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Thu, Sep 14, 2006

STS-115 Status Update

Both Panels Of Array Now Deployed

ANN Realtime Update 10:00 EDT: The new solar array is now fully deployed -- the procedure was complete at 8:44 a.m. EDT.

The new arrays span a total of 240 feet and have a width of 38 feet. They are attached to the station’s newest component, the P3/P4 integrated truss structure. The installation of the P3/P4, which occurred Tuesday, and the deployment of the arrays sets the stage for future expansion of the station.

In other activities today, STS-115 crewmembers will command the International Space Station’s robot arm to move from the Mobile Base System to the Destiny Laboratory Module. The STS-115 and the Expedition 13 crews will prepare for Friday’s spacewalk.

The STS-115 crew has conducted two spacewalks to prepare the truss and the arrays for operation. Friday’s spacewalk will continue those efforts.

ANN will continue to provide full coverage of STS-115's progress.

ORIGINAL REPORTS

First Panel Of New Array Deployed

ANN Realtime Update 09:00 EDT: NASA deployed the first of two solar panels on the International Space Station following a software glitch-induced delay. Mission control found a way to work around the balky computer and continue the panel deployment.

NASA says they have to deploy the panels in stages to allow the sun to warm the material. This is a precaution to prevent the panels from sticking together.

The first stage of the deployment began this morning at 06:27 EDT and was completed at 07:08 EDT. When the right wing is fully deployed the array will span 240ft. NASA hopes the array, once operational, will double the stations power production.

Stay tuned for more updates...

Whoops! Another Spacewalk, Another Missing Bolt

The STS-115 astronauts concluded yet another busy day Wednesday, that featured the mission's second spacewalk to prepare the International Space Station's P3/P4 truss for operation. The fruits of their labor will be unfurled Thursday -- when the solar panels attached to the newly-installed truss are deployed for the first time.

NASA reports the 7-hour, eleven-minute spacewalk -- conducted by Mission Specialists Dan Burbank and Steve MacLean -- was a complete success. The team removed launch locks and launch restraints on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ), which will allow the arrays to track the sun once deployed.

Once again, however, the task of deploying the truss proved to be somewhat problematic -- as a bolt was apparently lost during the process of removing protecting panels from the arrays. It is the second bolt to be lost by spacewalking astronauts in as many days.

"There is a missing bolt on the blanket, I did not see it go," MacLean told Mission Control. "I'm looking to see if anything is floating."

As was the case for the first lost bolt, NASA does not expect the missing bolt to pose any problems for the ISS.

During the remainder of their spacewalk, the astronauts were instructed to perform additional "get-ahead" tasks. They prepared the P3 truss for use by the Mobile Transporter -- a platform that allows the station's robotic arm, Canadarm2, to move along the Integrated Truss Structure.

The 17.5-ton, 45-foot truss was attached to the station Tuesday. The P3/P4 segment will provide power, data and communication services for the station. The solar arrays will be unfurled to a full length of 240 feet Thursday, and will eventually double the station's power capabilities -- allowing future habitation and science modules to be added to the station.

After a similar deployment of the P6 array in 2000 jolted the station unexpectedly (equal and opposite reactions, remember), NASA will deploy the new segment in a series of stages. Before the crew awakes at 12:15 am EDT Thursday, flight controllers will initiate the deployment of only one half of the 31.5 bays that make up the truss -- with full deployment after the crew wakes up.

The first stage is slated to begin at 3:50 am and the fourth and final stage is slated to begin at 6:10 am.

A third and final spacewalk is slated for Friday -- after which time, the shuttle Atlantis will undock from the station to make way for a Russian Soyuz capsule scheduled to be launched to the ISS September 20.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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