The crews of Atlantis and the International Space Station today opened the newly attached Destiny laboratory and spent the first full day of what are planned to be years of work ahead inside the orbiting science and command center.
Station Commander Bill Shepherd opened the Destiny hatch, and he and Shuttle Commander Ken Cockrell ventured inside at 8:38 a.m. Central. Members of both crews went to work quickly inside the new module, activating air systems, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, computers and internal communications. The crew also continued equipment transfers from the shuttle to the station and filmed several scenes onboard the station using an IMAX camera. Cockrell also set Atlantis steering jets to fire periodically over the course of several hours to gradually boost the station and shuttle's altitude by almost five miles. The reboost was the first of three such maneuvers that will be performed while Atlantis is docked. When complete, the reboosts will increase the station's altitude by more than 18 miles.
After a full day working side by side, the station and shuttle crews parted company at 4:40 p.m., closing the hatches in preparation for a second spacewalk by Astronauts Tom Jones and Bob Curbeam on Monday. After the hatches closed, Shuttle Pilot Mark Polansky reduced Atlantis' cabin pressure slightly while Jones and Curbeam wore oxygen masks, part of a protocol to purge nitrogen from the bodies of spacewalkers. The protocol prevents the spacewalkers from suffering decompression sickness when they go to the extremely low-pressure environment of spacesuits. Monday's space walk will be highlighted by the movement of a station docking port, called Pressurized Mating Adapter 2, from a temporary storage location to a permanent position at the end of the Destiny lab, where it will serve as the primary shuttle docking port for future missions. During their space walk, Jones and Curbeam also will install several handrails and slidewires on Destiny's hull for use by future space walkers.
Jones and Curbeam will begin donning their spacesuits at about 6:43 a.m. Central on Monday. Just before 9 a.m., Astronaut Marsha Ivins will power up Atlantis' robotic arm. She will latch onto the mating adapter about 20 minutes later. Jones and Curbeam are to exit Atlantis' cabin and begin their work outside at 9:43 a.m., providing visual cues as Ivins in maneuvers the adapter into place. The spacewalk is planned to conclude at 4:13 p.m. Central. As the spacewalk winds down, other work inside the station and shuttle will command large gyroscopes to begin spinning, a key space station system that will control the complex's stability without consuming propellant. The spin-up of the station's four Control Moment Gyroscopes is planned to start at 3:43 p.m.
The station and shuttle crews will go to sleep at 8:13 p.m. Central today. The shuttle crew is to awaken at 4:13 a.m. Monday and the station crew is to awaken half an hour later. The Johnson Space Center newsroom will close at 8 p.m. and reopen at 4 a.m. Monday. The next mission status report will be issued at 5 a.m. Monday.
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