Astronauts Tom Jones and Bob Curbeam are set for another excursion outside Atlantis and the International Space Station today, preparing the orbiting complex for future growth and visiting space shuttles.
After Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Mark Polansky and Mission Specialists Marsha Ivins, Jones and Curbeam were awakened just after 4 a.m. Central time today to the sounds of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon", Jones and Curbeam began gearing up for the donning of their spacesuits, and the start of the second of three planned spacewalks on this flight around 9:40 a.m.
Jones and Curbeam will float into Atlantis' cargo bay just before Ivins uses the shuttle's robotic arm to move a docking adapter temporarily parked on the side of the Station's external truss structure to the forward end of the newly installed Destiny Laboratory. Once that docking adapter is installed and latched to Destiny, it will serve as the primary shuttle docking port for most missions in the future. After the docking port relocation is completed, Jones and Curbeam will attach an electronic power and data grapple fixture to Destiny along with a video signal converter unit in preparation for the delivery of the Station's Canadian-built robotic arm, which is set to be launched on the STS-100 mission in April.
With the spacewalk in progress, Expedition One crewmembers Bill Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev will continue to activate systems inside Destiny, including the atmospheric revitalization rack, which will be used to help purify the Station atmosphere, working in tandem with the Russian Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system in the Zvezda living quarters.
At the conclusion of the spacewalk late this afternoon, Station flight controllers will begin to send commands to Destiny's computers for the spinup of four large gyroscopes on the Z1 truss which will be used to provide electronic orientation of the expanding complex. The so-called Control Moment Gyros will ultimately be instrumental in transferring command and control of the Station from the Russian segment to the U.S. segment and will save valuable propellent otherwise used to maintain the proper orientation of the orbiting outpost. Testing of the gyros will continue throughout the flight.
Atlantis and the International Space Station are currently orbiting at an altitude of 224 statute miles with all systems functioning in excellent shape. The next mission status report will be issued around 7 p.m. or sooner, if events warrant.
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