Tuesday, February 12, 2008

STS-122 MCC Status Report #09

STS-122
Report #09
Monday, February 11, 2008 - 6:30 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – After an almost eight-hour spacewalk by astronauts Stanley Love and Rex Walheim, the Columbus module officially became a part of the International Space Station.

"The European Columbus module is now part of the ISS," Expedition 16 astronaut Leopold Eyharts radioed to Mission Control in Houston at 3:44 p.m. CST.

Mission Specialists Love and Walheim worked during the day to install a grapple fixture on Columbus while it rested inside the shuttle’s payload bay. They also worked to prepare electrical and data connections on the module. Once this work was complete, astronauts Leland Melvin, Dan Tani and Eyharts operated the space station’s robotic arm to grab on to Columbus, lift it out of the orbiter and begin the 42-minute journey to its final attachment onto the starboard side of the station.

As Columbus was moving into place, Walheim and Love began work to replace a large nitrogen tank used for pressurizing the station's ammonia cooling system. This work will be completed during the second EVA, which will take place on Wednesday.

Columbus is the cornerstone of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station. With this addition, the station is now 57 percent complete in terms of mass.

The crew will wake at 3:45 a.m. tomorrow and will spend the day completing the initialization of Columbus, once all leak checks are complete.

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

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Monday, February 11, 2008

STS-122 MCC Status Report #08

STS-122
Report #08
Monday, February 11, 2008 - 5:30 a.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – Installation and activation of the European Space Agency’s science laboratory highlights the day as the crews of space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station prepare for the first of three spacewalks.

The day began at 3:46 a.m. CST. The wakeup song “Fly Like an Eagle,” written by Steve Miller, was played for Mission Specialist Leland Melvin on the day he will use the station’s robotic arm to lift the Columbus research module from Atlantis’ payload bay.

Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Stanley Love will leave the Quest airlock at 8:35 a.m. CST for a 6.5-hour spacewalk to mate Columbus to the Harmony module. Inside the space station, Melvin will operate the station’s arm and Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialist Hans Schlegel will assist the two spacewalkers.

Walheim and Love will first install a grapple fixture on Columbus while it rests inside the shuttle’s payload bay. The two spacewalkers will then prepare to replace a large nitrogen tank used for pressurizing the station's ammonia cooling system.

Meanwhile, Melvin will use the station’s robotic arm to grasp Columbus and move it into place on the starboard side of Harmony. Motorized bolts will lock Columbus in place. Once Columbus is attached, crew members will do an initial leak check.

Columbus is the cornerstone of the European Space Agency’s contribution to the International Space Station and is the first European laboratory to be dedicated to long-term research in space.

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

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STS-122 MCC Status Report #07

STS-122
Report #07
Sunday, February 10, 2008 - 3:00 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – Atlantis’ crew spent the day performing a detailed inspection of the shuttle’s thermal blanket over the right Orbital Maneuvering System pod as well as preparing for tomorrow’s spacewalk.

Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Alan Poindexter and Hans Schlegel focused most of the day on finalizing the checklists for the spacewalk, which is scheduled to begin at 8:35 a.m. CST tomorrow. In advance of tomorrow’s activities, Love and Walheim will “camp out” inside the Quest airlock tonight in order to purge nitrogen from their bodies.

Tomorrow’s events will focus on installing the Columbus laboratory by mating it to the Harmony module. Walheim and Love will first install a grapple fixture onto Columbus while it rests inside the shuttle’s payload bay. Astronauts will then use the space station’s robotic arm to attach to Columbus and move it into place on the starboard side of Harmony.

Once the detailed inspection is complete and all images are captured, analysts at Mission Control in Houston will examine the data to ensure there are no issues with the shuttle’s thermal protection system.

The crew is scheduled to wake at 3:45 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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

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STS-122 MCC Status Report #06

STS-122
Report #06
Sunday, February 10, 2008 - 6 a.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – The seven-member crew of Atlantis will spend today preparing for the mission’s first spacewalk on Monday and take a closer look at a small tear on a thermal blanket over the shuttle’s right Orbital Maneuvering System pod.

Mission managers added a day to the mission Saturday after delaying the first spacewalk because of a crew medical issue. Plans were finalized last night for a focused inspection of Atlantis’ thermal protection system today beginning at 1:15 p.m. CST. The crew also will ready Harmony for the Columbus research module and transfer cargo to the space station.

Today’s wakeup song at 3:45 a.m. CST was “Maenner” by German musician Herbert Groenemeyer for astronaut Hans Schlegel. “Maenner” translated is “Men.” Groenemeyer is also known for his portrayal of Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen’s movie “Das Boot.”

Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Stanley Love and Schlegel will spend time today reviewing procedures for Monday’s spacewalk. Love is replacing Schlegel on the mission’s first spacewalk. Love and Walheim will assist robotic arm operators in attaching the newly arrived Columbus module to the starboard side of the Harmony module.

Walheim and Love will spend tonight "camped out" inside the Quest airlock with air pressure lowered to help purge nitrogen from their bodies in preparation for tomorrow’s spacewalk, the first of three planned for this mission. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:35 a.m. CST Monday.

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STS-122 MCC Status Report #05

STS-122
Report #05
Saturday, February 9, 2008 - 5:30 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – Space shuttle Atlantis delivered the European Space Agency’s Columbus science laboratory to the International Space Station today, but the actual installation of the module will be delayed by one day.

What wasn’t delayed, however, was the official crew rotation of ESA Astronaut Leopold Eyharts and Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Dan Tani, which was completed at 5:20 p.m. Eyharts now is a member of Expedition 16 and Tani is an STS-122 mission specialist.

Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Tani welcomed the seven-man Atlantis crew into the space station at 12:40 p.m., following an 11:17 a.m. docking, following a flawless rendezvous throughout the morning.

They’ll have 24 extra hours to finish preparing for the mission’s next major milestone, however, due to a crew medical issue. The mission’s first spacewalk originally was scheduled for Sunday, but has been postponed until Monday. Mission Specialist Rex Walheim will be joined for the spacewalk by Mission Specialist Stanley Love, rather than Mission Specialist Hans Schlegel, as originally planned.

Space Shuttle Program Deputy Manager John Shannon said ground teams are currently reworking the mission timeline and there should be no impact to the completion of the mission’s objectives, despite being shifted one day later.

To make up for the delay, Shannon said the crew will conserve enough power to spend an additional day in space. Atlantis went into orbit with the option of adding one day to its mission, which was to be used for additional work commissioning the new Columbus module. By adding a second day, the crew could shift their activities by one day and still have time for more Columbus work after the module is installed.

Before docking, Commander Steve Frick flew the shuttle through a backflip to allow the space station crew a good view of Atlantis’ heat shield. Whitson and Malenchenko took about 300 photos of the shuttle’s thermal protection system and sent them down to teams on the ground for analysis.

The teams also are paying close attention to photos sent down by the crew Friday of minor damage to a thermal blanket over the shuttle’s right Orbital Maneuvering System pod. A similar condition occurred on the left pod last year on STS-117 and was repaired during a spacewalk.

Shannon said this case does not seem to be as much of a concern, because this particular blanket location does not experience as much heat during the shuttle’s reentry.

Docking went smoothly with the exception of a hiccup with one of the station’s five general purpose computers. After experiencing some problems with guidance and navigation software on the computer, the crew opted to use other computers for the shuttle’s rendezvous with the station. Only one computer is needed to perform the rendezvous, with one computer required for backup. Mission Control will review the computer’s software to ensure its health.

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

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STS-122 MCC Status Report #04

STS-122
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 LĂ©opold 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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STS-122 MCC Status Report #03

STS-122
Report #03
Friday, February 8, 5:00 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – The seven-member crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis is ready for tomorrow’s rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station, planned for 11:25 a.m. CST.

Commander Steve Frick and his crewmates, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Hans Schlegel and Leopold Eyharts, today completed a five-hour inspection of Atlantis’ heat shield using the shuttle’s robotic arm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System. Imagery analysts and engineers on the ground will add today’s three-dimensional sensor images to imagery and accelerometer data collected at launch and during the climb to orbit and continue their analysis of the shuttle's heat shield.

Also today, the crew checked out the tools that will be used during tomorrow's rendezvous and docking to the station, installed the centerline camera that will be used during docking and extended the outer ring of the Orbiter Docking System.

Spacewalkers Walheim, Schlegel and Love checked out the spacesuits that they will wear during the mission's three spacewalks. At 2:02 p.m. Walheim reported that the suits had been fully prepared for transfer to the space station.

On board the space station, Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Dan Tani readied the station for the arrival of Atlantis’ crew by conducting a leak check of Pressurized Mating Adapter-2, Atlantis’ docking point.

Tomorrow, Frick will perform the rendezvous pitch maneuver, an orbiter back-flip 600 feet below the space station that will allow Whitson and Malenchenko to take hundreds of detailed images of the orbiter’s underside. With the pitch maneuver complete, Frick will fly the shuttle ahead of the station and slowly ease the orbiter back to a docking with the space station.

Tomorrow also marks Whitson's 48th birthday. She commented today that she was looking forward to Atlantis' arrival as her birthday present.

The STS-122 crew is on an 11-day mission that will deliver a new research module to the International Space Station, the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory. Columbus will be 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.

Atlantis’ crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 7:45 p.m. and will awaken at 3:45 a.m.

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

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Friday, February 8, 2008

STS-122 MCC Status Report #02

STS-122
Report #02
5 a.m. CST Friday, Feb. 8, 2008
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

The seven member crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis has begun its first full day in space on an 11-day mission that delivers the newest research module, the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory, to the International Space Station.

Installing the laboratory, named for Christopher Columbus, is the primary goal of this 121st space shuttle mission. It will add 2,648 cubic feet of pressurized volume, four science experiment racks and one storage rack to the space station.

This morning’s wakeup song, “The Book of Love,” performed by Peter Gabriel, was played for European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts at 3:45 a.m. CST. Eyharts will become a member of the Expedition 16 crew, replacing Flight Engineer Dan Tani, after Atlantis arrives at the space station Saturday.

Today Atlantis Commander Steve Frick and his crewmates, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Hans Schlegel and Eyharts will perform an inspection of Atlantis’ heat shield using the shuttle’s robotic arm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System. They’ll also check out the tools they need for Saturday’s rendezvous and docking to the station and install a centerline camera in the shuttle’s orbiter docking system.

Spacewalkers Walheim, Schlegel and Love will prepare spacesuits that they will wear during the mission’s three spacewalks; two by Walheim and Schlegel and one by Walheim and Love.

The International Space Station’s Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Tani started their day at 4 a.m. CST. Today they will conduct a leak check of the Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 where Atlantis will dock to the station Saturday morning at 11:25 a.m. CST.

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

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STS-122 MCC Status Report #01

STS-122
Report #01
Thursday, February 7, 2008 - 4:30 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON -- Seven years to the day after the first laboratory was launched to the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle Atlantis roared into space this afternoon with the second, the European Space Agency's Columbus lab.

Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-122 at 1:45 p.m. CST. Aboard the shuttle are Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Hans Schlegel and Leopold Eyharts. Schlegel and Eyharts are European astronauts.

Atlantis is in excellent condition. The shuttle is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station on Saturday. On Friday, the crew will use the shuttle's robotic arm to inspect Atlantis' heat shield on the wing leading edges and nose. They also will check the spacesuits that will be used for three spacewalks during the mission.

After Atlantis arrives at the station, Eyharts will become a member of the Expedition 16 crew, joining Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko. Flight Engineer Dan Tani, who has been aboard the station since October 2007, will return to Earth on Atlantis.

The launch of Atlantis is the 121st space shuttle launch and the 29th flight of Atlantis. The Columbus module is Europe’s primary contribution to the space station. Columbus will host experiments in life, physical and earth sciences.

The shuttle crew will begin a sleep period at 7:45 p.m. CST and awaken at 3:45 a.m. CST Friday to begin their first full day in space.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Atlantis finally had a good launch!

Hi folks, unfortunately, I was not able to follow Atlantis launch processing closely since early this year. But now I'd like to at least convey the fact that space shuttle Atlantis finally had a good launch and is on its way to the international space station ISS. Let me quote the NASA homepage for now:

With Atlantis safely attaining orbit, NASA mission managers gave the command to proceed with main engine cutoff, or MECO, and the giant orange tank that provided fuel for the climb into space has been jettisoned. As the tank falls away and descends toward Earth, its onboard cameras record the process.

Atlantis' next stop: the International Space Station.

Cheers and shouts could be heard throughout the space center as Atlantis, carrying the STS-122 crew and Columbus Laboratory, roared off the launch pad into the mid-afternoon sky to begin the 24th mission to the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Steve Frick commands a crew of six, including Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love and the European Space Agency's Hans Schlegel and Leopold Eyharts. This is the first spaceflight for Poindexter, Love and Melvin.

During the 11-day mission, the crew's prime objective is to attach the European Space Agency's Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station, adding to the station's size and capabilities.

Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Daniel Tani, who arrived at the station aboard Discovery in October, will return to Earth with the Atlantis crew as Eyharts takes his place on the station.
I hope I will soon be able to provide the usual coverage of what's going on with space launches again. Stay tuned ;)

Rainer

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