9 p.m. CDT Thursday, March 19, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-119 MCC Status Report #09
The International Space Station’s 335-foot-long truss, or backbone, is complete after astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery and the station teamed with Mission Control to install the final 45-foot-long segment to the farthest starboard point of the station. Next up is Friday’s deployment of the two solar array wings – each stretching 115 feet.

With spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold at the ready outside the station, shuttle Mission Specialist John Phillips and Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata remotely controlled the station robotic arm with the 31,000 pound S6 truss into its final position. Swanson and Arnold immediately went to work bolting the segment in place and connecting the power and data cables allowing station flight controllers to remotely command the segment to life.

Swanson’s third spacewalk and Arnold’s first began at 12:16 p.m. and ended at 6:23 p.m. totaling 6 hours, 7 minutes. The 121st spacewalk brings the total for station assembly and maintenance to more than 762 hours.

The solar array deployment originally was scheduled for Sunday, but was moved to Friday when Discovery’s heat shield inspections showed no problems that would require further analysis by using the extension boom and sensor package.

After wake up Friday, the crew will oversee deployment of the solar arrays as they are methodically unfurled through a step sequence to preclude the thin panels from sticking together. Engineers have developed specific procedures learned over time with the deployment of the other three pair of arrays on earlier assembly missions.

Late today, Phillips and shuttle Pilot Tony Antonelli restored Discovery’s exercise bicycle ergometer to use after removing a protective cover and freeing a jam.

The station and shuttle crews head to bed about 10:30 tonight and will be awakened by Mission Control at 6:43 a.m. Friday. The next status report will be issued at the end of the crew day, or earlier if events warrant.

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