Columbia’s astronauts were awakened at 12:46 p.m. Central time today to the sound of "Walk of Life" by Dire Straits to begin their final preparations for tonight’s spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to manually capture the SPARTAN science satellite and to test tools and techniques for the assembly of the International Space Station. At the time of crew wakeup, Columbia was 46 statute miles behind SPARTAN.
Scott and Doi began suiting up for their spacewalk around 3:00 p.m. Central time with the assistance of Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, who will choreograph tonight planned 6 and a half operation from Columbia’s aft flight deck.
While those preparations took place, Commander Kevin Kregel and Pilot Steve Lindsey conducted a series of jet firings to narrow the gap between Columbia and SPARTAN. The major maneuver took place at 4:51 p.m. when Kregel conducted the Terminal Initiation, or TI burn, to place the shuttle on an intercepting path to arrive directly beneath the slowly spinning satellite.
The spacewalk began at about 6:00 p.m. Central time. Columbia is predicted to reach the vicinity of Spartan about 7:25 p.m. as Kregel flies Columbia to a point where the satellite will be hovering just over the cargo bay. If all goes well, Scott and Doi should grab the satellite sometime over the next hour or so, with the manual berthing of SPARTAN expected to be completed by about 8:30 p.m. The retrieval should leave Scott and Doi ample time to complete many of the International Space Station assembly tests planned for the mission involving the testing of a special crane which may be used in the future to haul large components from one station module to another for spacewalking astronauts.
As Kregel flies Columbia to a point where Spartan is a few feet above the cargo bay, Doi and Scott, in their spacewalking suits, will be positioned opposite each other in foot restraints on the SPARTAN platform truss in Columbia’s payload bay, ready to manually grab the Spartan free-flyer and then lower the satellite down into its latches in the cargo bay. They will recapture the satellite using a procedure similar to one they rehearsed prior to the flight in the event the Shuttle’s robotic arm could not be used to retrieve the satellite.
After SPARTAN has been secured in the payload bay, the astronauts will use the remainder of the planned six-hour spacewalk to test tools and procedures which would be used in assembly of the International Space Station.
The Shuttle orbiter, Columbia, continues to perform flawlessly with no systems problems. The next STS-87 status report will be issued at approximately 6 a.m. Tuesday.
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