The Italian Space Agency-provided Raffaello logistics module, loaded with 1,600 pounds of material to be returned to Earth, was tucked securely in Endeavour’s payload bay at 3:58 p.m. Central time today as the International Space Station and shuttle flew high over the Pacific Ocean, north of Indonesia.
Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski, at the controls of the shuttle’s robotic arm and assisted by European Space Agency Astronaut Umberto Guidoni, grappled the 14,700 pound “moving van,” undocking it from the Destiny laboratory and carefully maneuvering it into position before securing it in the payload bay. Over the course of the past week, the astronauts and cosmonauts on board the station transferred 6,000 pounds of equipment from Raffaello to the station, and then stowed unneeded equipment and hardware on board for return.
The unberthing of Raffaello followed last night’s work by ground controllers to successfully synchronize timers on all the on-board computers, including the one operational Control and Command (C&C) computer in Destiny. With the one operational C&C computer, and Susan Helms at the ready with a back-up laptop computer in Unity, the crew was given a “go” to begin the undocking procedure about 2:20 p.m. today.
Work to recover the command and control computers continued throughout the day today, with good progress reported, and a reload of software currently under way to restore C&C computer number three to full performance. C&C computer number one was determined to have a failed hard drive. That C& C computer will be replaced on orbit with a a backup payload computer, called Payload Computer Two, so that the failed C&C computer can be returned to Earth for inspection and analysis. Overnight, flight controllers will reload software on C&C number one in the hopes of bringing it back on line as well.
The plan for the crew tomorrow, assuming a minimum of two C&C computers are up and functioning, would see Helms and crew mate Jim Voss operating the station’s robotic arm to hand off its cradle to the shuttle’s robot arm, being commanded by Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski and Chris Hadfield on board Endeavour. Most of the activities planned for a “dress rehearsal” of the maneuvers the arm will perform during the next station assembly mission to install an airlock have been deleted from the timeline. Only the portions of the rehearsal related to shuttle robotic arm camera views will be performed.
Earlier today, NASA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviakosmos, reached a decision on the launch of the Soyuz replacement vehicle, for 2:37 a.m. central
time Saturday. Rosaviakosmos has agreed to delay the Soyuz docking to the station if additional time is required to resolve command and control problems aboard the station.
Mission managers will assess the need for that additional docked day of operations based on specific criteria, including a minimum of two fully functioning command and control computers, securing the Canadarm2 cradle pallet back in Endeavour’s payload bay, successfully reloading software in Command and Control computer Three, and completing final transfer activities between the station and shuttle.
With another busy day behind them, the two crews were bid goodnight by Mission Control and will be awakened at 2:41 a.m. Saturday. Both spacecraft are in good condition, orbiting the Earth every 92 minutes. The next mission status report will be issued following crew wake-up Saturday, or earlier as events warrant.
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