Astronauts having on busy Sunday aboard the station
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 27, 2011
The Discovery astronauts worked through a busy day of robot arm activity Sunday, along with equipment transfers to the International Space Station and preparations for a spacewalk Monday by astronauts Al Drew and Stephen Bowen, the first of two planned for the shuttle's final mission.
NASA's Mission Management Team, meanwhile, concluded that a focused inspection of Discovery's heat shield will not be required later in the mission.
While the team's assessment of Discovery's overall health and readiness for re-entry is not yet complete, analysis of launch imagery and closeup photos of the shuttle's heat shield during final approach to the International Space Station Saturday show the orbiter is in good shape.
"Great news for you," astronaut Stephen Robinson radioed the crew from mission control. "No focused inspection for flight day six. That means we will replan flight day six per the way we had intended preflight, which is further outfit of the (Permanent Multipurpose Module) and maybe a little transferring, too."
"Outstanding news, Steve," shuttle commander Steven Lindsey replied.
During Discovery's launching Thursday, at least four pieces of debris could be seen falling from the shuttle's external tank, including some that appeared to hit the underside of the orbiter. But all of the events occurred after the shuttle had climbed out of the dense lower atmosphere and well beyond the timeframe when high impact velocities are a threat.
Engineers did not expect to see any damage on Discovery's heat-shield tiles and MMT Chairman LeRoy Cain told reporters Sunday the "trivial" blemishes spotted so far substantiate engineering theories about the timing of debris impacts and the likelihood of problems.
"On the entire bottom side of the orbiter, where we have thousands of tiles, we have two tiles that they looked at and the damage is just coating damage on the order of a couple of inches by a couple of inches," he said. "Just phenomenal, the performance of the entire space shuttle system to result in this kind of a report from the inspection team."
Overall, he said, "we have no areas of concern to require any kind of focused or more detailed inspection. So we won't be doing any of that."
For Discovery's crew, the focus Sunday was on equipment transfers, repair work, robot arm activity and spacewalk preparations.
"We're going to be transferring some of the supplies from the shuttle middeck to the space station, putting everything away where it goes," said space station Flight Director Chris Edelen. "Also, there's a big operation (by the station crew) to remove a stuck (water) valve in the Columbus module, the European module.
"Discovery has brought up a jumper to replace that valve so (it) can be removed and brought back to Earth for inspection and eventual repair. To do that requires a rack to be rotated in Columbus and it's going to take several hours of close coordination between the crew on board as well as the European control center outside Munich."
Overnight, ground controllers moved the station's robot arm from a work site on the lab's solar power truss back to the Earth-facing side of the forward Harmony module. The arm was used Saturday to move a massive external storage platform from the shuttle to a mounting point on the underside of the truss.
"They lifted that out of the shuttle payload bay using the station's robotic arm," Edelen said. "They handed it off to the shuttle's robotic arm, repositioned the station arm so it could reach way out on the far starboard side of the station's truss, the external structure, and then they bolted ELC-4 to its permanent position where it will provide a mounting platform for external spares."
Express Logistics Carrier No. 4 was launched with a spare set of folding radiator panels for the station's ammonia cooling system. Two other items -- a cooling system rotary coupler and a box of spare electronic switching units -- will be moved to ELC-4 later. They were brought to the station by a Japanese HTV cargo ship.
But the radiator panels, which weigh 2,475 pounds and are 11 feet wide, required the shuttle.
"The space station has two large radiator wings, each made up of three separate panels, and inside these panels are tubes where liquid ammonia flows," Edelen said. "And that flows throughout the outside of the space station, it's used to cool all the electronics on space station, and it interfaces with heat exchangers for the internal module cooling as well. So a very critical part.
"If we take a micrometeoroid or orbital debris hit in one of those six panels, the ammonia could leak out. So now we have a spare radiator panel that we can install by spacewalk if that ever happens. It's good to have the spare parts on station. This is a very big piece of spare equipment and it can only fit on the space shuttle."
The station's robot arm was moved back to the Harmony module overnight for use today lifting the shuttle's heat shield inspection boom out of Discovery's payload bay. That will clear the way for removing a final U.S. module, called the Permanent Multipurpose Module, or PMM, from the cargo bay Tuesday.
The new module, loaded with supplies, science gear and an experimental humanoid robot called Robonaut, will be attached to the Earth-facing port of the station's central Unity module, providing additional long-term storage space.
Late today, Drew and Bowen will move into the station's Quest airlock module for an overnight "campout," closing the hatch and lowering the pressure to 10.2 psi to help purge nitrogen from their bloodstreams, a routine protocol for U.S. station spacewalks to help prevent the bends.
Work to mount ELC-4 got off to a late start Saturday and as a result, the Discovery astronauts were up later than originally planned. The shuttle crew was allowed to sleep an extra half hour, officially starting their day at 7:23 a.m. EST (GMT-5) with a recording of the Manhattan Transfer's "Java Jive" beamed up from mission control.
"Good morning, Discovery, and a special good morning to you, Steve Lindsey," astronaut Michael Massimino radioed from Houston.
"Good morning, Mike, and thanks to my family for that song," Lindsey replied. "Good to be back with you, looking forward to another good day."
Here is an updated timeline of the crew's activities for flight day four (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes rev. C of the NASA TV schedule):
DATE/EST...DD...HH...MM...SS...EVENT 02/27 07:23 AM...02...14...30...00...STS/ISS crew wakeup 08:23 AM...02...15...30...00...ISS daily planning conference 09:53 AM...02...17...00...00...Station arm (SSRMS) grapples OBSS 10:08 AM...02...17...15...00...ISS: Columbus water valve removal 10:13 AM...02...17...20...00...SSRMS unberths OBSS 10:28 AM...02...17...35...00...SSRMS moves OBSS to handoff position 10:58 AM...02...18...05...00...Shuttle arm (SRMS) grapples OBSS 11:18 AM...02...18...25...00...SSMRS ungrapples OBSS 11:43 AM...02...18...50...00...SSRMS moves from Harmony to truss 12:30 PM...02...19...37...00...Mission status briefing on NTV 12:58 PM...02...20...05...00...SSRMS moves from truss work site 3 to work site 2 01:13 PM...02...20...20...00...Spacewalk mask pre-breathe (REBA) checkout 01:43 PM...02...20...50...00...Crew meals begin 02:43 PM...02...21...50...00...Weather Channel/WBZ Radio/ ...............................WSB-TV/WTVT-TV interviews 03:13 PM...02...22...20...00...ISS: PMM vestibule equipment setup 03:28 PM...02...22...35...00...EVA-1: Equipment lock preps 04:00 PM...02...23...07...00...Mission Management Team briefing on NTV 04:13 PM...02...23...20...00...EVA-1: Tools configured 05:43 PM...03...00...50...00...EVA-1: Tool audit 06:13 PM...03...01...20...00...EVA-1: Procedures review 07:38 PM...03...02...45...00...ISS daily planning conference 08:48 PM...03...03...55...00...EVA-1: Mask prebreathe/tool config 09:33 PM...03...04...40...00...EVA-1: Airlock depress to 10.2 psi 09:53 PM...03...05...00...00...ISS crew sleep begins 10:23 PM...03...05...30...00...STS crew sleep begins 11:00 PM...03...06...07...00...Daily highlights reel on NTV (repeated hourly)
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