Following a wakeup call to the sounds of "Fly Me to the Moon" by Savage Garden shortly after 4 a.m. Central time today, Atlantis' astronauts began preparing for the third and final scheduled space walk of this mission, the 100th in U.S. spaceflight history.
During the planned five-hour excursion, which is scheduled to begin at around 9:15 a.m., Bob Curbeam and Tom Jones, under the guidance of spacewalk choreographer Mark Polansky, will attach a spare communications antenna on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), verify that connections between the newly installed Destiny laboratory and its attached Shuttle docking port are secure, and will release restraints holding a Station radiator in place. Curbeam and Jones will also inspect the exterior of the ISS and the recently-installed U.S. solar arrays, before demonstrating techniques which could be used in the future to assist an incapacitated colleague in the vacuum of space.
Once Curbeam and Jones are back on board Atlantis, Commander Ken Cockrell and Mission Specialist Marsha Ivins will open the hatches separating Atlantis and the International Space Station, allowing the five astronauts and the three Expedition One crewmembers to continue transferring water and supplies between the two spacecraft. Cockrell also will command Atlantis' thrusters to fire in a stair-step fashion for about an hour to gently raise the Space Station's altitude. This fourth reboost of about 6 statute miles will leave the Station in an orbit about 244 statute miles above the Earth, some 16 statute miles higher than when Atlantis arrived for docking last Friday.
On board the ISS today, Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev will continue setting up and activating systems in the Destiny laboratory, will use a large format IMAX camera to document life on board their orbiting home, and will exercise using a treadmill and a resistive exercise device. This is the 106th day in space for the Expedition One crew, its 104th day on board the orbiting outpost.
Atlantis and the International Space Station continue to orbit the Earth in excellent shape. The next Mission Status Report will be issued at 7 p.m. today, or sooner, as events warrant.
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