Endeavour's six astronauts awoke at 10:41 a.m. CST today and are preparing for a historic day - entry into the International Space Station for the first time. The crew was awakened to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," played for Mission Specialist-2, Nancy Currie at the request of her husband, David.
After opening the hatch between Unity and the Pressurized Mating Adapter that connects it to Endeavour, the astronauts will climb aboard Unity about 1:15 p.m. CST. Once inside, Commander Bob Cabana and Mission Specialists Jerry Ross and Jim Newman will install portable fans and lights. They also will complete installation of the S-band communication system in the U.S. component. Pilot Rick Sturckow will remove some access panels inside Unity and unstow hardware that will be used by visiting astronauts on future assembly missions.
Less than 90 minutes after entering Unity, the astronauts will float into the Zarya module, where Mission Specialist Sergei Krikalev and Currie will install a new battery charging unit. One of Zarya's six batteries has experienced a problem discharging stored energy in its automatic configuration. Krikalev has swapped out an identical component during two previous flights on the Russian space station Mir. Sturckow and Currie also will remove launch restraint bolts from some of the panels inside Zarya. These bolts were installed before launch to ensure that none of the panels popped open during launch. Astronauts will remove some of these bolts today as a "get-ahead" task to expedite access to the panels during future space station assembly missions. Cabana, Ross and Newman will check out the early communications system's videoconferencing capability.
Ross, Newman and Krikalev then will begin transferring equipment and supplies from Endeavour for use by future inhabitants of the space station, including the first crew to begin a permanent human presence on the space station in January 2000.
During the entry into the International Space Station today, the crew will open a total of six hatches in the following order: the hatch on Endeavour's docking system; the hatch to Unity's mating adapter (designated PMA-2); the hatch to Unity; the hatch from Unity to the upper mating adapter (designated PMA-1); the hatch to Zarya's spherical pressurized adapter (PA); and finally, a hatch between the spherical pressurized adapter on Zarya and the main Zarya instrument module, Zarya's main compartment.
Prior to beginning the sequence of hatch openings, the crew will bring the air pressure inside Endeavour to 14.7 pounds per square inch, the same pressure as at sea level on Earth. Then, the crew will go through a procedure to equalize the air pressure on both sides of each hatch prior to opening them.
About 8:45 p.m. Central time this evening, the entire crew will gather inside the station for an interview with KNX Radio in Los Angeles and KARE-TV in Minneapolis, MN, Cabana's home town.
Endeavour and the International Space Station remain in excellent shape.
The next STS-88 mission status report will be issued around 3:30 a.m. Friday.
- end -