Mission controllers release revised flight plan
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 10, 2008
The Atlantis astronauts geared up for a hastily replanned day in space today, putting off their first spacewalk one day and instead focusing on equipment transfers to and from the space station and a robotic inspection of a protruding insulation blanket on one of the orbiter's aft rocket pods.
The spacewalk to prepare the European Space Agency's Columbus research module for attachment to the station was deferred one day because of an undisclosed medical problem with German astronaut Hans Schlegel. Schlegel trained to perform the first two of the mission's three spacewalks with astronaut Rex Walheim. Instead, he will be replaced on the first excursion by Stan Love, who already planned to join Walheim for the third EVA.
It is not yet known whether Schlegel will be allowed to carry out the second spacewalk, now set for Wednesday.
"Please forward to Hans all our best wishes," European mission control radioed today. "We're all keeping our fingers crossed for him to get better soon."
"Yes, Peter, I will do that for sure," newly arrived French astronaut Leopold Eyharts replied from the space station.
Other than saying the illness was not life threatening, NASA managers, citing medical privacy concerns, refused to provide any details about the nature or severity of the problem or even say which astronaut was involved. But when the astronauts were awakened today shortly after 4:45 a.m. by a German song beamed up for Schlegel from mission control in Houston, the 57-year-old father of seven was in good spirits.
"Good morning, Atlantis," astronaut Shannon Lucid called from Houston. "And a special good morning to you today, Hans."
"Good morning, Shannon. Good morning, everybody," Schlegel replied, sounding fit. "Thank you very much for this piece of music. It's a German song about the nature of man, it was selected by my dear wife, Heike. Greetings to everybody in America, in Europe and in Germany and especially, of course, to my close family and my lovely wife, Heike. Thank you very much, Shannon."
Commander Steve Frick chimed in later, saying "we're looking forward to a little different day than we expected, but it'll be a good day on orbit, it looks like."
"Copy that. We will have some more words for the day in a few minutes," said astronaut Kevin Ford in Houston. "Great job on the rendezvous yesterday. It was spectacular."
"We appreciate you guys getting us there," Frick said. "Boy, station's an amazing view, I'll tell you. It's not much like the sims, at least the view, but the vehicle flies beautifully and the training that ... the guys gave us really worked out well. It went very easily."
There are at least two prior cases of crew illness interfering with a U.S. spacewalk. During Apollo 9, a shakedown flight for NASA's lunar lander, Rusty Schweickart became ill in orbit, forcing a one-day delay for a planned spacewalk. An EVA planned for the fifth shuttle mission was delayed one day when astronaut Bill Lenoir became ill. The spacewalk ultimately was called off because of spacesuit problems.
Here is the revised summary timeline for today, flight day 4, in EST and mission elapsed time (includes rev. B of the NASA TV schedule):
EST........DD...HH...MM...EVENT 02/10/08 04:45 AM...02...14...00...STS/ISS crew wakeup 06:30 AM...02...15...45...ISS daily planning conference 07:00 AM...02...16...15...EVA-1: Procedures review (part 1) 09:00 AM...02...18...15...Eyharts Soyuz pressure suit leak check 09:45 AM...02...19...00...Logistics transfers 10:00 AM...02...19...15...Spacesuit swap 10:20 AM...02...19...35...EVA-1: Airlock preparations 11:00 AM...02...20...15...Shuttle crew joint meal 12:00 PM...02...21...15...Shuttle crew off duty 01:20 PM...02...22...35...Harmony vestibule outfitting preps for Columbus 02:15 PM...02...23...30...Focused inspection of protruding insulation blanket 03:00 PM...03...00...15...Mission status briefing on NTV 03:45 PM...03...01...00...EVA-1: Procedures review (part 2) 04:00 PM...03...02...00...Post-MMT briefing on NTV 04:45 PM...03...02...00...External tank umbilical camera downlink 05:25 PM...03...02...40...Wing leading edge/nose cap laser scan downlink 07:00 PM...03...04...15...EVA-1: Airlock campout 08:15 PM...03...05...30...ISS crew sleep begins 08:45 PM...03...06...00...STS crew sleep begins 09:00 PM...03...06...15...Daily video highlights reel on NTV
"We've had to replan the activities for today," station Flight Director Ron Spencer explained early today. "As you know, the (priorities) of this mission are the Columbus installation and activation. However, we do have a fair amount of activities that don't require Columbus. With every space shuttle mission, it's kind of like a moving van coming to your house and so there's quite a bit of activity spread throughout the mission to transfer new parts and science payloads over to the space station and to take the broken parts and science return back home on the shuttle.
"So, one of the main things we've scheduled for the crew to do today instead of the EVA is to go ahead and do a lot of that transfer of equipment from the shuttle over to the station and vice versa. Also on this mission, we're having a crew exchange (with Eyharts replacing Dan Tani) and so there's a lot of time we dedicate throughout the mission for the crew to do handover between the departing crew member and the arriving crew member so that they know where things are stowed, how things really work ... and pretty much a familiarization with their new home. So we've scheduled a lot of time for that today as well. And this will help us as the mission goes on to free up time once Columbus is installed, to devote most of the crew time toward Columbus."
Spencer said four hours has been blocked out for Love to review the plan for Monday's spacewalk. He and Walheim will spend the night in the space station's airlock at reduced pressure to help purge nitrogen from their bloodstreams before working in NASA's low-pressure spacesuits.
"We've given him four hours of time to study the EVA timeline since he was not originally scheduled to do this EVA," Spencer said. "He is familiar with the station ... so this won't be completely new to him. But since he wasn't trained for this specific task, we've given him four hours of time to study the plan and have Hans available for question and answer, as well as the other crew members who were going to be involved with the EVA."
Later today, the astronauts will use cameras on a robot arm to inspect the shuttle's aft right orbital maneuvering system rocket pod where image analysts spotted a corner of one insulation blanket that has pulled up slightly along a seam.
NASA normally sets time aside on the fifth day of a shuttle mission to carry out a so-called focused inspection, but given the spacewalk delay, the work was added to today's schedule. The protruding blanket does not appear to be a serious issue, but "we don't know if the blanket's torn or if it's just protruding right there," Spencer said. "So we've dedicated some time to take more detailed images of that."