Status Report

NASA Space Shuttle Status Report 12 December 2006 – 10:30 a.m. CST

By SpaceRef Editor
December 12, 2006
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NASA Space Shuttle Status Report 12 December 2006 – 10:30 a.m. CST

The first spacewalk by Discovery’s crew members, an excursion that will install a new, two-ton segment on the port side of the International Space Station’s girder-like truss, will highlight today’s work on mission STS-116.

The six-hour, 10-minute excursion by astronauts Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang is set to begin at 2:42 p.m. CST. Curbeam and Fuglesang spent the night in the station’s Quest airlock, from which they will begin the spacewalk. The installation of the new truss section, called the P5 truss, will require intricate teamwork by the astronauts. The spacewalkers will visually guide astronaut Joan Higginbotham as she maneuvers the piece in place from aboard the station using the station’s robotic arm. The installation is a tight fit — at times with only a couple of inches to spare.

Discovery remains in good condition. Mission Control has informed Discovery’s crew that engineers analyzing imagery of the shuttle’s heat shield likely will not request a focused inspection of heat shield areas during time that could be set aside for that activity tomorrow. Mission managers will review the status of all shuttle systems during their regular meeting this afternoon.

Discovery’s crew changed late yesterday. Astronaut Sunita Williams, who launched aboard Discovery, officially became a member of the Expedition 14 station crew at 11 p.m. CST Monday as reported by station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. At the same time, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, who has been on the station since July, became a member of Discovery’s crew for a trip home. Williams joins Lopez-Alegria and Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin aboard the station as she begins a six-month stay.

Discovery?s crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Fuglesang, Higginbotham and Reiter, were awakened at 9:47 a.m. CST to the song ?Waterloo,? performed by ABBA. The song was played for Fuglesang.

The installation of the P5 truss is expected to begin about 4:07 p.m. CST, after Curbeam and Fuglesang have removed launch restraints and a arm capture fixture that is no longer needed. Once the segment has been maneuvered into its permanent position, the spacewalkers will bolt it in place and hook up electrical connections. At the end of the spacewalk, they will replace a malfunctioning camera on the starboard side of the station truss.

During the spacewalk, Curbeam will wear a spacesuit with red stripes on the legs. Fuglesang will be in an all-white suit.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Tuesday afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

SpaceRef staff editor.