10 a.m. CST Monday, Dec. 11, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-116 MCC Status Report #04
The Space Shuttle Discovery continues its pursuit of the International Space Station, a chase that should culminate in the docking of the two spacecraft at 4:05 p.m. CST today.
Discovery’s crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang, are looking forward to a very busy day. So are members of the station crew, Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter.
The shuttle crew was awakened at 9:18 a.m. CST with the song "Beep Beep," performed by Louis Prima. It was played for Williams.
Rendezvous operations will begin at about 10:35 a.m. CST. The terminal initiation engine firing by Discovery, a firing that begins the final phase of the rendezvous when the shuttle is about nine miles behind the station, is scheduled for 1:28 p.m. CST.
By 3 p.m. CST, Discovery should be about 600 feet below the station. At that point, Polansky will guide the shuttle through a backflip called the rendezvous pitch maneuver. The maneuver will allow station crew members to photograph Discovery's heat shield. The electronic images will be transmitted to the ground for analysis by engineers.
Shortly after docking, a safety briefing and a welcome ceremony, Williams will transfer her custom seat liner to the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station. When that happens, she becomes a member of the station crew. At the same time, Reiter becomes a Discovery crew member for his ride home, completing about six months in space.
A little after 7:15 p.m. CST, Discovery’s robotic arm will lift the 4,100-pound P5 truss segment from the shuttle's cargo bay. It will be handed off to the station’s arm, where it will stay during the crews’ sleep period, in preparation for its installation on Tuesday.
To prepare for the mission's first spacewalk, Curbeam and Fuglesang will spend tonight in the station’s airlock, where pressure will be reduced to 10.2 psi, a pressure roughly equal to the atmosphere on Earth at about 10,000 feet above sea level. The airlock “campout” at the lower pressure protects against decompression sickness, commonly called "the bends," as the two go to the even lower pressure of spacesuits on Tuesday.
The next STS-116 status report will be issued Monday afternoon or earlier if events warrant.