Sunday, July 26, 2009

Robotics to Return Platform to Endeavour

A Japanese payload carrier is currently being moved from the Kibo module on the international space station back to space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay for a return trip back to earth following it's delivery of several science experiments.

Endeavour astronaut Julie Payette, working in the Japanese Kibo module, powered up the Japanese robotic arm and grappled the Japanese exposed platform at this morning (above), to prepare for it's move back toward Endeavour. At 8:05 am EDT, Payette began moving the platform away from Kibo.

Meanwhile, standing by in the American Destiny module, ready to grapple the platform with the station's Canadian arm is Expedition 20 flight engineer Tim Kopra. Kopra will grapple the empty experiment platform from Payette, and then move to postion it within arms reach of Endeavour's robotic arm so that it can grapple it.

Endeavour's robotic arm is expected to grapple it, with the shuttle's commander Mark Polansky at the controls, at about 8:45 am EDT.

Later today, both crews of the station and shuttle will gather together to hold an in flight news conference beginning at 2:28 pm EDT. will provide LIVE coverage of the event.

On Monday, two of Endeavour's astronauts will perform the fifth and final spacewalk of this STS-127 mission. Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn will perform their third spacewalk of the flight beginning at 8:28 am tomorrow. The orbital walk is expected to last 6 1/2-hours and will focus, in part, on the installation of two video camera's which will be mounted on Japan's Kibo module.

The cameras will assist in the docking of the unmanned Japanese cargo craft - the H-2 Transfer vehicle. The first H-2 cargo craft is scheduled to launch from Japan bound for the station on September 10.

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