Aboard the International Space Station today, astronauts and cosmonauts assembled and partially activated a key piece of construction equipment – the control station for a 58-foot-long robot arm that will be delivered to the station next month.
Expedition Two Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms spent most of their workday installing the Space Station Remote Manipulator System workstation inside the Destiny Laboratory. They activated a portion of the system that will be used to route television pictures from docked space shuttles to the control station for use by arm operators. The remaining activation work will start after Discovery undocks Saturday evening.
The Canadian-built appendage will be delivered on the STS-100 mission – set to launch April 19 – and attached to the Lab Cradle Assembly that Voss and Helms bolted to the side of the Destiny Laboratory Module during their space walk Sunday. The station arm’s first job will be to install the airlock on STS-104, set for launch this June.
Load master Andy Thomas coordinated the transfer of equipment, supplies, trash and luggage between the station and shuttle with the help of Expedition Two Commander Yury Usachev and fellow Mission Specialist Paul Richards. All five tons of equipment and supplies delivered aboard the Leonardo Module have been transferred to the station. The crew is now concentrating on packing trash, unneeded equipment and luggage in the Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module for return to Earth.
Commander Jim Wetherbee and Pilot Jim Kelly answered questions posed by reporters in the area of Burlington, Iowa, Kelly’s hometown. Wetherbee, Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Usachev and Thomas talked with school children in Dundee, Scotland, who are following the mission because the crew is carrying a piece of the sailing research ship RRS Discovery launched 100 years ago at Dundee.
The astronauts and cosmonauts also took some time off to rest after a busy week and to continue handing over duties aboard the scientific outpost.
The station and shuttle are orbiting in fine fashion at an altitude of 240 statute miles following a 50-minute long series of reboost maneuvers. The gentle, repeated firings of Discovery’s smallest steering jets took place a day earlier than originally planned to ensure that the complex would remain clear of a piece of equipment that floated free during the mission’s first space walk. Further tracking has shown that the 10.5-pound Portable Foot Restraint Attachment Device is about 20 miles below and in front of the shuttle-station complex. Two more reboosts for the station are planned Friday and Saturday.
The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued Thursday evening.
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