Status Report

NASA STS-119 Report #05 Tuesday, March 17, 2009 – 9 p.m. CDT

By SpaceRef Editor
March 17, 2009
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NASA STS-119 Report #05  Tuesday, March 17, 2009 – 9 p.m. CDT
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Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – – The space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 4:20 p.m. CDT, delivering the final truss segment and pair of U.S. solar arrays and a new crew member to take up residence aboard the growing orbital scientific complex.

Discovery Commander Lee Archambault guided the shuttle to a docking as the two spacecraft flew 220 miles above Western Australia. Before closing the final 600 feet to the station, Archambault commanded Discovery through a “backflip” allowing the station’s Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus to take photos that imagery experts will review to assess the health of Discovery’s heat shield.

The shuttle and station crews opened hatches and greeted one another at 6:09 p.m., beginning more than a week of joint operations between the two crews.

One of the first major tasks of the crews was to swap station crew member Magnus for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. The official swap occurred when a specially fitted seat liner was installed in the Soyuz crew vehicle. That swap at 9 p.m. signified the official designation change making Wakata an Expedition 18 flight engineer and Magnus a shuttle mission specialist.

The mission’s main objective Thursday will be to install the 31,000 pound, 45-foot-long truss segment known as S6 and solar array pair to the far starboard end of the truss during the first spacewalk planned by Mission Specialists Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold.

Throughout the joint mission, transfer of shuttle middeck items to the station will take place, including a replacement Distillation Assembly for the urine recycler.

The station crew is scheduled to go to bed about 11 p.m. and the shuttle crew 30 minutes later just after 11:30 p.m. Wake up Wednesday is scheduled for 7:43 a.m.

Prime business for the crews Wednesday will be to lift the truss segment out of Discovery’s payload bay with the shuttle robot arm and hand it off to the station’s mechanical arm for an overnight stay before Thursday’s permanent installation on the station.

The next shuttle status report will be issued after crew wake, or earlier if events warrant.

SpaceRef staff editor.