Atlantis' astronauts were awakened shortly after 4 a.m. Central time today to AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock", announcing the start of Flight Day 7 on board the Shuttle. About two hours later, International Space Station (ISS) flight controllers began a series of critical tests to insure that the newly activated computers in the Destiny Laboratory module of the ISS could take over control of the orientation of the Station from Russian segment computers. It was the first time that U.S. computers in Destiny provided control of the ISS, an important first in Station operations to preserve propellent previously used in orienting the ISS to the sun for the generation of electricity.
The Expedition One crewmembers - Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev - were awakened a short time before the tests began, having been granted two additional hours of sleep after working late Monday night to continue the activation and checkout of Destiny's systems.
The so-called "control authority" tests will continue throughout the week, as control of the Station is handed back and forth between the Zvezda module and Destiny, verifying that the new laboratory can provide command and control capability for Station orientation through the operation of four large gyroscopic devices housed on the Station's Z1 truss. The gyros were operating perfectly early today, displaying good speeds and normal temperatures as they worked to gently steer the Station to provide correct alignment of the U.S. and Russian module solar arrays to the sun.
Shepherd provided an ISS status report for flight controllers, indicating that although there is a missing washer in Destiny, it will not harm the Lab's systems thanks to a series of filters associated with the air purification system in the new module. Shepherd also reported that he has detected some loose wires on the treadmill exercise device in the Zvezda module, but said the device remains operational. The treadmill is designed to eliminate vibrations caused by exercise which could disturb sensitive microgravity experiments.
Overnight, space station flight controllers issued final commands to tighten the bolts that secure a newly positioned docking port to the Destiny laboratory. The docking port was attached to Destiny during Monday's spacewalk. Flight controllers also continued commands to complete the activation of the Atmosphere Revitalization Rack in Destiny.
Commander Ken Cockrell and Pilot Mark Polansky will perform another reboost of the Station today, using Atlantis' jet thrusters to slowly raise the altitude of the ISS for future operations. Cockrell and Polansky will then join Mission Specialists Marsha Ivins, Bob Curbeam and Tom Jones for a few hours of off-duty time to relax and enjoy the view of Earth from orbit.
This afternoon, spacewalkers Curbeam and Jones will set out the tools they will use Wednesday during the third and final scheduled spacewalk of the mission, the 100th spacewalk in U.S. spaceflight history. During the planned five-hour excursion, Jones and Curbeam will attach a spare S-band communications antenna assembly to the Z1 truss, photograph the base of the huge U.S. solar arrays installed during the STS-97 mission in December, and practice techniques which could be used in the future to assist an incapacitated spacewalker.
Hatches remain closed between Atlantis and the ISS. They will be reopened following tomorrow's spacewalk for one more day of joint operations inside Destiny on Thursday.
Atlantis and the ISS are orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 230 statute miles with all systems operating in excellent shape.
The next Mission Status Report will be issued at 7 p.m. Tuesday, or sooner, if events warrant.
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