4 a.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-129 MCC Status Report #04
HOUSTON – The International Space Station is just a few hours away from receiving a shipment of spares that should help keep it going well into the future.

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:53 a.m. and deliver two pallets carrying more than 20,000 pounds worth of spare equipment too large to be launched into space aboard any other vehicle.

Atlantis’ six-man crew received their wake-up call at 3:28 a.m. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” was played for Mission Specialist Robert Satcher as the day’s wake-up song.

The morning will focus on preparations for the rendezvous and docking to the station. Commander Charles Hobaugh and Pilot Barry Wilmore will perform a few final corrective jet firings to refine the orbiter’s path to the station and position the vehicle for its rendezvous pitch maneuver 600 feet beneath the station at 9:52 a.m. While Hobaugh performs the “backflip” Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Jeffrey Williams and Nicole Stott will take photos from the station. Their photos will be sent to the ground for review by experts to ensure that the shuttle’s heat shield did not sustain any damage during Monday’s launch.

Once the maneuver is complete, Hobaugh will fly Atlantis ahead of the space station and slowly back it in for the docking to the station’s Harmony node. After a series of leak checks that should take about two hours, the hatches between the two vehicles will be opened and the two crews will start their joint operations.

Hatch opening will mark the end of Flight Engineer Nicole Stott’s two-and-a-half-month stint with the space station’s crew. She’ll officially become a member of the STS-129 crew, and the station will be manned by a five-person crew until Dec. 1, when Commander Frank De Winne and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk will depart the station in their Soyuz vehicle. Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev will be left behind to man the station alone until the rest of the Expedition 22 crew arrives on Dec. 23.

Atlantis’ crew is scheduled to go to sleep just before 7:30 p.m. The next shuttle status report will be issued at the end of the crew’s workday or earlier if events warrant.

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