Aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station tonight, crews are preparing for a day of unloading and installing equipment both inside and outside the two spacecraft.
The song “From a Distance” performed by Nanci Griffith awakened Discovery’s crew, and astronauts Paul Richards and Andy Thomas quickly began preparing for a planned six and a half hour space walk. Richards and Thomas plan to install a stowage platform for spare station parts as well as attach a spare pump to the platform, ready in the event future crews need it. They also will complete the connection of several cables that were put in place by astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms during their space walk conducted on Sunday. The cables, on the exterior of the Destiny laboratory, will be used by the station’s robotic arm set for launch aboard the next space shuttle in April.
After the cable connections are completed, Richards and Thomas will climb to the top of the station where the giant, 240-foot wingspan United States solar arrays are attached and attempt to tap a brace for the port side array into its latched position. The brace, one of four, did not latch in place properly when the arrays were installed on the station last year. However, the other three braces are secure and the array’s stability has not been a concern. In addition, several quick tasks are planned during the space walk, including work with a connector on the Unity module as part of an analysis of a past lab heater problem; taking photos of a vent on the Destiny lab and of the Zvezda service module’s general exterior; and inspecting an exterior experiment called the Floating Potential Probe that has operated intermittently since it was installed on the station a few months ago.
During the space walk, Discovery Pilot Jim Kelly will operate the shuttle’s robotic arm to maneuver Thomas as he carries gear between the shuttle and the station. Astronaut Susan Helms will serve as the in-cabin space walk coordinator aboard Discovery.
While Discovery’s crew is busy installing exterior equipment, inside the station Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Expedition Two Commander Yury Usachev and Expedition Two Flight Engineer Jim Voss will continue unloading the Leonardo logistics module. Leonardo, attached to the station last night, carried almost five tons of gear to be installed aboard the complex.
Richards and Thomas are scheduled to begin donning their space suits and associated gear at about 7:42 p.m. and exit Discovery’s cabin at 10:47 p.m. The space walk is scheduled to conclude at 5:17 a.m. Tuesday.
Discovery and the International Space Station continue to orbit in excellent condition. The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued Tuesday morning.
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