tions, and ISS maintenance. The requirements for training of flight crews for those ISS operations include emergency response training, extravehicular activity operations, and the full suite of nominal operations for U.S. and international partner ISS elements, including Soyuz. Thus, the ISS ground-based training facilities are required for the support of crew training for future operations and maintenance of the ISS.
Finding 3.2b. The requirements for U.S. astronaut training include international partner ISS element operations at international partner facilities and Soyuz operations in Russia. The U.S. international partner agreements also require that the United States provide for enhancing skill proficiency and training for the international partner astronauts.
Recommendation 3.2. NASA should retain the capability and training facilities to conduct International Space Station (ISS) mission-specific training after retirement of the space shuttle to ensure the continued safety and mission success of ISS operations.
Question 3—Aircraft Training
Ground-based simulators for spaceflight missions are used for approximately 90 percent of crew training. Only a small part of the training, designated by NASA as spaceflight readiness training (SFRT), puts the crew into operational environments in which they share some aspects of the fast dynamics, physical stress, and risk found in spaceflight. This kind of training is currently accomplished primarily by using a T-38N Talon two-person jet, a high-performance training aircraft that was originally purchased by the Air Force as a fighter pilot trainer more than 50 years ago. (Flight in the T-38N represents 10 percent of the training time for unassigned astronauts and 5 percent of the training time for those assigned to an upcoming mission. The most significant constraint on assigned astronauts’ acquiring flight time is that they are training overseas for a great deal of time.)
It is important to emphasize that SFRT is not just about flying the T-38N as the pilot in command. Instead, it is about developing the skills and ability to work together in an environment that is fast-paced, is physically stressful, and carries potentially severe penalties for failure. SFRT involves both the pilot in command of the aircraft and the person in the backseat, dividing responsibilities. For example, the backseat flyer frequently handles navigation, communications, and crew resource management duties during flight and must coordinate with the pilot, who is actually flying the aircraft. Hands-on control of the aircraft by backseaters is a big part of SFRT. SFRT is useful for many aspects of spaceflight—not only for operation of a spacecraft, such as Soyuz, but for operations onboard the International Space Station.
NASA currently has a fleet of 21 T-38s for astronaut training and intends to reduce this number to 16 in 2013 because of a planned reduction in the size of the Astronaut Corps. Small “environmental” additions to flight training include exposure to hypoxia in the JSC high-altitude chamber, a one-time run in the Russian centrifuge at Star City6 (for a medical evaluation during exposure to ballistic re-entry), and survival training (for water and land). SFRT is designed to provide evaluation of training and crew performance in an environment that most closely replicates the physical and psychological stresses of the high-speed dynamic environment of spaceflight.
The committee assessed the value of using high-performance training aircraft, the basis of the projected size of the current T-38N fleet and alternative aircraft, and the potential for using high-fidelity simulators for SFRT. The committee also was provided input from the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program regarding its training tools and experiences and from the commercial aviation industry.
Findings and Recommendations on Spaceflight Readiness Training
Finding 3.3a. The spaceflight readiness training requirement is derived from safety and mission success requirements, not tied to any specific mission. Although the requirement is not expressly documented at the NASA Headquarters program level, it was developed by the Flight Crew Operations Directorate
6 The most accurate translation of the Russian name is “Starry Town,” but “Star City” is the common usage at NASA.