Time for shift work ... and sleep shifting

Written by Bob McCormick on 7/16/2006 08:00:00 PM

Well, I start up the next week of Space Station mission work later today. I take the graveyard shift (11PM to 8 AM), and I've already started to sleep shift myself.

Our position requires 3 shifts over the week, "sort of". We normally have three shifts Monday through Friday - a graveyard shift from 11PM to 8AM, a day shift from 7 AM to 4 PM, and a midnight shift from 3 PM to 12 PM (the shift times allow for a 1 hour handover between each shift - the entire Flight Control Team shifts start at the same time). On weekends, our console nominally goes down to 1 daily 12 hour shift, starting 7 AM (in reality, the shift lasts as long as our console's work lasts, which many times has been finished in 8 hours).

The result is something I call "24x5 Plus".

To support the graveyard shift, I typically start by staying up late on Saturday night. Then, I take as long a nap as possible on Sunday, waking up in the afternoon/evening.

Different folks sleep shift for console operations different ways. Different Station Flight Controllers have different staffing requirements (like this one, this one, and this one (all 3 are in the same position), these two (in the same position), and these two (in similar positions), and this one). It's also different for Shuttle Flight Controllers (like this one), whose job varies by the flight they are assigned as well as the simulations they will support in preparation for that flight.

The shifts during Shuttle docked operations are a little different. They are generally controlled by the Shuttle crew's wakeup time, which varies from flight to flight, and will consistently have 3 shifts throughout the entire docked period. Both the Station and Shuttle flight controllers will have shifts consistent with the crew's wakeup time, although the Shuttle and Station team's start times will be offset from each other by an hour (so that the Shuttle and Station teams will not have to coordinate within themselves and between themselves at the same time).

Anyways, that's probably more than you wanted to know about shift operations. We'll see how well I can slog through the upcoming week.

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