Status Report

STS-102 Status Report #3 – 9 Mar 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
March 9, 2001
Filed under ,

Discovery continues its pursuit of the International Space Station,
currently trailing the outpost by 3,520 miles and closing that distance at
the rate of about 660 miles with every orbit of the Earth. All systems
aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery are ready for tonight’s docking,
scheduled for 11:34 p.m. as the two spacecraft fly just off the east coast
of Brazil.

Overnight, the STS-102 astronauts Jim Wetherbee, Jim Kelly, Paul Richards
and Andy Thomas, and Expedition 2 crew members Yury Usachev, Jim Voss and
Susan Helms installed and checked out a targeting camera, extended the
orbiter docking system’s spring-loaded docking ring and unpacked rendezvous
tools such as laptop computers and hand-held range-finders. They are
scheduled to begin an abbreviated seven-hour sleep period at 9:42 a.m.
today. When the crew wakes up at 4:42 p.m. to begin their final rendezvous
activities, Discovery will be about 40 miles behind and slightly below the

About 9:15 p.m., at a distance of about nine miles behind the station,
Wetherbee will fire Discovery’s engines in a Terminal Initiation (Ti) burn,
allowing the shuttle to close in, using its rendezvous radar system to track
distance and approach speed. Once Discovery is about half a mile below the
station, Wetherbee will take over manual control. Wetherbee will fly
Discovery slowly to a point about 600 feet directly below the station, then
move up and in front of the orbiting outpost. Closing in and stopping a
little more than 300 feet directly in front of the station, Kelly will help
control Discovery’s approach as Thomas and Richards manage the shuttle’s
docking mechanism and rendezvous tools. Using a view from a camera mounted
in the center of Discovery’s docking mechanism, Wetherbee will center the
docking ports of the two spacecraft precisely, double-checking the alignment
30 feet out. The final approach will be at a relative velocity of one-tenth
of a foot per second.

When Discovery makes contact with Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 on the end of
the Destiny module, latches will automatically attach the two spacecraft
together. Once relative motion between the spacecraft stops, Thomas will
retract the docking ring on Discovery’s mechanism, closing latches to firmly
secure the shuttle to the station.

Early this morning, Wetherbee and Usachev received a congratulatory call
from Sergio De Julio, president of the Italian Space Agency responsible for
developing the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, Leonardo, that holds nearly
five tons of equipment to be transferred to the station. Leonardo will be
temporarily attached to the station during the first of two scheduled space
walks on Saturday, to allow the transfer of the equipment and supplies
housed inside.

Meanwhile, on board the ISS, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot
Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev made last-minute
preparations for the arrival of their temporary guests and long-term
replacements. The Expedition crews will exchange places on the ISS in a
three-step fashion, beginning with Usachev and Gidzenko, who will swap
places as Station and Shuttle crew members early Saturday within hours after

The next STS-102/International Space Station mission status report will be
issued about 8 p.m. Friday.

SpaceRef staff editor.