Mon, Sep 11, 2006
No Fumbling As Shuttle Arm Hands Off Truss To Station Arm
Astronauts aboard the
International Space Station and the shuttle Atlantis are wasting no
time in going about their tasks for the 12-day construction mission
-- as shortly after docking with the ISS Monday morning, the
shuttle's robotic arm handed off the P3/P4 integrated truss
structure to its counterpart on the International Space
The orbital exchange took place at 10:52 am EDT -- a bit over
four hours after Atlantis docked with the station -- and sets the
stage for installation of the truss on the station on Tuesday.
Lead STS-115 Flight Director Paul Dye said rendezvous and
docking operations went smoothly.
"The rendezvous this morning was probably as perfect as any
rendezvous that I have been a part of," Dye said.
The truss structure, which is 17.5 tons and 45 feet long,
contains a set of solar arrays. The STS-115 crew will conduct three
spacewalks to outfit and prepare the truss for operation. The first
spacewalk will take place Tuesday after the P3/P4 is attached to
the P1 truss.
In preparation for the first spacewalk, Mission Specialists Joe
Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will begin a new
pre-spacewalk procedure called "camping out" when they enter the
station’s Quest Airlock at about 2:40 pm Monday
"Camping out" helps the spacewalkers begin the spacewalk
earlier, by reducing the amount of time typically required for the
pre-breathe exercise and some spacewalk preparations. By breathing
a pure oxygen environment for 24 hours before their spacewalk, the
two mission specialists will be able to focus on preparation tasks
immediately ahead of their planned spacewalk Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NASA engineers will analyze photographs taken of the
orbiter's heat shield during Atlantis' "backflip" manuever (shown
above) ahead of docking with the station. So far, it appears all is
well with the orbiter.
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