Fresh from their successful manual retrieval of the SPARTAN science satellite, Columbia’s six astronauts were awakened at 1:46 p.m. Central time this afternoon to begin their seventh day in orbit, a day focused on experiments inside the crew cabin.
Mission Control played the traditional Indian song, "Mishra Piloo" by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, in honor of Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla. Chawla used the shuttle’s robot arm to berth the SPARTAN satellite after it has grabbed out of orbit by crewmates Winston Scott and Takao Doi during their 7-hour, 43-minute spacewalk yesterday.
Today, the crew will turn its attention to a variety of experiments inside the Shuttle cabin. Chawla will process several samples of materials in the glovebox facility in Columbia’s middeck designed to investigate the characteristics of creating composite materials in weightlessness. The experiment , called PEP, involves heating samples and then recording the mixture as it resolidifies. It is hoped to provide scientists with insight that could lead to new developments in composite materials on Earth. Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk will continue studies of plant growth in space with the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment, spending much of his day harvesting and preserving soybean seedlings for analysis after Columbia’s return home.
Meanwhile, Scott and Doi will finish stowing the tools and equipment they used during yesterday’s spacewalk and fill out questionnaires designed to capture their early thoughts on the evaluations they performed. The insights they provide will help engineers as they finalize the designs of tools planned for use during assembly of the International Space Station.
Doi will receive congratulations on his work and mission at 2:51 a.m. CST Wednesday in a special call to Columbia from Sadakazu Tanigaki, Minister of Japan’s Science and Technology Agency, and Tomifumi Godai, vice president of the National Space Development Agency of Japan.
Columbia remains in excellent condition with no mechanical problems. The shuttle is in an orbit of 175 by 170 statute miles.
The next mission status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26.
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