Sunday, November 23, 2008

330p 11/23 Update: Urine processor maintenance work complete; crew awaits test run


Posted: 03:30 PM, 11/23/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-55 (11/22/08): Urine processor repair attempt on tap; samples collected; extra day not envisioned
   SR-56 (11/23/08): Urine processor repair attempt; Monday spacewalk replanned
   SR-57 (11/23/08): Urine distillation unit maintenance procedure completed; crew stands by for test run


3:30 PM, 11/23/08, Update: Urine distillation unit maintenance procedure completed; crew stands by for test run

Space station commander Mike Fincke and Endeavour astronaut Don Pettit opened up one of the station's new water recycling racks today and removed rubber dampers from a distillation assembly in hopes of fixing a vibration problem with a critical centrifuge. By bolting the unit directly to its shelf in the recycling rack, engineers believe the centrifuge motor may operate normally, allowing the astronauts to convert urine into potable water.

Fincke, making a thumbs-up sign to mission control on downlinked video, held up a plastic bag containing the removed dampers and praised station-veteran Pettit for helping out with the impromptu repair.

"Thanks to Dr. Don Pettit," Fincke said. "We double checked and checked and double checked our work. We're going to put the bracket back on the front and then we should be ready to try this out. Thank you."

"We do have some steps to do on the ground," astronaut Terry Virts radioed from Houston. "We'll start getting it running again and when we're ready, we'll let you know, and when we're ready to have it filled."

"OK, I understand these things have to be done in sequence and I won't do any filling work until you guys are ready."

"Sounds good," Virts said. "Now that (outgoing flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff) is leaving and we won't be playing chess any more, maybe we can get a game of Pictionary going."

"That's true, that's a little bit more my style," Fincke joked.

The urine processor assembly has experienced problems with its distillation centrifuge since the astronauts began attempting to start up the recycling system late last week. After about two hours of normal operation, the centrifuge motor slows down and the system shuts itself down.

Telemetry indicates a speed sensor in the centrifuge is coming in physical contact with the motor as the system warms up. By removing the rubber isolation dampers, engineers hope to prevent a frequency response condition that might be contributing to the problem.

See the 9:50 a.m. status report for additional details.


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CBS News STS-126 Quick-Look Page:

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