Triumph in Orbit

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Triumph in Orbit
11.19.07
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NARRATOR: Space shuttle Discovery blazed toward orbit on October 23, 2007, carrying a new pressurized module for the International Space Station, and a crew of seven astronauts with an ambitious schedule.

But the STS-120 mission ended up being even more of a challenge -- and a triumph -- than NASA expected.

On board were Commander Pam Melroy, Pilot George Zamka and Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock, Scott Parazynski, Dan Tani, and Paolo Nespoli of the Italian Space Agency.

Their main objectives were to deliver the Italian-built U.S. Node 2, known as "Harmony," and relocate and unfurl a power-generating truss segment.

The Discovery crew spent two days catching up with the station, and with Melroy at the controls, the two spacecraft were joined as they sped through orbit at 17,500 miles per hour.

With NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson commanding the space station, this marked the first time both the shuttle and station were under the command of women.

Hours after docking, Tani took over as station flight engineer, relieving Clayton Anderson.

During the first of the mission's four spacewalks, Parazynski and Wheelock successfully installed the Harmony module in its temporary location on the station's Unity module.

The module will act as a gateway for the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory module and Japan's Kibo research module, both of which will be delivered to the station on upcoming shuttle flights.

PEGGY WHITSON: We think Harmony is a very good name for this module, because it represents the culmination of a lot of international partner work and will allow additional international partner modules to be added on.

The name Harmony came from a contest with many different schools around the country.

Over 2200 school children participated in the contest and we wanted to acknowledge those schools.

NARRATOR: On the second spacewalk, Parazynski and Tani ventured out into space to disconnect cables from the P6 truss.

This allowed Wilson and Wheelock to operate the station's robotic arm to remove the truss with its set of large solar panels.

Meanwhile, Tani discovered and collected some metal shavings during a visual inspection of the station's starboard solar alpha rotary joint.

Known as the SARJ, this joint allows the station's solar panels to rotate and track the sun.

Two days later, Parazynski and Wheelock attached the P6 truss segment to its permanent home on the far left side of the station.

But when the P6 solar arrays were 80-percent deployed, a rip appeared in one of the gleaming gold blankets – and the focus for the rest of the mission shifted to a daring repair of the torn solar array.

Finally, on flight day 12, Parazynski embarked on a dangerous but critical fourth spacewalk.

Wheelock watched closely and helped Parazynski avoid the dangers of electric shock by warning when he came too close to the array.

Using wire and pieces of aluminum, Parazynski cut a frayed guidewire and repaired the array with homemade stabilizers.

The successful repair restored structure and stability to the damaged array, allowing it to extend completely to its 110-foot length.

TANI: In two, one, mark…we've got deployed discretes – two deployed discretes.

PARAZYNSKI: Yay! All right. Great news!

TANI: Beautiful. What an accomplishment!

MELROY: Nice Teamwork.

PARAZYNSKI: Phenomenal!

WHITSON: Excellent work guys. Excellent.

NARRATOR: After nearly 11 days together, Discovery and the International Space Station parted ways on November 5.

Discovery returned home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida two days later, touching down on the first attempt after traveling more than 6.2 million miles.

MELROY: Houston, Discovery. Wheels stop.

CAPCOM TERRY VIRTS: Copy wheels stop. Discovery, congratulations on a tremendous mission and a great landing, Pam. And we'll meet you on page 5-3 with no deltas.

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