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February 09, 2008

STS-122 events

Atlantis and its crew of 7 men (Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter, and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Hans Schlegel, and Leopold Eyharts) will dock to the International Space Station around 11:25 AM CST Saturday, February 9, 2008. ISS Commander Peggy Whitson, the sole woman currently in space, said this is a great 48th birthday present for her. She sure doesn't look her age--but even non-astronauts tend to look younger in space thanks to the benefits of fluid shift. Because the heart does not have to pump "up hill" in freefall, blood builds up in the upper body, providing a freefall face lift.

The three shuttle spacewalkers will quickly transfer their space suit gear to the station's Quest airlock in preparation for this mission's three EVAs.

The first EVA is Sunday, February 10 from about 8:30 AM to 3 PM CST. Rex Walheim and German astronaut Hans Schlegel are the crew. Their main task will be to remove launch covers and install a grapple fixture (like a doorknob) on the Columbus module. Then the module will be lifted, or "unberthed" from the shuttle's payload bay. Way back in the mid-80s, I worked on operations plans for Columbus--even gave a talk about it at the ISDC in 1989. I will join our European partners in celebrating and cheering this long-awaited delivery.

The module will be hooked up on the inside on Monday and French astronaut Leopold Eyharts will have the honor of being the first person to ingress the Columbus in space. Housewarming is scheduled for about 2:15 PM CST Monday. I guess I'll have to be content to send virtual flowers!

The second EVA is planned for Tuesday. The crew will be Walheim and Schlegel again. This EVA also runs from about 8:30 AM to 3 PM CST. They will be removing a nitrogen tank from the station that has been depleted, and putting it in the shuttle's payload bay. The nitrogen tank is about the size of a small refrigerator and has a mass of about 550 pounds. After removal, they have to reroute some cables.

The crew is given some time off on Wednesday.

Valentine's Day, February 14, Love is going for a spacewalk. Really! The astronaut Stan Love will be making his first spacewalk, joining Walheim in outfitting Columbus. They will also be retrieving a failed Control Moment Gyro and adding some translation aids. If you hear them talking about WIFs, it is not a new computer game. WIFs are worksite fittings. Because the shuttle crew has to gradually shift their sleep periods earlier to line up with landing opportunities, this EVA starts an hour earlier than the other two, around 7:30 AM, and runs until about 2 PM.

On Friday, the crew will be getting up at 1:45 AM. They have a lot of supplies to transfer across. When that's done, they will be closing the hatch, around 1:45 PM, then going to sleep about the time most Americans are getting home from work. Leopold Eyharts will be staying on the station, and Dan Tani will be coming home.

The undocking is planned for Saturday around 5:30 AM CST. They will do the usual inspection the next day, and practice landing procedures. Landing is scheduled for Monday at Kennedy Space Center around 8:40 AM CST, 9:40 AM EST. The crew will have been up since 1:15 AM CST.

For more details on the crew schedule, I recommend Bill Harwood's coverage on CBS:

To the stars!

Marianne Dyson
NSS Member
Assignments Editor, Ad Astra magazine

Posted by m_dyson at February 9, 2008 12:15 AM



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