The International Space Station spread one of its wings Sunday night as the first half of the P6 solar array was unfurled after Endeavour astronauts installed the 17.5-ton P6 solar array structure.
The structure housing the arrays and associated electronics was mated to the stations Z1 truss structure at 1:32 p.m. about an hour into the first of three planned space walks during the mission by Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega. The space walk began at 12:35 p.m. Sunday and ended at 8:08 p.m., lasting 7 hours, 33 minutes. Thus far, astronauts and cosmonauts have spent 77 hours, 7 minutes on 11 space walks for space station assembly.
Using the shuttles robot arm, Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau moved the P6 solar array structure into position above the Z1 truss structure of the Unity module and drove it home to its installation point about 1:32 p.m. Tanner and Noriega secured bolts on each of the four corners of the array assembly before Garneau released it from the arm.
Pilot Mike Bloomfield took over arm operations and moved Noriega around the array as he connected nine power, command and data cables. At the same time, Tanner released the two solar array blanket boxes. They put the blanket boxes into the ready to deploy position. But computer commands to release the pins holding the blanket boxes closed initially were not successful. Tanner and Noriega stood by in case they were needed to release the pins manually.
Soon afterward, the commands were repeated, the pins on the starboard blanket boxes released and that solar wing was deployed. However, one pin on the portside blanket box remained in the closed position. After the space walk, Commander Brent Jett again sent computer commands for the blanket box pins to close and then reopen, and this time, a little after 8:20 p.m., indicators showed all the pins had disengaged. Flight controllers will not deploy the port wing tonight to allow time to understand whether the solar wing that has deployed is properly tensioned. That wing was functioning well and sending electrical power to the P6 structure's systems.
There is no rush to deploy the port wing and flight controllers want to fully understand the situation with the starboard wing before they attempt to do so.
"We did accomplish our No. 1 mission objective, which was to deliver P6 to the International Space Station," said Bill Reeves, lead shuttle flight director. And "We accomplished all the EVA objectives." One of three Photovoltaic Radiator was deployed at 10:20 Sunday night before the crew began its planned sleep period at about 11:30. The radiator will dissipate heat generated by on-board electronics.
Endeavour and the space station are orbiting at an altitude of about 235 statute miles with systems aboard both spacecraft functioning well. The Endeavour crew will have a day off Monday, while the space station crew will be awakened about midnight to begin its workday. Hatches allowing the two crews to meet face to face will not be opened until Friday, the day after the last scheduled space walk of the STS-97 mission.
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