An update from Columbus Control Centre on the Orbital-3 supply spacecraft launch failure earlier this week and its implications:
It was a super busy day and for the teams at the Columbus Control Centre and it will continue over the next few days as we have to implement changes to the timeline due to the Orbital mishap. The astronauts will get a full weekend off even if they would have liked to capture and berth the Orbital-3
The direct impact of a mishap like this is that hardware is lost.
For the short term the effect is that from next week we will not be able to conduct planned activities such as the installation of the newly-arrived experiment hardware. Since we do not want to waste crew time started replanning with NASA right away to fill the timeline with other activities. We lost objectives but on the other hand we can now schedule ESA activities earlier to meet objectives earlier – it is always a give and take!
Regarding long-term impact it is important to understand if the lost hardware will affect other planned experiments further down the road, and if the lost vehicle has any other impact. Here one topic is trash management, Orbitals are loaded full of trash before they burn up in the atmosphere and yes we generate a lot of trash on orbit such as empty bags, consumables or old equipment. The unglamorous fact is that we now need to rework our trash and stowage choreography for Columbus. We had a strategy in place to operate efficiently but now we have to work with the trash we cannot get rid of with Orbital-3! Just another aspect in addition to the replanning …