Schlegel could take Wednesday's spacewalk
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 10, 2008
NASA managers expect German astronaut Hans Schlegel to participate in a spacewalk Wednesday, the second of three excursions planned by the shuttle Atlantis' crew. Schlegel, a 56-year-old father of seven, originally planned to join astronaut Rex Walheim for the crew's first spacewalk today. But the EVA was delayed 24 hours to Monday - and Schlegel was replaced by Stan Love - when the European Space Agency astronaut apparently became ill after launch last week.
NASA managers have refused to provide any details about the nature of the illness or even confirm who on the shuttle/station complex was sick. They would only say the illness was not life threatening and that no mission objectives were threatened by the spacewalk delay and crew shuffle. Today they would not directly say whether flight surgeons had cleared Schlegel for the second spacewalk.
But lead Flight Director Mike Sarafin said "the plan right now is to perform the rest of the mission as planned." That means he expects Schlegel to be available for the second spacewalk Wednesday.
Asked if the medical issue, whatever it was, had been resolved, Mission Management Team Chairman John Shannon would only say: "The flight surgeons, as they always do, they stay in contact with each of the crew members and they discuss their status and then they feed it back to us and it's an ongoing process. Right now, like MIke said, the plan is as the plan was pre-flight and that's the way we're going to go execute it. If they come back to us and say that's changed, then we'll react to that change."
Reporter: "So for the time being, the medical issue is resolved?"
Shannon: "There are no changes to the plan as it's currently laid out."
Schlegel looked relatively fit in television shots downlinked from space today as the astronauts worked through a hastily revised timeline, reviewing plans for Monday's spacewalk, transferring equipment to and from the space station and carrying out a detailed robotic inspection of a slightly pulled-up insulation blanket on the ship's right rear rocket pod.
The so-called focussed inspection was ordered after image analysts noticed a corner of the blanket had pulled up during Atlantis' climb to space Thursday. In close-up television views today, it appeared the stitching along the seam between two adjacent blankets had come apart, allowing a small, triangular section of one blanket corner to pull up slightly. The damage did not appear serious to the untrained eye, but Shannon said engineers have not yet reached a conclusion on whether anything needs to be done.
Overall, he said, Atlantis is in good condition with no signs of problems with the ship's critical underside heat shield, nose cap or wing leading edge panels, which experience the most extreme heating during re-entry.
"The thermal protection system inspections that we do are going extremely well," Shannon said. "It's the fastest I've ever seen them done on a flight. We have completely cleared the bottom of the orbiter, there are no issues we are working on the bottom, all of the reinforced carbon carbon on the wings and the nose are completely cleared. We're gathering additional information on the right OMS pod. There's really no change from (Saturday).
"There's also a couple of small tile chips around the crew windows on the front of the vehicle. Nobody expects them to be any issues at all, we just have not gotten to the point of analyzing them yet. I would expect by Tuesday we'll have all that work done and be able to completely clear the orbiter."
The astronauts were asked to change out a computer hard drive today in order to downlink photographs shot by a camera in the belly of the orbiter showing the ship's external tank after initial separation in orbit. Those pictures will be added to other views to help engineers assess the performance of the tank's foam insulation as NASA gears up to launch shuttle Endeavour on the next station assembly mission around March 11.
Shannon said both of Atlantis' spent booster rockets had been recovered and towed back to port. The right side rocket was at the booster processing facility Sunday and video shot during ascent, possibly showing when the rocket pod blanket peeled back, should be ready for review by early Monday. The ship towing the left-side booster has been held up by windy weather and its video is expected later in the week.
"Since the right OMS pod is where the blanket lifted up and we'd like to see when that happened, we were a little bit lucky and got the correct booster in first before the winds kicked up," Shannon said.
Otherwise, he concluded, "we're really looking forward to watching the crew and the ground ops team place Columbus in its final home and we're very excited about that tomorrow."
Walheim and Love plan to begin the mission's first spacewalk at 9:35 a.m. Monday. Their primary objective is to mount a robot arm attachment fitting on the European Columbus research module so Leland Melvin, operating the space station's robot arm, can pull it out of Atlantis' cargo bay. Walheim and Love will then make preparations for replacing a large nitrogen tank used for pressurizing the station's ammonia cooling system.
Melvin, meanwhile, will move Columbus into position for attachment to the right side hatch of the forward Harmony module so motorized bolts can engage to lock it in place. The astronauts plan to enter the module for the first time Tuesday. If all goes well, Walheim and Schlegel will stage a second spacewalk Wednesday with Walheim and Love carrying out a third and final excursion Friday.
Here is a timeline of major events Monday (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes revision C of the NASA TV schedule):
EST........DD...HH...MM...EVENT 02/11/08 04:45 AM...03...14...00...STS/ISS crew wakeup 05:20 AM...03...14...35...EVA-1: 14.7 psi airlock repress/hygiene break 06:15 AM...03...15...30...Flight director update on NASA TV 06:30 AM...03...15...45...EVA-1: Resume airlock preps 06:35 AM...03...15...50...ISS daily planning conference 08:00 AM...03...17...15...EVA-1: Spacesuit purge 08:15 AM...03...17...30...EVA-1: Spacesuit prebreathe 09:05 AM...03...18...20...EVA-1: Airlock depressurization 09:15 AM...03...18...30...Shuttle KU-band antenna stowed for Columbus unberthing 09:35 AM...03...18...50...EVA-1: Spacesuits to battery power 09:40 AM...03...18...55...EVA-1: Airlock egress 09:55 AM...03...19...10...EVA-1: Power-data grapple fixture (PDGF) setup 11:35 AM...03...20...50...EVA-1: PDGF installation on Columbus module 01:50 PM...03...23...05...Station arm (SSRMS) grapples Columbus module 01:50 PM...03...23...05...Harmony prepared for Columbus attachment 02:05 PM...03...23...20...EVA-1: Walheim: nitrogen tank removal preps 02:10 PM...03...23...25...SSRMS unberths Columbus module 02:15 PM...03...23...30...EVA-1: Love: Nitrogen tank removal preps 03:35 PM...04...00...50...EVA-1: Payload bay cleanup and airlock ingress 04:05 PM...04...01...20...Columbus first stage bolting 04:05 PM...04...01...20...EVA-1: Airlock repressurization (spacewalk ends) 04:15 PM...04...01...30...Spacesuit servicing 04:25 PM...04...01...40...Columbus second stage bolting 04:40 PM...04...01...55...Columbus attachment to Harmony complete 05:00 PM...04...02...15...Centerline berthing camera removal 06:00 PM...04...03...15...Mission status/MMT briefing on NASA TV 08:15 PM...04...05...30...ISS crew sleep begins 08:45 PM...04...06...00...STS/ISS crew sleep begins 09:00 PM...04...06...15...Daily video highlights reel on NASA TV
Atlantis' mission was extended one day when NASA managers decided to delay the first spacewalk to Monday. NASA managers are considering the possibility of adding one more extension day after the spacewalks are complete to give the crew more time to outfit and activate Columbus or deal with any other unfinished tasks. A decision on the second extension day is expected later this week.
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