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Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-135
Payload: Raffaello
Launch: July 8, 2011
Time: 11:29 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: July 21 @ 5:57 a.m. EDT
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Astronauts now focusing on hectic cargo transfer work
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: July 13, 2011


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With a final shuttle-era spacewalk behind them, the Atlantis astronauts focused on logistics transfers Wednesday, devoting their day to moving cargo and supplies from the shuttle's crew cabin and the Raffaello multi-purpose module into the International Space Station. They also took time for maintenance work, servicing the lab's U.S. toilet and restarting the crew's urine recycling system after standing down a day to let a strong odor dissipate.


Credit: NASA
 
"That's the great thing about spaceflight," joked space station astronaut Michael Fossum, whose fellow spacewalker Ronald Garan worked on the toilet Wednesday. "One day, you're doing the most outrageous thing humans have ever done -- spacewalking. The next day, you're fixing toilets and packing boxes."

Carried aloft in Atlantis' payload bay, Raffaello was launched with 9,403 pounds of supplies and equipment packed inside, including 2,677 pounds of food to provision the station crew through 2012. Another ton of logistics was carried inside the shuttle's crew cabin.

The supplies delivered by the Atlantis astronauts, along with provisions aboard Russian cargo ships, will keep the six-member crew supplied through 2012.

"We have a lot of clothing, a lot of food and of course we want to put the space station in a good position to be self-sustaining for up to a year and that's about what it takes," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson said in a NASA interview. "We're also taking a lot of environmental supplies. We have the urine processor on board (the station), and that requires a fairly scheduled and systematic delivery of filter tanks ... we'll be taking six or seven of those, a lot of other components for the environmental system.

"We'll be bringing back an awful lot as well. We'll be bringing back a heat exchanger and a lot of the components that were stationed full time aboard the ISS just to support the space shuttle. We can bring that all back with us. Like I said, in addition to delivering an awful lot of cargo we're also hoping to offload trash, maybe things that could be repaired and sent back up (aboard unmanned cargo ships)."

The station's three Russian crew members helped out with cargo transfers Wednesday morning before carrying out their own maintenance activities later in the day.

Space station Flight Director Chris Edelen said the astronauts are about 50 percent complete with work to unload the multi-purpose logistics module and re-pack it with no longer needed equipment and trash.

"The crew is now about halfway complete unloading the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module, moving that cargo out of the module and into the space station and bringing back the spare parts, the trash and other various pieces of equipment that will be coming back to Earth.

"If you saw some of the downlink video, you may have noticed it's very cluttered in the logistics module, there are bags and boxes everywhere, just like in your house on moving day. But it's a controlled chaos. The team here in Houston is working very closely with the crew, they've choreographed the movements of equipment in and out of the logistics module so there's a place for everything. We're making sure, very carefully, that everything we need for resupplying the station ends up on the station and everything we want to come home ends up in Raffaello."

One area of interest to flight controllers has been the performance of the U.S. toilet and urine recycling system in the Tranquility module. The crew reported a strong odor around the equipment Monday. The urine processor was shut down and the intensity of the smell subsided.

"Ron Garan spent several hours working on the space station toilet, the waste hygiene compartment," Edelen said. "He replaced several components there that were starting to give some noises and vibrations that were indicating those components were approaching their end of life. He replaced those and now reports the space station toilet is working just fine.

The toilet is tied into NASA's urine recycling system, which produces ultra-pure water for drinking and other uses. About 10 days ago, a leak was detected in the system and in the process of making repairs, air got into the urine processor.

"And so we've been very gingerly and very carefully doing our urine processing to make sure we're not over-stressing any of the components in that," Edelen said. "There was a report of an odor the day before yesterday that we believe is associated with that air as it works its way out of the system.

The system was restarted Wednesday and operated for nearly four hours without any problems or objectionable smells.

"This is an important technology we are demonstrating and perfecting in low-Earth orbit so that it can be used on future missions into deep space," Edelen said. "It's vitally important that we recycle all our water, all forms of our water, because it's so heavy you can't resupply a mission with water when you're far from the Earth."


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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FINAL SHUTTLE-ERA SPACEWALK CONCLUDES PLAY
VIDEO: PROTECTIVE COVER PUT ON VACANT DOCKING PORT PLAY
VIDEO: FIXING SNAGGED WIRE ON ZARYA GRAPPLE FIXTURE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKER GOES SIGHT-SEEING HIGH ABOVE EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: SATELLITE SERVICING DEMONSTRATOR GIVEN TO DEXTRE PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOTIC REFUELING MISSION MOVED TO THE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS SWAP POSITIONS ABOARD ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: PUMP STOWED IN ATLANTIS BAY FOR RETURN TO EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: STUNNING VIEWS OF ASTRONAUT RIDING ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: FAILED PUMP FREED FROM STORAGE BOX PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 1 GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: RAFFAELLO MODULE CONNECTED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: CARGO-DELIVERY MODULE UNBERTHED FROM ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES MODULE IN SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING OF SHUTTLE TO STATION AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARCS OUT IN FRONT OF SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS PERFORMS THE 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY


VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL STS-135 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS BLASTS OFF! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GO INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER FORECAST BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH SITE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS FERGUSON PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH DOUG HURLEY PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH SANDY MAGNUS PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH REX WALHEIM PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-135 MISSION OVERVIEW PRESENTATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: CREW CHATS WITH PRESS AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HEAR FROM ATLANTIS' CREW DURING ROLLOUT PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ARRIVES ATOP LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS WITNESS FINAL SHUTTLE ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HOISTING ATLANTIS TO TANK AND SRBS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER GOES VERTICAL PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SLING CAPTURES ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS LEAVES PROCESSING HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER TRANSPORTER PICKS UP ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF

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