Status Report

NASA STS-119 Report #07 Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – 8 p.m. CDT

By SpaceRef Editor
March 18, 2009
Filed under , , ,
NASA STS-119 Report #07  Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – 8 p.m. CDT

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – A busy day in orbit for the crews of Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station has set the stage for another station assembly task – the installation of the final truss segment and American solar power panels.

As the crew prepared for the first spacewalk to assist with the truss installation, Mission Control radioed that no further inspection of Discovery’s heat shield is necessary clearing the way for an earlier deployment of the solar wings Friday.

Late today, imagery analysts along with the Damage Assessment Team in Mission Control determined Discovery’s heat shield is healthy for reentry next week. A final routine inspection of the shuttle’s wing leading edge panels will be conducted after Discovery leaves the station to ensure their health.

Near the end of the crew day, the station’s robotic arm maneuvered the 31,000 pound, 45-foot-long truss segment to an overnight “park” position to await the start of the first spacewalk by Mission Specialists Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold. They will “campout” in the Quest airlock of the station at a reduced air pressure overnight to prepare their bodies for the spacewalk planned to last six and a half hours.

The two astronauts will assist with final connection of the S6 to its permanent home attached to the remaining station truss. They will connect plumbing, electrical and data cables bringing the segment to life before deployment of the 240-foot-long solar panels.

Meanwhile, the newest station crew member Koichi Wakata is settling in for a three-month stay on board after swapping places with Sandy Magnus who returns home aboard Discovery after four months in space.

Wakata is the first Japanese astronaut to stay long-term aboard the station. He will be on board when the final pieces of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory are launched aboard Endeavour this summer on the STS-127 mission.

The crews head to bed between 10 and 11 tonight as preparations continue toward Thursday’s assembly task.

The next status report will be issued after crew wake up, which is set for 7:13 Thursday morning, or earlier if events warrant.

SpaceRef staff editor.