STS-87 Day 4 Highlights
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- On Saturday, November 22, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 06
- Today mission managers and experts in various flight control areas
are meeting to formulate a plan for retrieval of the Spartan science
satellite following the apparent failure of its attitude control
system to activate.
- The satellite is at a safe distance in front of Columbia of about 23
nautical miles (about 42 kilometers) and plans call for the crew to
maintain the orbiter's distance to protect plans to rendezvous with
the spacecraft on Monday to retrieve it either by mechanical arm or
manually as part of a spacewalk by mission specialists Winston Scott
and Takao Doi. As part of their routine pre-mission spacewalk
training, the two astronauts trained for just such a contingency
should it be required.
- Though mission specialist Kalpana Chawla released Spartan from the
robot arm on time at 3:04 p.m. yesterday, it did not execute a
pre-programmed pirouette maneuver designed to verify its attitude
control system was functional. Spartan officials last night said it
appeared the small control jets failed to activate, leaving the
satellite without the ability to orient itself for science collection.
- Chawla attempted to recapture Spartan moments later, but did not
receive an indication of grapple and backed the arm away, apparently
initiating a rotational spin of about two degrees per second on the
satellite. After attempting to match the rotation for another capture
attempt, commander Kevin Kregel performed an orbiter separation
maneuver to move Columbia away from the Spartan.
- Special teams will meet today to formulate a formal course of action
that will be finalized Sunday.
- Meanwhile, the crew will spend the day checking out the
Extravehicular Mobility Units, or spacesuits, and tools that will be
used for Monday's spacewalk. The options for the spacewalk include
retrieving the satellite and accomplishing as many of the activities
that had been scheduled during the time available to test hardware and
techniques that will be used on the International Space Station.
- The scientific data being collected by other experiments that make
up the United States Microgravity Payload are unaffected by the
Spartan satellite problems and retrieval efforts underway.
- The crew wakeup call from Mission Control at about 9:45 this morning
signals the start of flight day 4 for Columbia's STS-87 mission.
- On Saturday, November 22, 1997, 7:00 p.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 07
- Astronauts Winston Scott and Takao Doi checked out their spacesuits
aboard Columbia today in preparation for a planned Monday spacewalk
while Mission Control developed plans that may allow Scott and Doi to
recapture the Spartan satellite by hand during that EVA.
- Columbia is now about 38 statute miles behind Spartan, which was
released from the shuttle on Friday. After its release, the
satellite's attitude control system failed. When a recapture of the
satellite was attempted, it began a slow spin that prevented any
further attempts to capture it using the robotic arm. Flight
controllers are now evaluating two options for recapturing the
satellite by hand during the Monday evening spacewalk. A final
decision on any plan to recapture Spartan is not expected until after
Shuttle managers meet at 8 a.m. CST Sunday to review all options.
- The first option would have Scott and Doi perform a procedure very
similar to one they rehearsed prior to the flight in the event a
manual recapture of the satellite would be required. Under this plan,
Scott and Doi would stand in foot restraints mounted on the
Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure to which Spartan is latched
in the payload bay during the Shuttle's launch and landing. Columbia
Commander Kevin Kregel would then fly to within reach of the
satellite, and Scott and Doi would grasp Spartan and lower it into its
normal payload bay latches.
- The second option would have Scott stand in a foot restraint mounted
to the end of the robotic arm while Doi remains in the payload
bay. Kregel would then fly to within reach of the satellite, and Scott
would be moved into position to grasp the satellite. Assisted by Doi,
he would then lower Spartan into its payload bay latches.
- Simulations of both options are being evaluated using a variety of
facilities at the Johnson Space Center, including a virtual reality
laboratory, two shuttle simulators, and the large swimming pool used
for spacewalk training. All of the data gathered during the day will
be presented to managers at the Sunday meeting. A press conference is
currently planned at 10 a.m. CST Sunday on NASA Television.
- For a rendezvous with Spartan Monday evening, Doi and Scott would
exit Columbia's airlock at 6:16 p.m. CST Monday. Columbia would arrive
in close proximity to Spartan at about 7 p.m. Monday. The spacewalk
would conclude at about 12:16 a.m. CST Tuesday. Under either option,
the Spartan retrieval would require only about two hours of the
six-hour spacewalk. During the remaining four hours, a majority of the
originally planned International Space Station assembly spacewalk
tests would still be performed. Flight controllers do not believe it
will be possible to test the Aercam Sprint experiment, a prototype
free-flying television camera designed for future space station use.
- Experiment work aboard Columbia continued today while the plans for
the possible Spartan retrieval were evaluated. Kregel and Mission
Specialist Kalpana Chawla completed three more experiment runs
studying the mixing of certain metal alloys in weightlessness using a
glovebox facility in the shuttle's middeck. Ukrainian Payload
Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk continued studies of plant growth in
weightlessness in the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment. During the
evening, each crew member will have an hour off-duty to help adjust
their sleep cycles to match future mission events. The crew also will
be interviewed by NBC Nightside and NBC Asian News at 9:31 p.m. CST
today. The crew will go to sleep at 3:46 a.m. CST Sunday, two hours
later than yesterday, and awaken at 11:46 a.m. CST Sunday.
- Columbia is in excellent condition with no systems problems in an
orbit with a high point of 175 miles and a low point of 171 miles. The
next STS-87 status report will be issued around 6 a.m. Sunday.
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