Status Report

NASA STS-129 Report #05 4:30 p.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
November 18, 2009
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NASA STS-129 Report #05  4:30 p.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station at 10:51 a.m. CST to deliver 14 tons of cargo that is essential for the continued operations of the orbiting laboratory.

Atlantis Commander Charles Hobaugh guided the orbiter to a docking with a pressurized mating adaptor located on the station’s Harmony node as the two spacecraft were flying 220 miles above Earth between Australia and Tasmania.

Prior to docking, when the orbiter reached a range of 600 feet from the station, Atlantis performed the nine minute Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or “backflip.” Hobaugh rotated the orbiter backwards, enabling space station astronauts Jeffrey Williams and Nicole Stott to take high resolution pictures of the shuttle heat shield. The images will be analyzed by experts and managers on the ground to assess the health of Atlantis’ thermal protection system tiles.

The shuttle and station crews opened hatches and the Atlantis crew was welcomed onboard the space station at 12:28 p.m. The hatch opening signifies the end of Stott’s tenure as an Expedition 21 flight engineer. Now an STS-129 mission specialist, Stott will have spent a total of 91 days in space if Atlantis lands, as planned, on Nov. 27. She is the last station crew member to return to Earth on the space shuttle. Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be used for future station crew launches and landings.

At 1:52 p.m. shuttle Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Randy Bresnik removed the Express Logistics Carrier 1 from Atlantis’ payload bay and at 2:25 p.m. handed it off from the shuttle robotic arm to the station robotic arm controlled by shuttle Pilot Barry Wilmore and station Flight Engineer Jeff Williams. They installed the carrier on the station’s Port 3 truss at 3:27 p.m.

Before the shuttle crew’s scheduled sleep at 7:28 p.m., transfer of shuttle middeck supplies to the station will begin along with relocation of spacesuits that will be used for the three planned spacewalks. The crews will review the plan for tomorrow’s spacewalk, scheduled to be completed by Mission Specialists Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher.

The next shuttle status report will be issued after crew wake or earlier if warranted.

SpaceRef staff editor.