Plans are coming together nicely for tomorrow night’s spacewalk by astronauts Winston Scott and Takao Doi to manually capture the drifting Spartan after commander Kevin Kregel flies Columbia to within reaching distance of the satellite.
The leading option for the manual retrieval has the two astronauts positioned in foot restraints on each end of the Spartan’s support structure. They will grab the satellite and lower it onto its fixture to be latched securely remotely from inside the orbiter. The remaining time available during the spacewalk will be used to test tools and maintenance procedures that will be used during the construction and operation of the International Space Station.
The final decision on the course of action for retrieval will be made by mid-morning following the Space Shuttle Program mission management team meeting. A press conference at 10 a.m. CST today on NASA Television will brief details of the plan..
Columbia is now about 30 nautical miles behind Spartan, which was released from the shuttle on Friday. After its release, the satellite’s attitude control system failed to activate. When a recapture of the satellite was attempted, it began a slow spin that prevented any further attempts to capture it using the robotic arm
Details of the six-hour spacewalk include Doi and Scott beginning shortly after 6 p.m. Monday. Columbia will arrive in close proximity to Spartan at about 7 p.m. The Spartan retrieval will require only about two hours of the six-hour spacewalk. During the remaining time available, a majority of the originally planned International Space Station assembly spacewalk tests will still be performed.
Experiment work aboard Columbia continues with Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk focusing on studies of plant growth in weightlessness in the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment.
Crew wakeup is set for 11:45 this morning with sleep set for about 5 a.m. Monday.
Columbia’s orbit is currently 152 by 150 nautical miles with an orbital period of 90 minutes.
The next Mission Control status report will be issued later today.
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