Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Endeavour delivers storage platform to space station

Robotics in space allowed for a platform filled with spare parts and equipment to be moved from the payload bay of shuttle Endeavour over to the International Space Station today.

Endeavour's robotic arm slowly lifted the Express Logistics Carrier 3 from it's bay and handed it off to the space station's arm where it guided it over for mating to the port 3 truss segment of the station.

The carrier arrived at it's new spot on the station's left side, and it's first stage capture had it latched down at 11:58 a.m., before the complete carrier was fully latched ten minutes later following second stage capture.

The aluminum carrier weighs 14,023 pounds empty as it supports an Ammonia Tank Assembly, spare parts for the station Canada-built arm, a high pressure oxygen tank, an S-Band antenna parts and four individual experiments.

Endeavour's crew of six and space station flight engineer Ron Garan are scheduled to go to sleep at about 3:00 p.m., and awake eight hours later.

Garan, who arrived aboard the space station on April 7 for a five month stay, is assisting the shuttle crew during their stay as the five other station crew members begin their sleep a few hours later.

Three of the six station crew members will depart the orbiting outpost on Monday for their three hour trip back to earth aboard a Russian Soyuz TMA-20 craft.

Beginning Tuesday, the remaining three station crew members and the shuttle crew will awake and sleep at the same time.

It will be the first time during a shuttle's visit to the outpost that station crew members have left to go home.

Soyuz commander Dmitry Kondratyev, American Cady Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli are set to undock at 7:06 p.m. on Monday, for a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:29 p.m.

The undocking and fly around of the complex will come as Endeavour's crew sleeps, including Garan.

Once undocked, the Soyuz crew will take still images and video of the space station with Endeavour docked -- a first during the space station program.

These images which will later be used in many promotional materials published by NASA during the next decade.

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