ESA's Schlegel Said To Be Under The Weather
The STS-122 crew entered the International Space Station for the
first time after the hatches between the station and space shuttle
Atlantis opened at 1440 EST Saturday, kicking off what will
now be a 10-day visit to the orbital station.
Atlantis and the STS-122 crew arrived at the International Space
Station at 1217 EST Saturday, delivering the European Space
Agency's Columbus laboratory and a new crew member to the orbital
Plans to install Columbus to the station Sunday, however,
were moved off a day due to a reported illness among the STS-122
crew. The delay will have "no impact to the overall mission
objectives," the space agency noted.
Though NASA would only state the delay was due to a
non-life-threatening "crew medical issue," news reports indicate
it's ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel who is under the weather. Those
reports would appear to be confirmed by the
fact astronaut Stan Love will fill in for Schlegel on the
mission's first spacewalk to attach the Columbus lab to
the Harmony module.
Love will join fellow NASA astronaut Rex Walheim on that
spacewalk, now scheduled for Monday. As a result of the delay, NASA
also extended Atlantis' time at the station by one day, with the
shuttle's return now scheduled for February 19.
Prior to Saturday's docking, the orbiter underwent a 'backflip,'
so that cameras on the ISS could detect any potential damage to the
underside of the orbiter's heat shield from Thursday's launch.
Those results will be analyzed in the coming days by engineers on
Reuters reports shuttle commander Stephen Frick paused during
the maneuver, so cameras could focus in on a small tear in a
thermal blanket on the shuttle's right orbital
maneuvering system pod. Atlantis suffered a similar malady to
its left OMS pod during last June's STS-117
Images taken of the orbiter also show a small area of potential
damage to the right-side forward reaction control system, near the
shuttle's nose cap. Engineers are currently analyzing if
either issue is severe enough to warrant special repair
NASA confirmed Friday three small pieces of foam broke off
the external fuel tank during Atlantis' ride into orbit.
In lighter news, Atlantis crewmembers caught site of the station
Saturday morning, while approximately 40 miles away. "If the
station is off the shuttle's nose, it's hugely bright," radioed
"We were wondering if it's all those candles on Peggy's birthday
cake," replied flight communicator Kevin Ford from Mission Control
in Houston, according to Reuters. Saturday was Expedition 16
Commander Peggy Whitson's 48th birthday.