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The Mission




Orbiter: Endeavour
Mission: STS-126
Payload: ISS ULF2
Launch: Nov. 14, 2008
Time: 7:55 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Nov. 30 at 4:25 p.m. EST
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California
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STS-126 Video Coverage

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The Crew




Meet the astronauts flying aboard Endeavour's STS-126 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Chris Ferguson

PLT: Eric Boe

MS 1: Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper

MS 2: Stephen Bowen

MS 3: Don Pettit

MS 4: Shane Kimbrough

Up: Sandy Magnus

Down: Greg Chamitoff

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STS-126: The programs

In advance of shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 mission to the station, managers from both programs discuss the flight.

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STS-126: The mission

A detailed preview of Endeavour's mission to deliver expanded crew accommodations to the station is provided in this briefing.

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STS-126: Spacewalks

Four spacewalks are planned during Endeavour's STS-126 mission to the station.

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STS-126: The Crew

The Endeavour astronauts, led by commander Chris Ferguson, meet the press in the traditional pre-flight news conference.

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Shuttle rollaround

Space shuttle Endeavour switched launch pads on Oct. 23, traveling from pad 39B to pad 39A.

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Two shuttles sighted

Stunning aerial views of shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour perched atop launch pads 39A and 39B on Sept. 20.

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Endeavour to the VAB

For its role as a rescue craft during the Hubble servicing mission and the scheduled November logistics run to the space station, Endeavour is moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

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Station boss happy with SARJ and water recycler repairs
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 25, 2008

Work to replace bearings and re-lubricate the space station's damaged right-side solar array rotary joint went better than expected, a senior manager said today, resulting in remarkably smooth operation that may permit the agency to forego building, launching and installing costly replacement hardware.

Space station Program Manager Mike Suffredini also said the station's newly installed water recycling system, including an initially cantankerous urine distillation assembly, appears to be operating normally and that the Endeavour astronauts will be able to bring some six liters of processed urine and condensate back to Earth for chemical analysis, more than engineers expected before launch.

"When we went into this mission, we said there were two primary objectives we needed to take care of," Suffredini said. "One was to repair the SARJ (solar alpha rotary joint) and prepare the port SARJ for continued operations. And of course, the other major objective was to get started on our regenerative ECLSS (environmental control and life support) system, get it going in preparation for six-crew operations in the May timeframe. I'm happy to report today that we're well on our way in both of those cases."

Early today, flight controllers activated the right-side solar alpha rotary joint and commanded it to operate in normal "auto-track" mode for two full orbits. In auto-track, the station's two SARJ mechanisms rotate outboard solar arrays like huge paddle wheels to keep them face on to the sun.

Engineers first noticed problems with the starboard SARJ last year when sensors measured increased vibration levels and power usage in the drive motor. Inspections by spacewalking astronauts later showed one of the gear's three bearing races was heavily damaged, apparently because of a lubrication breakdown that generated extensive metallic contamination.

One of the 12 trundle bearings that grip the gear was replaced last June to help engineers troubleshoot the problem. During parts of four spacewalks, the Endeavour astronauts replaced 10 bearing assemblies and re-installed the 11th, cleaned off the metallic debris and re-lubricated all three races.

Going into the flight, Suffredini said engineers believed the outer canted bearing race was too damaged to permit resumption of around-the-clock auto-track operations. The goal was to lower vibration and friction levels enough to permit periodic operations to boost power when needed.

But it now appears the bearing swap-out and re-lubrication might permit more routine operations than originally expected. That's a major issue as NASA transitions to full-time operations with an expanded crew of six and a full slate of experiments that require all the power the lab's solar arrays can generate.

Along with bringing the old bearings down for a comprehensive failure analysis, the goal of the servicing work was to "clean up the race and lubricate it and see what we could do about reducing the currents on the motor to drive this joint (and) to see if we could reduce the vibrations," Suffredini said. "One of the things that's not immediately obvious to you is the vibrations induced by rotating this joint had the potential to put extensive life (reduction) on the structure. So that was another big driver for not operating in auto track.

"And so we performed both of those tasks and we found that the current dropped dramatically, in fact the currents are now much, much closer to where they were when we started off," he said. "We've seen as low as 0.17 amps since we lubricated it. It was as high as 0.7 to 0.9 in some cases. These are the peak numbers, we average the lower numbers. This particular joint, when it first started out, was operating at about 0.15 amps. So you can see the data is suggesting we're awfully close to our original drive currents.

"We took vibration data that we're looking at now. So I can't tell you what that data tells us, but I can tell you anecdotally, one of the ways we discovered this problem, one of the cameras on the starboard truss would vibrate, you could look at an image with this camera and you'd see it vibrate when the joint was rotating. And that particular camera is still now. So if you want to take that as an indication that we reduced vibrations, we certainly have."

Suffredini said it will take weeks of engineering analysis and additional auto-track test runs to fully characterize the behavior of the joint. But if the initial results hold up, the agency may be able to stop work on a long-range plan to build a new bearing race that would be launched on the last planned shuttle mission and installed over multiple spacewalks.

"If, in fact, we could keep the currents down through a lubrication process that's not extensive, that we wouldn't have to do every three or four months but maybe once every year or two, perhaps we could choose that avenue as opposed to replacing that race," he said. "So this is a very positive step for us. It's very possible we could save ourselves quite a bit of time and effort and get this joint in auto-track sooner than we had hoped."

The Endeavour astronauts also lubricated the station's port SARJ. That mechanism has been operating normally, but engineers wanted to add fresh lubrication to prevent problems like those experienced by the starboard joint. The astronauts reported seeing signs of very slight damage on one bearing race, but Suffredini said it appeared to be normal wear and tear.

As for the urine processor, Suffredini said it appears the removal of rubber vibration isolators and additional work to hard mount the distillation assembly to its mounting bracket paid off. Initial startup problems appear to be related to subtle harmonic effects as an internal centrifuge spins in a vacuum distillation assembly. The vibration dampers were put in place to reduce noise, but taking them off apparently prevented the motions that contributed to an unwanted balance issue, allowing the system to operate in a more normal fashion.

"So now we believe where we are is that we'll keep the distillation assembly on orbit and we will look to methods to mount it perhaps a little stiffer to the structure, we'll see if there's anything we want to do different, if we want to perhaps build some sort of bracket we bring to orbit to stiffen up the structure," Suffredini said. "We may choose to do that. But right now, the thinking is we'll probably leave this distillation assembly on orbit and we'll nurse it along the way we have been and learn from the system."

Today, the astronauts hooked up a potable water dispenser that is connected to the same water "bus" as the water recycling gear. A new toilet will be connected to the bus after the shuttle departs, routing urine to the processor for conversion into pure water for drinking, food preparation, personal hygiene and oxygen generation.

Flight Director Holly Ridings said the astronauts will bring down about six liters of processed water for detailed chemical analysis to determine purity and to help calibrate an analyzer on the space station. No one will drink any processed water until after additional samples are brought down next February.

Assuming the equipment continues working normally, NASA will be clear to boost crew size to six next May as planned.

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY

VIDEO: MINNEAPOLIS, PORTLAND, PHILLY INTERVIEWS WITH CREW PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 11 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: NEW EXTERNAL TV CAMERA MOUNTED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: FINISHING THE STARBOARD SARJ CLEANING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE ON PORT SARJ PLAY
VIDEO: KIMBROUGH FLOATS OUT OF THE AIRLOCK PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 10 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEWS WITH CREW BY ABC, CBS AND NBC NEWS PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 9 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: LAST OF OLD BEARINGS REMOVED FROM SARJ PLAY
VIDEO: BOWEN INSTALLS ANOTHER BEARING ASSEMBLY PLAY
VIDEO: SARJ CLEANING TECHNIQUES TO REMOVE CONTAMINATION PLAY
VIDEO: PIPER USES GREASE GUNS ON THE SARJ PLAY
VIDEO: NEW TRUNDLE BEARING ASSEMBLY INSTALLED PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKING DUO GETS TO WORK PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 3 BEGINS PLAY
VIDEO: WALKTHROUGH OF SPACEWALK NO. 3 PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 8 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: JOINT CREW IN-FLIGHT NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: PROTON ROCKET ROLLS OUT TO THE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH OF THE ZARYA CONTROL MODULE PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH COMMENTS BY NASA AND RSA PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION COMMANDERS MARK ANNIVERSARY PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 7 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: MAINTENANCE PERFORMED ON STATION'S ARM PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS PULL SECOND RAIL CART FREE PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST CART REMOVED FROM STATION RAILS PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: WALKTHROUGH OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR'S SUMMARY OF FLIGHT DAY 7 PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH CAMERA REPLAYS
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 6 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: AP, MINNEAPOLIS AND BOSTON INTERVIEWS WITH CREW PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: RIDE ALONG WITH ASTRONAUTS "RACK-CAM" PLAY
VIDEO: COMBUSTION SCIENCE HARDWARE MOVED INTO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: AIRLOCK CAMCORDER FOOTAGE AFTER SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: EVA NO. 1 CONCLUDES PLAY
VIDEO: SOLAR ALPHA ROTARY JOINT REPAIRS BEGIN PLAY
VIDEO: TOOL BAG ACCIDENTALLY FLOATS AWAY PLAY
VIDEO: GREASE GUN SPILL MAKES MESS IN TOOL CARRIER PLAY
VIDEO: SPARE FLEX HOSE COUPLER DELIVERED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: EMPTY NITROGEN TANK MOVED FROM STATION TO SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: SHOW-AND-TELL OF SOLAR ALPHA ROTARY JOINT WORK PLAY
VIDEO: WALKTHROUGH OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED ANIMATION OF SPACEWALK SWAPOUT PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR'S SUMMARY OF FLIGHT DAY 5 PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: CREW OPENS HATCH AND ENTERS LEONARDO PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTA AND BOSTON TV STATIONS INTERVIEW CREW PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: LEONARDO MODULE SUCCESSFULLY MOUNTED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW ANIMATION OF LEONARDO MODULE ATTACHMENT PLAY
VIDEO: SUMMARY OF CARGO BEING DELIVERED TO SPACE STATION PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR DOCKS TO SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR PERFORMS THE 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY
VIDEO: VIEWS OF THE SHUTTLE APPROACHING FROM BELOW PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR'S SUMMARY OF FLIGHT DAY 3 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW ANIMATION OF RENDEZVOUS AND DOCKING PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR'S SUMMARY OF FLIGHT DAY 2 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW ANIMATION OF HEAT SHIELD INSPECTIONS PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED TOUR OF ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOAD BAY PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR BLASTS OFF! PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEFLIGHT NOW'S LAUNCH PAD CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL STS-126 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: FINAL PRE-LAUNCH POLLS GIVE "GO" FOR LIFTOFF PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE'S CREW MODULE HATCH CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST DON PETTIT BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST SHANE KIMBROUGH BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: PILOT ERIC BOE BOARDS ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: COMMANDER CHRIS FERGUSON BOARDS ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: ASTROVAN TAKES CREW TO LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY
VIDEO: CREW DEPARTS QUARTERS FOR LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS DON SPACESUITS FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED RECAP OF ENDEAVOUR'S PRE-FLIGHT CAMPAIGN PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED RECAP OF PAYLOADS' PRE-FLIGHT CAMPAIGN PLAY

VIDEO: PAD 39A SERVICE GANTRY RETRACTED FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS AND WEATHER UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS AND WEATHER UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: STATION ASTRONAUTS PREPARE FOR SHUTTLE ARRIVAL PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOADS READIED FOR TREK TO SPACE PLAY

VIDEO: UPDATE ON SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAMS PLAY
VIDEO: STS-126 MISSION OVERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH COMMANDER CHRIS FERGUSON PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH PILOT ERIC BOE PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS1 HEIDEMARIE PIPER PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS2 STEPHEN BOWEN PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS3 DON PETITT PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS4 SHANE KIMBROUGH PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS5 SANDY MAGNUS PLAY

VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH SPACE STATION'S EXPEDITION 17 CREW PLAY

VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER AND PILOT PRACTICE LANDINGS PLAY

VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER UPDATES SOYUZ INVESTIGATION PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DESCRIBES SARJ REPAIR PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DISCUSSES RADIATOR DAMAGE PLAY
VIDEO: EXPEDITION 18 PRE-FLIGHT MISSION BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ATLANTIS AND ENDEAVOUR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR AT SUNRISE ON LAUNCH PAD 39B PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ENDEAVOUR AFTER ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR ROLLS FROM VAB TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ARRIVAL AT PAD 39B PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR LEAVING VAB PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR'S DEPARTURE FROM HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR GOING VERTICAL PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF BEING HOISTED OFF TRANSPORTER PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR MOVING TO VAB PLAY
MORE: STS-126 VIDEO COVERAGE
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