Walheim, Love suit up for Columbus install spacewalk
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 11, 2008
Astronauts Rex Walheim and Stan Love are suiting up this morning in preparation for a planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to ready the European Space Agency's Columbus research module for attachment to the international space station. The excursion is scheduled to begin around 9:35 a.m. and if all goes well, astronauts Dan Tani and Leland Melvin, a former football star operating the space station's robot arm, will pull Columbus out of the shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay shortly after 2 p.m. and move it into place for robotic attachment to the lab complex.
The shuttle/station astronauts were awakened at 4:46 a.m. by a recording of "Fly Like and Eagle" beamed up from mission control in Houston.
"Good morning, Atlantis," astronaut Shannon Lucid called from the control center. "And a special good morning to you today, Leland."
"Good morning, Shannon," replied Leland, who became an astronaut after an injury ended his chance to play professional football. "And that was a great way to wake up today on a day we're going to install Columbus. I want to thank my family and especially my sister for believing in me so much, she let me know that I can fly like an Eagle, which we're doing overhead right now."
Walheim and Love will begin today's spacewalk from the station's Quest airlock module on the right side of the central Unity module. Love, originally scheduled for just one spacewalk - EVA-3 - replaced German astronaut Hans Schlegel for today's outing after Schlegel became ill earlier in the mission. While NASA will not discuss crew medical issues, Schlegel apparently is recovering and is expected to participate in a second spacewalk Wednesday as originally planned.
Walheim and Love spent the night in the Quest airlock at a reduced 10.2 psi pressure to help purge nitrogen from their bodies before donning their low-pressure spacesuits. Such "campouts" and additional procedures today are necessary to prevent the bends.
"We'll start out the way we start out all EVA days, which is, we get up, and we jump right into the timeline," commander Steve Frick said in a NASA interview. "The EVA folks, the ones that are going out that day in a spacesuits, have to get right into what we call the pre-breathe to get all the nitrogen out of their system. It takes a couple of hours. It's kind of a complicated procedure. We've got to make sure we do it exactly right so that they can go out the door safely.
"While they're just about ready to go out the door, the robotics team, Leland Melvin ... and also the station crew members that are robotics qualified - Dan Tani, Leo Eyharts, and (commander) Peggy (Whitson) - will be making sure that the space station's robotic arm is ready to grapple the Columbus module."
For identifical, Walheim (call sign EV-1) will wear a spacesuit with solid red stripes around the legs. Love (EV-2) will use a suit with broken red lines.
The first major objective of the spacewalk is to install a power and data grapple fixture - PDGF - on Columbus so the robot arm can lock on. The lab module is the size of a small bus and it could not be launched with the grapple fixture in place because that would make it "a little bit too big to fit into the payload bay," Walheim said.
"The grapple fixture is basically a big pin that the robot arm can grab onto and then pull the Columbus module out of the payload bay," he said in a NASA interview. "So we have to put that grapple fixture on there, and that's one of our main tasks, and then we have to get Columbus ready to be unberthed from the payload bay.
"One thing we have to do is remove some covers off the end of it where we're going to stick it onto the space station. We'll remove those covers, put them away, bring them back in, and also unplug its launch-to-activation cable, a cable that it has to give it power when it's in the payload bay. Then it'll be free to go and Leland and (Dan Tani) can grab it and pull it out of the payload bay and start attaching it to the space station."
Walheim also will inspect the common berthing mechanism on the Harmony module to look for any signs of debris that might prevent a tight seal when Columbus is bolted into place.
"We want him to make sure that the seal surface that the Columbus module's going to attach to ... is clear of any debris," station Flight Director Ron Spencer said early today. "We'd already scheduled this in the timeline and overnight, when we opened the (CBM) petals to prepare for this activity we may have observed a small piece of debris there. ... We're also going to have him go out with some Kapton tape in case there is debris there so he can remove that debris before we attach the Columbus module there, to make sure we have good seals to enable the pressurized environment once it's attached."
While Melvin and Tani maneuver Columbus into position for attachment to Harmony's starboard port, Walheim and Love will move up to the main solar array truss segment and begin preparations for replacing a nitrogen tank used to pressurize the station's ammonia coolant lines. A new tank carried up aboard Atlantis will be installed during a spacewalk Wednesday.
Inside the station, meanwhile, the astronauts will work to prepare the vestibule on the right side of the Harmony module for Columbus' eventual attachment.
"Once you have a module attached to the side of the space station you still have to make sure it's safe to open the hatches and get in there," said Frick. "You have to make sure the seals are tight, it's holding air, you have to disassemble a lot of equipment that's kind of blocking the path into the module, and once all that's done, basically, our day is over. So we're going to go to sleep that night and get up the next day, and then we're going to be able to go into the Columbus module."
Here is a timeline of major events Monday (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes revision D 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 (spacewalk begins) 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 05:30 PM...04...02...45...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