The first space railroad car will get a trial run today, highballing along 26 feet of the track atop the International Space Station’s new S-Zero (S0) Truss at a maximum speed of one inch per second, or 100 yards an hour. The 1,900-pound Mobile Transporter begins its run about 6:30 a.m.
Ground controllers in mission control will command the Mobile Transporter to move up and down the truss three times, testing its computers, drive motors, suspension unit, video and data umbilicals, and the railway itself. The railcar will travel a total of about 71 feet at speeds of 1, 0.4 and 0.1 of an inch per second, stopping at future worksites to test its ability to latch and unlatch itself to the railway.
This is the first time that a software-controlled movable robot has been used on an orbiting vehicle. The Mobile Transporter software controls about 20 motors, directing it to travel from one point to another, latch itself down to the truss, and plug itself into a power source. The Mobile Transporter ultimately will move the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, along the orbiting laboratory’s 356-foot Integrated Truss.
The Atlantis crew – Commander Mike Bloomfield, Pilot Steve Frick, Mission Specialists Ellen Ochoa, Rex Walheim, Lee Morin, Jerry Ross and Steve Smith – was awakened at 3:48 a.m. to “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf, dedicated to Smith. The station crew – Commander Yury Onufrienko, Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch – was awakened at 4:14 a.m.
The crews will continue to transfer equipment between the two spacecraft and will review procedures for the fourth and final spacewalk of the mission, scheduled for Tuesday.
The 10 crewmembers will participate in a news conference with media representatives at NASA centers in Florida and Houston and at Mission Control- Moscow. The event will be carried live on NASA television beginning at 11:47 a.m. CDT. Afterwards, the crews will have a few hours off. Both crews are scheduled to begin their eight-hour sleep period at 7:44 p.m.
The next STS-110 mission status report will be issued this evening, or earlier if events warrant.
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