Monday, November 17, 2008

945a 11/17 Update: Astros gear up for cargo module transfer to station

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CBS NEWS STS-126 STATUS REPORT: 24
Posted: 9:45 AM, 11/17/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-21 (11/16/08): Endeavour docks with space station
   SR-22 (11/16/08): Hatches opened; shuttle crew enters space station; mission status briefing
   SR-23 (11/16/08): Magnus officially joins ISS-18 crew
   SR-24 (11/17/08): Astronauts gear up for cargo module transfer to station

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9:45 AM, 11/17/08, Update: Astronauts gear up for cargo module transfer to station

The combined crews of the shuttle Endeavour and the international space station are gearing up for a busy day in space, moving a 27,000-pound cargo module loaded with critical equipment and supplies from the shuttle to a docking port on the lab's Harmony module. The astronauts also will also make final preparations for the mission's first spacewalk Tuesday.

The morning wakup call from mission control came at 9:35 a.m., with a recording of "London Calling" for astronaut Stephen Bowen.

"I guess my family really wanted to wake me up this morning," Bowen called down. "And we're all up and ready to go today."

Overnight, shuttle astronaut Sandra Magnus officially joined the Expedition 18 crew of the space station, replacing Gregory Chamitoff, who was launched to the outpost on May 31. The transfer was completed at 9:50 p.m. Sunday when Magnus' custom-fitted Soyuz seat liner was installed in the station's Soyuz lifeboat.

"The Soyuz now becomes Sandy's vehicle in case of an emergency," station flight director Brian Smith said early today. "The seat liners are custom fit to each astronaut and cosmonaut. So Sandy carried hers up with her on the shuttle and very shortly after docking, she took that and installed it in the Soyuz. Greg's came out of the Soyuz and was put in the shuttle for return home. So that marked the official transfer. Sandy is now an ISS crew member, Greg is now a member of STS-126 crew."

Also overnight, engineers completed a quick assessment of heat shield components on the extreme outer regions of Endeavour's right wing. That area of the wing could not be easily inspected after the cargo module is mounted on the station if problems were discovered later.

"If we needed to do any inspection in that area, we'd have to modify some of the planning," Smith said. "With the MPLM (multi-purpose logistics module) installed on node 2 (the Harmony module), we would not be able to access that area for inspection. So we were anxiously awaiting those results. The meeting was held overnight and the debris assessment team came back and said the wing looks great and no further inspection required and we were able to leave the plans (for today's cargo module transfer) in place."

Engineers are continuing to evaluate photos and other data to determine the overall health of the shuttle's thermal protection system. There have been no obvious signs of trouble, but analysis of digital photos shot during Endeavour's final approach to the station Sunday is not yet complete.

The Italian-built MPLM is loaded with a record amount of cargo, more than 14,000 pounds, including two complex racks of gear designed to convert urine into potable water, a new galley, a second toilet and two crew sleep stations. The equipment is needed to boost the station's crew size from three to six next year.

Carried into orbit at the back of Endeavour's cargo bay, the cylindrical cargo module will be picked up by the station's robot arm starting around 11:25 a.m. and attached to the Harmony module's downward-facing, or nadir, port. This will be the first time a cargo module has been attached to Harmony, which was launched to the station last year.

"This is one of the heaviest MPLMs to fly to the ISS," Smith said. "We've got Don Pettit and Sandy Magnus as the folks assigned to unload the MPLM and then load it back up with the cargo that's going to come back home. And of course, those two are veterans. Sandy's been to the ISS once before, on STS-112 back in 2002, and of course, Don was on ISS as an expedition crew member on Expedition 6. So the veterans are going to do an excellent job and I've got no concerns about all the transfers being completed."

While the cargo module is being secured to the station, spacewalkers Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Robert "Shane" Kimbrough will move equipment needed for upcoming spacewalks into the lab complex. The first spacewalk, by Stefanyshyn-Piper and Bowen, is scheduled to get underway at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. To prevent the bends after working in their low-pressure suits, both astronauts will spend the night inside the station's Quest airlock at a reduced air pressure.

Spacewalk preparations today "will consist of some tool configurations and some equipment transfers, equipment and tools that were flown up with the shuttle will be transferred over to the ISS," Smith said. "The remaining tools required and equipment for this EVA were already on ISS and configured by the ISS crew ahead of time.

"So the crew is also going to prepare the grease gun that they're going to use on the solar array rotary joint on the starboard side of the ISS during EVA-1. They're going to also take a last-minute review of the procedures and make sure there are no more questions. Then they'll go into the physiological preparations for EVA-1. And that consists of getting set up in the airlock and going on a breathing protocol and then sleeping in the airlock overnight."

Today's mission status briefing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the first in a series of media crew interviews is planned for 5:25 p.m. Mission Management Team Chairman LeRoy Cain will update reporters in a 6 p.m. briefing.

Here is an updated timeline of today's activity (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes revision B of the NASA television schedule):

EST........DD...HH...MM...EVENT

09:35 AM...02...13...30...Crew wakeup
11:25 AM...02...15...30...ISS daily planning conference
11:25 AM...02...15...30...Station arm (SSRMS) grapples cargo module (MPLM)
11:55 AM...02...16...00...SSRMS unberths MPLM
12:55 PM...02...17...00...Post-docking spacewalk transfers
01:15 PM...02...17...20...MPLM installation
01:15 PM...02...17...20...Middeck transfers
01:45 PM...02...17...50...First stage bolts tightened for MPLM berthing
01:55 PM...02...18...00...Crew meals begin
02:05 PM...02...18...10...Second stage bolts tightened
02:35 PM...02...18...40...REBA checkout
02:50 PM...02...18...55...EVA-1: Tools configured
02:50 PM...02...18...55...Soyuz pressure suit drying
02:55 PM...02...19...00...SSRMS ungrapples MPLM
03:30 PM...02...19...05...Mission status briefing on NASA TV
03:35 PM...02...19...40...MPLM vestibule pressurization
04:50 PM...02...20...55...MPLM vestibule ingress and configuration
04:50 PM...02...20...55...Grease gun preps for spacewalk
05:25 PM...02...21...30...WXIA-TV, WAGA-TV, WHDH-TV crew interviews
06:00 PM...02...22...05...Post-MMT briefing on NASA TV
06:20 PM...02...22...25...MPLM activation (part 1)
07:55 PM...03...00...00...Equipment airlock preps
08:15 PM...03...00...20...MPLM activation (part 2)
08:35 PM...03...00...40...MPLM ingress
08:50 PM...03...00...55...EVA-1: Procedures review
11:20 PM...03...03...25...EVA-1: Mask pre-breathe

11/18/08
12:05 AM...03...04...10...EVA-1: Airlock depress to 10.2 psi
12:25 AM...03...04...30...ISS crew sleep begins
12:55 AM...03...05...00...STS crew sleep begins
01:00 AM...03...05...05...Flight day 4 highlights reel on NASA TV
07:30 AM...03...11...35...Flight director update on NASA TV
08:55 AM...03...13...00...Crew wakeup

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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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