With an exchange of space station crew members already under way, Discovery’s crew turns its attention to continuing assembly of the orbital outpost, conducting a space walk set to begin just before 11 p.m., or earlier, to reposition a docking port and installing gear in preparation for the arrival of the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm next month.
While their Commander Yury Usachev begins a handover of duties from Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd aboard the International Space Station, the remaining members of the second station crew, astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms, will perform the space walk tonight, which will be the 17th devoted to assembly of the station.
The shuttle crew was awakened this evening by the song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” performed by Starship and played in anticipation of the planned Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Voss and Helms were scheduled to begin putting on their spacesuits about 7:30 p.m. Throughout the planned seven hour EVA, they will be assisted by Paul Richards, serving as the in-cabin space walk choreographer.
Once outside the shuttle’s airlock, their first tasks will be to prepare for the repositioning of Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 – a shuttle docking port – which will be repositioned from the Earth-facing berth on the Unity module to its left-side berth. They will detach cables on that docking port and also detach a communications antenna from the left-side berth on Unity. Then their work will focus on preparing the exterior of the station’s Destiny Laboratory for the arrival of the space station robotic arm that will be launched aboard Endeavour next month. They will attach an exterior cradle to the lab as well as cables that will be used for the arm’s installation.
After about six hours of work, Voss and Helms will return to Discovery’s airlock where they will stand by, ready to assist if needed, as Andy Thomas uses the shuttle’s robotic arm to reposition the docking port. After more than seven hours outside, they plan to repressurize the airlock and enter Discovery’s cabin at about 6:12 a.m. Sunday.
The hatches between Discovery and the International Space Station are closed now after having been opened for only a couple of hours early this morning just after Discovery docked to the complex. Usachev immediately moved to the station from the shuttle and Yuri Gidzenko, pilot for the first station crew, moved to Discovery. The hatches between the two spacecraft are to be reopened shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday, as the crew begins the fifth day of the mission.
Discovery and the station are in excellent condition in an orbit with a high point of 237 statute miles and a low point of 230 statute miles. The next mission control center status report will be issued Sunday morning.
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