In space today, the 10 astronauts and cosmonauts on board Endeavour and the International Space Station, will focus their efforts on final transfer activities and this morning’s unberthing of the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to be placed back in Endeavour’s payload bay for a return trip home.
Raffaello has been loaded with unneeded equipment, as well as gear from the returning Expedition Three crewmembers, including their custom Soyuz spacesuits and seat liners. The hatch between Raffaello and the space station will be closed about 10 a.m. CST today once final transfers are complete. About 1:20 p.m., Pilot Mark Kelly and Mission Specialist Linda Godwin will begin the process of detaching Raffaello from the station using the shuttle’s 50-foot long robotic arm. The process of removing Raffaello from the station and carefully placing it back in Endeavour’s payload bay is expected to be complete shortly after 3:30 p.m.
The two station commanders – Frank Culbertson and Yury Onufrienko – will continue their handover briefings even as they prepare for Endeavour’s scheduled departure Saturday morning. Expedition Three crew member Vladimir Dezhurov will join Onufrienko in some final maintenance work on the station this morning replacing a faulty compressor in an air conditioner unit in the Zvezda Service Module.
All of the crew members – Endeavour Commander Dom Gorie, Kelly, Godwin and Dan Tani, along with Expedition Three crew members Culbertson, Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin and the Expedition Four crew, Onufrienko, Dan Bursch and Carl Walz – will meet late in the day today for a final briefing in preparation for Endeavour’s departure tomorrow. Following final farewells tomorrow morning, about 7:30 a.m., the hatches between Endeavour and the station will be closed for a final time during this mission. Endeavour will undock from the station at 10 a.m. Saturday, and after a brief fly-around of the station, a final engine burn will mark Endeavour’s departure from the station, leaving the Expedition Four crew on board for a planned five-month stay.
Endeavour’s crew was awakened at 5:12 a.m. today by a traditional Russian song, “My Sweetheart,” played for Onufrienko, Dezhurov and Tyurin. The Expedition Four crew was awakened about a half-hour later with a wake-up tone on board the station.
Endeavour and the International Space Station remain in good shape, orbiting at an average altitude of 241 statute miles. Wednesday, the crew and flight control teams noted a transient problem with one of the shuttle’s three inertial measurement units (IMUs), the primary navigation units for the shuttle. That IMU, designated IMU2,
experienced about an hour-long “drift rate,” subsequently returning to normal operation. Flight controllers have taken IMU2 off line and declared it “failed,” though it has performed normally since the initial problem was observed. The remaining two IMUs on board are performing well and the loss of a single IMU has no impact on Endeavour’s mission or planned landing. Endeavour could operate well on only one IMU if required.
The next STS-108 mission status report will be issued about 6 p.m. today or as events warrant.
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