STS-99 Day 3 Highlights
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- On Sunday, February 13, 2000, 6:30 a.m. CST, STS-99 MCC Status Report # 5
- The first "flycast maneuver" trim burn was completed without a
hitch by members of the Endeavour crew early Sunday. A little later,
the Payload Operations Center reported that the Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission had successfully mapped 7.64 million square miles
as of very early Sunday morning.
- The flycast maneuver is designed to reduce strain on the
almost-200-foot mast extending from Endeavour's cargo bay. The
orbiter, which flies tail-first during mapping operations, is moved to
a nose-first attitude with the mast extending upward. A brief reaction
control system pulse begins the maneuver. The mast deflects slightly
backwards, then rebounds forward. As it reaches vertical, a stronger
thrust is applied, arresting the mast's motion and increasing the
- For this mission Endeavour is in a comparatively low orbit, and is
slowed by the upper fringes of the Earth's atmosphere, which causes
it to lose altitude. The crew will make daily flycast maneuver trim
burns to keep the spacecraft in the proper altitude for mapping.
- Endeavour's Red Team, Commander Kevin Kregel, and Mission
Specialists Janet Kavandi and Gerhard Thiele, began their eight-hour
sleep period shortly after the trim burn. Blue Team members went on
duty at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
- Working around the clock in the two shifts, crewmembers will map an
area from 60 degrees north to 56 degrees south. The area includes all
the southern continents except Antarctica, and northern continents
south of a line from the southern tip of Greenland, southern Alaska
and through St. Petersburg, Russia. The area includes about 95 percent
of the Earth's population.
- All of the orbiter's systems continue to function
normally. Crewmembers and flight controllers in Houston continue to
look at the cold gas jet on the end of the SRTM's outboard
antenna. They are looking at consumption of propellant and the lack of
thrust from that jet, designed to help maintain the attitude of the
mast. The balky jet is having no impact on the mission's mapping
- On Sunday, February 13, 2000, 7 p.m. CST, STS-99 MCC Status Report # 6
- The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission's mapping operation continues
to run smoothly, with about 17.7 million square miles of the Earth's
surface having been mapped by 7 p.m. Central time. Scientists also
reported that 38 percent of landmasses had been mapped thus far in the
flight. Despite a problem with a small nitrogen thruster on the end of
the 200-foot-long mast, both the C-band and X-band radars continue to
perform as expected, and the thruster problem has had no impact on
- "We are starting to see the first 'quick look' results from the
X-band and C-band antennas and the details are fantastic," said
Dr. Michael Kobrick, SRTM project scientist. "Even in this lower
resolution, quick-look results, we can see many topographic features
that were completely invisible in the best maps we have today."
- Two members of the Blue Team - Dom Gorie and Mamoru Mohri - spent a
few minutes early this morning talking to Dr. Bob Ballard, discoverer
of the RMS Titanic and founder of the JASON Foundation, an educational
program designed to spark students' interest in science and
technology. They also took questions from the Fox News Network.
- Endeavour's crew and flight controllers continue troubleshooting a
problem with a small nitrogen thruster mounted at the tip of the
radar's outboard antenna. Although gaseous nitrogen propellant is
flowing, little or no thrust is being produced. Crew members cycled
the valve open and closed in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.
Controllers plan to leave the valve closed for several hours to
attempt to quantify the rate of propellant usage. The thruster was
designed to keep the mast from 'righting' itself in response to
Earth's gravity and remove the need for additional orbiter thruster
firings to keep the antenna in its data-taking position. Without the
thruster on the antenna, crew members have to fire the orbiter's
thrusters more than expected.
- As the Blue Team wrapped up its third day in space, the Red Team of
Kevin Kregel, Janet Kavandi and Gerhard Thiele took over mapping
operations shortly after their wake-up call this morning. Gorie, Mohri
and Janice Voss turned in shortly after 2 p.m., with a wake-up call
set for 10:14 tonight to begin their fourth day of mapping activities.
- Controllers also did some troubleshooting on one of the on-board
cameras after Gorie reported the system that records the time at which
images are taken was not working. Controllers suspect that the
batteries were weakened due to the delay in launching Endeavour. The
weak batteries should have no impact on the use of the camera to
support NASA's Earth observation program.
- After yesterday's repositioning of a camera bracket on the flight
deck, EarthKam operations continue nominally. As of late this
afternoon, some 355 images had been downlinked from the EarthKam. This
NASA program allows students to use interactive Web pages to target
and select images to be photographed from a camera onboard the
shuttle. All of Endeavour's spacecraft systems are continuing to
function normally as it circles the Earth every 90 minutes at an
altitude of about 150 miles.
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