Astronauts to wrap up joint work and close hatches
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 17, 2008
The Atlantis astronauts and their space station counterparts are wrapping up a final day of joint activity today, hustling to finish supply transfers and activate critical science payloads in the new Columbus lab module before closing hatches between the two spacecraft around 12:30 p.m. in preparation for undocking Monday.
A brief farewell ceremony is planned for 12:15 p.m. when station commander Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts will say goodbye to shuttle commander Steve Frick, pilot Alan Poindexter, Leland Melvin, Stan Love, Rex Walheim, Hans Schlegel and outgoing station astronaut Dan Tani.
Tani, launched to the lab complex last October aboard the shuttle Discovery, originally planned to return to Earth in December, but his ride home - Atlantis - was grounded by fuel sensor problems and his stay aloft was extended for two months. As a result, he missed the holidays with his family and was off the planet when his 90-year-old mother was killed in a car wreck Dec. 19.
During today's daily planning conference, flight controllers jokingly observed that Tani would be on the shuttle side of the hatches at the end of the day and reminded him he would still be able to chat with his station crewmates over an audio loop that ties the shuttle, station and flight controllers together.
"Finally for Dan, we know this is your last DPC on board. Kind of brings a tear to your eye," said astronaut Hal Getzelman in space station control. "You'll be on the other side of the hatch here for the evening DPC, but we'll always have the big loop to talk if you just, you know, want to say something."
"Thanks, Hal, and I guess I'll be saying this a lot today, thanks for everybody for making such an exciting and useful couple of months here," Tani said. "I really appreciate the support and the friendship and I can't wait to get back and see everybody. We'll talk to you on the big loop."
"Yeah, that's great, Dan, and no pressure, you don't have to try to outdo the Husker here in the farewell comments and Peggy might have the Kleenex hanging by there for the hatch closure."
Getzelman was referring to the astronaut Tani replaced last year, Nebraska native Clay Anderson, and a tearful farewell ceremony dubbed a "blubberfest" by The New York Times.
Here is a timeline of today's activities (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes rev. K of the NASA TV schedule):
EST........DD...HH...MM...EVENT 02/17/08 01:45 AM...09...11...00...STS/ISS crew wakeup 03:40 AM...09...12...55...ISS daily planning conference 03:45 AM...09...13...00...Flight director update on NASA TV 03:55 AM...09...13...10...Columbus module outfitting continues 05:05 AM...09...14...20...Logistics transfers 06:50 AM...09...16...05...Post-EVA transfers 08:50 AM...09...18...05...Crew meals begin 09:50 AM...09...19...05...Rendezvous tools checkout 09:50 AM...09...19...05...Logistics transfers 10:00 AM...09...19...15...Columbus module 3D photography 11:30 AM...09...20...45...Oxygen system teardown 12:15 PM...09...21...30...Farewell ceremony 12:30 PM...09...21...45...Hatches closed 01:00 PM...09...22...15...Leak checks 01:00 PM...09...22...15...Mission status briefing on NASA TV 01:15 PM...09...22...30...Centerline camera setup 04:15 PM...10...01...30...ISS crew sleep begins 04:45 PM...10...02...00...STS crew sleep begins 05:00 PM...10...02...15...Daily video highlights reel on NASA TV
"The crew has performed everything that we planned pre mission for them to do," said space station Flight Director Ron Spencer. "There were a lot of Columbus (module) commissioning activities we originally thought were going to be done after the shuttle leaves, so the crew has been getting ahead, doing a lot of those already during the mission.
"We've got a little bit more of that for them to do today," he said. "Specifically, they're going to be setting up the Fluid Science Laboratory and Biolab, continuing to check out the scientific equipment so that we can begin science operations right after undock."
Spencer said the astronauts were virtually done transferring supplies and equipment to and from the station.
"It was 32,000 pounds, of which 27,000 pounds was the Columbus module and then we've got the external payloads that went on it, 2,000 pounds of (shuttle) middeck cargo, which was just resupply of food, clothes, things like that, and of course, a crew member," he said. "There was also 2,000 pounds of cargo transferred from the station to the shuttle on this mission."
With pilot Alan Poindexter at the controls, Atlantis is scheduled to undock at 4:26 a.m. Monday. A photo-documentation flyaround is planned, along with a final inspection of the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels to make sure they have not suffered any damage since a post-launch inspection.
Weather permitting, Atlantis is scheduled to glide back to Florida early Wednesday, landing at the Kennedy Space Center around 9:06 a.m. to close out an extended 13-day mission.