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Checklists from different programs are quite different, they are also different from typical aviation checklists.

The ISS checklists are full of special characters, e.g. √, boxes around numbers, some text in bold etc. {} seem to be used both for comments and to refer to other procedures. A few examples from the ISS EVA Checklist:

√PBA Bottles →|← Quick Don Masks for each non-EVA

√MCC-H to ensure O2 cryo config will support EVA Prebreathe

  1. Is there a legend for all of the symbols? Is there a formal grammar?
  2. I am sure NASA spent an in inordinate amount of time developing these lists, are there any guidelines and a rationale for their development?
  3. How are these lists used? Is one person reading them and a second one executing the commands?
  4. is there any software that checks the syntax and makes sure the references are ok? How are changes handled, if e.g. a button gets a new label, how do they find all occurrences in all checklistst?
  5. Are there any substantial differences e.g. to the Russian space program?
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    $\begingroup$ √ is a Checkmark. Even though it looks like a Sqrt. $\endgroup$
    – Dylan
    Mar 2 '20 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ Curse you, code page 437! $\endgroup$
    – hobbs
    Mar 3 '20 at 1:30
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I can answer most of this for the Shuttle.

  1. Is there a legend for all of the symbols? Is there a formal grammar?

Yes. The document that controls the preparation of the Flight Data File (the formal name for the collection of crew procedures) was Annex C of the Space Shuttle Crew Procedures Management Plan: Space Shuttle Flight Data File Standards and Specifications

Every symbol and its use is explicitly spelled out in this document. Here's an example for one similar to one you mentioned.

enter image description here

  1. I am sure NASA spent an in inordinate amount of time developing these lists, are there any guidelines and a rationale for their development?

Also yes, the same document. Chapter 3 of the Shuttle Crew Operations Manual is all about FDF and explains in some detail the processes for maintaining and updating it.

For example, the form to be filled out to change a procedure was JSC Form 482. Here is the flowchart for processing those forms.

enter image description here

  1. How are these lists used? Is one person reading them and a second one executing the commands?

For ascent and entry, the time-critical procedures were affixed to the wall adjacent to the commander and pilot in what were called the "flip books". The mission specialists in the back had bound copies.

enter image description here

(Photo credit: NASA, annotation mine)

The front-seaters would (theoretically) read the procedures from the flipbooks and perform the switch throws. The back-seaters would follow along and check that the proper procedure was executed and the proper switches flipped.

On orbit, bound copies were used. Having a backup crewmember to help was encouraged for all procedures and strongly encouraged for critical procedures.

  1. is there any software that checks the syntax and makes sure the references are ok?

For Shuttle standard office word processing software was used.

For 5, I know little about Russian procedures, hopefully someone else can answer.

A good collection of shuttle-era FDF can be found at the JSC FDF Page which includes examples of the flip books, bound documents, and both nominal and off-nominal procedures.

Just learning what FDF to use when was a major step! Here's a handy guide, also from the SCOM. The top bar (white background) lists the controlling documents for nominal activities. The gray bars show the malfunction books appropriate for the stated mission phase.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ "11.8 OTHER SPECIAL SYMBOLS √ Checkmark [ √ ] – See Section 12.0 on the use of the checkmark" "The checkmark will be used to inform the crew that the condition of an item needs to be checked (verified) to see if it reflects the desired state. A procedural line that uses a checkmark is called a “verification.” " $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Mar 3 '20 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ (The OP asked specifically about the radix symbol, called checkmark in the referenced documentation) $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Mar 3 '20 at 0:47
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My understanding is that boldface is used for things that could kill you if you get them wrong. I believe I read that in one of Chris Hadfield's books.

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    $\begingroup$ All FDF procedure titles were bolded. But "boldface procedure" was a common slang term for, as you say, critical procedures. From the Standards: "The main procedure title (1st level) shall be left justified, bold, all capitals, at least one point larger than the type used for the procedure text, and not underlined." Also "No other special features (e.g., bold, italics) are acceptable for making text stand out, except those listed in this document. Boldface text often does not show up as such when photocopied." $\endgroup$ Mar 2 '20 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it means that MCC-H is a human function, instead of a switch: MCC-H to ensure O2 cryo config will support EVA Prebreathe. The ISS checklists look different from the STS ones, they must have changed the rules. $\endgroup$
    – yeg
    Mar 3 '20 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ @yeg MCC-H is Mission Control Center - Houston, that line means check with the ground. The procedure format between ISS and shuttle is very similar, if there are confusing differences, drop me a comment about what they are specifically. $\endgroup$ Mar 3 '20 at 15:21

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