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Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 7:00 p.m. CDT
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-124 MCC Status Report #15
Shuttle astronauts expanded the robotics capabilities on the station today, with the first tests and motions of the Japanese robotic arm.

After heating up the arm yesterday and setting up its control console, today, mission specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Karen Nyberg sent commands to activate the Kibo robotic arm system's hold and release mechanism. About an hour later, the two initiated the first motion of the arm. At 11:39 a.m. they commanded a slight pitch down motion to validate the arm's operability. The move also ensured there would be sufficient space for the removal of launch locks and insulation from the arm's wrist and elbow cameras, a task scheduled for tomorrow’s spacewalk to be conducted by Mike Fossum and Ron Garan.

Now, at the halfway point of the mission, the ten crew members gathered for an interview with reporters with CNN, WCBS-TV in New York and WDAY-TV in Fargo, N.D.

Later, shuttle Commander Mark Kelly was joined by Hoshide for a special call from the Japanese dignitaries. Participants included Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda; Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Kisaburo Tokai; Director of Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) and NASA Astronaut Mamoru Mohri. U.S. Ambassador in Japan J. Thomas Shieffer and students also participated in the call to congratulate Hoshide and Kelly on the mission and the successful addition of the Kibo Laboratory.

The crew continued internal outfitting of the new laboratory and transfer work and ended the day with a review of the procedures for tomorrow’s spacewalk. That extravehicular activity, or EVA, will now include a possible get-ahead task to collect samples of some of the powder-like substance Fossum observed on the left Solar Alpha Rotary Joint during the last spacewalk.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 8:32 p.m., thirty minutes after their space station counterparts. Both crews are scheduled to awaken at 4:32 a.m. Sunday.

The next status report will be issued at the start of the crew day, or earlier if events warrant.

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