Status Report

NASA STS-119 Report #08 Thursday, March 19, 2009 – 9:00 a.m. CDT

By SpaceRef Editor
March 18, 2009
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NASA STS-119 Report #08  Thursday, March 19, 2009 – 9:00 a.m. CDT

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

A big power boost for the International Space Station comes today with the installation of the last set of U.S. solar arrays during the first spacewalk of this flight of space shuttle Discovery.

The shuttle crew was awakened this morning with the song “Que Bandera Bonita” by Jose Gonzalez, played for Mission Specialist Joseph Acaba. His spacewalking crewmates, Mission Specialists Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold, spent the night in the station’s Quest airlock at reduced atmospheric pressure to accelerate their preparations for today’s 6.5-hour spacewalk. Later this morning after a hygiene break, station Commander Mike Fincke and shuttle Pilot Tony Antonelli will help them get into their spacesuits.

About 10 a.m. CDT, Mission Specialist John Phillips and station Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata will command the station’s robotic arm to move the S6 Truss element to a position near the outboard end of the starboard truss. When Swanson and Arnold exit the airlock at 12:13 p.m., they will move to the installation location and provide guidance to Phillips and Wakata as they fly S6 to its mating position against the S5 element. Swanson and Arnold then will bolt the two components together.

After Canadarm2 releases S6 and moves away, the spacewalkers will plug in power and data cables to connect the new hardware and remove launch restraints from the photovoltaic radiator and the boxes containing the new solar arrays. They also will deploy the Beta Gimbal Assemblies, which contain the masts that support the solar arrays, and position the boxes for later deployment.

While extension of the new solar array wings originally was scheduled for Flight Day 8, the decision that no focused inspection of Discovery’s heat shield will be needed has freed up time in the flight plan to complete the deployment on Flight Day 6. A final decision on rescheduling deployment won’t be made until after today’s spacewalk is complete.

This afternoon Phillips and Antonelli will continue troubleshooting the shuttle’s bicycle ergometer, which has been inoperative throughout the mission.

The next status report will be issued at the end of the crew day, or earlier if events warrant.

SpaceRef staff editor.