Monday, February 11, 2008

STS-122 MCC Status Report #04

Report #04
5 a.m. CST Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

The International Space Station’s newest scientific laboratory, the European Space Agency’s Columbus research module, is just hours from completing its journey to the station.

Space shuttle Atlantis will deliver the new module and a new crew member to the station when it docks at 11:25 a.m. CST to begin 6 days of docked operations.

Today’s wakeup song, played for Commander Steve Frick, at 3:45 a.m. CST was the theme song from Garrison Keillor’s radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion.” The song is the Spencer Williams composition "Tishomingo Blues," but with lyrics written especially for the show.

Frick and his shuttle crewmates begin rendezvous operations at 5:30 a.m. CST. At 10:23 a.m., at a range of 600 feet below the station, Frick will command Atlantis to perform a back flip so ISS Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko can photograph the thermal tiles on the shuttle’s underside. Those digital images will be sent to Mission Control for analysis.

With the pitch maneuver complete, Frick will then fly the shuttle ahead of the station and slowly ease the orbiter back to a docking with the space station.

After hatch opening, the crew members will begin moving spacewalking equipment into the Quest airlock to prepare for the first excursion on Sunday. Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Hans Schlegel will go outside to prepare the Columbus module to be grappled by the station’s robotic arm, lifted from Atlantis’ payload bay, and installed on the starboard side of Harmony.

The official exchange of Atlantis crewmember Léopold Eyharts with space station Flight Engineer Dan Tani, who arrived at the station in October, is planned for 6 a.m. CST Sunday. The transfer becomes official with the installation of Eyharts’ customized seat liner in the Soyuz.

The STS-122 crew is on an 11-day mission to install and activate Columbus. The new laboratory is Europe's largest contribution to the construction of the station, adding 2,648 cubic feet of pressurized volume, four science experiment racks and one storage rack to the orbiting complex.

The next STS-122 status report will be issued Saturday evening or earlier if events warrant.

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