Monday, February 11, 2008

Big Week On Space Station

I went to work on the space station program in 1986. This mission is really a dream come true for me. The shuttle launch last Thursday was flawless. This week will be busy aboard the International Space Station as the installation of the Columbus Laboratory begins! This is the point in the station assembly we've all been waiting for. A real science laboratory in space. What will we learn there? Maybe a new cancer treatment will be discovered or a new energy saving invention will be created. Anyway, the future starts now. You can follow it at the NASA mission web-site. Please visit and think of where you hope we will go from here.

My kids have been asking why the German astronaut, Hans Schlegel, was unable to perform his assignment on this EVA and why NASA would not disclose the nature of his condition. Last question first. The flight surgeon will not discuss his health for the same reason your doctor doesn't discuss yours. It's private. Sometimes that surprises people, but even astronauts want their medical information protected. We've taken a couple of good guesses as to what's wrong. Since the fight surgeons have said that his illness isn't dangerous or contagious, my best guess might be space motion sickness. However, this particular astronaut has flown twice before and would most likely have had symptoms on the other two flights. If he was susceptible, he wouldn't have been scheduled for an early mission EVA. Most of the crew who experience this condition are recovered within 48 hours. So, another guess might be a small injury such as a muscle strain that impedes range of motion. At launch the crew is subjected to forces many times the normal pull of gravity and must make the transition to weightlessness quickly and begin working. Their safety is the first priority throughout but, these things might put stress on their otherwise healthy bodies. Whatever his illness, NASA has said he will be fine, and there is not permanent risk to his health. I'm sure he wishes he was outside today installing the lab!

1 comment:

PJ said...

Yes! it's awesome isn't it? Nice explanation too!