tv Inside the Space Shuttle Program CSPAN May 26, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
never be the same for secretive repressive governments. that does not mean it is not a long road ahead. >> well, we should congratulate you again on such a wonderful job. [applause] >> next, a look inside nasa's space shuttle program. then billy jean king talks about equal pay for women in sports. after that, commencement speeches by new york city mayor michael bloomberg. .
well as representatives from the various areas would gather and make decisions depending on how things were going the objectives of the flight, if there were failures that were happening, understanding whether we should go to the next milestone, whether it was rendezvousing with the space shuttle or things like that. in the meetings i attended in my new position was in december 2002 -- i had just been named to the position that month -- the space shuttle program had a "council meetings," which was management of the program and people like me representing mission control, or safety and engineering information. we would meet and talk over issues. the manager stood up at this
meeting and said at the basic thing was that the nasa administrator was focusing on getting to a particular launch by february 2004, a little over a year away. that launched was going to bring us a model. at that point, we were going to be at a situation called "core complete." it was the point where you could have three crew members on board and support them -- have enough power and some laboratories they could work in. we were going to six-seven crew members total, but this was sort of a phase that was ending before we built up to the six- person crew. let me give you a little bit of background on why they were so interested in this particular
flight that was going to happen about 13 months away about a year or two earlier, it turned out the space station was $4 billion over its protected -- projected budget and the administration declared that they were going to limit it to this court complete configuration. that would only accommodate three crew members. the deputy director of the office of management and budget in the white house presented a plan at a congressional hearing that would help bring the costs under control. basically it cut out some of the flights that were going to be part of that court complete, cancel some of the elements already in development, including habitation modules and a vehicle the u.s. was providing. then there was a task force that responded to these requests that recommended a reduced flight
rate, about four shuttle flights per year, which would require longer station crews on orbit. we already had crews on orbit that time. we were trying to rotate -- rotate crews out every three months. we increased that to about six months. at that time in 2001, they felt we could get to this court complete by february 2004. the recommended a performance date. there were going to see how nasa did over the next couple of years and in 2003, an assessment would be made program performance and nasa's credibility. if it was satisfactory, they would look at getting the full assembly complete. if they did not feel at nasa's progress was satisfactory, they would bring an end to the assembly of the station and the
court complete. this was adopted by the administration. the debt the director of are indeed was in the middle of all of this. he became the new nasa administrator. you can imagine that because he was so involved in this cost control and situation and had helped proposed some of the steps we would be taking that he was very focused, knowing that in 2003 they would make this decision and really trying to get to this launched in february 2004. there was a screen saver sent around to all of the managers. it was a countdown to february 2004. this made a lot of people very nervous. many of the people who were working on the shuttle program in 2002 had actually been working on the shuttle program
in 1986 when the challenger accident occurred. although there were technical reasons that were the root cause of that accident, there were a lot of organizational problems that contributed to that. back to this council meeting -- we were given a management role. we spent the majority of the meeting talking about the schedule. a person stood up and mentioned that they wanted to be briefed on the launch. talk about how we lost 90 days of schedule in the last six months of 2002. there were 30 days of that, but we were still down 60 days. we were working on a technical issue with some of our engines at the time.
we directed the main contractor, who works in florida processing the shuttle, to work over the christmas holidays and only giving the false christmas eve, christmas day, and new year's off. the other topic that was not discussed much but -- at all was the technical operation upside is -- operational side and the orbiter projects. he was concerned that the way we were operating the shuttle was quite different than the weight equipment was originally put aside. you may remember that when the shuttle was developed, they were trying to fly many times a year. they thought at that time they could turn around shuttles' much quicker. they were talking about assigning -- flying shuttles every couple of weeks. they designed it for a certain number of missions. we were not anywhere near the
number of missions that a lot of this equipment was certified for, but they assumed they would get to that number of missions in a handful of years. here we are 20 years later, nowhere near that number of missions, but with the overall calendar lifetime on this equipment much longer than we expected. we also talked about the way we process information. it was different than anticipated. we had oxygen lines and we had trouble with. they were put aside to be moved an inch. in processing, people were stepping on them. that was probably the cause of why we were having leaks. everyone decided to further validate the way we were operating. that was an example of looking at the technical-operational issue.
most of the meeting was really focused on the schedule. that is the stage. for the next month, january, we were scheduled to launch only one of three flights on the books for the unforeseeable future that was not to the international space station. it was a science of flight. as we look at the manifest, it did not initially really affect the assembly of the international space station. it did not prevent other flights from watching beyond it. i was in florida for that launch. part of the launch control center. during the countdown, the management associated with the
shuttle program went to their -- went there. i was happy to be there because it was our first chance to command a mission. i also was there about three years earlier on a another mission. -- on another mission. fortunately, the launch went off smoothly. we did not have any issues. during the mission, we generally have a mission management team meetings every day. my boss, the director of flight crew operations, essentially said to me i will go to mission management meetings and you go to other things that are required. i heard about something that
happened during launch that is not in on a regular meetings or they talk about it with the mission management team. i was in a mission control surrounding. one of my new duties was to be the flight crew representative, not as one of the flight controllers, but is essentially as a manager at there. of course, it was in the back of people's mines at having a manager there in case issues happened. obviously, that was february 1, 2002. that was the day we launched columbia. i was probably -- that was the probably the worst professional event you can imagine. after a very long day, a very
long next few months, we were very busy in flight crew august. immediately dealing with the loss of life and the impact to families. we had a team to investigate what happened as well as an independent team that was set up called "the columbia investigation board." we had as a representative that was an existential member of the board as well. i think you probably know that they determine the root cause was a piece of foam that came off the external tanks that became debris and ended up hitting the air shuttle in the cargo area. it is said to put a fairly wide
all in that. it cost the shuttle to essentially melt from the inside and caused the accident. when they put out the report, they also said there were contributing organizational flaws. i quote from that report now. "the organizational causes of this accident include the original compromises that were required to gain approval for the shuttle program, subsequent years of resource constraints, fluctuating priorities, schedule pressures, and lack of an agreed national vision. cultural and organizational practices detrimental to safety were allowed to develop, including relying on past success, organizational barriers, which prevented
communication of critical safety information, lack of integrated management, and evolution of an informal chain of command that operated outside of the organizational role." over the next two-2.5 years, we prepared for what we call "the return to flight." that involves a lot of technical engineering work, but a lot of organizational work, too. we went to a lot of training with an emphasis in making sure people realize they should not only speak up if they thought there was an issue not being direct -- not being looked at.
we have a team that meets real time during mission to make decisions. i have learned as an after night and many of you learn about crew resource management where you work together as small teams. taking that to the level of position management and even beyond. of course, we had regulatory control board meetings. what we needed to fix, what we needed to change, what we needed to add. this is pretty emotional and pretty contentious. many of the time i was the person representing the crew opinion. questions could be interpreted by other people in the room as the flight crew placing blame. there was so much personal
investment that people had that almost all the people in the room thought i am not to blame for what happened. there were obviously different opinions about what needs to be done. there were a lot of people who felt we would not get to the level of resolution needed to turn around the shuttle for reentry and thought that we should not even be trying. there were people who thought we absolutely ought to be doing this inspection and doing whatever is possible to make sure we could do this inspection and understand whether the shuttle was safe for reentry. one of the things we work on as an organization was a nasa's core values. i am not even sure if we were reworking or developing. up to this point, i do not
recall having heard someone talk to me about nasa's core values, but i certainly paid a lot of attention to it during this era. they came up with four core values for nasa -- safety, excellence, integrity. i want to read you a couple of excerpts from that, which you can find on nasa's website. "nasa is privileged to take on missions of extraordinary risk, complexity, and national priority. nasa employees recognize their responsibilities and are accountable for the important work entrusted to them. strategic planning provide the long-term agencies, our shared core values reflect light the ethics of our values. nasa's, to the attention to safety is the cornerstone for how we build mission success. we protect the safety and health
of the public, our team members, and those assets the nation entrusts the agency." the other one i wanted to read was under integrity. "nasa is committed to maintaining and are of trust. our leaders and able this environment by encouraging and rewarding a vigorous communication on all issues. among all employees without fear of reprisal. ethical conduct as individuals and an organization for mission success." about one year after columbia, in the midst of all of this, we got a new nasa administrator. in one of the speeches he gave, it was called "nasa engineering integrity." mike was a very good speaker. i would often go and find his
talks on line and read them myself. there was a paragraph i thought was very relevant to what we're going through at that time. "integrity is speaking up in a meeting when you do not believe the facts matched the conclusions been reached or that certain facts are being ignored. integrity is refusing to fall in love with your own analysis, admitting you are wrong when someone submits a new data that should alter your earlier view. a charity is keeping a promise or commitment, or when circumstances change, explaining why an agreement cannot be kept. integrity is walking into the boss's office, closing the door, and speaking with frankness, openness, and honesty. integrity is being willie --
close to 2.5 years after the accident, we had discovery on the launch pad. i returned to the launch mission. we were in the middle of the countdown and we had a sensor problem. the engine quickly cut off and we abbreviated the launch just what we appreciate everything in nasa. this is an issue that has nothing to do with anything we had worked on return to flight. let me again quote an article from that time. "there is a failed pre lots check during the countdown managers described discovery's first launch attempt.
some of the troubleshooting and included conducting electromagnetic interference testing on wiring in the aft engine compartment. engineers suspected it was a wiring-grounding issue and could lead to that glitch. shuttle workers -- this was a couple of weeks later -- shuttle workers are wrapping up an electronic box that receives much attention over the last couple of weeks. that was a few weeks later. we did at launch with no problems with the censors. -- sensors.
are for engine cut off sensors in the external tank. there is liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. they are intended to make sure the engines either do not shut down to early, resulting in an abort, or run too long, because that could drain a tank dry with potentially catastrophic results -- an engine fire or explosion that could destroy the vehicle and crew. you would unlikely need this back up system because you generally load more fuel than you need. but we do need to use it. it is clearly critical, not only to mission success, but to the crew's safety. the backup system had been put to the test twice, once in 1985 when a main engine shut down
during a launch. they tested the fuel consumption of the remaining two engines. it resulted in an engine cutoff. then just a couple of years before, there was a hydrogen leak in one of the main engine nozzles that caused more oxygen to be consumed than accepted. the censors had triggered a shutdown. even though unlikely, we have used the center's a couple of time. as we were doing this, especially in the first two weeks, we had a history throughout the shuttle program of ecotourism sensor problems. there are also other centers in the tanks -- since source in the tank that are not used to shut down the engine, but are used to understand, especially when you
are filling the tank, where you are and other types of things. we have that failures of those in stores as well. -- sensors as well. the logic in that criteria air things you need to do to continue the countdown. the sensors need to be working. there were a lot of people who thought that was overkill. but there were a number of people who came and talked about why it was designed that way and even though we were dealing with a failure that was not likely to happen in the first place, the consequences of running dry on the filicide could be catastrophic and that added redundancy to the system. we did come up with a sort of a corollary to that where if you
have a sensor not working on a countdown, if it shows the same signature that all the others are still working, the team could proceed with launched because it would require two more to fail by order to impose a catastrophic threat in addition to being in a situation where you needed to use those sensors. it obviously depends on what causes the failure to the sensor. if there is something particular to that one sensor, it is unlikely the other two will fail. perhaps that loss was not
manufactured correctly. there is the possibility of two more failing was a lot more likely. because we did not know what was wrong, we could not tell if it was a common cost situation or not. one of the other things that happened was on this first return flight mission, something that disturb us all greatly -- we had a large piece of foam come off the tank. this was after 2.5 years of working to make sure we would not have any debris coming off of that tank. it was the only large piece of manually applied phone still left on that tank. i remember a lot of discussions about whether we needed to do something differently, but we did not totally change that system. that could have been a very
serious situation if it hit the shuttle, which it did not. but because of that, the next launch was delayed another year as we remarked that particular part of the tank. even after looking at it far too. five years, we had to go back and do that. now we have come down to this second flight. we called it the second return. we are counting down to launch and we have been an ecosensor failure. a few days later, we tried again. the corollary role said if you try again, the same center does it again but everything else is
good, you go to lunch. we had a different failure on the launch. there were many people are doing even with 1 failure and even though we did not know what that failure was that we still had enough margin that we could go launched because we had other sensors. we decided not to do that. we instituted a different type of inspection for these sensors. we're looking at them with a different type of non destructive evaluation to understand. people thought they had an idea of something that might be happening with the censors. we looking at many other possibilities of a. electronic spots that the signals go through. some people felt the issue was actually an electronic box. people came into meetings saying it was not the box. other people arguing about what
it was. we looked at the cabling between the censors. all the way from the sensors, through the tank, into the orbiter or the box was. there did not seem to be any commonality in what cables were being used. they were trying to look everywhere along that line. but we were not able to find it. eventually, as i mentioned, we did go to a different line of sensors that had been inspected. we were able to put some different sensors in and watch that mission. two-three months later, we're counting down to the next mission. we are now in 2006. let me just tell you, this launched an already been delayed three times, once for a malefaction in a fuel cell, or once after a lightning strike on the pad -- once you have that, you have to go through a bunch of testing because a lightning
strike could potentially cause some kind of electrical damage somewhere in the shuttle and you have to do a lot of testing to make sure that has not happened. and then once due to weather from a tropical storm the day we were doing the launch countdown -- tropical storm. the day we were doing the launch countdown, the agency was under pressure to launch or wait until october. let me put this in context. after colombia, we came out -- columbia, we came out with a new vision for space exploration. we were going to shut down the shuttle program in 2010 and wanted to be done with the assembly of the international space station by then. then we would start up a exploration program with a heavy lift off, and a new space craft. we needed to shut down the shuttle program in order to use
that money for development of the exploration program. what was on everybody's mind is we have to get a certain number of shuttle flights going by 2010 in order to have the international space station finished and then we can operate it and retired the space shuttle program. that is the environment we were all working in. so we are counting down. we were in florida as part of the mission management team. he and i were talking back-and- forth by phone. one of the ecosensors failed that morning. there were test the could do during the lockout doc -- countdown. you do not have to stop the launch countdown. we were talking back-and-forth
by phone. he was asking me a lot of questions because i had been the one who had sat through most of the technical and operational briefings where we had discussed this issue. he was looking for my opinion because he thought i was probably more up on the details than he was in terms of everything that we talked about. let me just say that, again, we had talked to the situation many times. if on a first launch we have this one sensor that is acting up, should we go ahead and launch? as a community and through the many months we had discussed this, we had never agreed to do that. some combination was engineering and safety and other people had not been able to sign up for that. we had never changed that rule. we still have the role that on the second attempt if it was the same sensor that was acting up.
again, we talked about, well, should we launched today even with one sensor not operating? i was listening very hard and as the engineering people came upper -- came up, obviously, if there is something in the testing that you new information, that, for example, could give you some information about whether there is a common- cause failure or not. any new information might allow you to think differently about that role, that is what i was looking for. i was also looking to what other people said. i happened to be sitting next to the flight controller. his job is to monitor the main engines during flight. in certain situations, he would be the one to make a call up to the crew during emergency shutdown of an engine if he saw
something happening he was concerned about. you can imagine that he was really in the hot seat for any sort of engine issues. when the flight director pulled his team, the flight controller said he was no-go. the flight director reported down to florida that he was go, and he was speaking for his full team. he has the authority to say go even if is one of his team members say no go, because everybody is essentially has to decide what they think that risk is and determine whether they are go or no-go for that. i found quite interesting that the flight controller himself said at the modesto. that was actually reported -- that was not reported to the mission management team, but i knew it.
as we talked about it, it came down to the point where the mission team was to say go or no-go, i was talking to my boss -- boss and said my vote is no- go. we talked many times about changing the flight roles. during the launch countdown is not the time to change that unless there is new information and i had not heard anything. we all have to be willing to take risks because there is never a time we launch the shuttle where there is never a risk to that group. you have to be willing to take a risk, however, what i saw -- we have no idea why these sensors were not working. therefore, we did not know if there was a common-cause failure. we did not know if there was potentially something offline
with the system that did not show up in a way that was unanticipated. i was pretty confident that engineering was going to say no- go. we have had this conversation many times before. we went around the room and son of -- some of the crew and my boss said no-go. because i was the one who had sort of influence that decision, the nasa administrator called me up on the phone i could tell he thought the risk equation of was we could go that day, however, he was definitely willing to listen to me. i told amped out -- i told him how i felt.
in the end, less than an hour before lunch -- launch, we postponed the launch and did not watch that day. let me tell you the rest of the story. for the next day, we did another launch countdown. all of the sensors were operating. there was still obviously the team trying to understand what was going on with these centers. the postulated a new theory and came up with a new inspection. for the next four shuttle flights, you did not see any issue with the censors. many people thought this second inspection was doing the trick, that we were finding the best sensors and, therefore, not having any issues with this problem. five flights down the line, we are now in december 2007.
we had a launch countdown. during the countdown, two eco sensors failed. another one failed while they pulled the fuel out of the tank. we tried to launch two days later and another sensor fail. the shuttle program manager said we would not prepare for another launched until we found out why these centers were failing promote that was really the first time -- were failing. that was really the first time the comment had been made. we ended up doing a highly estimated test that ended up focusing on a connector that passes electrical signals from the sensors to the external tank
to the shuttle. they postulated that something inside the connector caused the metal pans to stop touching the metal inside the socket. it's kind of makes sense that you would see it when you would load the tank with fuel because that would change the -- essentially how much room you have in the connector between the pence. it turns out that one side was postulated. there were some other people outside the shuttle program who heard about it and said, hey, about a dozen years ago the titans centaurs office had a similar problem. we ended up picking it by permanently soldering these connecting pens in the socket of these connectors. it was a difficult soldering path that was required, but they did that and we're not having
the problems. we actually got some of the same technicians that supported the other program -- titan program -- and ended up doing a sort of a round the clock design and fixed the problem. in about -- to the zero months later is when we actually went back to launch -- two months later is when we actually went back to launch. we never saw another sensor problem again. 13 flights. i have often fought back to that day which everybody thinking i was. to stop the shuttle launch. then i thought a lot about what that means, in particular in the context of today. i do not feel that anybody was particularly right or wrong on that day. i do think as a team we should
have tried harder to determine the root cause earlier, but we did not get to that. earlier. -- get to that point earlier. were we instilling a culture where people could speak up? i felt not only that i could speak up, but that i had to speak up. did we have a culture where people could listen? that was obviously critical. that is just one of the examples of some of the difficult decisions in the managers in the space program have to face. when you think about it, it was almost on a weekly basis where we had to make decisions about changes we would or would not make to the shuttle based on
concerns people had or problems that they had seen. if i vote we do not need to make this decision, it was changed to the the zero years down the line. -- two years down the line. it is during the countdown when all we have the pressure of do we really want to lunch that day that we have to personally set aside culture. feel like i am not going to act any differently on this day. what i would like to do now -- there is one other thing i wanted to talk about, which discusses -- the leadership challenge lately has been the changes we are going to the
space program. shutting down the shuttle program. we did have a number of years to prepare for that. it is still a difficult thing to do. part of our transition plan is the consolation-exploration program. in terms of keeping critical skill and transitioning to another program that people will be able to work on, we felt we had the makings of a pretty good plan. it was about a year -- with about a year left in the program, the new administration cancel the constellation- exploration program. that made our leadership challenge is much more difficult. two of the three programs we were running were essentially shut down at the same time. rather than talking about that, i will talk about one of the leadership books that i have
read it recently that i try to keep a couple of things in mind from. we had a group of employees who decided to put together their own leadership program because they thought we did not have one that really address early-career employees. part of that is a year-long program, but part of that was a book club. -- they came to me and asked to lead a discussion on the book of "highly effective people." i heard about the book but had never actually read it. it was a good thing for me to do, to read that book. i think about a lot of the actions and situations i have been in, particularly where i thought i could be more effective, and i came up with some things for me.
i think anyone who reads the book will find ones that speak to them in situations they find themselves in. "the pro-active per "that means realizing -- be pro-active." "why are they doing this to me ?" you choose how to respond to that. what you want to do is understand what you can do to take action. i have really tried to think about that. i understand how we to motivate our folks to continue to work on the human space flight program.
the second one that spoke to me in the situation i find myself in as one that says "speak first to understand that to be understood." in a lot of situations i found myself in in leadership positions, i felt my role was to advocate for the organization i represented. if i was in there as the flight crew manager, i was advocating for a position that we had worked out and my main job was to advocate for that. or if i was at a meeting representing the space center, we are advocating for the space center. it is hard to be effective if i am advocating the same position over and over again because everybody else in that meeting is advocating their position. how will we find a solution if people do not sit back and think
to themselves, why does the other person in the meeting field the way they do? why are they recommending that? in the end, they have the same goal that i do, yet they come to a different conclusion about what needs to be done, where resources and need to be spent, what we should do fixing or changing? my first thought in that meeting is to understand -- that is my person over there. see app that influences or can help us come to a solution that often incorporates what i have come to believe is what i felt in that situation variant -- in that situation. as you go -- what i would like to do now is show a video. it is my fourth space shuttle
flight. it was part of the assembly of the international space shuttle program. it also at the end has more current video of the international space station today. if we could go ahead and show that. this is april 2002. our commander is up front right there. mike bloomfield. it was the space shuttle of lintas. there are already -- atlantis. there are already three astronauts and cosmonauts at the space station. i am the flight engineer, so i am sort of in the middle in the back -- back row. that was one of my jobs on that mission. taking off with 70 million pounds of thrust, which is pretty exciting on a florida
afternoon. as you know, those solid rocket boosters only operate for the first to the zero minutes of launch -- two minutes of launch. then we go the rest of the way on the shuttle main engines. once we get into orbit, we start preparing for the rendezvous with the international space station. you kind of need to be hanging on when you do that. they do in part a force on the shuttle. then there was a team of three -- the commander, the pilot, and me -- working to the rendezvous procedures as we bring in navigation information and data. this is a picture of us taken from the crew on the
international space station. that big piece in the middle was the thrust section we were bringing up. that big silver ball is where we are heading for. that is where we will dock. is the station coming into view. it looks like what it is meeting us, but we are really meeting it. the bottom part is the shuttle, the top part is the station. that is the initial contact between the two. the air force pilot very happy with his flying. about two hours later, we open the hatches. the two commanders go onto the space station. they were up there for four months, so they were happy to see other people. we started transferring supplies. that is something you do on all the missions.
it makes it a little more efficient. the next day we started our major task, which was to lift this piece of trust structure out of the payload bay using the robot arm, reaching into the shuttle and moving it into position to attach it to the international space station. i was working along with dan burch. you can see we do not have windows. we were working on the space station arm at this time. we are using camera views, which are not always the best. this is a great line showing the middle east view of the earth outside the trust. this is a little further. you're looking at the trust's be moved into position. -- russ being moved into pos
ition. over the next week, we did for space walks with four crew members on board. they would alternate in pairs of two, going out. each day, one was on the arm and the other was in essentially free-floating with a tether. my job was to move around the person on the end of the station arm as they were doing the work they needed to do to look up this truss.
we had to make many connections to hook up power and data, using power tools on board to make a lot of those structural connections. you can see there is a person of the end of the arm holding a piece of equipment. he is kind of looking out onto the earth and space as i move them around on the arm from one side to the other. he said it was the most fun ever on a space walk. this is inside the shuttle. we invited the crew members over fart texas barbecue. good barbecue beef. they invited us over to the station one night for a nice international mail. this is another air force officer who was part of our crew. steve smith showing how surface
tension is a really important force in space. -- in space in the absence of gravity. after about a week, our work was done we made sure we had the right hatch. we closed the hatch and prepared to lift off. again, this is part of the flight that is pretty dynamic. our pilot was the one at the controls. that is the target you used to make sure you are backing away in a straight line for about 400 feet. once we actually separate and back away, we wait for sunrise. then we do a full fly round of the station, taking pictures to help document the outside of the station as it is being used to understand fully the configuration of the station for future engineering and training
exercises. again, here is what we look like when we are leaving. you can see our payload is empty now. when we are halfway around -- you can see at the time there was only one solar array. we had gotten into the assembly. you can see the station arm hanging off there. you see that rectangle in the center. that is the section we added from the space station -- to the space station. after a full day of checking out all the systems on the space shuttle to make sure we are ready for entry, we close the payload doors, then we prepare for entry ourselves. we have to get into our logic reentry suits that help provide us some measure of survivability in certain types of emergency situations. finally, the commander gets to
fly the shuttle at the end. about 24,000 feet. to under 90 knots. now at 15,000 feet. you can see kennedy space center's runway. it looks like we are by bombing the runway. it is not until we get down to 2,000 feet that we do a fully -- do a massive pullout. we are not really flying that much. we are dropping like a rock. finally, we fall 300 feet and the pilot drops the gear. as you do the final prep for landing -- we are still going about 200 knots. that is one reason we deployed the drag chute, to make the landing safer. we have a 3 mile run way.
that was -- i like to transition a little bit to the space station today. it is a partnership of five space agency's and 15 countries. it has been continuously inhabited for over 11 years. close to 1 million pounds of hardware in space. the dimensions are larger than a football field. a pressurized volume. 200 people have lived there or visited there on assembly missions. that is nicole, one of our astronauts up there, getting a little bit of a tour. this is the u.s. laboratory. this is the model that kind of pie is the u.s. and russian side together. if you go to the russian side, this is their main service module where they do a lot of
their activities. this is a biological experiment that could effect medical regimens on earth. these butterflies and spiders are part of an educational program. the experiments can be replicated in kindergarten through 12th grade classes -- glass -- classes. they can understand how butterflies operate differently. plant growth, trying to understand plants and gravity. not only to understand plant development for future space missions, but also here on earth. these rocks can hold experiments designed by high school students. a lot of what we do is focused on biomedical experiments. how the human body is effected by spaceflight. astronauts do special