Two of Endeavour^“s astronauts will return to their jobs as
orbiting construction workers today, installing probes that will
measure electrical potential surrounding the station and performing
some added ^”warranty work^‘ on solar array blankets didn^“t
stretch out completely on Sunday.
After carefully going through the plan with Mission Control on
Wednesday and receiving descriptions and videotapes of fellow
Astronaut David Wolf performing the additional task on the ground,
Commander Brent Jett and his crew voiced optimism they could
accomplish the new task.
Mission Specialists Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega will float out the
shuttle^“s hatch at 10:51 a.m. CST and move up to the top of the
new solar array truss structure. Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and
Mission Specialist Marc Garneau will retract the mast extending the
two blankets of the starboard solar array wing approximately two or
three feet. Once the mast is shortened, Noriega will pull the slack in
the tensioning cables through each take-up reel. Tanner will manually
turn the spring-loaded tension reels until it reaches its limit and
then will let the reel unwind by spring force while Noriega guides the
cable onto the reel grooves. The outboard reel will be done first,
followed by the inboard reel.
The 240-foot-long, 38-foot-wide solar array continues to function
well, sending power to the International Space Station. The starboard
array^“s cables apparently came out of the reel grooves when the
wing was extended on Sunday. The port solar array wings were deployed
to their full tension Monday using a modified deployment technique.
After the solar wing repair, Tanner and Noriega will install the
Floating Potential Probe atop the P6 structure. The probe will measure
the electrical potential of plasma around the station. Plasma
Contactor Units already are at work on the solar array truss, emitting
electrons that complete an electrical circuit and avoid the potential
Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Sergei
Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko awoke just after midnight CDT and continued
packing up items that will be returned to Earth aboard Endeavour. They
also set up, but did not activate, a wireless instrumentation system
that will attempt to measure and further model the structural
integrity of the station as shuttle steering jets fire.
Humidity levels are coming down in the station after Wednesday^“s
successful installation by the crew of a new air conditioning
unit. The crew also replaced a malfunctioning fan in the Vozdukh
carbon dioxide removal unit, bringing that life-support unit back on
line. The hatch between the Zarya and Unity modules remains open
indefinitely. The two crews are scheduled to meet inside Unity about
8:30 a.m. Friday.
Endeavour^“s crew was awakened at 6:06 a.m. CDT to the sounds of
the Beatles^“ ^”Here Comes the Sun,^‘ sent up for Joe Tanner.
The station crew is scheduled to go to bed at 3:36 p.m. CST, and the
shuttle crew will begin its sleep shift at 10:06 p.m.
The next STS-97 status report will be issued Thursday evening
Spacewalking Endeavourastronauts sailed through an add-on job to
tension a solar blanket Thursday, then completed their other tasks in
textbook fashion. They topped off their scheduled activities with an
image of an evergreen tree placed atop the P6 solar array structure,
the highest point in their construction project.
"We had a great day," Glenda Laws, lead EVA officer, said
at an evening briefing.
Spacewalkers Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega also installed a
centerline camera cable outside the Unity module. It will transmit
television images to help a shuttle crew attach the U.S. laboratory
Destiny next month. The last of their scheduled tasks was installation
of the Floating Potential Probe. The FPP, atop the P6, measures the
electrical potential of plasma around the station. The evergreen tree
image was on a transfer bag they attached to the FPP symbolizing
"topping out" of the space station - a tradition followed by
Earth-based construction workers when a building reaches its final
The blanket tensioning task had been quickly and carefully planned.
On Wednesday Mission Control sent up to Endeavour descriptions of the
task and video of fellow Astronaut David Wolf performing the solar
blanket work on the ground.
The spacewalk began at 10:13 a.m., more than 35 minutes earlier than
planned. After the spacewalkers moved to the top of the P6,
crewmembers inside Endeavour, Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike
Bloomfield and Mission Specialist Marc Garneau retracted the mast
extending the starboard wing, which had been deployed Sunday, by two
or three feet. Noriega pulled the slack tensioning cables through each
take-up reel. Tanner turned the spring-loaded tension reels, then let
them unwind while Noriega guided the cable onto the reel grooves,
tensioning the slack blanket. The 240-foot-long, 38-foot-wide solar
array continues to function well.
The scheduled activities went so smoothly that Tanner and Noriega
were able to complete some "get-ahead" tasks for the next
scheduled spacewalks outside the space station in January. These
included installing a sensor on a radiator, installing small antennas
and doing a photo survey. Even so, they were able to conclude their
spacewalk at 3:23 p.m., after 5 hours and 10 minutes outside. This
brings total spacewalk time during STS-97 to 19 hours and 20 minutes,
and total spacewalk time outside the station to 88 hours and 54
The space station's crew, Commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts
Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, packaged items for transfer to
Endeavour and return to Earth. Their scheduled sleep period began a
little after 3:30 p.m. They were to be awakened at 12:06 a.m. Friday.
Endeavour's crew was scheduled to go to bed a little after 10 p.m. and
be awakened at 6:06 a.m. Friday.
The two crews will meet face to face, for the first time since
Endeavour docked to the space station last Saturday, a little after
8:30 a.m. Friday.
The next STS-97 status report will be issued Friday morning.