FOLDINGSS Starting From Scratch
(editor: This story is fictional. Any similarity to actual events, persons, or places is totally coincidental)
Knocking on the Door
Welcome to my amazing life! my name is Kartika Mulyani-Lee. I have just arrived at a position in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) 290 miles above the Earth. I just spent the last 20 hours getting here from Air Force Station in Florida. The first 12 minutes of that was pretty exciting, riding the big rocket into space, and the next hour was breathtaking for me as it was my first time in space. The last 19 or so hours has been, well I wouldn't say boring, but a long time to wait for the next bit of action.
I had a chance to nap some during our designated sleep time, though I really didn't sleep much. It reminded me of some camping trips I have taken using a tent. It is dark, and there is nothing to do, so you get in your sleeping bag, chat with your tent mates for a while, then wait for morning too excited to sleep. So, morning is a long time coming. But, now I am here. The mere fact that I am here is an amazing set of stories, but not like the story I telling now. Dead ahead lies the beginning of the brand new FOLDINGSS research spacecraft. The capsule pilot, major Jackson, is running the automated docking sequence, right now. The sequence is run by our computer, but, should anything unexpected happen (keep in mind this is a brand new facility we are trying to dock with) major Jackson will have to use all his skills and quick action to prevent a collision.
There are three of us in this capsule. Colonel Henson is the ship's commander. I already mentioned major Jackson, and then there is me. I am here to get the robotic arms installed on FOLDINGSS and then operate them to move upcoming modules into place and to help with EVAs while we bolt this whole contraption together. We have a huge schedule of things to do. Everything from simple unpacking to complicated maneuvers. I can't wait to try out my Iron Man thrusters! I am scheduled to be here for the next 8 months. It is hard to believe I am really here.
Colonel Henson is remotely controlling the tiny RCS control system that was bolted onto the FOLDINGS central hub a month ago when it was boosted up here. His job is basically just to make sure it stays steady while our Dragon does all the work of docking. Right before our docking rings touch, he will supply a bit of continuous thrust to keep our Dragon and the hub in contact. My job at this point is just to watch the screens, yell out the occasional reading, talk with mission control, and otherwise keep out of the way.
Moving around in orbit is not as simple as most people think. Altitude is closely coupled to speed, so if a ship changes its orbital speed a little bit to close in on a target, its altitude also starts to change. It doesn't seem intuitive, but me, the Dragon Capsule and the FOLDINGSS hub are all free falling right now. We only appear to maintain a constant altitude about the surface of the earth, because we are moving so fast to the East, the earth recedes from beneath us at the same rate as we fall. When anything changes speed, that little balance is thrown off by a corresponding amount. So east and west movements are tricky for that reason. Fortunately, our guidance computer is handling all the specifics for us.
"Beginning docking approach", Jackson announces.
"Roger that, Assembly One", Houston replies.
We feel a little jerk as the RCS thrusters fire on Dragon. We are about 20 meters away at this point. The Hub is straight north of our position. We are looking at the universal docking adapter, Its three alignment petals are clearly visible in our windows. Now we wait out the 11 minute approach. Everything is going as predicted. What are RCS thrusters? Reaction Control Thrusters are small little rocket engines used to control small movements in position and rotation in space. No movement in space takes place without a countering movement, so, to move the dragon capsule a small amount to the right, a tiny rocket engine with its nozzle pointing left fires. By throwing some exhaust to the left really fast, we effect a reaction where the Dragon capsule moves a little to the right very slowly. Now, what really changes is speed. By speeding up the small mass of exhaust at lot, the large mass of the Dragon is speed up a little bit in the other direction. Nothing in space stops that speed, either, so the pilot has to do the opposite action once the Dragon has moved the proper amount relative to the target.
"One meter", Jackson announces.
"Beginning, counter pressure burn", Henson announces.
The goal is to give both spacecraft a bit of forward motion so the minor collision is elastic and the two bodies get a unified momentum instead of having one bounce away in an inelastic collision.
"Contact", Jackson says.
"Reading Contact", Henson says almost simultaneously.
Now the docking ring on the universal adapter is extended by retractable shock absorber type structures. The Dragon side is in passive mode, so our soft capture system is not extended.
"Deploying striker latches", Jackson and Henson say in unison.
"Houston we have soft dock", Henson says.
"Roger assembly one, telemetry shows soft dock. You my retract when ready".
Now both our Dragon and the docking adapter on FOLDINGSS hub start pulling their docking rings in to mate up with the larger rings of the ports. This process takes another 10 minutes. During the last few second I sense just a little movement as the Dragon shifts ever so slightly to align with the port of the FOLDINGSS hub.
"Showing hard dock", Jackson announces. "Deploying hooks".
"Deploying hooks as well"
Now we are mechanically connected and pressure is applied on the contact rings by motor driven hooks on the mating rings. The little dance of verifying a good pressure seal comes next. I am still just sort of watching. Major Jackson floats up to the hatch and opens a little valve that lets some of the Dragon's air past our hatch into the space between our hatch and the hatch of the Universal docking adapter. These hatches are the passage way between Dragon and the FOLDINGSS craft. They are slightly smaller than the docking rings and theoretically sealed from the vacuum of space. We wait a few minutes for the pressure between the hatches to equalize with the pressure in the Dragon. Then we close the hatch and watch the pressure for 5 minutes.
"Nice weather we're having up here", jokes Jackson as we wait impatiently.
"we are all good, pressure at nominal", Jackson says.
"Houston, we have good seal, request permission to pressurize the hub", Henson says on radio.
"Proceed assembly one, advise when complete", Houston responds quickly.
"Ok, this better work or our show is over before it begins", Henson says to me and Jackson. He enters the command on his tablet's touch screen along with an authorization code".
We start to hear something. The metal of the hub relays some sounds to us from inside the hub. This is the sound of breathing gas being released into the hub. The hub already had some air in it from when it was sealed on the ground below, but that had been pumped down to about 1/4 atmosphere. This was done for two reasons. First, because this provided a convenient way to test that the air tight envelope was maintained throughout shipment and launch and because the atmospheric pressure of the habitat will be less than one atmosphere. For this stage of construction, the pressure target is 0.9atmosphere, to provide a little buffer in the case of leaks. Once FOLDINGSS is operational it will maintain an internal atmospheric pressure of 0.6atm.
The central habitat hub, what we are pressurizing right now, is one of the largest and heaviest pieces of the entire FOLDINGSS spacecraft. In fact, its size and mass required a DELTA IV heavy booster with the largest fairing. It is just under 5m wide in its widest points and, with the two ATS pieces with the main bearings attached it is 13 meters long. In this boost, there was the additional length and mass of the CBM adapter and the PMA-1 docking adapter. So this assembly just barely fit the ULA fairing.
"The pressure is climbing", Jackson says reassuringly. About 20 minutes later, Commander Henson says the pressure is sufficient to proceed. Jackson checks the pressure between the hatches and it is still holding strong.
"OK Houston, look like the dock seal is doing great and the hub is pressurize to 0.89 atmospheres, shall be begin boarding?", Henson radios.
Now while this has been going on, I have been donning my pressure suit. Jackson was just finishing up checking my helmet when Houston radios back.
"Assembly one, do you all want pressure suits?"
"That's negative Houston, Mulyani is suited up and can pull is back if need be. Everything looks really good."
So, I am the only one in a pressure suit. Henson obviously feels it is safe to proceed and wants to avoid the rather lengthy delay of putting on a suit and squeezing through the hatches all suited up. People who have not actually crawled around in spacecraft probably don't realize how small these docking passages are, nor for that matter, how small the capsule and living spaces are. The NDS (NASA docking system) port we are attached to, only has a passage that is 800mm. That is just 31 inches. This pressure suit I am wearing just barely goes through. In fact, were I wearing a full size EVA pack, I would not fit through. So, although we love these nice safe pressure suits, the are a big hassle inside these small spaces.
"Acknowledged. Proceed with boarding. Have Jackson perform an inspection prior to any more crew boarding", Houston advises.
"Roger that, Houston".
"Okay Kartika, If this thing pops, which it won't, be ready to assist. Jackson has his portable breathing apparatus and I have mine. If pressure drops really fast you will need to get him back quick and maybe even close the hatch. Are you ok with that?" Now I am not that big of a person, but I am completely confident that I can retrieve Jackson. In this case, my small size makes me the logical person to be suited up, as I can get through that hatch much easier than my larger crewmates. In micro gravity I could float even an unconscious man 4 times my size through the hatch, not that I would want to.
"Got it, Jim", I say happily. Actually I can hardly contain my exuberance. I have been working for this opportunity for almost 15 years. These two are acting like they are unloading the car. I am almost shaking just waiting to get in this thing. I thought I might be apprehensive. I was a little at launch time. Now, I just want to get in there are start doing my thing. MicroG is starting to feel comfortable and I am longing to have some tasks to perform. By the way, we have been docked for over 40 minutes now.
"Ready Cap?", Jackson asks.
"Proceed, keep that breather handy, take tether", Hanson commands
"Yup", Jackson says as he starts releasing the hatch on the Dragon. Jackson hands the hatch to me and I stow it. Now Jackson opens the test valve on the FOLDINGSS hatch and a small whistle of air starts to rush into the habitat hub, really the space inside the Universal docking adapter that is attached to the habitat hub. We call that PMA-1 (pressurized mating adapter #1). I had earlier adjusted Dragon's cabin pressure down to 0.9 atm, but it still must be a bit higher than the hub's. Jackson seems unconcerned and starts spinning the wheel to release the hatch on the universal docking adapter. As he gets it loose enough it pops in from the difference in air pressure and the whistle is no more.
"That was nice, just popped right in, didn't even need to push", Jackson says as he sticks his head in and moves the hatch out of the way. Hanson gives me an elbow and a head shake as he rolls his eyes a bit. I took that to mean that Hanson thought Jackson might be rushing things a little.
"Air seems good. Ah, that new spacecraft smell!" He says as his body floats into the universal docking adapter space. Now the hatch of the CBM that connects the adapter to the hub is closed, but the test valve is open as it was launched that way. Jackson begins opening that hatch next. Jackson had to gently put his shoulder into that one to open it. The CBM hatches are not free floating so Jackson pushed in it and manipulated it into its stowed position which is on the top. Of course, the only reason we are still calling that particular direction up, is because of the seating and console inside the Dragon. In every other regard, one direction is as good as the other.
"Going in.... Lets get a look at this ATS thingie", Jackson says as he spins around touching the barrel structure. Jackson had turned the all the lighting on in the habitat hub when he activated the pressurization.
"How does that seal look on the barrel extension", I ask.
"Yeah.... It looks good, That metalized tape seems to be holding just fine.", he said while carefully looking over the whole compartment. "You know, it is kind of cold in here".
The temperature inside the Hub had been kept at a chilly 8 deg C. It would take a while to heat up the whole habitat hub. Jackson was inside the Angular Transfer Structure (ATS) which is a combination airlock/Tunnel/spin up and spin down system. Eventually the system will be used to allow crew and cargo to transfer between the fixed orientation drive sections and the rotating habitat section of FOLDINGSS. There are two of these, one on each side of the habitat hub. Both were locked in tunnel mode. In this mode the barrel is extended so that it seals on both ends. Both sides of the barrel have a CBM sized hatch. Thus, from the inside, it looks like a typical CBM port pair with two hatches. The hatches on the barrel ends are motor driven to speed access and ensure seals. In tunnel mode, both ends are open simultaneously so the ATS is simply a tunnel. The ATS on the north side is in airlock mode. All of its hatches are sealed.
The suggested practice is to affix metalized tape to the expansion seal inside the barrel to minimize gas leakage when the ATS is in tunnel mode.
Jackson spent the next two hours going over a the habitat hub as I listed off areas to inspect. We did a basic inventory of all consumables, and did some basic unpacking of sleeping gear personal items. As is common with micro G environments, the habitat hub used every wall as a sort of "floor". One of the differences with FOLDINGSS habitat hub is that there will be a slight centripetal force at even 2m from the center of the habitat once is starts spinning, so storage bags and such were affixed to the walls in a way that they would lay flat when that force was present. Also, there were a few pieces of equipment that we had for just this phase of assembly. We had CO2 filter scrubbers and a ventilation system. We had some exercise equipment. And we had some zero G toilet facilities. Each "wall" of the habitat, of which there were six was 7 meters long by approximately 2.5 meters wide. In the center of each of these walls was a CBM port which was about as big around as the wall was wide.
I need to tell you about the so called CBM ports. The Common Berthing Ports (CBMs) are the mechanism that is going to hold this whole FOLDINGSS spacecraft together. The basic design of these things was started around 1984 building on experiences from Apollo and SkyLab, but the initial specifications in their first official form date to 1993. So this basic concept has been around a long time. People need to understand that, when building things in space, you cannot just setup a few saw horses, but some screws in your belt and start cutting and screwing things together. We are a long way from the Science fiction image of a guy in a space suit with a welder working on his space ship.
Why, you might ask, well let me explain the problems. First, I wouldn't want sparks from my welder burning holes in my space suite. There is no atmosphere to stabilize different parts in terms of temperature. So, the process of welding two pieces of metal and having that weld be sound, both structurally and be a good seal are not likely. Then there is the issue that my hands are basically inside little balloons. These new mechanical pressure bio suits will be a big improvement, but even they require good old air pressure in places, like the gloves, boots, groin. So, we don't have great movement. Then there is the issue of just keeping oneself in place, let alone holding some sort of work materials. Then, what about all the waste. Were a typical terrestrial home building site to end up in space, all the dropped nails, screws, scraps, tools, paints and so on would basically make the whole thing a huge hazard to any spacecraft not in the same inertial frame.
So, back to the humble CBM connecting mechanism. This unassuming ring and bolt system is really the best humanity has for putting things in space. We build things as large as our boosters are capable of carrying on good old Terra Firma, the we hook all those together with the fastening system called the CBM. This provides the air tight seal, the mechanical strength, both for the modules bumping together as well as all the mechanical strength necessary for the completed structure to deal with all the forces it is expected to encounter over its lifetime. So, that is basically what me and my 9 other assembly co-astronauts will be doing. We will be positioning these large modules with RCS thrusters or with mechanical robot arms, then using the powered bolts and latches inside the active CBM ports (ACBM or CBMa) to bolt them to the captured nuts inside the passive CBM ports (PCBM or CBMp). We do that with precision while monitoring seals and trying to keep any debris from fouling the seals between these modules.
Assuming we do all these connections really nicely, the FOLDINGSS research craft will be the largest spacecraft ever built. It will be sealed good enough to be away from Earth for 900 days with no replacement air. It will generate gravity up to 0.4 G in its extremities, and it will have drive capabilities to take it to Mars orbit if it needs to. Not to be too proud of myself, but this is all going to happen with the help of a little woman from Indonesia who has always had really bid ideas in her head.
Ok, we are all back inside the Dragon. This is our bedroom for tonight. It sure felt good to get out of the pressure suit. I probably smell a little bit funky, but NASA gives us these handy air fresheners mask that part of space flight a little bit. There isn't much privacy up here, but the boys try to accommodate me, and I appreciate that.
Getting Ready for the second Part
I have been on station here for four days now, at FOLDINGSS research station. We have set up the habitat as best we can, Each of us have a little tent like station set up. Inside this area we have our laptops attached with Velcro to the wall. We have our sleeping bags, our duffels with clothes. I am learning how to do all those things, like brushing teeth, sponge baths, hair brushing in micro-G. We have installed the air recirculating systems. We even have installed a small water recycling system. The hub power system seems to be working nicely off of the Dragon umbilical. Overall, everything is going really well. I have my tools staged for the upcoming EVAs and all is good.
We seem to be getting along really well, which we figured would be the case since we have trained for so long. It is very claustrophobic, though. I wonder what it will be like when our crew goes from three to six in a few more weeks? We will only gain a little more pressurized space but we will get another Dragon Capsule.
The next booster payload is on its way right now. This is a Falcon Heavy payload. Included in this payload are the two mechanical robotic arms that are my specialty as well as the PMA-2 docking adapter and 4 of the long CBM mating rings. Over the next 10 days we have to get all those components installed seal tested and ready to receive the next Dragon capsule, which will need to dock at PMA-2. These next days are lynchpins for the mission. We don't have any redundancy in terms of capsule docking, no redundancy in terms of power as it is all generated on our Dragon right now by the solar collector on its trunk. Our batteries are doing nicely now, so we have more backup than we started with, though. In addition to that safety concern, we don't have any mechanical arms at this point for berthing additional components. This is going to be done Buck Roger's style.
I seemed to demonstrate the most aptitude for the Iron Man thrusters, or maybe it was just because the habitat arms are my specialty. Either way, I get to use the new personal RCS thruster system (PRCS). This is an add-on to my EVA suite which gives me a thruster attached to my left arm that I can point with my arm, and four thrusters attached to my waist. These are H2O2 thrusters of very small impulse. The idea is that, with a tether attached, I am to jet out to payload, attach my tether to the package, then thrust the whole thing back towards the FOLDINGSS hub directing it with the placement of my left arm. I guess I become the human equivalent of a gimbaled engine. Jackson will be tugging gently on the tether to keep the package going toward the hub, but most of force to move the package comes from my arm. Even more dramatic, is that, when the package gets close, I am supposed to slow the momentum of the payload with my thrusters as well.
Its going to be fun. We have simulated this to a degree in the pool, but I think I am going to have to learn the subtlety of this on the fly. So, Hanson just informed me the payload is almost done with its synchronizing orbit and will do its but to transition to ours about 50 meters to our south west about 10 meters below our orbit. It should be here in about 90 minutes.
Ok, time to get ready for adrenaline time. Jackson is going to help me don my EVA suit. I already have my MAG in place. My EVA pack is on complete with my H2O2 tank. My thruster belt is attached and I have attached the arm thruster to its special mounting point. My whole suit was enhanced to support this little add-on. I don't power the thrusters or open the H2O2 valves until I am out the air lock. Radio Check..... Ok here I go. Opening the inner hatch that leads to the air lock (the ATS on the south side). Now opening the inner airlock hatch. Ok, floating in. The air lock is sort of large, really, about 6 feet in diameter and about 9 feet long. After being cooped up in the habitat with all the stuff hanging around, this is a nice spacious clean tube.
Now, I hang out here while Hanson finishes helping Jackson suit up. Ok, he is ready. Disconnect my power umbilical, check gauges, all looks good shut the helmet. These things have automatic solar visors now. pretty cool. Ok, I am in my own world now.
"Ok, Kat, we are starting mission now at 20:07 GMT. Please close the airlock, prepare for evacuation.", Hanson says.
"Roger, initiating closing of airlock door now", I say as I press the buttons on the control panel to begin egress evacuation. The hatch swings shut and the keeper bar swings over that. motors wiz and whir. The little evacuation warning light starts to blink and I start watching the pressure drop on the indicator screen inside the airlock. There is a little window on the door and I can see Jackson peering out. I give him a little thumbs up and does the same to me. I am staying mostly calm, but the blood is pumping.
"Kat, I have established remote control of the payload, it is now closing at about 1/10 meter per second, about 80 meters out.", Hanson says.
"Roger your status. We show nominal here", Houston chimes in.
"Ok, major, I am showing green for egress now.", I inform Hanson as the final bit of air is sucked out of the airlock.
"Um, Yes Kat, we show pressures good, check your suit for temp and status please."
"Yes, Cap, status good all in the green. showing 3 hours air supply."
"Roger Kat, open the airlock door and start opening the exterior CBM hatch. Kat, as soon as you have that open secure your tether then advise, over"
"Houston, be advised Kat is exiting the airlock".
"Air lock door is now open. Opening CBM hatch... needs a little puuush. CBM hatch is open, attaching tether now. Secure. holding position inside the air lock", I respond after a little fight getting the CBM hatch open. This hatch has been exposed to the cold of space for a while now, seals were probably pretty hard. Eventually, this hatch will lead to the south drive section module which is a pressurized interior space.
"Jackson, you set for airlock egress?", Hanson asks over the radio. Jackson is now sealed inside his EVA suit but is still inside the habitat.
"All set Cap"
"Kat, you have permission to leave the vehicle. Please hold just outside the air lock, we will retain control of the outer airlock door", Hanson gives me the go ahead.
"Roger that, going outside now..... I am clear, my tether is completely out, feel free to shut the hatch.", Ok, I am outside now just hanging onto the handholds on the outside of the ATS. That was a little bit of a reach for me. I had to use the CBM hatch to crawl up here. There are a lot of hand holds here, so I feel pretty secure. My 75 meter tether spool is attached to me, while the end of the line is attached with a carbineer to at attachment point on the CBM, of all places.
So, I get to hang out here until the airlock pressurizes, Jackson gets in, and the airlock evacuates again. Ok, I can see the payload. It looks close, but I know that is sort of deceptive as the package is really big. In a few minutes, I get to push off and free walk for 50m to meet this object. My biggest concern is not for my safety, I know that is pretty well covered. My real concern is not timing my trajectory well and having difficulty engaging with the payload. This PRCS thing is new and I would really like to see it work well. Later in the construction, this system is being counted upon for placing cross bracing.
Jackson opens the airlock hatch, the CBM hatch has remained open the whole time, so I see Jackson almost immediately. "Hey stranger", he says as he hooks his feet on one of the handholds inside of the air lock. "Ok Cap, I am in position", he says to Hanson.
"Kat, looks like it is about 60 meters out. So, it looks like you can jump between 10 and 15 minutes from now",
"Roger, I am jumping at 50 meters. So, let me know when the ship is at that distance.", I reply, "I am trying to get a feel for how the payload is approaching". Our simulations during training, show a normal hand push off results in a speed of about 1.5m per second, so it should only take me about 45 seconds or less to reach the payload. The speed change will cause me to sink in altitude just a little bit, so I'll aim high.
"Opening thruster valve now", at a few minutes to go, I open my PRCS master valve and power on the electronics. The PRCS is voice controlled and controlled by my wrist. "Houston, my PRCS is on and reading safe. I am going to try a little hop".
"PRCS arm", I speak in my helmet.
"Waist thrusters active", it speaks back.
"PRCS jog forward", I feel a little push on my mid section. "PRCS jog backward", I feel a little push on my tummy.
"Kat, that is 50 meters, I am coasting, let me know if you need me to adjust"
"Roger Cap, Jumping now".
"Be advised Kat is proceeding away from the airlock". Jackson radios. "Kat, you may want to feed your tether out, your spool might be slowing you a bit".
"I am approximately half way, I estimate I may be a little low. PRCS rotate forward 45 slow". I feel myself pitch forward, gyros in my suit automatically halt my rotation at 45 degrees relative. "PRCS jog back", I get pushed up relative to the payload by progress is also slowed a little. "PRCS jog left... PRCS jog right.. Ok 10 meters to go, "PRCS rotate 45.... PRCS jog back.......I'm over it... PRCS jog forward jog forward.... reaching for hand hold... got it... Clamping tether.... Clamped.. OK, I am holding on handhold #13, I am secure to payload, tether is secure." I say, I am sweating. for a minute I was wondering if I was going to slip under it, then I was worried it was going to go underneath me.
"How is your arm Kat, it looks like it gave you a pretty good jerk?",
"Yes Jackson, it was about the same force as a push off maybe a bit more, a little startling. I have locked my tether spool, you can start taking up slack. How is the payload trajectory affected?", I ask
"Kat, I don't think you had much effect, how much does this payload weigh? 12T?... Looks like you are 33m out still closing about 1/20 meter per second.", Hanson Responds, "Do you want me to do anything with RCS on the payload"
"Negative, Cap, It looks like we are progressing nicely toward the Hub. Just let me know if we are off course. Tell me when we are 20 meters", I respond. "Jackson, how is the tether doing?"
"I have about 6 meters here now. It is sort of unkept, why don't you reel in a bit, I'll yell stop.",
"Roger, reeling in now.... Making my way to handhold #1", I start traversing the hand over hand to the hand hold at the nose of this payload assembly. Ill be pushing against the nose soon.
"That's good, Kat", Jackson says.
"That's 20m", Hanson says
"PRCS spool lock", I say right as I reach handhold #1. "Ok, I am in position, moving my body by manual force. PRCS arm iron man", I have positioned myself where my right hand is holding against the payload and my left hand is pointed at the FOLDINGSS craft about 18m away. I open my left hand as far as I can and whoosh. I feel the force through my left hand push me and my right hand against the payload handhold. I open my hand again for about a second then close it.
"17m closing 80cm per second.", Hanson says.
I open my left hand again, this time for 2 seconds. Close it, then wait.
"16m closing 70cm........... 15m closing 60cm...... 14m closing 60cm...... 13m closing 60cm 12m closing 60cm"....", Hanson calls out.
"Kat, your just a little low on the Earth side it looks like, not bad", Jackson interjects.
"11m 60cm.... 10m 60cm... 9m 60cm.... 8m 60cm", Hanson calls. I open my hand again for 3 seconds, "7m 25cm.... 6m 25cm... 5m 25.... 4m 25 cm", I open my hand for another second, " 3m 10cm.... 2m 8cm per second", I open my hand again for a half second.
"Kat, your about 3m below me and 3m away, you look stopped", Jackson calls.
"PRCS disarm iron man. PRCS spool tether in", my suit responds with a pleasant, "Iron man inactive, spooling tether". "I am moving to handhold #36 PRCS spool free", I unhook my tether from the payload handhold #1, now I am still attached to the spool, but the payload is no longer.
"Roger", Jackson says. "Payload nose is about 3m away now, barely moving, maybe 2.5m Earthside"
"I am at handhold #32. PRCS jog forward". My back gets a little push and I transfer that force onto handhold #32.
"Ok, that is it. The payload nose is rotating toward me. about 2m away...... now 1m..... Got it, I now have the nose tethered to FOLDINGSS"
"I am at handhold #36, PRCS jog right", I am now waiting for the payload to slowly rotate and land nearly parallel to the FOLDINGSS hub.
"Watch for the pinch", Hanson says.
"My tether is tied off at 1m", Jackson reports.
"PRCS job forward", with that the rotation is essentially stopped. Now I have a small tether strap with me just for this purpose. "Hooking strip on handhold #36.... releasing from the payload... spinning my body manually....... PRCS jog forward... grabbing FOLDINGSS hub handhold... umph. hooking strap.... payload secure"
"Are you OK?", Hanson asks.
"I am fine, had a little more speed coming against the hub than I expected, after I grabbed the handhold my body rotated and slammed into the hub a little, more surprised than anything".
"Houston, FOLDINGSS assembly mission 2 payload is secured to the spacecraft.", Hanson announces.
"Roger that Assembly-1 excellent work. Your total EVA time was 70 minutes. We are analyzing your orbit to see if a correction is required after payload capture", Houston replies.
"Ok, Kat, can you make your way back to the south airlock now. We are going to take a break, look at how the cargo is positioned and plan our next EVAs. Jackson, can you assist Kat. When she gets back to the airlock, place another strap on payload handhold # 31 and strap to the nearest hub handhold. Snap a few pictures please".
So, I make my way back on the payload hand holds then, Jackson hands me the strap, I am easily able to reach the handholds, but Jackson pulls the payload a little closer anyways. I place the strap them use my body to try to eliminate any relative movement between the payload and the hub. It is amazing how easy it is to manipulate so much mass, but all the inertia is still there.
About 20 minutes later I am in the airlock, the outer airlock hatch is closed the outer CBM hatch is closed and the airlock is giving me a green light indicating that it is pressurized. I open the inner airlock hatch and float through to the interior of the habitat hub. We close the inner airlock hatch and the habitat hub hatch on the ATM. Finally I remove my helmet. Ahh....
"Houston this is Assembly Crew one hatches are closed and secured, closing out Assembly EVA #3, over", Hanson says over the radio.
"Congratulations Assembly Crew one. EVA #3 is closed", Houston replies.
"Radio clear... All right you two, that is how it is done. How was that iron man thing, that had to be cool right?", Hanson asks
"Every bit as exciting as you would expect, my arms got a little tired, not from being held up, just from anticipating the force", I reply.
"Was it like the pool simulations?", Jackson asked, as he was finishing un-suiting.
"Yes, for the most part. A lot more 3D aspect to the movements, both of yourself and the target, but we expected that.", I stripped down to my tee shirt and shorts, which were pretty sweat soaked. "Ok, guys, I am going to go into my little hole and change and sponge off, I have to vacuum all this sweat out of my suit and into the recycle, too"
"Me too", Jackson said. "Hey you did great out there, this assembly is going to be a piece of cake", Jackson said to me personally before hopping in his hole, too.
And Then There is Murphy