Aboard Atlantis, preparations are under way for today’s planned five-hour spacewalk to retrieve four experiment packages and test tools and techniques for construction of the International Space Station.
With the hatches connecting Atlantis and Mir slated to swing closed shortly after 8:30 a.m. today, Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski and Vladimir Titov are preparing for their excursion outside of the Atlantis-Mir complex. Shortly after waking up, the duo will climb into their spacesuits and begin a 2 ½ hour pre-breathe protocol designed to purge nitrogen from their blood. Depressurization of Atlantis’ airlock hatch is slated for about 1 p.m., with Parazynski and Titov floating into the payload bay about 1:45 p.m. The spacewalk is expected to conclude about 6:30 p.m.
The primary task during the spacewalk will be the retrieval of four Mir Environmental Effects Packages which had been mounted on the docking module last March by astronauts Linda Godwin and Rich Clifford. Parazynski and Titov also will tether the Spektr Solar Array Cap to the docking module. The Solar Array Cap may be used in a future Mir spacewalk to seal any hole found in the hull of the damaged Spektr module. The two spacewalkers also will evaluate some common EVA tools which could be used by astronauts wearing either Russian or American-made spacesuits.
As the Atlantis crew prepares for the spacewalk, the Mir crew will be installing a new motion control computer. Swap-out of the computer should take about 90 minutes, after which new software will be loaded into the computer by Russian flight controllers in a process that will take several more hours. Atlantis will provide attitude control for the combined stack throughout the EVA and computer swap-out activities, with Mir’s automatic attitude control devices scheduled to be brought back on line Thursday morning.
Through three days of docked operations, the Atlantis/Mir crews have transferred more than 77% of the items scheduled to be moved, including more than 1,200 lbs of water.
The next STS-86 status report will be issued about 8 p.m. central time.
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