Atlantis' seven member crew was awakened just before 4 p.m. CDT to begin its fifth day in space and is now preparing to enter the International Space Station to perform maintenance work and transfer supplies for future station crews. Today's wakeup call was "Haunted House" by Ray Buchanan since the opening lyrics say "I just moved into a new house today…." in honor of the STS-101 crew entering what will be a new home for astronauts and cosmonauts later this year.
Commander Jim Halsell and his crew have begun to open the various hatches between the two spacecraft in a process that will take about two hours to complete. A total of five different hatches will be opened during the crew's ingress into various parts of the station. The first hatch to be opened will be on Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 (PMA-2) which joins the Shuttle's docking mechanism to the Unity module. Next will be the hatch leading to the interior of the Unity node. Third in line will be the PMA-1 hatch at the opposite end of Unity. Next will be the hatch leading into the Zarya control module. The fifth and final hatch to be opened will be the instrumentation cargo compartment in the rear portion of Zarya.
The first two individuals to enter the station will be Mission Specialists Yury Usachev and Susan Helms, who will be getting a sneak preview of their future orbiting home. Usachev, Helms and fellow STS-101 crewmember Jim Voss will become the second expedition crew to inhabit the station.
The first actions by the crew upon entering the station will be to collect air quality samples in Unity and Zarya for comparison with a sample from Atlantis. They also will measure air-circulation velocity and monitor carbon dioxide levels. Upon completion of those tasks, the crew members will break out their tools and rework some of the air ducts in Zarya to improve airflow. They will re-route some ducts, strengthen others, add new acoustic mufflers where required, and they'll swap out the contaminant filter in Zarya and the charcoal filter in Unity.
Once they determine that there has been a sufficient improvement in air circulation, the crew members will turn their attention to maintenance issues and cargo transfers. The main task for this evening will be the replacement of two of the batteries on the station. Problems with performance of at least two of Zarya's six "800A" storage batteries led to a decision to replace four batteries during STS-101 docked operations. The third battery will be replaced tomorrow and the fourth on Wednesday.
Atlantis' crew will replace the four suspect, 163-pound batteries -Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 - as well as three of their 34-pound current converters and two of their 10-pound current converter controllers. The batteries on the station collect energy during the daytime portion of the Station's orbit and provide power at night.
The replacement of the station batteries is a well choreographed procedure that has been refined during pre-flight training activities in NASA and Russia training facilities. Of the six batteries onboard the station, a minimum of four batteries will always remain online and available to support station systems.
In addition to replacing the batteries on the station, other maintenance activities planned during docked operations include replacing three fire extinguishers that have reached the end of their design life, 10 smoke detectors and four cooling fans.
The Atlantis and the station both continue to operate well with flight controllers reporting no problems of significance for any of the mission's activities. The shuttle and station are docked in an orbit with a high point of 209 statute miles and a low point of 203 statute miles, circling Earth every 91 minutes.
The next mission status report will be issued at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
- end -