The managing director of Houston-based company NanoRacks, Jeffrey Manber, said recently that the failure of a series of student-designed experiments, delivered aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, is owed to a flaw in the training procedure astronauts undergo.
The experiments were delivered to the orbital lab aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule in May, and were returned to Earth in July, aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft. Some of them were never activated due to the aforementioned flaw, Space
When researchers opened the return experiments, they noticed that the tube – which was supposed by be pressed by an astronaut in order for the mixing of test fluids to commence – was never touched. The company now plans to reedit the experiments, and deliver them to the ISS during upcoming missions.
“Previous crews were given on the ground review and personal interaction prior to launch. For this mission, the astronaut received hardware training solely via video while on the space station. Clearly, there was a miscommunication resulting from the video instruction,” Manber says.