Station's Crew Won't Be Lonely For Long
Astronauts onboard the
shuttle Atlantis -- docked with the International Space Station
since early Monday -- are three-for-three... and now, they're
preparing to leave.
Astronauts Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper
successfully conducted the third and final spacewalk of STS-115
Friday, wrapping up a 6-hour, 42-minute excursion to prepare the
station's newly installed P3/P4 truss segment for operation.
NASA reports the pair -- who conducted the first spacewalk on
Tuesday, as well -- also completed other tasks devoted to the
assembly and maintenance of the station. The spacewalk came to a
close at 12:42 pm EDT Friday.
Shortly after beginning the spacewalk at 6:00 am, Tanner and
Piper (shown below, photo courtesy of NASA) retrieved a materials
exposure experiment from the station’s exterior and performed
maintenance on the P6 truss. The spacewalkers then moved to the
P3/P4 truss, where they prepared a radiator for deployment.
Flight controllers unfurled the radiator -- which will help cool
the station, by extracting heat and venting it into space -- at
Tanner and Piper also installed a wireless TV antenna on the
station and replaced a faulty antenna assembly on the S1 truss.
Near the end of the spacewalk, Tanner and Piper conducted a test to
evaluate infrared video of Space Shuttle Atlantis’ wing
leading edge. They also performed get-ahead tasks that were slated
to take place on future spacewalks.
Mission Specialist Dan Burbank coordinated spacewalk activities,
and Mission Specialist Steve MacLean oversaw station robotic arm
operations. During this mission, MacLean became the first Canadian
astronaut to operate the arm built by his home country.
After a busy week of challenging construction work, the shuttle
Atlantis and her crew will now prepare to undock from the ISS, and
begin their journey home. Undocking is set for 8:50 am EDT Sunday
-- followed shortly by a flyaround, that will reveal the station's
new configuration in full view for the first time.
Atlantis is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center early
Wednesday morning, September 20, at 5:57 am EDT... about five hours
after the next visitors to the ISS (shown below) are due to arrive
at the station.
Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight
Engineer Mikhail Tyurin are scheduled to launch from Baikonur
Cosmodrome atop a Soyuz rocket on September 18 at 12:09 am EDT, and
arrive at the station at 1:24 am September 20.
The duo will replace Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov
and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams, who are wrapping up a
six-month stay on the station. European Space Agency Astronaut
Thomas Reiter will stay on the station and join Expedition 14.
As Aero-News reported, also
flying to the station will be American Anousheh Ansari, the
first female spaceflight participant to visit the orbiting
laboratory. She is flying under contract with the Russian Federal
Space Agency, and will return to Earth with the Expedition 13
(Editor's Note -- We can't go into details
just yet... but watch ANN in the coming days for something REALLY
cool in regards to Ansari's flight.)