Sunday, November 30, 2008

Endeavour post-Landing Work Continues

[7:08 pm EST] Endeavour is seen on Runway 04 at Edwards now Landing +2 hrs, 43 minutes, as ground crews continue to safe the orbiter and prepare to roll her over toward the NASA mate/demate device.

A few NASA digital images from this afternoon's 4:25 pm EST landing at Edwards. The drag chute is deployed just after main gear touchdown to slow the 220 mph orbiter down, and put less wear on the breaking system.

Endeavour Lands with Beauty & Pride

The orbiter Endeavour landed with beauty and pride today completing a 16-day NASA-proclaimed home improvement mission of the international space station.

Following bad weather forecasts for her prime landing site here at Kennedy Space Center, Endeavour prepared for her California reroute which also extended the mission by three hours so that the shuttle could make her space exit.

Touchdown on concrete runway 04 at Roger's Dry Lakebed at Edwards occurred at 4:25:06 pm EST, after traveling 6.6 million miles since launch. Nose gear touchdown: 4:25:21 pm EST. And Wheels stop following rollout: 4:26:03 pm EST.
Total Mission elapsed time for STS-126: 15 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes, 37 seconds, from liftoff to wheels stop.

Endeavour "Go" for DeOrbit Burn

Endeavour's crew was just given the go for the deorbit burn which will drop the orbiter out of orbit into a freefall back to earth. Landing at Edwards, AFB in California is set for 4:25 pm EST, 1:25 pm Pacific.

Landing Day for Endeavour - But When, Where?

Landing of the space shuttle Endeavour here at the Kennedy Space Center is currently no-go according to Mission Control as a strong weather front pushes its way south across central Florida.

Today's planned 1:19 pm EST landing here at KSC will not occur, so now Mission Control is working two thoughts: an Edwards, AFB in California attempt, or waiving off for today and landing Endeavour in Florida on Monday. The later is what the scientists and ground crews like in order to 1) get the just arrived from space experiments to their labs; and 2) get Endeavour turned around quicker for her next flight this May 15th. It takes a shuttle one week to return back to KSC from a California landing.

The first Edwards, AFB in southern California landing attempt would see Endeavour's main gear hit the dry lake bed at 4:25 pm EST, on orbit 250.

The Spaceflight Meteorology Group latest weather forecast for the Cape calls for winds of 19 knots with gusts to 28 knots at KSC for both landing opportunities. Anvil clouds are expected to be over the shuttle landing runway with thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles. All of this shows either a waive off or a California landing today.

++ Watch continuous LIVE coverage via our NASA-TV link at upper right.++

Russian Supply Ship Docks with Space Station

A Russian Progress M31 unmanned cargo ship docked with the international space station minutes ago following a slight docking issue as it approached.

Progress 31 was to have automatically docked, however station flight engineer Yury Lonchakov had to manually guide the Progress 31 spacecraft to a 7:28 am EST docking while the pair flew high over eastern China.

During the next half hour, system latches in the docking port will hard dock the Progress. This will be followed by leak checks and hatch opening later this morning.

Russia normally sends up a new Progress to the station every six to eight weeks on average; and beginning next year, Japan will begin sending up their own supply vehicle for docking with the Kibo module.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Watching KSC Weather for Sunday Landing

The crew of Endeavour and landing teams in Florida and California spent Saturday preparing for a possible Sunday afternoon touchdown -- but where...?

Gusty winds of up to 30 mph and high anvil clouds are the forecast for Florida. Thus, the California landing site at Edwards, AFB at Rogers Dry Lake Bed has been called up in the hopes of getting Endeavour down on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in space, the shuttle today powered up and tested an auxilary power unit in order to test the elevons, rudder and body flap used during landing. The orbiter is in great shape and according to Mission Management leader Leroy Cain, "From what we've seen on orbit in our inspections on this vehicle, Endeavour looks to me, and to the experts in fact, to be as clean or cleaner than any vehicle that we've flown."

The first landing time is 1:19 pm EST at Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15. A second landing attempt could be attempted at 2:54 pm. The two Edwards, AFB landing attempts would take place at either 4:25 pm or 6:00 pm EST.
And, aboard the International Space Station the Expedition 18 crew members awaited today the arrival of the Progress 31 cargo ship which launched from Russia a few days ago. Carrying supplies, oxygen and food, the Progress M31 is scheduled to auto dock with the station on Sunday morning at 7:25 am EST.
++ Click on the NASA-TV link for our LIVE coverage of both the docking and Endeavour's return home tomorrow. ++
As Endeavour's crew prepares to head to bed at 8:55 pm tonight for their last sleep in space, this is

Endeavour prepares for Sunday Landing

The seven member crew of Endeavour will spend Saturday preparing the orbiter for her Sunday afternoon homecoming back here at the Kennedy Space Center after 16 days in space.

This is the latest landing data for Sunday:

Payload Bay door Closure at 9:33 am EST
Target DeOrbit Burn: on Orbit 248 at 12:14 pm
Target Touchdown: Orbit 249, KSC Runway 15, touchdown 1:19 pm

Latest ground track image for landing.

Current weather forcasts for the KSC area at just after noon on Sunday call for winds out of the south at about 20 to 30 mph, chance of thunderstorms and a high of 80 degrees. A second landing opportunity for KSC is one orbit later.
One crew member, Greg Chamitoff, will have mixed feelings once Endeavour returns to KSC. That's because after six months aboard the international space station, he is ready to see earth again, but will miss his home in space as well. Launched on May 31st, Chamitoff will spend several days post-landing working to regain muscle strength and normal daily activites in gravity.

Friday, November 28, 2008

SLN VIDEO: Endeavour, Space Station Flyaround has two nice video clips from today's undocking and fly around by Endeavour. View our other STS-126 mission video clips, too.

Endeavour Undocks from Station

Endeavour has undocked from the space station, and is performing a station fly around manuver prior to performing a seperation burn.

Undocking occurred this morning at 9:47 am EST.

Endeavour "Go" for Undocking this Morning

Endeavour's crew just received a "go" for the undocking from the international space station. "You have a go for undocking," stated mission control to Endeavour. Station commander Mike Fincke radioed, "Station is ready for undocking".

+ Watch continuous LIVE coverage via the NASA-TV link at upper right.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Endeavour Crew Says Farewell to Station Crew

A Thanksgiving Day Farewell ceremony occurred minutes ago as the crew of shuttle Endeavour prepares to leave the international space station for the trip home.

Hugs and well wishes were exchanged at about 6 pm EST tonight, and moments later, the crews will begin closing the hatches between the two vehicles. Watch SLN Video of the well wishes:

Astronauts Give Thanks Today in Space

Endeavour /space station today at 8:25 am ET

The crews of the shuttle Endeavour and the international space station will pause today and give thanks as they reflect on both the successes of their mission, and their great new freedom in space.

The space station is truly the new world for several countries - America, several in Europe, Russia, Japan - and like the Puritans did four hundred years earlier, we are now traveling under the stars. Except as we travel today, we cross the ocean of space to unite several countries in support of making earth a better planet to both live and play.

And, as the new Pilgrims did in 1621, the nine Americans and one Russian will share a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal on orbit today about 12 noon EST. On the Menu includes: smoked turkey, green beans & mushroom casserole, candied yams, cornbread dressing, cranapple dessert and tea.

Here, the crew discusses their Thanksgiving meal on SLN Video.

This morning at 8:26 am EST, as the orbital complex flew over the southern tip of South America [image above] at an altitude of 221 miles, former Station Expedition 17/18 crew member Greg Chamitoff who is nearing the end of exactly six months in space, gave a few farewell comments to the ground.

"...we have a beautiful, amazing space station... a spectacular accomplishment... I had a great time for the last six months... Happy Thanksgiving." He went on minutes later to address the several payload countries including Munich, Germany, Japan and Russia as he thanked them for their work together and bid them farewell. Greg launched on STS-124 on May 31st.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leonardo Module moving back to Endeavour

Following one week of supplies and equipment transfers, the Leonardo multipurpose module is undocked from the space station this afternoon for placement back in Endeavour's payload bay.

The space station's Canadaarm2 is seen with Leonardo at about 5pm EST.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Space Station Water System Running

Crews aboard the international space station feel they have a fix on the urine separation water system as testing and sample collection pleased ground controllers throughout today.

A section of the Water Recovery System works to separate water from crew urine to make it drinkable thus assisting in larger crew sizes beginning next year. Space station mission management hopes to bring back to earth samples of water from the system which separated the urine out for testing.

According to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center: The Urine Processor Assembly (UPA) ran three successful cycles since modifications Sunday and Monday. Based on that success, program managers decided they will leave the distillation assembly on orbit. They were able to get the samples processed through the UPA and Water Processing Assembly and dispensed through the Potable Water Dispenser (PWD). Those initial samples will be returned on Endeavour. Samples will continue to be collected during the next several months to ensure it is working properly before being used for crew consumption.

The space station's commander Mike Fincke worked on Sunday to remove several vibration isolators and hard mount the system so that the system's sensors did not shutdown the motor. The sensors were detecting that the motor was not working at normal power, and the vibration dampers actual helped the system work more efficiently.

Also today, space station control center began tests on the starboard solar array rotary joint [SARJ] work which was performed on each of the four spacewalks the past seven days [read our reports below]. Beginning this morning, tests were conducted on the water-wheel-like rotation of the system.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spacewalk shortened; Mission Extended 1 Day

The fourth and final spacewalk of Endeavour's 15-day mission at the international space station wrapped early due to a spacesuit atmosphere issue following a long and busy day working outside America's outpost in space.

Mission control at the Johnson Space Center told astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Steve Bowen that today's spacewalk would wrap early due to high levels of carbon monoxide in Kimbrough's spacesuit. The six hour, seven minute space walk offically ended at 7:31 pm EST tonight. Today's spacewalk was the 118th in support of space station construction.

All task were accomplished during the walk, including the bearing cleaning and regreasing of the solar array rotary joint bearings which help the right side arrays move like a water wheel. The duo also install two GPS or global positioning system receivers on Japan's Kibo module for use next year. Beginning in Autumn 2009, Japan will launch vessels of supplies to dock with their module via help from GPS.

A video camera was also installed on the port one truss to assist in station movement of objects outside.

Also, as we have reported since the beginning, Endeavour will stay in space one extra day in support of docked operations with the station. Undocking is now planned for Friday; with landing now planned for Sunday afternoon at 1:18 pm EST.

The ten person crew which make up the Endeavour and space station crews will spend Thanksgiving Day together now which makes alot of us thankful for what they have accomplished and that we all have a promising future of human expansion in space.
At an Endeavour MET+ 10 days, 5 minutes, this is

SLN Video: Spacewalk #4 Video from Today has just received new video from this afternoon's fourth spacewalk of Endeavour's STS-126 mission. Remember, you can click on the Live NASA-TV feed at the top, right for continuous coverage.

Spacewalk #4 of Mission STS-126

Endeavour astronauts Steve Bowen and Shane Kimbrough took a stroll in space this afternoon finishing up space station support work as they conclude the final spacewalk of the STS-126 mission.

The pair are finishing the right solar array rotary joint bearing regreasing...

Delta IV Nears December Launch from CCAS

The next launch from Cape Canaveral should be that of a Delta IV rocket from launch complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral Air Station sometime in mid-December.

The exact launch date has not been released, however a "second week in December" launch date is most likely from an informed source.

The Delta IV will lift a huge satellite for the United States' National Reconnaissance Office. Keep it here for a formal launch date announcement soon.
If launch does occur in a few weeks, this will be the last Cape launch until February when shuttle Discovery launches to the space station.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Water Recovery System Running again so far

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. International space station commander Mike Fincke and Endeavour mission specialist Don Pettit spent this afternoon working to fix the Urine Processor Assembly or UPA inside the Water Recovery System (WRS), and as of this evening feel thing are looking better.

According to Mission Control at 6:30 pm EST: "Fincke and Pettit removed grommets from the UPA and hard-mounted it into the WRS rack. The grommets were serving as isolators to dampen vibrations from the centrifuge, but might have been allowing too much motion and causing the interference. Mission Control has been monitoring the UPA’s operation and it has been running normally for two hours without prematurely shutting down."

However, moments later the sensors noted that the motor was beginning to slow down but did not shutdown as had occurred on Friday and Saturday.

The space station three person crew will begin their sleep at 12:25 am EST tonight, while the seven member Endeavour crew will be lights out at 12:55 am.

Crews Testing Water System; Transfer Supplies

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The ten astronauts aboard the international space station spent a busy Sunday as they continued to transfer new suppiles aboard from the Leonardo module; test a new water system; and prepare tools for Monday's spacewalk.

NASA reported late this afternoon that equipment and supplies transfers are 76% complete. Two new sleep bunks and a new toliet have already been set-up. A system for removing water from crew urine continues to undergo trouble shooting due to readings that state the system's motor is not working at full power. The Water Recovery System will be a useful tool once working as this current NASA-dubbed Home Improvement mission makes the station habitable for six people beginning this May.

Also today, several of the crew members spoke with several media outlets [above at 4:10 pm EST] about the current mission.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spacewalk concludes; More to Come

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The third spacewalk of the Endeaour mission concluded minutes ago in support of the solar array rotary joint cleaning.
Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper [left, above image] and Steve Bowen returned inside the Quest airloack and the walk ended at 7:58 pm EST tonight after 6 hrs, 58 mins.
Spacewalk #4 of the Endeavour mission is scheduled for early Monday afternoon. As always, click on our NASA-TV link at above, right column for continuous live coverage throughout the flight.
At an MET+ 8 days, 10 minutes, this is

Spacewalk #3 Going Well

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Two spacewalking astronauts are performing the right solar array rotary joint repairs this afternoon on the longest walk of the Endeavour mission.
Spacewalk number three began earlier than planned today at 1:01 pm EST, from the space station Quest airlock.
Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen are performing a very quiet and non-exciting walk in space as they use their handyman skills to clean and relube [with a dry grease gun] bearing sections to help the right side space station's solar array to move such as a water wheel does.
At an Endeavour MET+ 7 days, 18 hrs, 40 minutes, this is

Spacewalk #3 Nears Start; SARJ work to continue

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Two of Endeavour's astronauts are in the Quest airlock right now preparing for the start of the third spacewalk of the flight.

Spacewalkers Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen will spend seven hours outside of the space station performing work related to the cleaning and regreasing of the right solar array rotary joint or SARJ. Piper will open four sets of covers and replace four trundle bearing assemblies, cleaning metal debris and greasing them.

At 11:15 am EST, the space walkers were dressed [left] in their suits as the station-Endeavour complex [above image at 11:09 am] flew 224 miles over the central Atlantic Ocean as Endeavour began the 122d orbit of her STS-126 mission. Both astronauts will be wearing a SAFER jet backpack while outside.

++ Click on the NASA-TV link above, right column for live coverage of the entire mission of Endeavour via ++

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crews working Water Purification System issue

Ten person Crew aboard station holds news conference

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. A new water purification system brought up to the international space station by Endeavour is not operating as it should, and the flight control teams are working the issue along with the station's crew.

The Water Purification System, a two section system, has a bad centrifuge motor which is moving to slow for the system to start up properly. The WPS is built to turn crew urine into clean drinking water as NASA and her international partners expand crew size durations this May from three to six.

According to mission management, Endeavour's crew are scheduled to have the system working prior to undocking next week, and bring home a few samples for testing here on earth. Undocking is planned for Thanksgiving afternoon EST, however as continues to report, a one day extension is very likely. The extra day should be announced by this Tuesday to assist in the WPS issue.

Meanwhile, spacewalking crew members Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen will sleep tonight in the space station’s Quest Airlock as they beging their normal prebreathe of pure oxygen to purge the nitrogen out of their bodies. The airlock's pressure will be lowered from 14.7 PSI to 10.2.

The third spacewalk of Endeavour's docked mission to the space station is scheduled for 1:45 pm tomorrow, and will likely start earlier as has the last two "walks" which began ahead of the timeline.

And today, Endeavour boosted the space station's orbit by one mile to assist with the Russian Progress supply vehicle's docking in one week.
At a MET+ 6 days, 22 hours into the mission of Endeavour, this is

Live at the Kennedy Space Center

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Good morning from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center where one week ago today, Endeavour launched on her current flight of STS-126. The above KSC video image of Endeavour's pad 39-A sits [taken at 7:26 am ET] following sunrise on a cool late-Autumn morning.

Note the mobile launcher platform is still at the pad and will be moved soon to make way for Discovery in a few weeks.
Landing is currently planned for November 29th, however knows a one day extension will be announced next week following the fourth spacewalk.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spacewalk 2 Concludes; #3 set for Saturday

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough have now entered & closed the hatch of the Qwest airlock concluding today's second spacewalk of the STS-126 mission.

The duo spent six hours, 45 minutes of spacewalking, exiting the station's airlock at 12:58 pm ET and ingressing the airlock at 7:43 pm. Total spacewalking time for STS-126 is 13 hrs, 37 minutes.
Spacewalk #3 is planned for early Saturday afternoon EST with mission specialists Piper and Bowen. It will include mostly Solar Array Rotary Joint bearing cleaning and lubing with a dry grease gun.

At an MET+ 6 days and counting, this is

Endeavour-Space Station Photographed by Charles

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The orbiting complex of Endeavour and the international space station flew over head tonight on a clear evening and was visable from 6:12 thru 6:16 pm EST.

I took this image at 6:15 pm as the complex streaked from southwest to northeast over the lower southeastern United States. That is our upstairs window as The space station-Endeavour flew over head. Click on the image for a larger view.

Spacewalk #2 Ahead of Schedule

Lead spacewalker Piper works at robotic arm today

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Endeavour astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough are nearly one hour ahead of the timeline today as they perform the second spacewalk of the mission.

Today's 6 1/2-hour spacewalk began early at 12:57 pm ET from the Quest airlock of the international space station.

First, the duo moved two equipment carts along a 300-foot rail system known as the Crew and Equipment and Translation Aid or CETA. The CETA carts needed to be moved so that a major set of solar arrays can be installed during a shuttle flight this February. They actually made great time and stayed ahead of the timeline.

Kimbrough moved the carts while riding the station's robot arm. Once moved into their new location 300 feet away along a truss on the main section of the station, Piper secured them down.

Meanwhile inside the space station, mission specialist Don Pettit and Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandra Magnus are operating the station's arm.

By 2:10 pm, Kimbrough began operations to grease the grappling end-effector of the station's Canadian buillt robotic arm.

Next up, Piper is continuing SARJ or solar array rotary joint bearing cleaning and regreasing, which began during Tuesday's first spacewalk.

Ten Years Ago in SpaceLaunch News magazine

Ten years ago... Charles Atkeison covered the future delay during 1998 of the first space station component launch from Russia. This also pushed the first American component launch to December, too. Click on the story image for a larger view of the SLN story for reading. - Editor

Second Spacewalk Today; Space Station turns 10

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Endeavour mission specialists Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough slept overnight in the space station’s Quest Airlock to prepare for the second spacewalk of mission STS-126 later today.

The crew members of ten astronauts and comonauts are scheduled to awake at 8:55 am ET by mission control [above at 7:47 am today] at the Johnson Space Center, located south of Houston.

Due to the hugh volume of the station, spacewalking astronauts normally sleep in the airlock in a 10.2 PSI atmosphere to purge the nitrogen from their bodies and help prevent the "bends" - similar to divers.

Today's second spacewalk is slated to start at 1:45 pm ET and will focus on several tasks including continued cleaning and relube of the solar array rotary joint on the right array; space station robot arm snare luberication; and more in support of space station maintenance.
Spacewalk 2, also called by NASA as extra-vehicular activity or EVA #2, is scheduled to end at about 8:15 pm.

- Also of note for today is that ten years ago this morning, the first component of the international space station was launched from Russia. The Zarya module arrived into earth orbit and was checked out prior to the first American module was launched aboard a space shuttle a few weeks later.

I covered that flight for SpaceLaunch News magazine during the time and recall the excitement of seeing those first pieces arrive on orbit, and later fit together perfectly. Fitting them together was something which was not tested here on earth, and it would not be until they arrived together in space to know if the Russian and American engineers did a good job - or not.

When you get a chance this week and the weather is clear for you, visit NASA's updated page to check on viewing opportunities for the station - shuttle complex. Visit: and select your state and then city. It's a beautiful sight with binoculars as the station flies over 215 miles above.

At an STS-126 MET+ 5 days, 12 hours, this is

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NASA's Home Improvement Work Continues

Astronauts Piper & Bowen at about 4pm ET today.

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Crews abaord the international space station today moved new racks of science gathering equipment from the recently docked Leonardo module to the American Destiny module as NASA's self-proclaimed Home Improvement mission continues.

Both Endeavour and the space station crews awoke at 8:55 am ET by a recording of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man". It was selected for pilot Eric Boe. "I'd like to thank my family for the song and we're ready to continue making extreme home improvements," Boe told mission control minutes later.

The 10 person international crew moved racks in to Destiny and set those up, followed by new crew quarters into the Harmony module and suppy transfers. All of this to support a station crew of six for several months beginning this May.

Astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Robert Shane Kimbrough spent midday checking out their spacesuits or EMU's, and the tools needed for tomorrow's spacewalk. They also worked the timeline - detail by detail - to ensure updates by mission control were covered.

The space station-shuttle Endeavour complex is orbiting the earth every 91 minutes at a mean altitude of 213 statue miles. At a MET+ 4 days, 20 hours, 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spacewalk Wraps; Mission Management Pleased

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The first of four planned mission STS-126 spacewalks wrapped just minutes ago, and according to mission control at the Johnson Space Center, the crew "were champs".

Today's six hour and 52 minute walk in space began with two issues early on, [a grease gun discharged inside a tool bag then said bag floated off into space] however, team work by astronauts Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper [above] and Steve Bowen kept the spacewalk ahead of schedule.

"You all were champs. You rolled with the punches and made it all happen ahead of the timeline", stated mission control to the astronauts recently.

This was the 115th space station spacewalk during the past ten years, which now totals nearly 726 hours outside the station.

The second spacewalk is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 1:45pm ET, with Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough.

At an MET+ 4 days, 15 minutes, this is

SLN VIDEO: Spacewalk 1 Video has just received this new NASA video from this afternoon's spacewalk. Videw our other daily video clips below.

Spacewalk 1 on Schedule; SARJ Work Begins

Today's spacewalk remains about 25 minutes ahead of schedule now four hours, 32 minutes into the first spacewalk of Endeavour's STS-126 mission.

Today's planned 6 1/2-hour walk in space is accomplishing many tasks which have built-up since the last shuttle flight to the space station in June. From the earlier removal of an empty nitrogen tank, to the current cleaning and lubing of the American Solar Alpha Rotary Joint or SARJ.

At 5:49 pm ET, lead spacewalker Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper stated she felt exhusted. Her partner, Steve Bowen, is making turns to secure a third bolt in an effort to secure a trundle bearing assembly. The SARJ has 12 bearing assemblies to clean and relube.

At 5:54 pm, Heidemarie began work to remove bearing assembly TDA 11. At 6:01 pm, the shuttle - space station complex moved into orbital sunrise. The pair then lowered their visors. This is always a plus when working with small equipment. At 6:03 pm, Heidemarie stated there was more debris on TDA 11 than had been on #12. The debris began drifting away, not sticking to any surface. The image above was taken at 6:04 pm ET.

The schedule for the flight Crews (all times EST):

12:25 am - Crew sleep period (all 10 astronauts)
08:55 am - Crews awake for flight day 6
11:10 am - Experiment racks in Leonardo moved to Destiny

At a MET + 3 days, 22 hrs, 10 minutes, this is

Crew Works Around Issues During Spacewalk 1

Astronaut Stefanyshyn-Piper during EVA 1 today

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. A grease gun spilled its contents into spacewalking astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper tool bag and then later the tool bag floated off into space, minor issues according to mission management.

The crews focus is about to begin on the starboard solar alpha rotary joint or SARJ. The pair will clean and then lube this area which ran into trouble during rotary test of the new solar array earlier this year.

Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen began today's spacewalk at 1:09 pm ET. Later, at about 3:33 pm ET, lead spacewalker Stefanyshyn-Piper reported back to Mission Control that her Braycote dry grease gun had discharged in her bag. She later began cleaning the bag and tools inside, and then accidently it floated away and out of the area.

Inside the international space station, Endeavour mission specialist Don Pettit and Expedition 18 flight engineer Sandra Magnus are using the station's robot arm to assist the spacewalkers. Also, Endeavour mission specialist Shane Kimbrough is the spacewalk coordinator.

At a MET+3 days, 19 hours into the flight of Endeavour, and +2 hrs, 45 minutes into today's spacewalk, this is

LIVE - Endeavour Astronauts Spacewalk

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. is providing Live coverage of todays six hour spacewalk. [Tune in now via the link at the top, right column]

Two of Endeavour's astronauts are take a space stroll around the international space station in an effort to support station construction.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen began today's spacewalk at 1:09 pm ET, about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. First up will be the removal of an empty nitrogen tank from the station, and placement in the shuttle's payload bay. Later, a Flex Hose Rotary Coupler which will pump ammonia coolant between space station radiators and trusses, will be installed.

Stay tune for new updates during the spacewalk. At an STS-126 MET+ 3 days, 17 hrs, 20 minutes, this is

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crews Busy with Leonardo, Day 4 Planning

(10:09 pm ET) LIVE Shot: New ISS flight engineer crew member Sandra Magnus (center) and her space station commander (left) work with Endeavour crew member's in a planning session with the ground. The crew members have been busy tonight with unloading the new Leonardo supply module.
At about 11:20 pm ET, two of Endeavour's spacewalking astronauts, Steve Bowen & Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will begin camping out in the American Quest airlock, thus beginning their prebreath in an atmosphere at 10.2 PSI. This will help the pair prevent getting the bends while walking in space tomorrow. EVA #1 is set to begin at 1:45 pm ET, however it may be moves up if the crew is ahead of their timeline.
+ Watch Live NASA-TV now by launching the channel at upper, right. +
All ten crew members will head to bed in about two 1/2-hours.
At a MET+ 3 days, 2 hours, 15 minutes, this is

Leonardo Module Docked to Space Station

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The crew of Endeavour today used the robotic arm to pluck a supply module from her bay and attach it to the space station in an effort to help increase the station's crew size next year.

Known as the Leonardo multipurpose logistics module, it carries over 14,200 pounds of supplies, a second toliet, two sleep stations, and more to help increase the space station's crew size beginning this May with a Russian Soyuz launch.

Leonardo began its move out of the payload bay via the shuttle's arm at 12:08 pm ET. Less than one hour later, the module was docked to the station's Harmony module.

At 6:43 pm, the hatches between Leonardo and Harmony were opened exposing a vast array of new station equipment and furnishings. The NASA-TV downlink from the space station has been great as they increase their high def broadcasting and HD video downlink from the orbiting outpost.

The crews will go to sleep at 12:55 pm ET tonight, and awake at 8:55 Tuesday morning. Later, at 1:45 pm, two of Endeavour's crew member's will begin the first of four planned STS-126 spacewalks in support of station construction and upgrades.

At an MET+2 days, 23 hours, 20 minutes, this is

Joint Docked Operations Underway in Space

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The crews of Endeavour and the international space station are awaking this morning to begin NASA's own version of Home Improvement in space.

NASA has dubbed this the Home Improvement mission, as Endeavour transfers two beds, a second toliet, a water purification system and over 14,000 pounds of suppies and oxygen to the station.

Mission Specialists Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Stephen Bowen will continue preperations today for tomorrow's spacewalk. It will be the first of four planned by Endeavour's crew.

+ Tune into live coverage of the mission now by clicking on the NASA-TV link above, right. +

At a STS-126 MET+2 days, 12 hours, this is

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Great NASA Rendezvous Images Just In! has just received these great images from today's rendezvous taken by crew members aboard the international space station at about 4 pm ET.
The top image shows the Leonardo supply module in the aft section of the payload bay. The item in the forward section of the shuttle's bay is the orbiter docking system.

Shuttle Crew Aboard Space Station

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Following today's 5:01 pm ET docking, the crew of Endeavour shook hands with the crew of the international space station tonight, and the start of 10 days of serious work.

Following latching by both crafts docking ports, the hatches were opened at 7:16 pm ET as the station's Expedition 18 crew of Mike Fincke, Yury Lonchakov and Gregory Chamitoff welcomed Endeavour commander Chris Ferguson and his crew of six aboard the orbital outpost in space.

"Welcome Endeavour. You guys look awesome, It was a beautiful approach, beautiful docking, we're really glad you're here," ISS commander Fincke stated on air-to-ground. "We understand that this house is in need of an extreme makeover and that you're the crew to do it. We think we've got everything ready for you. We're really glad to see you. Welcome. Welcome everybody. Welcome to space."

Later, Ferguson replied, "Hey, we figured we'd go for a ten year anniversary party for the space station, so that's what we showed up for..."

Endeavour crew member Sandy Magnus will replace ISS astronaut Chamitoff beginning tonight when she replaces his Soyuz seatliner with hers at about 9:50 pm. Magnus is starting a four month stay aboard the space station.

Also of note: There are no issues regarding loose tiles or damaged thermal blankets across Endeavour, mission management stated tonight.
At a MET+2 days, 10 minutes into the flight of mission STS-126, this is

SLN Video: Endeavour's Rendezvous with Station

SLN: Up to the Minute is making available great video of today's great rendezvous pitch manuver by shuttle Endeavour.

Endeavour Docks with Space Station

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Endeavour docked with the international space station just minutes ago.

Flying 220 miles above northern India, the crew of Endeavour slowly brought the orbiter to a 5:01 pm ET docking with the station's Harmony module. Latching then followed to secure the two together.

A Welcome Ceremony is on tap in two hours aboard ISS.

At a MET+1 day, 23 hrs, 15 mins., this is

Endeavour Nears Space Station Docking

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The orbiter Endeavour is closing in on the international space station this morning for a afternoon docking today.

Beginning at about 3:50 pm ET, Endeavour will begin her rendezvous fly around of the space station. During this time, station crew members will photograph the belly of the shuttle with two cameras - a 800 mm & 400 mm digital. These images will be used to inspect for any tile loss or damage possibly caused during launch. Docking by Endeavour to the ISS has been updated to 5:04 pm ET today.

At 7:52 am ET, Endeavour trailed the space station by about 2,900 miles as they both flew high over the northern Pacific Ocean.

The seven member flight crew is scheduled to wake at 9:25 am this morning to begin day three of mission STS-126.
Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, the crew completed tile inspection by using the robotic arm. Only one issue is being addressed - a 1 foot ripped area located at the tail section.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Endeavour Crew Busy on Day Two

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The crew of Endeavour is spending this afternoon inspecting the ship's thermal protection system, also known as the tiles and blankets which cover the ship, and the spacesuits which will be needed for four spacewalks this week.

Meanwhile, the three member crew of the international space station also prepared for tomorrow afternoon's docking of the two craft for 10 days of joint docked operations. The ISS crew is ensuring they will have both their still and movie cameras ready for Endeavour's approach and docking beginning at 4pm ET, with docking slated for 5:13 pm.

At 4:57 pm today, crew on the flight deck continued with the tile inspection focusing on the nose cap region. On the orbiter's middeck, crew members worked on step 99 on the spacesuit and EVA checklist.

During this time, Endeavour was flying 160 statue miles above western Europe; while the international space station was 220 sm over northern Australia.

At 5:04 pm ET today, space shuttle manager Leroy Cain confimed what we have been reporting here at that there will likely be a one day extension to this mission. Comfirmation will come around the conclusion of the fourth spacewalk on Nov. 24.

+ Turn here for Live coverage of the docking operations beginning at 4 pm tomorrow. Click on the NASA-TV link at upper, right. +

At a MET+21 hrs, 15 minutes into the flight of Endeavour, this is

Endeavour's Timeline for Today

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. As the flight crew sleeps this morning following a busy launch night, we at wanted to post the latest mission timeline as of now. All times are EST:

10:55 am: Crew wakes to begin Day 2
02:15 pm: Crew uses robotic arm to survey Endeavour's tile surface.
02:45 pm: Space suits are checked out by mission specialists Piper & Bowen.

Today will be spent setting up the orbiter for Sunday afternoon's rendezvous and docking with the international space station. Docking set for 5:13 pm tomorrow followed by station hatch opening at 6:55 pm ET.

On Tuesday at 1:45 pm ET, mission specialists Piper and Bowen will begin the first of four planned spacewalks on this mission.

Currently, at 7:55 am, Endeavour is flying in an orbital altitude of 151 x 131 nm midway through orbit 9.
The orbiter's attitude has the tail flying in direction of travel with the payload bay facing earth. At a MET+12 hours, this is

Great KSC Endeavour Launch Images

A few NASA / KSC launch images we just received in... what a beautiful autumn evening launch of Endeavour just hours ago at 7:55:39 pm ET. The entire ascent was clean with no issues.

At a MET+ 5 hrs, 6 mins, this is

Friday, November 14, 2008

Endeavour OnOrbit; Racing to Space Station

Endeavour rises above pad 39-A at 7:55:53 pm ET.
SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Endeavour just successfully performed her OMS-2 burn in which her twin large jets fire for two minutes to help circularize her orbit.

+ Turn into NASA-TV at upper right for Live video. +

MET+50:00 minutes post-launch.

SLN Video: Endeavour's Launch Tonight

SLN: Up to the Minute has tonight's launch video to watch. Liftoff occurred at 7:55:39 pm ET. Download Window's Media Player for viewing.

Endeavour Launches to Space Station

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. A beautiful night launch of the space shuttle Endeavour occurred tonight at 7:55 pm ET from here at the Kennedy Space Center to begin 15-days of orbital operations and a visit to the international space station.

"It's our turn to take home improvement to a new level after ten years of international space station construction," Commander Chris Ferguson stated to launch control just before flight. "Endeavour is ready to go!"

Endeavour will dock to the space station on Sunday evening to begin ten+ days of docked operations. On tap will be four spacewalks, installation of a second toliet, a water purification system, two extra beds, and more supplies in an effort to begin having six crew members live on the space station beginning this spring.
The seven crew members are commander Ferguson and Pilot Eric Boe, mission specialists Steve Bowen, Shane Kimbrough, Don Pettit, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Sandrea Mangus. Mangus will stay behind after Endeavour undocks and live aboard the station for four months.

Following a Thanksgiving Day station seperation by Endeavour, touchdown is currently scheduled for November 29th. However, most at the Johnson Space Center feel a one to two day mission extension could be placed into the timeline to allow for extra work to be performed.
At a mission elapse time of 10 minutes into the 22nd flight of Endeavour, this is

Launch Team all Go for Launch

Endeavour at 7:42 pm ET tonight
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