Much of today’s work aboard Columbia focused on completion of hands-on sample processing in the microgravity glovebox facility and preparing the spacesuits and tools that will be used for tomorrow’s bonus spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi.
Yesterday’s decision to add the spacewalk will give astronauts and extravehicular activity designers more confidence in techniques which will be important in the assembly of the International Space Station.
The spacewalk is set to begin shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday and is expected to last four and a half hours. The crane operations conducted on the first spacewalk will be repeated substituting the large simulated space station battery with a small tool-caddy simulator. Another component of the second EVA will be checkout of a free-flying video camera which will be used as a second point of view to observe work outside the shuttle or station.
The first spacewalk last week was modified to accommodate the retrieval of the Spartan satellite.
Glovebox operations wrapped up this morning with the final sample being processed in the unique mini laboratory on Columbia’s middeck. Mission specialist Kalpana Chawla oversaw the operations with an investigation into how to improve methods of solidifying composite metals.
Sample processing with several experiments on the United States Microgravity Payload in the cargo bay of Columbia are continuing with periodic orbiter attitude maneuvers being done to assist with data gathering.
The crew took time out of today’s schedule to discuss the mission with reporters from the U.S., Japan and the Ukraine during the traditional in-flight news conference.
Before bedtime this morning, the crew will once again lower the cabin atmosphere to 10.2 pounds per square inch to assist Scott and Doi with conditioning for the second spacewalk. This allows for a much reduced amount of time required to prebreathe pure oxygen prior to beginning the spacewalk.
The next status report will be issued at about 6 p.m.
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