The crews of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station spent a final full day together today, completing the transfer of about one and a half tons of gear to the station, finishing work together in the station’s new Destiny Lab, and preparing for the shuttle’s departure on Friday.
Atlantis also gave the station a final boost, with Commander Ken Cockrell setting the shuttle’s jets to fire gradually and increase the altitude of the shuttle and station for a fourth time on the flight. When Atlantis undocks tomorrow, the station will be about 16 statute miles higher than when the shuttle arrived.
Inside the spacecraft, the crews transferred a total of 3,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the station from Atlantis, including water, food, spare parts, a spare Russian carbon dioxide removal system, a spare computer, clothes, movies and other items. About 850 pounds of trash – used batteries, packing materials no longer needed, empty food containers and other items – was moved from the station to Atlantis.
Outside the spacecraft, in addition to the 16-ton Destiny Lab and its associated equipment, Jones and Curbeam attached about 350 pounds of equipment to the station during their three spacewalks, including a spare communications antenna and a mounting fixture for the station’s Canadian robotic arm that will be launched this spring.
The station’s gyroscopes are continuing to control the station’s orientation today, although one of the four gyroscopes was briefly taken off-line automatically by the onboard computer system. The problem did not affect the station’s control at all since only two out of the four gyroscopes onboard are needed to maintain its orientation. The off-line gyroscope was quickly spun back up to its operating speed of 6,600 revolutions per minute and appears to be working perfectly, although it remains off-line currently while flight controllers evaluate its performance. However, the problem is not believed to be a concern for putting the unit back into service soon.
The station and shuttle crew will spend a final night tonight with the hatches open between the two spacecraft, and they will say farewell and close the hatches at 6:18 a.m. Central Friday. Atlantis is planned to undock from the station at 8:06 a.m. Central Friday as the two spacecraft fly 237 miles above the Western Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Guinea. After undocking, Atlantis will remain within about 450 feet from the station for about 40 minutes, performing a half circle of the station, undocking from below the complex and flying to a point directly above it. At that point at about 8:47 a.m. Central, Atlantis will fire its engines to separate the vicinity of the station. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center just before noon Central time on Sunday.
The shuttle and station crews will go to sleep at 8:13 p.m. Central. The shuttle crew will awaken at 4:13 a.m. Friday and the station crew will awaken about a half-hour later. The Johnson Space Center newsroom will close at about 9 p.m. and reopen at 4 a.m. Friday. The next Mission Status Report will be issued at 5 a.m. Central Friday.--end--
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