Wednesday, November 19, 2008

910a 11/19 Update: Crew gears up for water system activation


Posted: 9:10 AM, 11/19/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-35 (11/18/08): Spacewalk ends
   SR-36 (11/18/08): Mission managers pleased with spacewalk; lost tool bag not considered a threat to station
   SR-37 (11/18/08): Shuttle heat shield in good shape; officially cleared for entry
   SR-38 (11/19/08): Crew awake; water recycling gear setup on tap


9:10 AM, 11/19/08, Update: Crew awake; water recycling gear setup on tap

The Endeavour astronauts and their space station crewmates are gearing up for a busy day inside the international lab complex, hooking up water recycling gear in the Destiny module and installing new sleep stations in the Unity connecting node. Astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Robert "Shane" Kimbrough also will check out their spacesuits and review procedures for a second spacewalk Thursday, the 10th anniversary of the start of station construction.

The astronauts were awakened at 8:55 a.m. by a recording of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" beamed up from mission control for shuttle pilot Eric Boe.

"Good morning, Endeavour," called astronaut Shannon Lucid in her standard greeting from Houston. "And a special good morning to you today, Eric."

"Good morning to you, Shannon, and the rest of the team that supports us and the international space station around the world," replied Boe. "I'd like to thank my family for the song and we're ready to continue making extreme home improvements."

The two 1,700-pound water recycling racks were moved from the Leonardo cargo transfer module on Tuesday - a day ahead of schedule - and the astronauts will spend much of today hooking up the equipment in preparation for activation. If all goes well, the first samples of stored urine, collected in Russian containers by the space station crew before Endeavour arrived, will be fed into the system Thursday to begin tests and checkout.

The water processing racks, a new galley and toilet will eventually be tied into a common potable water bus in the Destiny module. Urine collected in the new toilet will be routed to the water racks, processed and converted into pure water for drinking, food preparation, crew hygiene and oxygen generation. Water recyling is required to boost the station's crew size from three to six next year.

The new toilet will be activated after Endeavour departs. The near-term goal is to activate the water system, treat stored urine and collect processed water samples for return to Earth aboard the shuttle. No one will actually drink the water until additional samples are processed following the next shuttle visit in February.

"The upcoming day has changed. This is going to be a theme, probably, for the next few days in the mission," space station flight director Brian Smith said early today. "It's changed because the crew was really able to get ahead and perform more rack transfers that were originally slated for flight day six (today). So we're going to pull some activities from some other flight days, pull them up earlier to flight day six. Specifically, the crew's going to transfer crew quarters, two of those, they're also going to start working on the WRS racks that were installed the other day."

Before Endeavour's launch, today's flight plan included a block of time set aside for a so-called focused inspection of the shuttle's heat shield in case any problems were spotted that warranted extra scrutiny. But Endeavour's heat shield is in good shape - the shuttle was cleared for entry as is Tuesday night - and the focused inspection is not needed.

That block of time, along with time saved earlier in the mission by the astronauts, should be enough to complete activation of a potable water dispenser during the normal course of the mission to permit Endeavour's crew to bring processed water samples back to Earth for detailed chemical analysis.

Mission managers were holding open the option of extending the flight one day to give the crew extra time to complete the water system activation, but that no longer appears necessary.

"We believe that we are so far ahead that we will be able to accomplish that within the context of our planned mission," station flight director Ginger Kerrick said late Tuesday. "So we expect to get the water samples from the water processor assembly that was originally planned, we get those on flight day 11 (Monday) and we expect to have the potable water bus and the potable water dispenser all set up to be able to take samples from those on either flight day 12 (Tuesday) or flight day 13 (Wednesday). So it's been great going inside."

Spacewalk planners, meanwhile, have been assessing options for working around the loss of two grease guns needed for servicing a damaged solar array rotary joint on the right side of the station. During a spacewalk Tuesday, Stefanyshyn-Piper lost a tool bag overboard while struggling to clean up grease that leaked from a gun before the servicing work began. She and spacewalker Stephen Bowen shared tools for the remainder of the spacewalk and accomplished all of their objectives.

The crew has spares for some of the lost equipment, but not the two grease guns.

"As far as impacts to other EVAs, for EVA-2 we don't expect it to be an impact," Smith said today. "So we currently are leaving EVA-2 exactly as it was planned. For EVA-3, EVA-3's completely dedicated to starboard solar alpha rotary joint maintenance and cleaning. We're still assessing what the impacts to that may be. There are some options to work around any of the impacts but we'll know more in the coming days."

Here is an updated timeline of today's activity (in EST and mission elapsed time; NASA's TV schedule is being revised and was not available at the time of this posting):


08:55 AM...04...13...00...Crew wakeup
10:25 AM...04...14...30...ISS daily planning conference
11:10 AM...04...15...15...Port crew quarters installation
11:50 AM...04...15...55...Water rack equipment transfer
12:10 PM...04...16...15...Node 2 RSR to cargo module
12:10 PM...04...16...15...Middeck transfers
12:15 PM...04...16...20...Water rack setup
12:55 PM...04...17...00...SAFER jet pack checkout
01:10 PM...04...17...15...Starboard crew quarters installation
01:10 PM...04...17...15...Russian PAO event
01:55 PM...04...18...00...MPLM transfers
02:40 PM...04...18...45...Port crew quarters installation
02:50 PM...04...18...55...Spacesuit swap
03:50 PM...04...19...55...Media interviews
04:00 PM...04...20...05...Crew meals begin
04:30 PM...04...20...35...Mission status briefing on NASA TV
05:00 PM...04...21...05...Water rack kit 3 install
05:40 PM...04...21...45...Equipment airlock preps
06:25 PM...04...22...30...Tool configuration
08:50 PM...05...00...55...EVA-2: Procedures review
09:50 PM...05...01...55...Evening planning conference
11:20 PM...05...03...25...EVA-2: Mask pre-breathe

12:05 AM...05...04...10...EVA-2: Airlock depress to 10.2 psi
12:25 AM...05...04...30...ISS crew sleep begins
12:55 AM...05...05...00...STS crew sleep begins


Quick-Launch Web Links:

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CBS News STS-126 Quick-Look Page:

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NASA Shuttle Web:
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