Mark Shuttleworth - January 17, 2002: blowing hot and cold - Today was pretty straightforward... I was scheduled to have four hours of FGB (Functional Cargo Block... I know that doesn't add up but it's in Russian and I don't have the keyboard to do it properly) COTR (temperature regulation systems... that REALLY doesn't add up but it's also in Russian). The FGB is basically a large cargo hold that also has systems for power generation. It's the utility and warehouse of the ISS. Of course, it has basic systems for lighting, temperature control, and even guidance and navigation because it had to fly unmanned up to the ISS and dock to the Russian Service Module. Now, the guidance and control systems are dormant, but the temperature regulation system is still alive.
We started working through the detailed heat transfer loops that are used to move heat from inside the FGB to the radiators on the outside. After an hour, when the instructor was showing me how to remove and replace the pumps that move the cooling fluids around inside those loops, it struck me that there is no way in hell that the station crew would let me replace those pumps. That would be the coolest job, and those guys know every single nut, bolt and pipeline anyhow. So the instructor was very relieved to suggest that we simply focus on the elements of the system that I'm likely to use while up there, which is the air ducting and ventilation systems.
A couple of things work differently in space. First, hot air doesn't rise, and dense gases don't sink. So if you stayed in one place without ventilation, the air around you would get saturated with carbon dioxide. Astronauts often wake up with a headache unless they arrange a fan to bring fresh air to them while asleep. Another good reason to be strapped down while sleeping - at least the ventilation will be predictable. So this means we have to be careful to ensure that the flow of air around the station is well adjusted. There are very light pipes or ducts, made of metal rings with fire-resistant fabric, that are used to pipe air from one part of the station to another. These manifolds have quick-release catches near the hatches, so that we can pull them apart and close the hatches very quickly in an emergency such as a depressurization or fire. Each segment of pipe is documented, and the manifolds need to be laid according to the precise documentation in the segment board documentation or flight data file. So we spent time practicing with the air ducts, and the fans that move air around inside the cabin. And then I was let off early! That hasn't happened often.
In the afternoon we had a walkthrough of the Soyuz board documentation for some of the procedures we will rehearse in the simulator tomorrow. We'll be training for the approach and docking, and for the first time we will have some 'off-nominal' situations during the simulator. It will be interesting to see what they throw at us! The lecturer for the simulator runs, Igor, is one of the most gentle and expert instructors I've ever had the pleasure of working with. He's been a great help in understanding the actual flight program, and always walks us through the simulator drills as patiently as if it was the first time he was doing them.
Finally, another round of PT to finish the day on a strong note. I spent half an hour trying to translate 'wuss' into Russian, because Karen doesn't think my of my benchpress and Yuri wanted to know what this inspirational training word meant. Ha. Ya kosmonaft!