“Two companies have combined their expertise to produce an operations manual for Europe's most ambitious manned spaceflight project.
Internet consultancy, Time Is Ltd, of Norton Way South in Letchworth GC has teamed up with technical writers Author Services Technical, of Blackhorse Road in Letchworth GC, to create the instruction book for a laboratory due to be attached to the International Space Station later this year.
The Columbus laboratory is crammed with scientific equipment designed to research a whole host of things, including the effects of long-duration space flight on the human body and the exploration of the strange behaviour of weightless liquids.
Results of the first are expected to provide an increased understanding of age-related bone loss, balance disorders and other ailments on Earth.
The latter could bring far-reaching benefits on Earth, including better ways to clean up oil spills, for example, and even improved manufacture of optical lenses.
Ian Schofield, director of Time Is Ltd, said: "The documentation of how to run this thing had been written by many individual engineers from different countries so their English was of different standards, as were their methods of putting things together."
Gerry Gentle, director of AST, said: "The art is producing the information in a clear and unambiguous way and remembering that access to the document is usually a last resort so ease of retrieval is essential.
He added: "It now has everything in there to operate and maintain the module but we had to start from scratch and work out what the technical issues were and what the readable issues were. Every single word in that document had to be read and understood by us."
The 10,355 page instruction manual for the laboratory took three people eight months to complete.
It was originally written using Word 97 and copies, converted to disc, are being kept on board the Columbus, as well as on the ground in Germany.”