Status Report

STS-98 Status Report #03 8 Feb 2001 7 PM CST

By SpaceRef Editor
February 8, 2001
Filed under ,

With the 16-ton,
bus-sized Destiny laboratory now virtually weightless in its cargo bay,
the Space Shuttle Atlantis today drew ever closer to Destiny’s permanent
home, the International Space Station, and the five shuttle astronauts
prepared for the complex construction job to come.

More than two thousand
miles ahead, the three-member space station crew — passing their 100th
day in space — watched early this morning as ground controllers commanded
a Progress cargo craft to undock from the outpost, clearing the way
for Atlantis’ arrival. A few hours after the undocking, the Progress
craft, filled with trash, descended into the atmosphere and was destroyed.
Atlantis is planned to dock with the station at about 10:50 a.m. Central

Aboard Atlantis,
astronauts Tom Jones and Bob Curbeam checked out the spacesuits they
will wear for three spacewalks during the next week to finalize connections
between the new laboratory and the station. The crew found the suits
in good shape, but noted a preliminary indication of a possible oxygen
tank leak in a third, spare spacesuit aboard the shuttle. Later, more
precise checks of the spare suit showed that the preliminary finding
was likely false. The spare suit is usable as well if needed. As suit
checks were conducted on the lower deck of Atlantis, on the upper deck
Astronaut Marsha Ivins powered up the shuttle’s robotic arm and surveyed
the cargo bay, finding everything in good shape. The arm will be used
to lift the Destiny lab out of the shuttle bay on Saturday and maneuver
it into position to attach to the station. Ivins also checked alignment
aids and cameras that she will use to precisely maneuver the 28-foot
long module.

Periodically, Commander
Ken Cockrell and Pilot Mark Polansky fired Atlantis’ thrusters to adjust
the rate at which the shuttle is closing in on the International Space
Station, maintaining a course toward Friday’s docking. At present, Atlantis
is about 950 statute miles behind the station, moving about 110 miles
closer with each orbit of Earth. Atlantis is in a 227 by 192 statute
mile orbit. The International Space Station is in a 229 by 214 statute
mile orbit. Atlantis and the station crew will go to sleep at 8:13 p.m.
Central today. Atlantis’ crew will awaken at 4:13 a.m. Friday, and the
station crew will awaken at 4:43 a.m.

Both spacecraft
are in excellent condition, ready for tomorrow’s combined activities.
The final phase of the rendezvous will begin with a terminal intercept
engine firing by Atlantis at 8:24 a.m. Central, when the shuttle is
about nine statute miles behind the station. Cockrell will take manual
control of Atlantis’ approach to the station at about 9:45 a.m., about
a half-mile from the complex. After the 10:50 a.m. docking, the two
crews will perform leak checks and open hatches between the spacecraft
at 12:43 p.m. The Johnson Space Center newsroom will close at 9 p.m.
and open at 4 a.m. Friday. The next Mission Status Report will be issued
at 7 a.m. Central.

SpaceRef staff editor.