Undermanned ISS Overloaded With Experiments

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity. (Credit; NASA)
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity. (Credit; NASA)

Space News reports on a shortage of crew time to conduct experiments aboard the space station:

There are more science experiments headed to the international space station than NASA astronauts have time to conduct, an agency official said here Oct. 7 at a meeting of the National Research Council’s committee on biological and life sciences in space.

“If you ask me, we’re at a crew-time max,” Rod Jones, manager of NASA’s ISS Research Integration Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said at the meeting. “We are literally going into an increment coming up where we have allocated to us 875 hours [of research time], and I have about 1,400 hours of research.”

This increment, known internally as 43/44, is scheduled to begin in March with the arrival of veteran cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and fellow Expedition 43 crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and NASA’s Scott Kelly, and end in late September or early October when Padalka flies space tourist Sarah Brightman and Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen back home after the first-time spacefliers’ brief visit (Kornienko and Kelly will remain behind for another six months, completing the first one-year stay at ISS)….

With an 875-hour allotment for 1,400 hours of research, crews active in the U.S. side of station for increment 43/44 will dedicate about a fifth of their time in orbit to science but leave more than 20 days worth of research undone by the time they return to Earth. The vast majority of the crew’s remaining waking hours are consumed by the routine maintenance tasks required to keep station habitable and flight-worthy.

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