Columbia’s six-member crew will be awakened at 7:46 p.m. CST this evening to begin flight day 14 of the STS-87 mission and a busy day involving the second space walk of this flight.
Shortly after 2 a.m. CST, astronauts Winston Scott and Takao Doi will exit Columbia’s airlock for a four and a half-hour spacewalk which will repeat part of the crane operations, handling the smaller of the boxes which represent objects it will have to move during Space Station assembly. STS-87 mission managers Monday afternoon decided to add a second spacewalk to this mission, giving astronauts and EVA designers more confidence in techniques which will be important to assembly of the International Space Station. Crane operations will consume the first two hours of the crew’s timeline.
Also during this EVA, engineers will test the AERCAM/SPRINT, a free-flying video camera which is being developed as a tool for surveying the outside of space structures such as the International Space Station and as a second point of view during astronaut spacewalks. SPRINT will be controlled by pilot Steve Lindsey via a joystick on Columbia’s aft flight deck during this test, but future versions of the unit will have autonomous capability to fly to a designated area and perform surveys.
Wednesday morning’s spacewalk will be only the second EVA from Columbia, the oldest orbiter in the fleet. Columbia has been most used as a carrier for Spacelab missions which have not required EVAs. The first spacewalk from Columbia was Scott and Doi’s venture outside to capture the SPARTAN satellite last week.
Since 9 a.m. CST Tuesday, Columbia’s crew has been living in a reduced cabin atmospheric pressure of 10.2 psi. This stepping down of the pressure from the normal 14.7 psi during a 16-hour period before the EVA reduces the pre-breathe time for Scott and Doi in their suits to just one hour.
The next status report will be issued at approximately 6 a.m. CST Wednesday.
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