International Space Station crew: training continues smoothly after Jeanette Epps bumped from flight - http://allcharts.co.za |February 14, 2018 10:55 pm
Categorised in: Science
Photo: handout web
Crewmembers for the June flight to the International Space Station said Wednesday that training has continued smoothly even after their lineup changed abruptly last month when Jeanette Epps was bumped from the mission.
Her replacement, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, said she already had been training with the crew when she got the call that she would fly instead of Epps, who had been slated to be the first African American to live on the space station.
“We are all trained equally, so none of the training changed from my standpoint,” Auñón-Chancellor said Wednesday at a news conference at Johnson Space Center. “It was a smooth transition.”
Auñón-Chancellor, a Hispanic flight surgeon who was chosen as an astronaut in 2009 alongside Epps, will be joined by Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
The trio is in the middle of being briefed on the about 300 science experiments they will conduct during their six month stint on the space station. All three said they’re extremely excited about this aspect on their mission.
Gerst, who previously flew on the space station in 2014, said his favorite experiments are those that “benefit us down here on Earth in a very direct way.”
He highlighted a study that will be done on his brain to look at how it changes to accommodate the significantly different environment in space. He said he’s hopeful that this can help in the development of treatments for people who have strokes, for example, on Earth.
The June crew made headlines last month after Epps lost her on spot on the three-person Soyuz that transports crewmembers to the space station. NASA officials have never explained their decision, though Epps previously told the Chronicle she had no medical issue or family problems that would have prevented her from flying in June. Though she said she would be willing to talk at a later date, that date has not yet come.
The space agency’s failure to offer an explanation launched a rash of charges on social media that the decision was racially motivated. An online petition calling for her reinstatement quickly garnered more than 1,000 supporters in the days following the announcement, and now stands at more than 2,500.
Here is more information about the three upcoming crewmembers:
- Serena Auñón-Chancellor: The 41-year-old was selected as an astronaut in 2009, alongside Epps. She earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2001 and is board certified in internal and aerospace medicine. Currently, she handles all medical issues for the Commercial Crew and International Space Station Operations branch.
- Alexander Gerst: The 41-year-old was selected as an astronaut for the European Space Agency in 2009. He is from Germany and earned his doctorate in natural sciences at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Geophysics. He last served a six-month stint on the space station in 2014.
- Sergey Prokopyev: The 42-year-old was selected as a cosmonaut in 2010. This will be his first trip to the space station.
The crew’s news conference comes just two days after President Donald Trump released his 2019 budget proposal for NASA. That proposal would end federal funding for the space station after 2024, the year funding for the space station is already scheduled to stop. For fiscal year 2017, NASA’s budget for the space station was $1.45 billion.
Alex Stuckey covers NASA and the environment for the Houston Chronicle. You can reach her at email@example.com or Twitter.com/alexdstuckey.