Some problems with spacecraft can't be planned for no matter how much
the systems are tested. Skylab had a big problem with getting mangled by
its booster. That cost it half its power; more than half until the first
crew fixed the remaining solar array. We would expect a lot of glitches in
a program designed to find out what it's like to do a long-duration space
flight. The important point is that none of the problems they encountered
were life-threatening, and none shortened a manned mission.
The dramatic problems we've had in manned space flight were all things
that happened after a flight started, things that were not discovered
during previous flights or tests, and were not anticipated. At least,
everything I can think of fits into that category.
There might be hidden threats to mission success which do not jeopardize
the crew. For example, on STS-37 we did not train the crew in photography
or lighting, and did not have a photo plan for the EVA we did on that
flight. As a result, during most of the EVA, instead of getting lots of
good data we saw what happens when the RMS elbow camera points directly
into the sun. The EVA communication loop had problems sending the
astronaut's voices to the ground, too, which threatened to wipe out
all data--no video, no audio. Fortunately the on-board videotapes had
good sound recordings. The bad news is that we had not stressed to the
crew the importance of changing the tapes as they ran out.
These are problems we should not have on the Artemis flights, except for
the possibility of unpredictable equipment failure. We know we're after
top-quality audio and video, so we'll plan for it.
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