Monday, July 20, 2009

Astronauts begin Spacewalk as America Celebrates Apollo 11 Anniversary

On the fortieth anniversary of America's greatest spacewalk on the lunar surface, two of space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts have begun the second walk in space in support of space station construction.

Running thirty minutes ahead, spacewalk two of Endeavour's STS-127 mission began at 11:27 am EDT, as astronauts David A. Wolf and Tom Marshburn switched their spacesuits to internal power in the station's Quest airlock. The airlock hatch opened at 11:26 am, as the station-shuttle complex flew 222 miles above Kazakhstan, over Russia's western side, as they moved into an orbital sunset.

This is Wolf's sixth spacewalk and Marshburn's first. The pair will perform several tasks including transfer and secure of spare parts to a stowage platform on the port side of the main truss segment for later flights. Several parts include a pump module and an antenna. The pair will also install a video camera for the experiments on the forward end of the newly installed Japanese Exposed Facility.

In celebration of forty years to the day of America's most famous spacewalk, Mission Control in Houston wore white oxfords with black ties - a tradion from the Apollo-era. Mission Control flight director Pat Dye also sent a morning message to the crews of Endeavour and space station:
"Good Morning Endeavour! To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, your STS-127 flight control teams have taken a look at an opportunity later today to send you all to the moon! Ref MSG044 (message 44) for the burn pad and associated procedures and have a safe trip!"

"About once every 10 days the Moon moves through the ISS orbit plane. This Zero Moon Beta (ZMB) condition affords the opportunity to target a minimal-propellant transfer departing from the ISS orbit several days earlier. During STS-127/2JA, a ZMB occurs (this Sunday), and the crew should see the last quarter Moon rising and setting near the Vbar in this timeframe. A hypothetical Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI) burn has been targeted from the Shuttle/ISS vicinity with TIG at 201/15:53:30 GMT (4/17:50 MET) on the southbound leg of Shuttle Orbit (ISS Orbit 1122). Posigrade (PEG-7 DVX) velocity change is 10,188.1 ft/s (3105.3 m/s).
This impulse could hypothetically place the stack on a free-return cislunar trajectory. Closest approach to the Moon, or pericynthion, would occur at 204/13:24:36 GMT (7/15:21 MET) at a height 100 km (54 nm) above the Moon's farside."
All of this was for fun since Endeavour does not have enough fuel to make it to the moon, much less a return trip.

An hour prior to the start of today's spacewalk, Apollo 8 & Apollo 13 astronaut James A. Lovell had a few words as he spoke of the space station as a "White Elephant", a reference he has used before. He said the station has not really done much in scientific service and, "I think the space station has a long way to go."

NASA will celebrate Apollo 11 with several functions throughout today.

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