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Astronaut Noguchi's Training Report, #10
Resuming Mission Specific Training and Preparation for Return to Flight

Last Updated: November 8, 2004

Until recently, astronaut Noguchi has primarily been conducting technical development tests for the Return to Flight Space Shuttle mission. In addition to these activities, STS-114 mission specific training has also resumed. This report consists of the preparation required for the Return to Flight and mission specific training.

Training For External Tank Picture Recording

Photography training (Presented at a press conference January 2004)
Real Video [2min 33sec]

Astronaut Noguchi and astronaut Andrew Thomas are responsible for recording pictures of the External Tank (ET) from the mid-deck after the ET has separated from the Space Shuttle. The ET has been extensively redesigned according to the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. These pictures will be used to confirm whether the design change was appropriate or not. Astronaut Noguchi uses a digital video camera while astronaut Thomas uses a digital still camera with a 400mm telescopic lens. A still camera has higher resolution, but since the ET's motion after separation can better be acquired by a video camera, both cameras are used to take advantage of their capabilities.

Astronaut Noguchi's Comment

During the actual flight I need to take pictures of a moving object using a high magnification telescopic lens from a distance of 1,400 to 2,000 ft. The training is being conducted to become familiar with zooming, focusing and catching the object within the frame under difficult conditions. My training targets are people jogging and cars driving through the JohnsonSpace Center.

Development of Tile Repair Technique using KC-135 aircraft

Astronaut Noguchi and STS-114 crew testing inside KC-135

In preparation for the Space Shuttle's return to flight, a repair technique for damaged thermal protection tiles is being developed.

Tile repair demonstration test conducted inside KC-135 (Presented at a press conference January 2004)
Real Video [1min 16sec]

The latest test was conducted to develop a technique for tile restoration and repair. The repair results were checked by changing the conditions, such as distance between panels, tools used on the repair, temperature, and the angle to spray the repairing material. This test was conducted in a zero gravity environment generated by KC-135 aircraft. Together with astronaut Noguchi, STS-114 crew members astronaut Stephan Robinson, astronaut Thomas and astronaut Charles Camarda also participated in the test.

Astronaut Noguchi's Comment

Photo: Astronaut Noguchi with astronaut Wakata having JAXA flag in the KC-135

The material used for the repair is a mixture of primary material and coagulant. A Cure In Place Applicator, shaped like a gun, is used to spray the material. By changing conditions such as the distance between the nozzle and the sample test panel, spray angle, and coagulant temperature, we are searching for the best repair conditions. In the initial test, we tried a temperature of 90 degrees F (32 deg C), however, we had better results in the following test using a temperature of 60 deg F (16 deg C). In a zero gravity environment, we often find phenomena different from those in a gravitational environment. This is why we conduct tests using a zero gravity environment. We are now going to proceed to the next stage of drawing up operational procedures considering orbit restrictions.

Landing training at Kennedy Space Center using a Shuttle Training Aircraft

STA(Shuttle Training Aircraft)

A Space Shuttle commander and a pilot participate periodically in training to land a Space Shuttle. This training is conducted using a Shuttle Training Aircraft that is designed to simulate Space Shuttle flight characteristics, on a flight from approximately 20,000 ft (6Km) to touch down. Its seats are identical to those of a Space Shuttle, which enables the crew to acquire an accurate sense of the Shuttle landing. On the latest flight, the crew wore orange colored pressurized suits and gloves to confirm the conditions of surrounding visibility and operability.

Astronaut Noguchi sat in a back seat with Commander Eileen Collins so that he could orient himself to the tasks and feeling of touch down.

Astronaut Noguchi's Comment

An STA touches down with an angle-of-approach of 15 to 18 degrees, which is the same as a Space Shuttle. Compared to the 3 degree angle-of-approach of an ordinary commercial aircraft, it is really flying the aircraft like a rock. After de-orbit burn, the Space Shuttle flies almost like dropping down in a free fall. Commanders and pilots need to acquire a sense of flying that is peculiar to the Space Shuttle.

Confirming Space Shuttle Discovery's Tile At KSC

While undergoing STA training, astronaut Noguchi visited the Orbiter Processing Facility where the Space Shuttle Discovery is stored and examined the tiles covering the Space Shuttle. As tile repair methods being developed are repeated using a KC-135 aircraft, standard shape tile repair has been tested many times. During a flight at the end of May, a specially shaped tile repair test was conducted, as tiles around the landing gear doors must contact very closely. They have a triangular cross-section surface that requires a different repair method from that of standard type tiles. These tiles must be repaired in such a way that hot gas does not thrust into the interspace behind the doors.

Astronaut Noguchi's Comment

The test for the repair method on the special type of tile was conducted using KC-135. The panel used for the test was a plastic model so I visited the Discovery to confirm what the actual panel looks like and have a practical image of its shape.

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