Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Starboard 6 Truss on Station for Tomorrow

The huge 31,100 pound Solar Array truss segment is hanging at the end of the station's robotic arm - in position to be attached to the international space station tomorrow afternoon during a dramatic spacewalk.

Beginning at about noon EDT today, Discovery's 50-foot robotic arm slowly lifted the solar array package - known as Starboard 6 or S6 Truss - from the orbiter's payload bay. Once over the bay, the space station's arm grappled the segment in a robotic handoff while traveling 17, 550 mph.

Then the station's arm (at it's shoulder joint) slide down the right side of the truss of the station carrying the S6. Another robotic hand-off, this time to Discovery, and then again back to the station's other arm allowed the S6 to be in position to be attached tomorrow. (image above taken at 7:15 pm tonight)

A major spacewalk on Thursday is now the focus of the flight which will see two astronauts help guide the segment into postion to be attached to the station right side. Discovery's STS-119 mission specialists Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold will begin a nearly 8 hour walk to attach power cables and perform some station house keeping chores. will have continuing LIVE coverage of tomorrow's spacewalk, which begins at about 1:10 pm EDT.

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