A Human Factors Investigation of Translation Through the Spacelab Transfer Tunnel 932041
Space Shuttle missions STS-40 and STS-47, with their respective payloads of Spacelab Life Sciences-1 (SLS-1) and Spacelab Japan 1 (SL-J), used NASA's Spacelab module to provide an additional shirt-sleeve environment for the accomplishment of scientific activities. The Spacelab Transfer Tunnel connected Spacelab to the Orbiter Middeck. It represented the only way to translate between the two volumes and so provided the opportunity to examine microgravity travel between two specified points.
Analyses utilized video of astronaut movement through the tunnel during regularly scheduled mission operations. Descriptions of translation techniques were generated, and translation times were recorded. The crew provided insights into tunnel translation and design through questionnaires and interviews.
The design of the tunnel was satisfactory. Translation through the tunnel in the two directions seemed to be the same, although carrying equipment (but not size of equipment) affected time and techniques. Translation times and techniques did change with practice, but only early in the mission.