The crew of Atlantis opened the doors to a spacious new home on orbit late Monday and began the work of outfitting the interior of the International Space Station.
The five astronauts and two cosmonauts opened the first hatch into a connecting tunnel at 9:40 p.m. Monday, proceeded smoothly through 10 more doorways and cracked the final hatch into a Russian cargo ship at 1:22 a.m. CDT Tuesday.
Crewmembers first floated into the new Zvezda service module at 12:20 a.m. CDT, wearing breathing filters and eye goggles as a precaution against possible atmospheric contamination and debris inside the newest module of the station that will serve as the living quarters and command and control center for the complex.
Within minutes the crew reported that air quality and other conditions inside Zvezda were excellent, removed the precautionary equipment and went to work installing ventilation and removing restraint bolts put in place for Zvezda's ride to orbit two months ago today. No longer required, these launch restraints along with the manual docking system hardware in the station's first module, Zarya, will be brought back to Earth aboard Atlantis.
After a scheduled 8 hour sleep period, the crew will be awakened at 6:46 this evening. Major tasks are to install three batteries inside Zvezda and remove and replace two batteries in Zarya. Because of weight, Zvezda was launched with five of its eight batteries in place. The two batteries to be replaced in Zarya were the only two of six that were not changed during Atlantis' visit in May on the STS-101 mission.
In and around the battery work, the transfer of almost three tons of hardware will begin during five or six days of docked operations.
The next mission status report will be issued about 7 p.m. Tuesday or sooner if events warrant.
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