STS-87 Day 3 Highlights
Back to STS-87 Flight Day 02 Highlights:
- On Friday, November 21, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 04
- The focus of today's work aboard Columbia following crew wakeup at
9:45, is the deployment of the Spartan solar science satellite shortly
after 3 this afternoon for its 2 days of free-flight science
investigations and data gathering.
- A companion solar satellite called the Solar Heliosopheric
Observatory, or SOHO, is back in full operation after communications
were temporarily lost Wednesday. Data from the Spartan mission will
be used to calibrate instruments on the 2-year-old SOHO which will be
remotely commanded to make identical observations as the Spartan.
- The release of Spartan today and its subsequent retrieval just after
8 p.m. Sunday will be done using the shuttle's robot arm, which will
be operated by mission specialist Kalpana Chawla.
- The one-day delay in deploying Spartan does not impact other planned
activities during the flight, including Monday's spacewalk by mission
specialists Winston Scott and Takao Doi. The spacewalk is designed to
test assembly techniques for the International Space Station. Doi will
become the first Japanese astronaut to walk in space.
- Once the satellite is released, commander Kevin Kregel and pilot
Steve Lindsey will slowly back Columbia away from Spartan. For the
first three to five orbits after release, the shuttle will maintain a
distance of between five and 10 nautical miles to allow for a
communications demonstration sending real-time telemetry and data from
the satellite to the ground. During the next two days a series of
rendezvous maneuvers will maintain a safe distance between the two
spacecraft until Sunday's approach and capture of the satellite for
the return trip to Earth.
- Ukrainian payload specialist Leonid Kadenyuk will once again spend
the day conducting studies involving plant growth in weightlessness
with the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment, or CUE. He'll focus his
attention on this experiment for much of the duration of the flight.
- There are no systems problems aboard Columbia on its 24th mission in
space. It is operating at an altitude of 283 kilometers, or about 276
statute miles, above the Earth.
- On Friday, November 21, 1997, 11:00 p.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 05
- The mission of the SPARTAN science satellite to study solar phenomena
was called off today after an attempt to activate its attitude control
system failed following its release from Columbia's robot arm for two
days of free-flying operations.
- Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla released SPARTAN from the robot
arm on time at 3:04 p.m. Central time while the shuttle and the
satellite were traveling over the Pacific Ocean. But SPARTAN failed to
execute a pirouette maneuver a few minutes later, indicating a problem
with its attitude control system for fine pointing toward solar
targets. SPARTAN officials later said it appeared that the satellite's
attitude control system jets failed to activate, leaving the satellite
without the ability to orient itself for science collection.
- Chawla regrappled the SPARTAN moments later, but did not receive a
firm capture indication and backed the arm away once more, apparently
initiating a rotational spin of about two degrees per second on the
satellite. Commander Kevin Kregel fired Columbia's jets to try to
match the rotational rate of the SPARTAN for another grapple attempt,
but Flight Director Bill Reeves called off the effort shortly after 4
p.m., ordering Kregel to begin a seperation maneuver to place Columbia
in a position 40 nautical miles behind the satellite. That will enable
Columbia to re-rendezvous with SPARTAN, perhaps on Monday for its
retrieval and berthing in the cargo bay.
- NASA managers held several meetings throughout the day to discuss
options for the capture of SPARTAN. The leading candidate calls for a
manual retrieval of the satellite during a scheduled spacewalk Monday
night by astronauts Winston Scott and Takao Doi. Options range from
putting two crewmembers in foot restraints on the SPARTAN truss
structure in the cargo bay to one crewmember positioned in a foot
restraint at the end of the robot arm.
- Mission managers will meet again Saturday morning to review
retrieval options and details of a spacewalk timeline for the SPARTAN
capture. Officials will also consider what other tasks planned for the
scheduled spacewalk may be preserved and added to the new spacewalk
scenario. A final decision on the spacewalk retrieval of SPARTAN may
not be made until Sunday morning.
- Unaffected by the SPARTAN activity is the scientific data being
collected by the suite of experiments comprising the United States
Microgravity Payload, the prime payload for the mission. Its
instruments continue to operate autonomously, collecting information
on the effect of weightlessness on materials and fluids.
- The astronauts are scheduled to begin an eight-hour sleep period at
1:46 a.m. Central time Saturday and will be awakened at 9:46 a.m. for
their fourth day in orbit. Highlights of tomorrow's activity will
include a checkout of the spacesuits Scott and Doi will wear during
their spacewalk as well as other associated tools.
- Columbia continues to fly in flawless fashion in an orbit 176
statute miles above the Earth.
Go to STS-87 Flight Day 4 Highlights: