Thursday, November 27, 2008

1150a 11/27 Update: Crew sends Thanksgiving greeting; Pettit demonstrates weightless toasts

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CBS NEWS STS-126 STATUS REPORT: 74
Posted: 11:50 AM, 11/27/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-72 (11/26/08): Leonardo cargo module detached from station, re-berthed in shuttle cargo bay
   SR-73 (11/27/08): Astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving in space
   SR-74 (11/27/08): Shuttle crew beams down Thanksgiving greetings; Pettit demonstrate weightless toasts

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11:50 AM, 11/27/08, Update: Shuttle crew beams down Thanksgiving greetings; Pettit demonstrate weightless toasts

The Endeavour astronauts beamed down Thanksgiving greetings today while astronaut Don Pettit, known for his entertaining "Saturday morning science" demonstrations during an earlier space station expedition, amused flight controllers with an innovative technique for sharing weightless toasts using improvised cups fashioned along the same lines as rocket fuel tanks.

"We just wanted to take this opportunity once again to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson, flanked by his crewmates, said from Endeavour's flight deck. "You know, Thanksgiving is one of those truly American holidays that isn't celebrated anywhere else, a time when we have an opportunity to reflect on everything that we've been given and all the privileges that we have living in the fine country we live in.

"We generally spend it with family. For us today, we have the opportunity to spend it with our once-removed family if you will, our space family, and I think the same holds true for everybody down there in mission control. Like I said a little bit earlier, I think you all have an opportunity to get home and perhaps get some leftovers today.

"We just wanted to, once again, come up live and thank everybody down there who is working this Thanksgiving Day to support this mission. We wish you all well, we wish your families well and please have a little bit of turkey for us. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving."

A few minutes later, Pettit and Stephen Bowen put on an impromptu science demonstration, using cups made from clear plastic taped into an elliptical shape with one side pinched into a sharp angle. As Pettit showed in a previous demonstration, tea or coffee squirted into such a cup will cling to the sides and naturally flow, or wick, to one corner for drinking.

"We decided to propose a toast," Pettit said. "So here's our cup filled with tea, and Steve has a cup filled with tea, and again, this is using the contact angle wetting phenomenon that rocket engineers use in fuel tanks in rockets to make a tea cup. And what we're going to do is propose a Thanksgiving toast on orbit.

Both astronauts tipped their cups and took a sip of tea.

"And now we're going to propose a toast to Thanksgiving, wishing everyone on Earth and off Earth a good Thanksgiving," Pettit said.

The astronauts took another sip.

"And now we're proposing a toast for future explorers."

The astronauts took another sip.

"And finally, we're proposing a toast just because we're in space and we can! And again, due to this contact angle wetting phenomenon, we can sip most of the fluid out of these cups and we no longer have to drink our beverages sucking through a straw in a pouch."

The seven shuttle astronauts plan to join the station's three-person crew for a joint meal later today before getting back to work.

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Quick-Launch Web Links:

CBS News STS-126 Status Reports:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/current.html

CBS News STS-126 Quick-Look Page:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/currentglance.html

NASA ISS Expeditions Page:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/index.html

NASA Shuttle Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/index.html
NASA Station Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/index.html
Spaceflight Now: http://spaceflightnow.com/index.html
GoogleSatTrack: http://www.lizard-tail.com/isana/tracking/

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