Training for Assessii

Payload specialist training had commenced in September 1976. Henize joined the programme in time to become involved in the mid-phase review and revision of flight plans, and in the early definitions of the crew activity plan. He was also able to participate in meetings of the Investigators Working Group (IWG) and the Mission Steering Group (MSG). In February 1977, he participated in the first of two four-day simulations at the SPICE facility in Porz-Wahn, Germany, taking the role of MS.

In reporting on this event, Henize wrote a memo to other members of the CB on his experiences during the visit to ESA,26 indicating that "Many lessons were learned and many interesting issues came up." The definition of the role of MS was becoming clearer in the minds of both ESA and MSFC personnel, and included:

• Chief coordinator of in-flight activities, where it is useful to have one person monitoring timelines and issuing warnings of expected task changes while the PS focuses on the matter in hand.

• Chief coordinator of in-flight communications, filtering ground communications away from "a strong tendency to bug the PS with useless questions." On orbit, an MS would screen the questions to allow the PS to continue with critical tasks.

• Representative of the payload crew at high-level meetings, where the payload specialists are neither experienced in anticipating how management decisions may affect them, nor particularly bold in defending themselves. Henize frequently informed the management about what they could and could not expect the crew to do and defended them from well-intentioned but ill-conceived planning for sleeping, eating and briefing periods, and in how POCC policies could affect the crew. Being involved with the IWG and the MSG - though without official sanction - Henize was "initially tolerated as a guest" and it became evident to him that crew input in these meetings would be very useful.

• Back-up operator of several, if not all the experiments, prepared to step in and take over the operation of the remaining experiments if a problem occurred that required the intervention of the PS to resolve.

• Primary operation of a few, but not too many, experiments. Henize made it clear that the MS could and should share the load in operating experiments that did not fit the expertise of any individual PS. However, such a load should not occupy more than fifty per cent of their work time, leaving the remainder free for their coordination or planning roles.

Henize recognised that the above roles were clearly valid for ASSESS, in which up to four payload specialists were working simultaneously and the pilots were fully occupied with flying the plane. But he also suggested that some of these roles could be shared with the Shuttle commander or pilot on a real mission, and that some might not be required at all. Henize's work with the Europeans in defining roles on ASSESS-II was also becoming valid for future Shuttle missions with Spacelab/science payloads.

Henize also supported the need for longer simulations, a recommendation made by Musgrave after completing the first Spacelab Medical Simulations at JSC (see below) and for CB involvement with the screening of payload specialists as soon as possible in future assignments. The subject of the overall relationship between MS and PS was very sensitive at the time in the US, but early involvement would help blend the PS into the Astronaut Office training philosophy more smoothly. Indeed, MS cross-training would be an advantage in supporting and understanding the requirements of the PS on each flight. One unresolved issue at the time of Henize's memo was how to back-up a PS: "If the candidates are PS-type scientists and engineers, they have little to gain and much to lose (with time out from their professional activities) by playing the back-up role. It might be expected that they may not wish to. Who, then, should play the back-up role? No one? The mission specialist? Some other scientist-astronaut? Some other NASA person from the payload centre?'' Henize realised this was a thorny issue, and one that would continue to be debated within the FOD for some years to come.

For Henize, his pre-mission responsibilities were of greatest importance, yet these were the most poorly defined in existing documentation and were not addressed at all in the Nolan memo. Even with the small cost and effort invested in ASSESS, it soon became clear that a back-up for the MS role was required, and this had implications for Spacelab missions already planned. According to Henize's post-mission assess-ment,27 "It is inconceivable to me that we will be able to fly early Spacelab missions without some provision for back-up to the MS. This is perhaps the chief lesson learned in this area [from ASSESS-II] ... how the MS should be backed-up is still an open question.''

For ASSESS, a shortage of manpower made it impossible for the CB to provide a full-time back-up MS, so scientist-astronaut Bob Parker (a professional astronomer with experience in the physical sciences, Apollo and Skylab support experience, and operational experience on ASSESS-I) was assigned to the role, with the stipulation of a bare minimum of training time that would not exceed three weeks.28 Parker's three weeks included a week for CV-990 command and data systems, a week for observing integration activities and participation in cross-familiarisation experiment briefings, and a week devoted to participation in a mission sequence test and observation of an integral mission simulation. In his post-mission report, Henize noted that although Parker only had minimal training in the role, the experience lent itself to considering part-time MS back-up assignments on Spacelab missions, "should manpower limitations continue to be severe in the mission specialist group.'' As Henize envisioned the MS role in future Spacelab missions, the concept of a part-time back-up might be valid for later more "mature" Spacelab missions. "The importance of ensuring success in early Spacelab missions may be such that a full-time back-up MS will be required.''

In the event, this did not mature as suggested. All NASA back-up roles were suspended from STS-4 in 1982, when NASA felt it had a sufficient pool of experienced astronauts available to replace any flight crew member should the need arise. Back-up crew assignments in the NASA astronaut corps did not become the norm again until mid-1994 and the Shuttle-Mir programme of long duration residence on the Russian space station, when the Russians required such an assignment in their crewing policy for resident crew members.

Henize's training was "almost entirely scoped and scheduled by myself,'' but was arranged in consultation with the Deputy Mission Manager and the Training Coordinator. His training for ASSESS-II began on 6 December 1976 with familiarisation briefings on the management of the programme, the US PS, objectives of the experiments, and summaries of mission plans. In January 1977, he received training on the CV-990 command and data system and experiment briefings, followed by a three-week orientation visit to ESA in February/March. Also in March, he flew on three flights aboard the CV-990 to observe and operate experiment support systems as part of his Mission Director training development, and received instruction on payload crew safety procedures. During April, Henize completed further experiment equipment familiarisation training, and a Mission Sequence Test with all four PSs. The month was rounded out by experiment operation briefings. During the first two weeks of May 1977, CV-990 safety equipment training was followed by a Mission Sequence Test, an Integrated Mission Simulation and final experiment briefings. Four days prior to the start of the mission, Henize received final flight track and experiment priority reviews.27

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