Sunday, November 30, 2008
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.++
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
Latest ground track image for landing.
Friday, November 28, 2008
+ Watch continuous LIVE coverage via the NASA-TV link at upper right.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
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:
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
The space station's Canadaarm2 is seen with Leonardo at about 5pm EST.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
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...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
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
Friday, November 21, 2008
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 SLN.com 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 spacelaunchnews.com.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
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.
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.
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.
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: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/cities/skywatch.cgi?country=United+States 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 spacelaunchnews.com.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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
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 spacelaunchnews.com.
SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. SpaceLaunchNews.com is providing Live coverage of todays six hour spacewalk. [Tune in now via the link at the top, right column]
Monday, November 17, 2008
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 spacelaunchnews.com.
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 spacelaunchnews.com.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
SpaceLaunchnews.com 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.
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 spacelaunchnews.com.
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 spacelaunchnews.com.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
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 spacelaunchnews.com 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 spacelaunchnews.com.