Working quietly but efficiently, Atlantis’ astronauts completed preparations today for Wednesday’s scheduled docking to the International Space Station, testing spacesuits, rendezvous tools and the shuttle’s robotic arm.
With docking scheduled at 11:06 a.m. Central time (1606 GMT) tomorrow, Commander Mike Bloomfield, Pilot Steve Frick and Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Ellen Ochoa, Lee Morin, Jerry Ross and Steve Smith verified all of Atlantis’ equipment, setting the stage for the orbiter’s linkup to a docking port at the forward end of the station’s Destiny Laboratory.
Docking is planned over south central China, southwest of Shanghai. The crew will be up early Wednesday to complete preparations and to execute a number of engine firings to draw Atlantis close to the ISS for its eventual docking.
Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch tidied up their orbital home and completed routine maintenance on the eve of the arrival of their first visitors since they were launched to the ISS back in December. After docking and hatch opening tomorrow, the two crews will run through a dress rehearsal of procedures which will be used on Thursday to maneuver the large S0 (S-Zero) Truss structure from Atlantis’ cargo bay for mating to a capture device at the top of Destiny.
Four spacewalks will be conducted by two teams of spacewalkers to electrically and structurally connect the new truss to the ISS. The 13 and a half-ton S-Zero is the mainframe for a series of trusses to follow which will expand the station to a length of a football field.
Late today, Bloomfield and Frick executed a rendezvous maneuver by firing Atlantis’ reaction control system jets to refine the shuttle’s path to the space station. Several larger engine firings will be conducted Wednesday morning to slow Atlantis’ approach to the station, setting up its final path for linkup to the ISS.
With all of its systems functioning in excellent shape, Atlantis orbits the Earth at an altitude of around 220 statute miles. The crew began an eight-hour sleep period at 7:44 Central time this evening and will be awakened at 3:44 Wednesday morning.
The next STS-110 mission status report will be issued Wednesday after crew wake up or as events warrant.
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