

(Has any astronaut expressed regret after Dr. Abbey's retirement in 2001 that he would no longer be involved in crew selection?)

As the 2019/2020 ISS Expedition assignments are filled in, we may learn (or deduce) more of, or all of "the rest of the story."  (As Paul Harvey used to say)

Or it may have to wait for current astronauts to write and publish memoirs--and that could be years or decades away.
You're quite right that Mr Abbey being gone casts a different light on the selection process. But some things doubtlessly have stayed the same, even 20 years later. Although many Astronauts didn't like George Abbey - there must have been more than a couple things that he did right. And I actually think if he was still around, he may have fought hard to keep Dr Epps assigned. Unless of course; he took against her for some reason. We'll never know! But during Abbey's tenure, I think we can say that there was a fair amount of diversity in the crew assignments.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2749 on: 01/23/2018 10:47 pm »
I suspect that if we open this can of worms very much further, we might have a very divisive discussion that satisfies no one. So I suggest we don't open this can of worms any further at all.
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2750 on: 01/23/2018 11:03 pm »
Not sure what you mean, Lar - I think the discussion has been quite civil so far. But I did say I was keeping some of my darker suspicions to myself. :)
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Offline Lar

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2751 on: 01/23/2018 11:10 pm »
I've bucked this upstairs but talking about numbers and quotas is not likely to end well, IMHO. I might be worrying over nothing.
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Offline Steve G

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2752 on: 01/24/2018 02:30 am »
I might be way off base here, but the tone from NASA's announcement, and Jeanette Epps' revelation that it wasn't due to medical or personal issues, is that the powers that may be didn't feel she was ready for a six month long flight. Whether it be training issues, personal clashes or behavioral, it clearly wasn't an easy decision to make, and it would have had nothing to do with race.

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2753 on: 01/24/2018 06:32 pm »
Have a read of the book 'Dragonfly' by Bryan Burroughs done during the Mir station era. It gives - I was once told by impeccable sources - that it's a very accurate recounting of the Machiavellian shenanigans surrounding crew selection for that era (italics added by zubenelgenubi).

Caution here--and if I'm wrong, may our resident experts on the astronaut/cosmonaut cadres correct me, or Matt--but I'd be leery of any direct comparison of astronaut assignment today to the George Abbey era of astronaut flight assignment, which includes the  Shuttle/Mir era.

(Has any astronaut expressed regret after Dr. Abbey's retirement in 2001 that he would no longer be involved in crew selection?)

As the 2019/2020 ISS Expedition assignments are filled in, we may learn (or deduce) more of, or all of "the rest of the story."  (As Paul Harvey used to say)

Or it may have to wait for current astronauts to write and publish memoirs--and that could be years or decades away.
You're quite right that Mr Abbey being gone casts a different light on the selection process. But some things doubtlessly have stayed the same, even 20 years later. Although many Astronauts didn't like George Abbey - there must have been more than a couple things that he did right. And I actually think if he was still around, he may have fought hard to keep Dr Epps assigned. Unless of course; he took against her for some reason. We'll never know! But during Abbey's tenure, I think we can say that there was a fair amount of diversity in the crew assignments.

There are many unverified statements in this thread involving Mr. Abbey, not Dr. -- for example, he had no direct control over flight assignments from October 1987 on even though as director of JSC he was in the approval chain. (Assignments were made by chief astronauts Brandenstein, Gibson, Cabana, Cockrell, Precourt, with first level approvals from the director of flight crew ops.) And don't take DRAGONFLY as gospel -- or even as a properly sourced document.

And anyone who troubled to ask around might find that many astronauts regretted Mr. Abbey's dismissal in the spring of 2001

Michael Cassutt, co-author DEKE! and WE HAVE CAPTURE, author of THE ASTRONAUT MAKER

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2754 on: 01/24/2018 09:22 pm »
Thanks for the interjection, Mr Cassutt. I hope you can see from my previous post that I was kind of sticking up for Mr Abbey ;)

I have your books, by the way and they're treasured possessions. I hope you can sign them for me one day! It also turns out that you and I have a mutual friend in Colin Burgess. Best regards, Matt Pavletich.
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Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2755 on: 01/25/2018 02:38 pm »
Thanks for the interjection, Mr Cassutt. I hope you can see from my previous post that I was kind of sticking up for Mr Abbey ;)

I have your books, by the way and they're treasured possessions. I hope you can sign them for me one day! It also turns out that you and I have a mutual friend in Colin Burgess. Best regards, Matt Pavletich.

Matt,

I'd be delighted to sign a book or three for you, should we ever be in the same hemisphere at the same time.

I did note your positive statement about Abbey, thank you. In 30 plus years of following astronaut assignments and politics, having conversations with several dozen astronauts (including most chief astronauts), and now six years of work with Abbey himself, I have concluded that descriptions of his tenure and the motivations for his decisions, notably as described in DRAGONFLY and RIDING ROCKETS, are incomplete.

Michael Cassutt
« Last Edit: 01/25/2018 02:40 pm by Michael Cassutt »

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2756 on: 01/27/2018 04:49 am »
To help understand this news about Dr. Epps being replaced, can anyone describe the process for Astronaut training in Russia, to what extent Russia's space agency has a say in approving U.S. astronauts for Expedition missions, and what the timing of the change might say about who/what/why, etc.?   Could her work history (she's ex-CIA) have played a role?

 - Ed Kyle 

Epps' bg in the CIA had nothing to do with her removal from an ISS assignment. Any such concern -- and in this case it's just not relevant -- would have been addressed back in 2015, when her original assignment was approved by the International Partners, NASA, Roskosmos, ESA, JAXA and others.  (That decision typically follows a NASA assignment by several months.... and is the reason you find public reports of astronauts like Meir beginning training at the Gagarin Center six months before NASA issues a press release.) Point being: if an astronaut is announced by the partners, that astronaut has been cleared.

During training, which typically lasts two years, sometimes more, NASA astronauts are subject to technical exams on Soyuz -- all crew members are. And must be proficient in ISS mission tasks -- EVA, robotics, management of scientific experiments, etc. Progress is noted, and judged, and corrections are made if necessary.

It's possible that a NASA or ESA or JAXA astronaut might perform so poorly on a Soyuz-specific exam that Roskosmos would sound an alarm, but Soyuz training takes up a small percentage of ISS training time. Less than airport waiting time (not flight time ;)  And even if Roskosmos felt that a NASA/ESA/JAXA crew member wasn't ready on Soyuz, refresher training would be the first option.

Michael Cassutt



Offline erioladastra

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2757 on: 01/27/2018 03:16 pm »
To help understand this news about Dr. Epps being replaced, can anyone describe the process for Astronaut training in Russia, to what extent Russia's space agency has a say in approving U.S. astronauts for Expedition missions, and what the timing of the change might say about who/what/why, etc.?   Could her work history (she's ex-CIA) have played a role?

 - Ed Kyle 

Epps' bg in the CIA had nothing to do with her removal from an ISS assignment. Any such concern -- and in this case it's just not relevant -- would have been addressed back in 2015, when her original assignment was approved by the International Partners, NASA, Roskosmos, ESA, JAXA and others.  (That decision typically follows a NASA assignment by several months.... and is the reason you find public reports of astronauts like Meir beginning training at the Gagarin Center six months before NASA issues a press release.) Point being: if an astronaut is announced by the partners, that astronaut has been cleared.

During training, which typically lasts two years, sometimes more, NASA astronauts are subject to technical exams on Soyuz -- all crew members are. And must be proficient in ISS mission tasks -- EVA, robotics, management of scientific experiments, etc. Progress is noted, and judged, and corrections are made if necessary.

It's possible that a NASA or ESA or JAXA astronaut might perform so poorly on a Soyuz-specific exam that Roskosmos would sound an alarm, but Soyuz training takes up a small percentage of ISS training time. Less than airport waiting time (not flight time ;)  And even if Roskosmos felt that a NASA/ESA/JAXA crew member wasn't ready on Soyuz, refresher training would be the first option.

Michael Cassutt




Great summary Michael.  A couple points I would add.  For Soyuz training there are actually exams that have to be passed.  On the NASA/IP side of training passing graded are based a number of people evaluating the subject (i.e., no exams but a up/down vote).  Note that the folks who make this assessment are instructures, astronauts, flight directors and senior management.  And of course the training process works real hard to help those that are struggling.

Offline Olaf

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2758 on: 01/30/2018 01:28 pm »
http://www.gctc.ru/main.php?id=4077
Google translation
Quote
In accordance with the plan for preparing crews for space flights in the Cosmonaut Training Center named after Yu.A. Gagarin started training after the landing in a wooded swampy area in winter ("winter survival"). Astronauts of the "ROSKOSMOS" Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka, Andrei Borisenko, Sergei Ryzhikov, Andrei Babkin, Nikolai Chub, NASA astronauts Anne McClean, Andrew Morgan, Shannon Walker, Christina Cook, Jessica Meir, Richard Arnold, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and astronaut JAXA Soichi Noguchi will take part in the training.
This could be the crew members of 2019 (except Richard Arnold and Anne McClain).

Offline Ben E

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Re: Flight crew assignments
« Reply #2759 on: 01/30/2018 02:43 pm »
Where does Burbank fit in? He was pictured with Meir. Is Burbank in training, or at GCTC in a management capacity?

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