Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The thirteen earthlings living and working in space aboard the International Space Station held a formal news conference this morning as Mission Control worked details regarding a possible fourth spacewalk on Sunday morning.
The space station's six crew members and space shuttle Discovery's seven astronauts gathered together in the Japanese Kibo module at 7:25 am EDT, answering questions from journalists in America, Russia and Japan.
Wearing dark navy blue shirts, station commander Oleg Kotov, Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko of Russia, Timothy J. Creamer and Tracy Caldwell Dyson of America, Soichi Noguchi of Japan make up the current Expedition 23 crew.
Discovery's crew includes commander Alan Poindexter, pilot James Dutton Jr., and mission specialists Rick Mastricchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson Naoko Yamazaki and Clayton Anderson.
Discovery is currently scheduled to undock from station at 8:52 am on Saturday morning, followed by a Florida landing at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning at just before 9AM.
However, shuttle mission managers are seriously accessing what NASA says is a "stuck valve in a nitrogen tank assembly that’s needed to pressurize a new ammonia tank" assembly on the Starboard 1 truss segment aboard station.
The tank was installed over several days by spacewalkers Anderson and Mastricchio, and is needed to help keep station avionic systems cool and help support a crew of six.
A team was activated earlier today which include EVA (spacewalk team), the flight director, the crew office and robotics and are off working a spacewalk plan to repair the valve on mission day thirteen at midnight Sunday morning.
"A “tiger team” is working to develop plans for a spacewalk that could be performed during Discovery's mission to replace the entire nitrogen tank assembly," Mission Control stated this afternoon. "A spare tank assembly is stored on the station’s truss structure."
A critical decision will be announced by late Thursday if Discovery's flight will perform the spacewalk, or allow station crew members to make the necessary repair next week.