Spacelab Medical Development Test II

The second simulation ran from 26 to 31 January 1976. Once again Musgrave was involved, but this time with Robert S.C. Clark, a nuclear chemist from the Planetary and Earth Sciences Division, and Dr. Charles F. Sawin, a cardiopulmonary physiologist with the Biomedical Research Division. Again, the Spacelab mock-up was used for the working day, but this time they spent their rest and recreational time in a full-size mock-up of the Shuttle orbiter crew compartment (mid-deck and aft flight deck), where the three men would eat, sleep and conduct a variety of related duties. For this second mission, twenty biomedical experiments (fourteen primary, six alternate) were assigned and there was an additional space physics experiment - a cosmic ray laboratory. There were fourteen operational test requirements, which were designed to evaluate personal hygiene, general housekeeping, and special-purpose cleaning and maintenance concepts for the orbiter. They also evaluated the capability of the aft flight deck to support Spacelab experiment monitoring and performance (essentially, the cosmic ray experiment that was set up behind the laboratory mock-up, representing a future pallet-mounted experiment).32

During the post-simulation press conference, the crew gave their impressions of the week of experiments and evaluations. 33 Musgrave stated that the reason for such simulations was to develop operating procedures for the Shuttle/Spacelab system in the future, "helping to design the Shuttle vehicle, to design a Spacelab, and to develop ways of integrating off-the-shelf laboratory experiments and astronomy experiments into that system.'' They also emphasised the evaluation of handling payloads from the aft flight deck, the habitability of the crew quarters and further interaction with the command section just outside the mock-up. Generally, the crew were awake for eighteen hours each day and spent most of that working on the experiments. They completed over forty per cent more experiment runs than originally planned.

Musgrave was asked if he felt enclosed in the mock-up during the simulation: "I never did. We had too much to do, and like space flight, it isn't sensory deprivation. There's communication with the Mission Control Center and communication with many experiments and so on. Even though we weren't flying in space, we were enclosed inside a can, you might say, for a week. As opposed to sensory deprivation, there's a multiplicity of sensory input, so it really isn't [like] being closed in at all, and you're relating with the science.'' In response to a comment about being separated from his family, Musgrave added: "It's total dedication to a mission; identical to a space flight. You don't feel like you're hemmed in; you've got an awful lot to do. So it's really like running the mission and trying to get as much done as you can.''

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