After Monday's exciting launch, the STS-112 crew today settled into preparations for Wednesday's rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station, and the first of three spacewalks Thursday.
After arising at 4:46 a.m. CDT, the crew began its first full day on orbit with Pilot Pam Melroy assisting Mission Specialists Dave Wolf and Piers Sellers in a checkout of spacewalk suits and equipment. Commander Jeff Ashby worked with the prime robotic arm operator, Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, to verify the arm's readiness. Ashby and Magnus powered up the arm for a video survey of Atlantis' payload bay.
In preparation for Wednesday's rendezvous and docking with the station at 10:24 a.m., the crew set up the orbiter docking system's centerline camera, extended the orbiter's spring-loaded ring that will make first contact, and checked out rendezvous tools.
The crew successfully completed three Orbital Maneuvering System burns to boost the orbiter into the station's orbit and refine its approach path to the station.
Science already is getting underway on Atlantis with Wolf leading check-out activities for the SHIMMER experiment sponsored by the Naval Research Lab. The Spatial Heterodyne Imager for Mesospheric Radicals experiment uses an ultraviolet sensing camera to observe the Earth's atmosphere at 40-90 kilometers looking for possible ozone loss. The experiment proved a bit balky, but with help from Mission Control the crew worked out steps to ready the gear for observations during the mission.
Meanwhile, the space station residents readied their home for the first visitors in the123 days since their arrival at the vehicle. Peggy Whitson and crewmates Valery Korzun and Sergei Treschev have been prepacking materials to return on Atlantis and to make room for about 7,500 pounds of gear arriving at the station.
Whitson has been sending letters describing her life on the International Space Station back to Earth over the last few months. Her most recent letter describes her anticipation and preparations for the shuttle visitors. The letters are published on NASA's spaceflight website at:
Both crews will head for sleep two hours earlier than Monday at 6:46 pm to get plenty of rest before Wednesday's busy day. Rendezvous operations begin at 5:06 a.m., with station docking scheduled for 10:24 a.m. Hatch opening between Atlantis and the station is expected at 12:36 p.m.
The next STS-112 mission status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Wednesday, or earlier if events warrant.
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