Endeavour’s astronauts today will prepare for a third planned space walk, getting their tools ready and preparing the Floating Potential Probe for installation on the exterior of the International Space Station to measure the electrical potential of plasma around the station.
Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialists Marc Garneau, Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega were roused at 6:36 a.m. by a Puccini opera aria, “ O Mio Babbino Caro,” intended especially for Garneau.
Soon after this morning’s wake-up call, Noriega and Tanner received word they will have an additional task on their Thursday space walk. Station and shuttle engineers and managers sent up plans for adjusting the tension levels of the solar blankets on the starboard solar array. The plan calls for the shuttle crew to retract the array’s mast two to three feet to generate some slack in the tension cables. Noriega will pull the slack through each spring-loaded take-up reel, then Tanner will manually “wind” the tension reels. When each has reached its limit, Tanner will let it unwind by spring force while Noriega guides the cable on to the reel grooves. The outboard reel will be first, followed by the inboard reel.
The new solar arrays and electrical system continue to work well, generating power that has now been routed all the way to the Russian space station modules. Tuesday’s space walk and associated internal work by Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko enabled all of the interfaces needed to send power to the Zarya and Zvezda modules. By about 9 a.m. CST today, flight controllers had configured the American-to-Russian Converter Units so that an additional 3 kilowatts of electricity is available to the Russian modules. This brought the total power available to Zvezda up to about 6 to 7 kilowatts; once enabled, the Zarya module will have up to 5.5 to 7 kilowatts available.
Wednesday, Shepherd went back inside the Unity module about 4:30 a.m. CST to install electrical outlets inside Unity and separate the power feeds going to the early communication and S-band communication systems, providing additional redundancy.
Although Shepherd was scheduled to leave the hatch between the Russian elements and the Unity module open today, it may be closed about 10:30 a.m. to manage rising humidity levels caused by a failure in Zvezda’s air conditioning system. Krikalev and Gidzenko are working a maintenance and repair procedure on both the air conditioning system and Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system.
The next STS-97 status report will be issued Wednesday evening or earlier if events warrant.
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