Two elements built by two countries adorn the International Space Station (ISS) tonight after Endeavours astronauts and the Stations Expedition Two crew worked throughout the day to bring the complex one step closer to an independent robotic capability.
The new 57-foot long Canadian-built Canadarm2 robot arm took its first step this morning, walking off a pallet mounted at the top of the Destiny Laboratory to grab onto an electrical grapple fixture on Destiny capable of providing data, power and telemetry to the dexterous appendage.
With Expedition Two Flight Engineer Susan Helms sending commands from a workstation inside Destiny, the arm began to move off the pallet at 6:13 a.m. Central time. Three hours later, after an extensive checkout of all of its new joints, the arm affixed itself to the Destiny grapple point where it will remain overnight in preparation for its first active grappling of a payload --- the pallet on which it was launched --- on Tuesday.
As Canadarm2 was completing its work for the day, Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski used Endeavours slightly smaller robot arm to latch onto the Italian-built Raffaello cargo module in the Shuttles payload bay. Raffaello was lifted out of the bay and was attached to a docking port on the Stations Unity module at 11:00 a.m., setting the stage for Expedition Commander Yury Usachev, and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Helms to begin unloading three tons of supplies beginning tomorrow. Parazynski was assisted by European Space Agency astronaut Umberto Guidoni, who will take the lead in assisting the Station crewmembers in the unloading of Raffaello and the repacking of discarded items in the module later this week.
Parazynski and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield prepared for their second spacewalk of the mission tomorrow by checking out their tools and spacesuits. They are scheduled to emerge from Endeavours airlock around 8 a.m. Tuesday for a planned 6 ½ hour excursion to rewire the base of the newly installed Canadarm2 so it can operate from its new home on the Destiny Laboratory, to remove a communications antenna from Unity which is no longer needed and to mount a spare electrical converter unit on a stowage platform on Destiny for future Station use.
Earlier today, Commander Kent Rominger, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists John Phillips and Yuri Lonchakov of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency led the way as hatches swung open between Endeavour and the ISS at 4:25 a.m., allowing the ten crewmembers to greet one another for the first time. Some supplies carried to the Station aboard Endeavour were transferred throughout the day until the hatches once again were closed at 2:26 p.m. after 10 hours of joint operations. The hatch closure enabled the Shuttles cabin pressure to be lowered to support tomorrows spacewalk.
Near the end of the day, Rominger and Ashby supervised a one-hour firing of Endeavours jets to gently raise the orbit of the ISS about 2 ½ statute miles, from 237.8 statute miles to 240.3 statute miles. Two more reboosts are planned on Wednesday and Thursday to leave the Station at the correct altitude for the arrival of a Russian-commanded taxi crew next week delivering a fresh Soyuz return vehicle to the complex.
Both crews are scheduled to end their day just after 6:30 p.m. and will be awakened early Tuesday morning. Both spacecraft are in excellent shape orbiting the Earth every 92 minutes.
The next status report will be issued tomorrow morning after crew wakeup, or sooner, if events warrant.
- end -