Category The International Space Station

PROGRESS М-55

Progress M-55 was launched from Baikonur, at 13:38, December 20, 2005 with 2,490 kg of cargo. The new spacecraft carried food, including 14 kg of fresh fruit and vegetables, water, oxygen, propellant, spare parts, and experiments for ISS. Progress docked to Pirs’ nadir automatically at 14:46, December 23. The crew began unloading the dry goods over the holiday week.

In the week running up to Christmas, McArthur and Tokarev performed experi­ments and recorded educational films. McArthur checked the hatch seals in the American modules of the station. The Christmas break represented the halfway point in their 6-month mission. On Christmas Day they were able to speak to their families, ate a traditional Russian meal, and opened the gifts that had been delivered on Progress M-55. They had a day off on December 26, and again on January 2, in keeping with standard American government employment rules that gave employees a day off in lieu when a national holiday falls on a Sunday. Meanwhile, Zvezda’s Elektron oxygen generator had been performing flawlessly since its last repair. It was deliberately shut down between December 28 and February 9, to allow the crew to burn Russian SFOG oxygen candles in order to re-certify that method of producing oxygen. On December 31, the last of the oxygen carried in Progress M-54 was used to re-supply ISS.

McArthur and Tokarev spent the first week of 2006 performing experiments, including the ground-commanded BCAT-3, placing the “phantom Torso’’ with its 370 radiation detectors in Pirs, and locating the EarthKam in one of the station’s windows in advance of the new school term. They also installed batteries in the American EMUs in Quest. January 9 was the final day of the Russian holiday and the crew had the day off. During the week, they installed the Recharge Oxygen Orifice Bypass Assembly (ROOBA), a method of allowing EVA astronauts to pre­breathe oxygen from the Shuttle’s supply rather than the station’s tanks in Quest. Two days later the Elektron oxygen generator was powered on. On January 12, McArthur manoeuvred the SSRMS to provide views of the Interface Umbilical Assembly (IUA) on the S-0 ITS, which held the cable cutter for the MT’s uncut power cable. The following day he manoeuvred the SSRMS to view the CBM at Unity’s nadir and ensure that it was clear of debris. The SSRMS was left in a position where its cameras could view the crew’s up-coming EVA.

On the ground, the Houston marathon was taking place on January 15. In orbit, McArthur ran a half-marathon on the treadmill while ISS circled Earth. Over January 17-18, they rehearsed the procedures to be followed in the event of a rapid pressure leak requiring evacuation of the module in question. The following day, programme managers delayed the next EVA from February 2 to February 3, in order to ease the astronauts’ preparation schedule. The remainder of the week was taken up with both men performing experiments for their national programmes.

In the week commencing January 23, both men began preparing for their EVA. On January 31 they prepared an old Orlan suit, mounting a radio and slow-scan television transmitter on the helmet. The system transmitted messages in six lan­guages that could be received by amateur radio operators. Now called “RadioScaf”, the suit had last been worn by Michael Foale in February 2004. It was filled with rubbish and would be jettisoned from ISS during the EVA. After preparing ISS for automated flight regime and shutting down the Elektron generator, the oxygen delivered in Progress M-55 was used to pressurise the ISS.

PROGRESS М-55

Figure 65. Expedition-12: A “past its sell-by date” Orlan pressure suit fitted with a radio transmitter was jettisoned to become a satellite in its own right. The experiment was named “RadioScaf”, but in their wisdom the media called it “Suitsat”.

McArthur and Tokarev left Pirs wearing Orlan suits at 17:44, February 3. Having prepared their tools, they removed RadioScaf from the airlock and mounted it on a ladder on the exterior of the module, before releasing the suit into orbit with the words, “Goodbye, Mr. Smith,” from Tokarov. They photographed the suit as it drifted away. It transmitted its greeting messages for two orbits before the transmitter stopped working.

Moving away from Pirs, the two men made their way to the exterior of Zarya, where they removed a grapple fixture adapter for the Russian Strela crane and moved it to PMA-3, mounted on Unity. The adapter was removed to prepare Zarya for the temporary stowage of debris shields, prior to their deployment on a later Shuttle flight. Command of the EVA passed from Korolev to Houston as the astronauts passed from the exterior of Zarya on to the exterior of Unity. Next, they moved to the S-0 ITS, where they attempted to drive home a safety bolt in the cutting device in the IUA that McArthur had filmed on January 13. Despite several attempts with a high – tech tool, the safety bolt could not be installed to prevent the blade from falling and cutting the cable. Instead, as a temporary measure, McArthur removed the cable from the cutting mechanism and tied it to a handrail with a piece of wire. The cut cable on the other side of the ITS would be repaired during an EVA by the crew of STS-121. After transferring control of the EVA back to Korolev, the final task for this EVA was to photograph the exterior of Zvezda before returning to Pirs, where Tokarev recovered the Biorisk-2 experiment. The airlock hatch was closed after an EVA lasting 5 hours 43 minutes.

Two days later NASA Administrator Michael Griffin made a speech from NASA Headquarters, Washington, in which he stated:

The greatest management challenge the agency faces over the next five years is the transition from retiring the Shuttle to bringing the Crew Exploration Vehicle on-line… We are delving more deeply into the strategic implications of using Shuttle-derived launch systems for the Crew Launch Vehicle and Heavy – Lift Launch Vehicle… Thus, we are applying some funds from the exploration budget profile between now and 2010 to the Shuttle’s budget line to ensure the Shuttle and Station programmes have the resources necessary to carry out the first steps of the Vision for Space Exploration. NASA has asked industry for proposals to bring the CEV on-line as close to 2010 as possible, and not later than 2012 …’’

Griffin had initiated studies inside NASA to replace the Delta-IV and Atlas-V launch vehicles proposed for the CEV with a launch vehicle derived from proven Shuttle technology. Those studies would lead to the new Ares class of launch vehicles.

In the days following the EVA the crew took part in the standard debriefings with experts on the ground. McArthur also conducted a video tour of the station. The crew also continued their experiments; McArthur participated in the LOOT experiment, and Tokarev performed two ESA experiments. Both men performed Russian biomedical experiments and monitored the numerous experiments that ran automatically. They also gave the treadmill its 6-monthly overhaul. The motors in Progress M-55 were used to boost the station’s orbit on Lebruary 11. This was the first time that a Progress docked to Pirs had been used for an orbital re-boost. Over Lebruary 16-17, McArthur worked to replace the spectrometer inside the Mass Constituent Analyser (MCA) in Destiny. This measured the composition of the station’s internal atmosphere. An attempt to power the device up on the second day failed and McArthur was requested to perform troubleshooting.

As a new week began plans for the crew to “camp out’’ in Quest for their Lebruary 23-24 sleep period were delayed until March. The experiment called for the two men to spend a single sleep period in the airlock with the hatches sealed and the pressure reduced. Although they would not be wearing their EVA suits, the camp – out was seen as a way of reducing the pre-breathing of pure oxygen required before an extravehicular activity, by having future EVA astronauts spend their sleep period prior to an EVA camping out in Quest, and remaining in the airlock when they wake up, in order to don their EMUs and prepare for the EVA. The camp-out procedure would be used for the first time by EVA astronauts on STS-115. The delay was called as a direct result of McArthur’s failure to repair the MCA and, pending its repair, the camp-out was rescheduled for March 23.

McArthur and Tokarev began preparations for the next Shuttle flight, STS-121, now planned for no earlier than July 2006. McArthur made space in Destiny’s experiment racks for the equipment that Discovery would deliver to ISS. Both men worked to load Progress M-54 with additional rubbish, in preparation for its undocking planned for March 3. Meanwhile, on Lebruary 21, Progress M-55 per­formed a second re-boost manoeuvre. Progress M-54 was finally undocked from

PROGRESS М-55

Figure 66. Expedition-12: William McArthur works within the rear of an experiment rack inside Destiny.

Zvezda’s wake at 06:06, March 3, 2006. Three hours later controllers in Korolev commanded it to re-enter the atmosphere, where it burned up over the Pacific Ocean. With the Progress gone, McArthur returned to his work on the MCA.

Meanwhile, on March 2, the programme managers from all of the ISS nations agreed a revised launch schedule to bring the station to “Core Complete’’, plus the International Partner modules before the Shuttle was grounded in 2010. The new schedule required 16 Shuttle flights, but almost as many Shuttle flights were wiped off the launch manifest. A number of Utility flights were removed, as were Russian plans to launch a smaller than originally planned MEM. The Americans would now supply additional electrical power to the Russian sector from the SAWs on the ITS, through 2015. The European and Japanese experiment modules were advanced, now launch­ing in late 2007 and early 2008. Russian, European, and Japanese robotic cargo vehicles would now deliver many of the items originally scheduled to be launched on the cancelled Shuttle flights. NASA administrator Michael Griffin told reporters at KSC:

“The main thing you are seeing here today is the decision to put together an

assembly sequence that allows us to have very high confidence we will finish the

space station by the time the Shuttle must be retired… It’s the same station.

The end product is very much as we envisioned it.’’

McArthur completed proficiency training on the SSRMS on March 8. Over the next two days Controllers in Houston moved the SSRMS to view the IUA that had malfunctioned in December, cutting the back-up cable to the MT. They also viewed a valve on Destiny, looking for contamination. The valve was used to vent carbon dioxide overboard and appeared to be clean. This was the first time the SSRMS had been operated from the ground in an operational, rather than an experimental capacity.

The decision to retain Progress M-54 meant that Progress M-55 had had to dock to Pirs. The crew now had to move Soyuz TMA-7 back to Zvezda’s wake, thus allowing the Expedition-13 crew to dock Soyuz TMA-8 at Zarya’s nadir, where it would remain for the duration of their occupation. In the final hours of March 19, the Expedition-12 crew configured ISS for un-crewed flight and sealed themselves in Soyuz TMA-7. At 02: 49, March 20, Tokarev undocked the Soyuz from Zarya’s nadir and manoeuvred it to dock with Zvezda’s wake, at 03: 11. Korolev congratu­lated them for being the first crew to dock at all three Soyuz docking ports on ISS. The transfer was followed by a day of light duties, before the crew began reconfiguring the station for full occupation.

In March, a problem arose when blisters were found on EVA handrails during production on the ground. The blisters led to a questioning of the strength of the handrails on ISS and an instruction to only attach EVA tethers to the base of the station’s handrails, rather than the rail itself. Meanwhile, the crew spent time locating lithium hydroxide canisters to fit the Orlan EVA suits on ISS. New canisters would be launched on Progress M-56. They spent the remainder of their time on ISS preparing for the end of the Expedition-12 occupation, and their return to Earth. They also performed their last experiments. On March 29, they observed and photographed the total solar eclipse.

SOYUZ TMA-8 DELIVERS THE EXPEDITION-13 CREW

SOYUZ TMA-8

COMMANDER

Pavel Vinogradov

FLIGHT ENGINEER

Jeff Williams

ENGINEER

Marcos Pontes (Brazil)

The Expedition-13 crew was launched in Soyuz TMA-8, at 21: 30, March 29, 2006. Korolev lost all telemetry links with the spacecraft for 10-15 minutes, shortly after it achieved orbit. The problem was caused by a communication outage with a Russian Molniya satellite. Onboard Soyuz TMA-8 all systems were performing as planned. The spacecraft docked to Zarya’s nadir at 23: 19, April 1. Following systems checks the hatches between the two vehicles were opened at 00: 59 the following day. Following the usual safety briefings Pontes transferred his couch liner from Soyuz TMA-8 to Soyuz TMA-7. He had trained for his flight as a temporary NASA astronaut, in return for an experiment rack to be mounted on the exterior of ISS. Budgetary difficulties prevented the Brazilians from producing the rack, but the flight of the Brazilian astronaut went ahead. In the next few days the two Expedition crews worked together to complete their hand-over while Pontes performed his own “Centenario” experiment programme. In all, Pontes completed 31 sessions with the 8 experiments, all in the Russian sector of the station.

Vinogradov was typically sincere in describing his duties as Commander of Expedition-13:

“[A]s the crew Commander, first and foremost I’m responsible for the safety of the crew, and my main task, the most important task is that we… return safe and sound back to Earth and have completed the flight program… The second thing is the state of the station. We understand that two or three of us are entrusted with the vehicle that’s valued at maybe hundreds of millions in dollars. It’s not even the question of its specific monetary value but tens of thousands of people worked on it and provided their labour and knowledge for its creation and we’re entrusted to control this complex setup. So that’s a responsibility that is quite significant for us, that we would not break anything or make it perform worse. So, that is quite a significant responsibility and that’s the second function of the crew Commander. The third important issue is our relationship as a crew, as a team. A small crew of two people creates a situation where even the smallest detail gains significant importance. Of course, spaceflight is different depending on its duration—during a short flight you can sort of do it as one feat, but a long spaceflight, you have to make sure that you pace yourself, that you distribute your strength evenly throughout the flight, and build the proper relationship with your crewmates. Even the smallest thing becomes quite important.”

He added:

“We will certainly be expecting the Shuttle and I’m hoping that it’s not going to be the only Shuttle that will visit us. Our task is to prepare the station to the maximum for the arrival of the Shuttle, and to be as effective as possible in terms of using the Shuttle flight… Those are our main tasks.’’

On April 3, McAthur and Williams “camped out’’ in the Quest airlock during their sleep period. Quest was isolated from ISS at 19: 45, and the pressure was lowered as planned. The two men began their sleep period, but 4 hours later they were woken by an error tone issued by software monitoring the atmospheric composition on ISS. Controllers in Houston decided to end the experiment at 01: 43, at which time the pressure was raised and the internal hatches opened.

The following day McArthur spoke to journalists during his preparations for return to Earth. He told them:

“By golly, it’s time to go home and spend some time with the family … It’s an absolute thrill and joy to live and work in space. But we miss the richness, the texture, the three-dimensional nature of living on our home planet. The coffee [on

PROGRESS М-55

Figure 67. Expedition-13: Pavel Vinogradov works on the lighting inside the Pirs airlock.

ISS] tastes good, but it’s all in bags, and I’m really looking forward to smelling my cup of coffee. The next thing is food that crunches, like a good chef salad, and the sensation you get when you bite down of crunching into nice fresh lettuce or a raw carrot.’’

Earlier in the week Tokarev had commented, “We are ready to go home… We accomplished all of our tasks. We are happy, and we feel good.’’

Williams completed a training session with the SSRMS on April 5. He also received a briefing from McAthur on payload operations in Destiny. Meanwhile, Tokarev stowed equipment in Soyuz TMA-7 and reviewed undocking and re-entry procedures.

After a week of joint operations, Tokarev, McArthur, and Pontes sealed them­selves in Soyuz TMA-7 for their return to Earth. Undocking occurred at 17: 28, April 8. TMA-7 landed in Kazakhstan at 20:48, after 189 days 18 hours 51 minutes in space. Pontes had been in flight for 9 days 21 hours 17 minutes. Following their recovery McArthur described re-entry for reporters, saying:

“It was wild ride, we loved it.’’

Talking about the end of his flight he added:

“I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and maybe even closure… I have a little muscle and joint soreness, but I feel strong.’’

On his return to Houston, he told the crowd:

“There are a lot of people here I’ve known for a very, very long time. That is the thing I missed, family and close friends, and I look forward to spending time with all of them.’’

MORE COMPUTER TESTS

Yurchikhin described the activities following the undocking of a visiting Shuttle in the following terms:

“What happens after the Shuttle goes back? First of all, we are always sorry to see them go because we are used to working together by that time. But after the Shuttle goes back to Earth… we’re going to have a lot of cargo items left [on ISS]

… First of all, when they’re unloaded into the station, we place them in temporary stowage locations. After that we’re going to open all the containers, pull out all the equipment, and then place the equipment in the allocated stowage areas… Then the next stage will be to activate this equipment…’’

With Atlantis gone, Yurchikhin, Kotov, and Anderson turned their attention back to the computers in the Russian sector of ISS. Two computers in each set of three were working through a jumper cable, but one computer in each set was working in a back-up capacity. On June 21, Yurchikhin powered up the two back-up computers which were also using a jumper cable to bypass a secondary power switch. As the station passed over a Russian ground station, he turned off the computers, removed the jumper cable, and attempted to re-boot the computers.

They failed to re-boot and were left powered off, with the jumper cable removed while troubleshooting continued at Korolev. During the day the Elektron oxygen generator began to produce oxygen for the first time since the computer crash.

Meanwhile, Anderson began his experiment programme, and completed his first Saturday Morning Science presentation for younger television viewers. He explained how Newton’s laws of motion applied to sports activities. As the new week began he collected blood and urine samples for a nutrition experiment that also required him to record all of the food and drink that he consumed. Anderson and Kotov also participated in a medical emergency exercise while Yurchikhin replaced an antenna in the Russian Regul communication system.

During the week they all performed regular housekeeping, including an inspec­tion of the windows in the Russian modules. They also worked on a number of Russian experiments. Kotov spent further time working with Korolev in an attempt to finally overcome the problem with the Russian computers in Zvezda. Anderson wore an “acoustic dosimeter’’ to record noise levels as he moved around the station, and his attempts to locate a leak in the MSG were unsuccessful. On June 28, Yurchikhin and Kotov worked with the Russian Profilaktika experiment, studying the long-term effects of microgravity, and Yurchikhin also worked with the Matryoshka radiation detection experiment, while Kotov inventoried medical supplies on the station. Propellant and oxygen was transferred to the station from Progress M-59 on July 11. Two days later Elektron was deliberately shut down. Meanwhile, the American Oxygen Generation System in Destiny was tested over the period July 11-14. The installation of new software in the Russian computers led to a successful re-boot of all Zvezda’s major computers on July 16. The computers were used to command the firing of Progress M-60’s thrusters, to raise the station’s orbit on July 21.

As July had begun, Yurchikhin and Anderson prepared the EMUs and Quest for their first Stage EVA together, scheduled for July 23. Yurchikhin and Kotov also continued to work with Korolev in an attempt to finally overcome Zvezda’s computer problems. Their painstaking inspections of the electrical system supplying the computers showed that one relay on the secondary power system was showing a lower voltage than expected. Inspection of the power-monitoring box that had been bypassed revealed moisture, in the form of condensation, inside. One connector was also found to have some corrosion on it and a second was discoloured.

When the reports on the Zvezda computer failure were finally released they pinpointed this corrosion as the cause of the entire problem. In the event of a major electrical power spike the system had been designed to shut down to prevent that spike crippling the system. Water vapour from the dehumidifier above the power­monitoring box had led to a build-up of condensation in the box. The moisture in the power-monitoring box and the corrosion in the connector pins had caused a power line to fail and short-circuit. That short-circuit had tripped the safety system and shut down the entire computer control system in the Russian sector. When the box was replaced by a new unit, delivered from ESA, condensation and microbial growth was discovered on the module’s wall behind the original box. When the new unit was installed, an old book was placed between the box and the spacecraft wall, to act as an insulation layer. With the new hardware in place the jumper cables were removed and the Russian C&C computer system was back in place.

Software upgrades were also completed on the computers in the American sector of the station, thus allowing them to support the addition of Node-2, Harmony, Columbus, and Kibo, as the station was expanded in the coming year.

Prior to the Stage EVA, the station was yawed through 180° so that PMA-2, on what had been Destiny’s ram now became the station’s wake. This was to provide a wider space for the two large items that would be jettisoned towards the station’s wake during the EVA. The EVA itself began at 07: 25, July 23, when Yurchikhin and Anderson left Quest and prepared their tools. Removing the stanchion for a television camera from the storage pallet on the station’s exterior, they moved to the P-1 ITS and installed the stanchion on the nadir face. They then split up for their next tasks. Anderson reconfigured the power supply for an S-band antenna assembly before placing the foot restraint in the open end of the SSRMS and climbing on to it. Meanwhile, Yurchikhin replaced a Remote Power Controller Module (RPCM) to ensure a redundant supply of electrical power to the Mobile Transporter on the wake face of the ITS.

Working together once more, they removed a Flight Releasable Attachment Module and other equipment, which Anderson jettisoned from the end of the extended SSRMS, which was controlled by Kotov from within Destiny. Kotov was the first Russian cosmonaut to be qualified to operate the SSRMS. Yurchikhin then made his way to the Z-1 Truss, where he disconnected and stowed cabling connected to the EAS, mounted on the P-6 ITS. The EAS had been installed by the STS-105 crew in 2001 and had contained an emergency supply of ammonia for use in case of a leak in the station’s cooling system. With the station’s permanent cooling system now active, the EAS was no longer required and had to be removed before the P-6 ITS was relocated. No leak had ever developed and the emergency ammonia supply had not been used. With Anderson working from the end of the SSRMS and Yurchikhin now on the P-6 ITS, they worked together to sever the final connections and remove the EAS from the P-6 structure. Anderson then held the EAS while Kotov manoeuvred him until he was below the ITS, where he pushed the EAS away from his body towards the station’s wake. NASA expected the tank to orbit Earth for up to 11 months before burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. Their final scheduled task was to clean Unity’s nadir CBM in preparation for the temporary relocation of PMA-3 during the flight of STS-120, then scheduled for October 2007. Finding themselves ahead of their scheduled timeline the two men were also able to complete three “get-ahead” tasks. They relocated an auxiliary equipment bag from the P-6 ITS to the Z-1 Truss, removed a malfunctioning GPS antenna from the S-0 ITS, and released bolts on two fluid trays, also mounted on the S-0 ITS. In the future, the trays would be re-located to the exterior of Harmony, following its delivery on STS-120. Yurchikhin and Anderson returned to the airlock, ending the EVA at 15: 06, after 7 hours 41 minutes. Following the EVA, ISS was rotated through 180°, to return PMA-2 to the station’s ram. The thrusters on Progress M-60 were used to boost the station’s orbit and prepare for the arrival of Progress M-61 and STS-118 later that evening.

Following pressure checks, Progress M-59 undocked from Pirs at 11:07, August 1. The spacecraft did not perform a separation burn, and Yurchikhin had to use the TORU manual control system to fire the de-orbit burn at 14:42. The Progress was destroyed as it re-entered the atmosphere.

EXPEDITION-13

With the departure of Soyuz TMA-7, the Expedition-13 crew began their 6-month occupation of ISS. If all went well the third member of this crew would be launched on STS-121, on April 1, 2006. German astronaut Thomas Reiter would become the first Expedition crew member that was neither American nor Russian. His arrival on ISS would raise the Expedition crew to three for the first time since May 2003, when the crew was reduced to conserve supplies in the wake of the loss of STS-107, Columbia. Reiter, an ESA astronaut who had spent a tour on Mir, was a commercial passenger flying under contract to the Russians.

EXPEDITION-13

Figure 68. Expedition-13: Brazilian spaceflight participant Marcos Pontes works in Destiny. He rode to the station in Soyuz TMA-8 with the Expedition-13 crew and returned to Earth with the Expedition-12 crew.

Vinogradov and Williams had a light workload during their first weekend alone on the station before picking up the pace on the following Monday. On April 11, they had spent 3.5 hours performing maintenance on the station’s toilet. The following day, April 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the crew from the Kremlin in Moscow, to mark the 45th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, made by Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Vinogradov jokingly invited his President to visit the station. The same date was the 25th anniversary of the first Shuttle flight in 1981. The crew continued the task of loading rubbish in to Progress M-55, and completed the routine emergency evacuation drill early in their occupation.

Their third week on the station was filled with Williams performing American experiments and both men performing the first of three sessions on the Renal Stone Experiment. They also spent time preparing for the arrival of Progress M-56, includ­ing Vinogradov practising with the TORU system. On July 18, Korolev transferred propellant from Progress M-55 to Zvezda’s tanks. The following day a planned re­boost of the station’s orbit was cancelled when telemetry showed that one of the sunshades on Zvezda’s thrusters had not opened to its full extent. The malfunction was detected by the station’s software which then inhibited the ignition of the thrusters. The firing had been designed to test-fire two thrusters that had not been used since Zvezda docked to ISS, in July 2000. Engineers at Korolev began reviewing the problem and discovered that the opening of the sunshade had been impeded by an ATV antenna installed in September 2004.

PROGRESS M-61

Progress M-61 was launched from Baikonur at 13:33, August 2, 2007. After a standard rendezvous it docked automatically to Pirs’ nadir at 14: 40, August 5. The new Progress delivered a 2,569 kg cargo of propellants, water, oxygen, dry cargo, and personal items for the crew.

STS-118 DELIVERS “STUBBY”

STS-118

COMMANDER

Scott Kelly

PILOT

Charles Hobaugh

MISSION SPECIALISTS

Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Barbara Morgan, Benjamin Drew Dafydd Williams (Canada)

STS-118 was Endeavour’s first flight in 4.5 years, during which the orbiter had undergone extensive modifications. With Endeavour on the launchpad in mid-July, NASA engineers displayed the usual “Go Endeavour’’ banner on the gate across the bottom of the crawlerway ramp, only the banner in question read “Go Endeavor,’’ the American spelling, while the Shuttle’s name is spelt the British way, having been named after the Royal Navy ship sailed by the British 18th-century explorer Captain James Cook. When the mistake was pointed out the banner was quickly removed and replaced by one with the correct spelling. It was a small thing with no effect on the launch preparations.

In the run-up to launch, much of the media coverage centred on Barbara Morgan, who had first been selected to fly the Shuttle into space in the early 1980s, when she was one of two high school teachers selected for President Ronald Reagan’s “Teacher in Space’’ programme. Ultimately, Morgan was selected as the back-up and she watched the launch of STS-51L from the roof of the VAB, at KSC, on January 28, 1986. From there she saw the Shuttle explode, just 75 seconds into its flight, killing Commander Richard Scobee, Pilot Mike Smith, Mission Specialists Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis, and high school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Morgan had returned to teaching before applying to become a full-time professional astronaut. She was subsequently selected as part of the 1998 astronaut group. When President George W. Bush announced his Educator Astronaut Project, a plan to select one professional educator in each subsequent annual astronaut group, Morgan was named as the first Educator Astro­naut in 2002 and began training as a Mission Specialist on STS-118. The original Teacher in Space and the Educator Astronaut Project had the same objective, to encourage America’s schoolchildren and college population to study mathematics, science, and engineering and to be generally inspired by the act of spaceflight itself. In her pre-launch interview Morgan remarked:

“I’m really excited about going up and doing our jobs and doing them well. I’m excited about experiencing the whole spaceflight, seeing Earth from space for the very first time and experiencing weightlessness and what that’s all about. I’m excited about seeing what it’s like living and working onboard the International Space Station.’’

To some journalists it seemed appropriate that Christa McAuliffe’s back-up should make the first Educator Astronaut flight on Endeavour, the orbiter that had been constructed to replace Challenger. On the subject of STS-51L, Morgan said, “The legacy of Christa and the Challenger crew is open-ended. I see this as a continuation. The great thing about it is that people will be thinking about Challenger and thinking about all the hard work lots of folks over many years have done to continue their mission.’’

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was more succinct, stating, “Every time we fly I know that we can lose a crew. That occupies a large portion of my thoughts. Unless we’re going to get out of the manned spaceflight business, that thought is going to be with me every time we fly.’’

Morgan’s Educator Astronaut tasks were secondary to her other mission tasks; she would operate Endeavour’s RMS to provide images of the installation of the S-5 ITS, which would be manoeuvred into place by the SSRMS, mounted on the MT. The S-5 was a spacer, used to provide sufficient room to allow the S-6 SAWs to function correctly when they were installed. A similar unit, the P-5 ITS, was already in place. The S-5 and P-5 spacers, which were each the size of a compact car, also included all of the plumbing and electronics needed to ensure that the S-6 and P-6 ITS elements could function as part of the overall ISS power and cooling system. It would require three EVAs to complete all of the necessary connections to make the S-5 ITS an integral part of the ITS. Anderson explained:

“We add this little spacer, S-5, which we call ‘Stubby’—P-5 was ‘Puny,’ so you had ‘Puny’ on the left and ‘Stubby’ on the right—and you add that piece so that when STS-120 comes to bring me home… we’re going to take the P-6 module that’s been sitting up on top of the station since its arrival, they’re going to take that off, move it outboard on the P[ort] side and stick it on. So now we’ll have three sets of solar arrays…’’

Lead Shuttle Flight Director Matt Abbott described the flight in the following terms, ‘‘This mission has lots of angles. There’s a little bit of assembly, there’s some

re-supply, there’s some repairs, and there’s some high-visibility education and public affairs events. It’s a little bit of everything.”

As well as the S-5 ITS, STS-118 would also carry the last SpaceHab logistics module to ISS. SpaceHab was carried rather than an MPLM because the S-5 ITS left insufficient room in the orbiter’s payload bay for the latter. The crew would also replace the CMG, in the Z-1 Truss, that had failed in October 2006, using procedures similar to those employed by the STS-114 crew when they replaced a malfunctioning CMG in 2005. In its basic form, STS-118 was a standard 11-day flight to ISS. However, Endeavour would be the first orbiter to carry the Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS). As the name suggested, the SSPTS allowed electrical power generated by the station’s ITS SAWs to be transferred to a docked Shuttle orbiter, powering its systems. If the SSPTS worked correctly, flight managers would have the potential to extend the stay on ISS by up to 3 days, and even to add a fourth EVA to the flight. Future Shuttle flights might be extended by up to 6 days by using the SSPTS.

During the countdown, a faulty valve caused a pressure leak in Endeavour’s crew compartment. It was replaced by a similar valve, removed from Atlantis. The leaking valve, together with thunder storms that caused delays in the pre-launch work on the launchpad, led to the August 7, 2007 launch being delayed by 24 hours on August 3. The delay gave NASA the opportunity to launch the Phoenix probe, which only had a 3-week launch window if it was going to reach its proposed landing site on Mars.

STS-118 finally lifted off at 18: 36, August 8,2007. Representatives of some of the STS-51L crew members’ families were at KSC to see the launch. Ironically, given the media’s concentration on Morgan, members of the McAuliffe family were not among them. As Endeavour left the launchpad, ISS was over the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Nova Scotia. Onboard cameras showed that nine pieces of foam separated from the ET and at least three appeared to strike Endeavour. The first was seen at T + 24 seconds, and looked as though it struck the body flap at the orbiter’s rear. The second piece was seen at T + 58 seconds, and resulted in a spray and decolourisation on the right wing. The third and subsequent pieces departed from the ET after STS-118 was above the sensible atmosphere and were therefore not thought to have had sufficient energy to damage the orbiter. A few minutes later, Endeavour was in orbit. In Houston, astronaut Rob Narvis announced, “… Class is in session.’’ Approximately 90 minutes after launch, a fragment of a Delta launch vehicle launched in 1975 passed within 2.4 km of Endeavour. Flight Day 1 ended at 00: 36, as the crew began their first sleep period in orbit.

Day 2 began at 08 : 37. During the first full day in space, Hobaugh, Caldwell, Mastracchio, and Morgan used the RMS to lift the OBSS from the opposite side of the payload bay at 11: 20, and spent the next 6 hours using its cameras and laser sensors to view the orbiter’s TPS. Elsewhere, the crew checked their rendezvous equipment, installed the docking system centreline camera, and extended Endeavour’s docking ring. During a television broadcast, Morgan told the audience, “Hey, its great being up here. We’ve been working really hard, but it’s a really good fun kind of work.’’ The day ended at 23: 36.

PROGRESS M-61

Figure 95. STS-118 crew (L to R): Richard A. Mastracchio, Barbara R. Morgan, Charles O. Hobaugh, Scott J. Kelly, Tracy E. Caldwell, Dafydd R. Williams, Alvin Drew, Jr.

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Figure 96. STS-118 approaches ISS, the payload bay holds External Stowage Platform 3, the S – 5 Integrated Truss Structure and a SpaceHab module full of supplies for the station.

August 10 began at 07: 36. After eating their breakfast the crew commenced preparations for rendezvous and docking with ISS. Final rendezvous manoeuvres began at 11: 14, when Kelly performed the Terminal Initiation burn. He told the Expedition-15 crew, “We’re about 30,000 feet away. You’re looking very good.” Anderson replied, “All right, man, keep up the good work. We’re waiting for you.’’

Closing to within 200 m of the station, Kelly manoeuvred Endeavour through its r-bar pitch manoeuvre, allowing Yurchikhin and Kotov to expose a series of high – definition digital images of the orbiter’s underside, which were down-linked to Houston. When experts on the ground examined the photographs they identified a 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm gouge in the underside of Endeavour’s starboard wing, close to the main landing gear door. When he was told of the damage, Kelly replied, “Thanks for the update.’’ It was decided to carry out an OBSS inspection of the area with the orbiter docked to ISS.

Docking to PMA-2 on Destiny’s ram occurred at 14: 02. The hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 16: 04, and Endeavour’s crew entered Destiny, where they were greeted by Yurchikhin, Kotov, and Anderson. After a short ceremony, the new visitors received the usual safety brief from their hosts. At 16: 17 the crew activated the SSPTS and electrical power produced by the ISS’ SAWs flowed into a docked Shuttle for the first time. One of the first activities following docking was Mastracchio using the RMS to lift the S-5 ITS out of the payload bay and hand it over to the SSRMS, operated by Hobaugh and Anderson. The S-5 ITS was then left on the end of the SSRMS overnight to acclimatise to the space environment. Work began at 18: 00 to unload the first of the supplies from Endeavour’s SpaceHab module. Meanwhile, Mastracchio and Williams spent the night camped out in Quest with the air pressure reduced, in preparation for their first EVA the following day.

In Houston, engineers had inspected the video from the various cameras mounted on the Shuttle during lift-off. They showed that the gouge on the underside of the right wing had been caused by a grapefruit-sized piece of foam that had shed from the ET and struck a bracket on the fuel line at the rear of the tank as it fell away. The impact had changed its course, leading to the impact with the underside of the right wing. Although the planned OBSS inspection would go ahead, NASA now felt sure that Endeavour could re-enter Earth’s atmosphere without the need for an EVA to repair the TPS. Mission Manager John Shannon stated, “It’s a little bit of a concern to us because this seems to be something that has happened frequently.’’

During the night, Endeavour’s crew was woken up by an audible alarm, which had activated because the use of the SSPTS had allowed one of the Shuttle’s fuel cells to cool down more than on previous flights. The alarm’s tolerance level was adjusted to take the lower temperature into account.

Endeavour’s crew was officially woken up at 07: 38; they then ate their breakfast. After supplying electrical power to Endeavour throughout the night, the SSPTS was powered off prior to the EVA, which began at 12: 28, August 11, after Hobaugh had used the SSRMS to position the S-5 ITS at the exposed end of the S-4 ITS. Mastracchio and Williams left Quest and made their way to the area, where they gave verbal instructions to assist in the final positioning of the new ITS element. The tolerances between the S-5 ITS and other parts of the station were at times only a few centimetres, and with no cameras in the area, verbal instructions were vital. They then set about bolting the new ITS in place and completing the electrical and plumbing connections between the S4 and S-5 ITS. The S-5 ITS was considered to be officially “in place” at 14:26.

At 15: 52, while the EVA was underway, the primary American Command & Control computer, in Destiny, shut down without warning. The back-up computer immediately assumed the primary role and the third, stand-by computer assumed the back-up role, exactly as they had been programmed to do. The EVA was not affected and ISS was never in danger. Controllers in Houston began troubleshooting the problem.

After installing the S-5 ITS, Mastracchio and Williams made their way to the P-6 ITS, where they retracted the forward radiator. This was the final task to prepare the P-6 ITS for its removal from the Z-1 Truss and relocation to the exposed end of the P-5 ITS. That task would be completed by the crew of STS-120, after they had temporarily installed Harmony on Unity. The STS-118 EVA ended at 18: 45, after 6 hours 17 minutes. The SSPTS was powered on after the EVA was complete and began supplying power to Endeavour once more.

August 12 began on Endeavour at 07 : 07 and was the day that the Shuttle crew inspected the damage caused to their vehicle by foam and ice shedding from the ET during lift-off. Hobaugh and Anderson used the SSRMS to lift the OBSS from its storage position, and handed it off to Endeavour’s own RMS at 09: 45. Kelly, Caldwell, and Morgan then spent 3 hours operating the RMS to view five damaged areas of TPS on the underside of Endeavour using the cameras and laser instruments on the OBSS to form a three-dimensional image of the damaged areas. Four of the five areas inspected offered no threat to re-entry. The fifth and by far the largest area was the 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm gouge seen earlier in the flight. Engineers in Houston would reconstruct the large gouge and test it under simulated re-entry heating temperatures. In the event that the gouge was found to threaten Endeavour during re-entry, the crew had three options for repair, all of which would involve an EVA:

• Apply a thermal paint to the exposed surface of the gouge.

• Install a cover plate of TPS material.

• Fill the gouge with a caulking material.

Throughout the day, Williams, Hobaugh, Mastricchio, and Drew spent their time transferring equipment and logistics from SpaceHab to ISS. In Houston, flight managers reviewed the operation of the SSPTS and extended the flight of STS-118, pushing Endeavour’s undocking from the station back to August 20, with landing 2 days later. The extra time would be used for a fourth EVA, by Williams and Anderson, to install a berth on the exterior of ISS to hold the OBSS. Just after 21: 00, Mastracchio and Williams began their second overnight camp-out in Quest, in preparation for their second EVA.

That EVA began at 11 : 32, August 13, when the two astronauts left Quest and made their way to the Z-1 Truss, using the SSRMS operated by Hobaugh and Anderson. Once in location they removed the CMG that had failed in October 2006. The failed CMG was carried to a temporary stowage location, while they installed a new CMG, which had been carried into orbit in Endeavour’s payload bay, mounted on External Stowage Platform 3. With the EVA progressing well, Caldwell told Mastracchio and Williams, “You guys rock.’’ The final task was to move the failed CMG from its temporary location to External Stowage Platform 2 on the exterior of ISS, where they secured it to await recovery and return to Earth on a later Shuttle flight. The EVA ended at 18: 00, after 6 hours 28 minutes.

Throughout the EVA, Drew continued to transfer equipment from SpaceHab to ISS, a task that other crew members assisted with once the EVA was complete. In Zvezda, Yurchikhin and Kotov continued searching Zvezda for the cause of the computer failure that had occurred during the visit of STS-117. On removing some wall panels in the Russian module they discovered that condensation had collected behind them.

In Houston, mission managers announced that the OBSS survey had shown that the largest gouge on Endeavour’s underside passed right through the TPS tiles and had exposed the felt that was laid between the TPS tiles and the orbiter’s aluminium skin. Discussions were underway as to whether or not the crew should make a repair before leaving ISS, but Mission Manager John Shannon told a press conference, “This is not a catastrophic loss-of-orbiter case at all. This is a case where you want to do the prudent thing for the vehicle.’’ He added, “we have really prepared for exactly this case, since Columbia [STS-107]. We have spent a lot of money and a lot of people’s efforts to be ready to handle exactly this case.’’

Shannon explained that it might be better to add a complicated TPS repair EVA to the flight, rather than risk more serious damage being caused during re-entry that would require long repairs and throw the already tight launch schedule into further disarray. He also assured journalists that mission managers had ruled out the second repair option, screwing a pre-prepared plate of TPS material over the damage, as the damage did not warrant such drastic measures. The choice now was between the thermal protection paint and the caulking material. On the subject of what this foam – shedding event meant to the launch schedule, Shannon would not be drawn, saying only, “We have a lot of discussion to have before we fly the next [External] Tank.’’

Endeavour’s crew began their sleep period at 22: 06.

Two events were marked during the August 14 working day. Endeavour’s crew were woken up at 06: 07, by a recording of Caldwell’s nieces and nephews singing, “Happy Birthday, dear Tracy,’’ to mark the astronaut’s birthday. Also, at 11: 15, Zarya, the first American-financed ISS module to be launched, completed its 50,000th orbit.

Caldwell and Morgan used Endeavour’s RMS to lift External Stowage Platform 3 out of the Shuttle’s payload bay, and hand it over to the SSRMS. Hobaugh and Anderson then moved it into position. The 4 m x 2 m platform, which held a second, spare CMG, a nitrogen tank assembly, and a battery charger/discharger unit, was attached to the P-3 ITS at 12: 18. The previous two ESPs had been installed on Destiny and Quest by astronauts making EVAs.

During the day, Kelly, Caldwell, and Morgan were interviewed by news organisations, and Kelly answered a question on the damage sustained by Endeavour during launch, saying, “My understanding is that the tile damage is not an issue for the safety of the crew. We may still choose to repair, but I’m not concerned with our safety.”

Morgan then joined Anderson, Williams, and Drew in answering questions from children at the Discovery Centre in Boise, Idaho. One child asked Morgan how being an astronaut compared with being a teacher. She replied:

“Astronauts and teachers actually do the same thing, we explore, we discover and we share. And the great thing about being a teacher is you get to do it with students, and the great thing about being an astronaut is you get to do it in space and those are absolutely wonderful jobs.’’

The video conference continued with the students asking questions on a wide range of subjects and receiving answers from the astronauts on Endeavour. Asked about what it felt like to fly into space, Williams replied:

“As soon as the engines stop, you float forward in your seat, your arms rise up, and it’s an incredible sense of freedom. The first thing we like to do is go up to the window and look at the Earth. It’s an amazing sight.’’

On the ground, mission managers were still awaiting heating tests before deciding whether or not to repair the gouge in Endeavour’s underside. They continually made it clear during the day’s press conferences that any repairs undertaken would be to prevent prolonged repairs after flight and were not a matter of preventing the loss of Endeavour during re-entry. Mastracchio and Anderson spent the day preparing for their third EVA, the following day. They spent the night “camped out’’ in Quest. The crew’s day ended at 22: 06.

August 15’s work day began at 06: 07. Mastracchio and Anderson left Quest at 10: 38 to begin EVA-3. The two men worked together to relocate an S-band Antenna Sub-Assembly from the P-6 ITS to the P-1 ITS. They also installed a new transponder on the P-1 ITS, before removing the transponder on the P-1 ITS. Both men watched while Hobaugh and Kotov used the SSRMS to relocate the two CETA carts from the track on the port side of the MBS to its starboard side. In so doing, they cleared the track to the port side for the MBS to complete the transfer of the P-6 ITS, from the Z-1 Truss to the outer edge of the P-5 ITS, during the flight of STS-120. Throughout the movement of the CETA carts, Morgan used the cameras on Endeavour’s RMS to provide live images of what was happening.

At 14: 54, Mastracchio carried out one of the new periodic checks of his EMU gloves and discovered a cut in the thumb of his left glove that had passed through the outer two layers of the glove’s five layers of construction. The cut did not puncture the gas bladder, there was no leak, and Mastracchio was in no danger. Even so, he was instructed to return to Quest and return his Extravehicular Mobility Unit to the electrical power supply inside the airlock. In Houston, NASA spokesman Kyle Herring told a press conference, “The suit is perfectly fine. This is just a precaution.’’ Anderson completed the final task before returning to Quest at 16: 05, after 5 hours

PROGRESS M-61

Figure 97. STS-188: Canadian astronaut Dave Williams deploys a new Control Moment Gyroscope for installation in the Z-1 Truss. The old, failed CMG was temporarily stored on the exterior of the station. Williams is standing in a foot restraint held by the SSRMS.

PROGRESS M-61

Figure 98. STS-118: Astronaut Richard Mastracchio at work on the Integrated Truss Structure during the flight’s third EVA.

28 minutes. Plans to recover the MISSE-3 and MISSE-4 experiments were delayed until a later EVA.

Inside ISS, the remainder of the two crews spent the rest of the day on the transfer of equipment from SpaceHab to the station, which was half-complete. In Houston, mission managers delayed the fourth EVA from August 17 to August 18, but had not yet decided if it would be devoted to repairing Endeavour’s underside or to “get-ahead” tasks. Either way, on August 17 the crew would perform preparations for a repair, until managers told them that it was not required. If the repair went ahead, Mastracchio and Williams would ride on the end of the OBSS, which would be held in the end-effector of Endeavour’s RMS. They would be moved to the underside of the orbiter, where they would apply heat-resistant black paint to the gouge in the tiles then they would apply the caulking material to the gouge.

At 08: 06, August 16, Morgan and Drew spent time talking to students at the Challenger Centre for Space Science Education, Alexandria, Virginia. The centre had been set up by the families of the STS-51L crew. June Scobee-Rogers, the wife of STS-51L Commander Richard Scobee at the time of the STS-51L flight, was there to oversee the session. She began the session by greeting Morgan, “Barbara, we have been standing by, waiting for your signals from space for twenty-one years…’’ The questions that followed were many and varied. One student asked Morgan if she had had any special teachers in her own life. She replied that the seven people on STS-51L were mentors, “… that have meant more than anything to me. They were my teachers and I believe they are teaching us today, still.’’ As the broadcast ended, Morgan held an STS-51L mission patch up to the camera. The question-and-answer session was followed by interviews with a number of television and radio stations. Later in the day, Morgan also answered questions from the education district where she had been a high school teacher, during an amateur radio session.

The two crews spent most of the day transferring equipment between the two spacecraft, while Mastracchio, Williams, and Drew spent their time preparing for the fourth EVA and the repairs that they might have to make to Endeavour’s TPS. Just before the crew signed off for the day, Houston told them that the Mission Management Team (MMT) had decided that they would not carry out a repair to Endeavour’s underside. On receiving the news, Kelly replied, “Pass along our thanks for all the hard work the MMT and everyone down there is doing to support our flight.’’

In Houston, John Shannon told a press conference that the decision, “… was not unanimous, but pretty overwhelming.’’

The fourth EVA would now be dedicated to installing two antennae and a berth to hold the OBSS on the exterior of ISS between Shuttle flights. They would also recover the two MISSE trays that they had not recovered during the previous EVA. The day ended with both crews being given some off-duty time.

August 17 was another quiet day, with Mastracchio, Williams, and Drew preparing for the EVA now planned for the following day. The majority of the day was spent transferring equipment between the two spacecraft and talking with reporters in Houston and the Canadian Space Agency Headquarters in Montreal. Mission managers also had a new problem to consider, Hurricane Dean was approaching Houston, where the Shuttle control room was located. Plans were made to shorten the fourth EVA and even to undock a day early if the hurricane threatened the control centre. Mastracchio and Williams spent the night “camped out” in Quest when the crew began their sleep period at 23: 06.

The new day, August 18, began with a wake-up call at 05: 03. The crew were informed that due to the threat offered to Houston by the approaching hurricane the planned 6.5-hour EVA had been shortened by 2 hours. The shorter EVA would allow for the hatches between Destiny and Endeavour to be closed at the end of the day, preserving the option to undock one day earlier than planned. If required, mission control would move to a back-up facility at KSC, in Florida.

The final EVA began at 09: 17. Williams and Anderson installed the External Wireless Instrumentation System antenna, part of a system to measure stresses in the ISS structure. Next, they installed a stand for the OBSS, before recovering the two MISSE packages deferred from their previous EVA. Plans to secure micro-meteoroid shielding on Zvezda and Zarya and moving an external toolbox had been removed from the plan to facilitate the shorter EVA. During the EVA, ISS passed directly over Hurricane Dean, as it travelled across the Caribbean. Williams remarked, “Wow! Man, can’t miss that.” Anderson added, “Holy smoke, that’s impressive!” Both men returned to Quest at 14: 19, after an EVA lasting 5 hours 2 minutes.

Questioned during the crew’s joint press conference with the Expedition-15 crew about NASA’s decision not to repair Endeavour’s TPS, Kelly told journalists:

“I think it was absolutely the right decision to forego the repair… I think they took the appropriate amount of time to come to that conclusion.’’

He added,

“We have had Shuttles land with worse damage than this. We gave this a very thorough look; there will be no extra concern in my mind due to this damage.’’

Talking about the proposed repair, Mastracchio said:

“We were not looking forward to doing it, only because there was a lot of risk involved and a lot of long hard hours involved getting it all prepared… We felt comfortable we could go and accomplish it.’’

Williams had the final say:

“We [NASA] do not take chances; we manage risk. We are in the business of mitigating risk, and that is a data-driven process. To analyse all the appropriate data took time. They made the right decision. Going beneath the belly of the orbiter is something that has its own risk.’’

By 17: 10, the two crews had completed their goodbyes, during which Yurchikhin and Kelly embraced before the Russian told his American colleague, “Have a good

PROGRESS M-61

PROGRESS M-61Figure 99. STS-118: the decision was made not to repair this tile damage on Endeavour’s underside. The damage to the orbiter’s heat protection system had no effect on re-entry, and Endeavour was recovered successfully.

trip back to Earth.” Kelly led his crew back to Endeavour. The hatches between the two spacecraft were sealed and both crews settled down to their respective sleep periods.

Endeavour’s wake-up call came at 04: 37, August 19. After final checks, Endeavour undocked at 07:56 and backed away from Destiny’s ram. As the two spacecraft separated, Yurchikhin rang the ship’s bell on the station and remarked, “Endeavour departed.’’ Anderson added, “Thanks for everything Scott, and Endeavour crew, Godspeed.’’ Kelly replied, “We couldn’t have gotten everything accomplished without you guys. We look forward to seeing you back on planet Earth.’’

After a partial fly-around of ISS, the Shuttle was manoeuvred clear at 08:23. Following a second burn, at 09: 30, the crew used the RMS to lift the OBSS and use it to inspect Endeavour’s nosecap and the leading edges of both wings. They berthed the OBS back along the payload bay door hingeline at 14: 37. At 16: 35 the crew began four hours of free time in advance of their sleep period, beginning at 20: 36.

The last full day in space began at 04: 37, and the crew spent the day stowing their equipment prior to re-entry. Kelly, Hobaugh, and Mastracchio tested Endeavour’s thrusters and aerodynamic surfaces. Kelly, Morgan, and Williams took time to talk to schoolchildren in Canada, before closing out the SpaceHab module. The day ended at 20: 36.

Overnight, Hurricane Dean had hit land in Jamaica, in the process losing most of its power. It was downgraded from a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 1 tropical storm. Endeavour’s crew were woken up at 04: 36, August 21, and at 07: 26 began their final preparations for re-entry. The payload bay doors were closed at 08 : 45 and retrofire occurred at 11 : 25, resulting in a landing at KSC on the first of two opportunities that day. Kelly landed his spacecraft in Florida at 12: 33, after a flight lasting 13 days 17 hours 56 minutes. As Endeavour rolled out to wheel-stop, Capcom in Houston told the crew, “Welcome home. You’ve given ‘Higher Education’ a new meaning.’’

After the toxic fuels had been pumped from the spacecraft the crew were allowed to leave. On reaching the ground Kelly walked underneath Endeavour to look at the gouge in the TPS. He later described it as, ‘‘Somewhat underwhelming… it looked rather small.’’ Small or not, that one gouge had been the subject of some 4,000 hours of computer time and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin praised the engineers who had carried out those studies. He later reminded journalists at a press con­ference, ‘‘This is very much an experimental vehicle. Anyone who doesn’t believe that just doesn’t get it.’’

As to the cause of the gouge, NASA engineers believed that ice had formed on the ET, causing the foam to break away from one of the brackets holding the fuel line. That foam had then struck a second bracket and changed direction, striking the TPS on the underside of the orbiter. The bracket had already been redesigned to minimise foam loss, but tanks with the new brackets were not scheduled to come on-line until spring 2008, with the flight of STS-124. In the meantime, engineers were considering removing some of the foam from the bracket on the ETs of the three Shuttle flights before STS-124.

Predictably, throughout the flight of STS-118 much of the media coverage had concentrated on Barbara Morgan. There had been endless words written and spoken about her role as the back-up Teacher in Space for STS-51L, and how “Challenger exploded in January 1986, killing high school teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other crew members.” Regretfully, 21 years after the event, most of the journalists had seemed unable to name the “six other crew members”, or thought it was unnecessary to do so in their reports.

PROGRESS М-56

Progress M-56 was launched from Baikonur at 12:03, April 24, 2006. The spacecraft docked automatically to Zvezda’s wake at 13: 41, April 26, bringing with it 2,597 kg of propellants, water, air, and dry cargo, including items from the crew’s families. The crew began unloading the new arrival the following day. During the week Vinogradov completed routine maintenance on the Elektron oxygen generator, which was deliberately powered off for the majority of the week. Williams dismantled his sleeping quarters in order to reach and replace a Remote Power Control Module in Destiny. The crew’s first month in orbit drew to a close with a series of routine tasks. Williams checked out the refrigerated centrifuge, sampled the potable water, and replaced the cooling water in the American EMUs. Vinogradov inspected the pressure hull in Zvezda and performed maintenance on the ventilation system. Both men installed new software in the station’s laptop computers and both also spent time packing unwanted items into Progress M-55. The week ended with a small reduction in nitrogen pressure in the Elektron unit. It was powered off and would remain off until after the Stage EVA planned for June 1. Additional oxygen from tanks in Progress M-55 was used to supplement the station’s atmosphere in the meantime. On May 4, Russian engineers fired Progress M-56’s thrusters to raise the station’s orbit. Four days later the crew had a day off, to celebrate Russia’s Victory Day. Williams trained with the SSRMS on May 11, using its cameras to return views of the station’s exterior. He left the SSRMS where its cameras could cover their EVA. Controllers in Korolev transferred propellant from Progress M-56 to Zarya on May 17.

The week had begun with a malfunction of the Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system in the Russian sector. The carbon dioxide removal system in Destiny was activated while Russian engineers worked on the problem. Following its resolution, both systems were run in tandem until a new gas analyser was installed in the Vozdukh the following week. The remainder of the week saw Williams experimenting with a small satellite called Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experi­ment Satellite (SPHERES) inside Destiny. The satellite, the first of three, was programmed to perform a series of manoeuvres in anticipation of “constellation’’ flying at a later date, after two more satellites had been delivered on STS-121. The manoeuvres, using small carbon dioxide thrusters, consisted of 15 ten-minute trials during which the satellite went through a series of pre-programmed flight manoeuvres, including object avoidance and station keeping. The technology might be developed in future as automated assistants for space crews. NASA reported:

“Each satellite is about 8 inches in diameter, weighs about 7 pounds, and has its own internal avionics, software and communications systems. They are powered by 2 AA batteries and will use carbon dioxide gas thrusters to manoeuvre through the Destiny lab. As the satellites fly through the station they will communicate with each other and the ISS laptop through a wireless link.’’

Elsewhere, Vinogradov reconfigured ventilation lines associated with the Elektron oxygen generator. The maintenance had been planned before the unit was powered off due to the nitrogen pressure drop. The crew spent time packing items for return to Earth on STS-121 when Discovery visited the station.

The last full week in May was spent preparing for the EVA planned for July 1. The crew gathered together the equipment they would use, charged the batteries in their Orlan suits, and checked out Pirs. During the week Vinogradov replaced a gas analyser in the Vozdukh system, returning it to full working order. They were also the first people to spot a new eruption of a volcano on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Williams began using the InSPACE experiment, last used by the Expedition-7 crew, studying the behaviour of fluids that change their properties when subjected to a magnetic field.

At 18:48, June 1, Vinogradov and Williams opened the hatch on Pirs to begin their first EVA, the 65th devoted to the construction and maintenance of ISS, and the last planned to be completed by a two-person Expedition crew. After gathering their tools they used a Strela crane to place themselves at Zvezda’s ram, where Zvezda docked with Zarya’s wake. In that location, Vinogradov installed a new nozzle on a valve used to vent hydrogen overboard from the Elektron. The original valve had become clogged, causing Elektron to use the same vent line used by a contamination­monitoring device. Two weeks earlier Vinogradov had installed an internal line inside Zvezda as a precursor to fitting the new valve on the exterior. Elektron would be powered on, on July 7.

With that task complete, they moved to Zvezda’s wake, where they photo­graphed one of the antennae designed for use by the European ATV. The antenna’s cable was suspected of having been the cause of the thruster sunshade not fully opening during their third week of occupation, thus causing the aborting of a re­boost manoeuvre. Vinogradov then recovered the Kroma device, designed to collect thruster residue, from Zvezda’s exterior. Meanwhile, Williams collected the third Biorisk package from the exterior of Pirs, along with a contamination-monitoring unit, also from the exterior of Pirs. With those three units safely stored inside Pirs, the EVA was extended, before handing over control from Korolev to Houston. Using the Strela crane once more, they manoeuvred themselves to the area where the Russian and American sectors of the station met before moving past Quest and on to the ITS. Control of the EVA passed from Korolev to Houston. In that location, Williams installed a foot restraint and removed a video camera from the MBS replacing it with a new one. The original camera had failed in February 2005. Korolev resumed control of the EVA once more as the two men used the Strela to return to Pirs and re-enter the airlock. The hatch was closed at 01: 19, July 2, after an EVA lasting 6 hours 31 minutes.

On the same day Programme Manager Wayne Hale reviewed progress on the Shuttle’s foam-shedding problem for the media saying:

“We are on a road for continuous improvement… We are trying to eliminate the biggest hazards and work our way on down… We have found no showstoppers. We believe we have made significant improvements… There will continue to be foam coming off the external tank. What we have done in a very systematic manner is eliminate the largest hazards.’’

PROGRESS М-56

Figure 69. Expedition-13: Jeffrey Williams rides the exercise cycle [veloergometer] in Destiny.

The following week was spent cleaning, servicing, and storing the suits they had worn during their EVA, before concentrating on preparations to jettison Progress M-55, receive Progress M-57, and STS-121, Discovery’s Return to Flight mission, which was due to deliver an MPLM full of logistics to ISS. They also had to work on the Elektron unit, which only restarted after several attempts and then failed 7 hours later. Russian engineers decided that the unit had a malfunctioning power unit, which would require replacement with a spare already held on the station. The malfunction had no immediate impact on operations. The crew also ran their regular experiment programme. On June 9, Progress M-56’s thrusters were fired in a re-boost man­oeuvre, placing the complex in the correct altitude to receive Progress M-57.

The crew spent much of the second week of June preparing for Discovery’s arrival, practising the photography session during which they would take images of Discovery as she performed the new r-bar pitch manoeuvre prior to docking with the station. June 12 was a day off, celebrating Russia’s Independence Day. Two days later the last of the propellant was transferred between Progress M-55 and Zarya. Both men also spent time packing rubbish into Progress M-55 and sealed its hatches on June 16. It was undocked at 10:06, and commanded into the atmosphere where it burned up on June 19. Vinogradov spent time practising with the TORU manual docking equipment in case he might have to assume control of Progress M-57 during its final approach. The end of the week involved performing experiments. Vinogradov also replaced internal panels and smoke detectors inside Zvezda, while Williams trained with the SSRMS, practising the manoeuvres he would use to remove the MPLM Leonardo from Discovery’s payload bay and dock it to Unity.

ALONE AGAIN

With the Shuttle gone, the Expedition-15 crew was alone on ISS once more. They quickly adjusted their sleep pattern and returned to their daily routine of exercise, maintenance, and experiments. Anderson has described some of the experiments in which he would take part:

“You know, some of them are quite simple. For example, scientists on the ground want to know what I eat, how much I eat and drink, and how often I eat and drink, and they want to know my vitamin-D content. Well, vitamin-D is some­thing we get from sunlight on Earth, primarily, but we need it for strong bones and muscles, and so folks, elderly folks that have trouble with bones and osteoporosis and those kind of problems can benefit by the scientists that are doing experiments and gathering data on how a crew member in space that doesn’t get sunlight anymore and has to supplement his vitamin-D with either drugs—or vitamin tablets—and what he eats and what he drinks, and that’s a key experiment that’s pretty simple. They just have to gather the data. Another experiment that’s quite interesting to me is I’m going to wear a special watch, for the entire increment, and it’s called an actiwatch, and it’s a sleep watch: it knows when you move, it knows when you go to sleep, it knows when the lights go on and when the lights go out, and scientists will gather that data that we’ll downlink periodically through the mission. What they’re trying to do is try to figure out ways to benefit people on Earth that do shift work or that have trouble sleeping or that sleep too much, and ways to work with your circadian rhythm and your body and try to help you not go through these periods when you can’t stay awake or when you can’t go to sleep. So that’s quite neat. And those are simple experiments. The more complex experiments include things, we’re going to look at combustion on the station through an experiment that has… several samples that just rotate through a chamber and they look at the flammability and take the data and then they’ll evaluate it on the ground. We’ll grow some plants, we’ll grow some worms, and the key there, of course, is when you go on long duration, can you grow plants, can you eat those plants, how do physical things like worms adapt to zero-g in a long-duration mission, such that we can apply that to humans.’’

As to his spare time, Anderson had plans of his own:

“From a personal standpoint, I like to write music and I’m going to try to write a song when I’m in space. Now I don’t know how much time I’ll have, I don’t know how successful I will be. The other thing I’d like to do is there’s a guitar on board and I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar and hopefully I’ll have enough time and there’s some software on our computers that will try to guide me through the learning process to learn how to play the guitar. I think what I want to do the most, though, is I want to try to absorb as much as I can, all that I experience and see while I’m there, and try to take as much of that with me as a memory either through video media or computer e-mails or what have you, but I want to try to take as much of that away as possible so I can relate it to people back here on Earth.’’

PMA-3 had been delivered to ISS by STS-92 in October 2000 and installed on Unity’s nadir. In December of the same year, STS-97 had docked to it in that location in order to install the P-6 ITS on the Z-1 Truss. STS-98 had also docked to PMA-3, in order to install Destiny, in February 2001. During the visit of STS-102, in March 2001, PMA-3 was moved from Unity’s nadir to Unity’s port CBM, thus allowing Unity’s nadir CBM to be used for the berthing of MPLMs carried by Shuttles docked to PMA-2 on Destiny’s ram. On August 30, 2007, the Expedition-15 crew relocated PMA-3 in preparation for the arrival of STS-120. Anderson operated the SSRMS from inside Destiny, while Yurchikhin operated the relevant CBM docking mechanisms on Unity. Kotov backed up both of his colleagues. After latching the end-effector of the SSRMS onto PMA-3, Yurchikhin commanded the docking system on Unity’s port CBM to release and Anderson removed the PMA at 09: 18. During the undocking a fault alarm sounded when one of the latching bolts registered zero load. The work was stopped to study the situation before continuing. During the relocation fault, alarms sounded intermittently on three securing bolts and work was stopped a second time to further review the situation. Finally, Houston gave the command to continue. After Anderson had manoeuvred PMA-3 next to Unity’s nadir CBM, Yurchikhin commanded Unity’s docking mechanism to close, holding the PMA in place at its new location. The move was completed at 10: 07.

The relocation of PMA-3 was required so that Harmony could be temporarily docked to Unity’s port CBM. This temporary installation on Unity was necessary because the SSRMS could not reach to install a PMA on Harmony’s ram if the new module was docked directly to Destiny’s ram when it was delivered by STS-120. When STS-120 had departed, the SSRMS would be used to undock PMA-2 from Destiny’s ram and move it to Harmony’s port. Next, the SSRMS would be used to move Harmony, with PMA-2 on one end, and docking, via its exposed CBM on the other end, to Destiny’s ram, leaving PMA-2 exposed on Harmony’s ram to receive visiting Shuttles. Zvezda’s thrusters were fired on September 24, to adjust the station’s orbit in advance of the launches of Soyuz TMA-11 and STS-120, planned for October 10 and October 23, respectively.

Anderson updated the software in the American navigation systems and installed new American computer hardware, and Kotov tested and upgraded the Russian computers before the two computer systems were integrated as one system.

The station was re-oriented on September 11, to reduce drag as it passed through the upper atmosphere. It was estimated that the manoeuvre would save the equivalent of the total amount of manoeuvring propellant for Zvezda’s thrusters delivered on two Progress flights. Onboard, both loops of the Russian thermal control system suffered a single pump failure, leaving both loops operating on just one pump each. Repairs made by Kotov on October 3 returned one loop to full operation, the second loop would have to await the delivery of a new pump on Soyuz TMA-11. Both men worked to replace Russian EVA support equipment in Zvezda and Pirs on September 19-20. The original equipment had passed its use-by date.

Even as preparations for the arrival of STS-120 continued, Yurchikhin and Kotov were also preparing for the end of the stay on ISS. Progress M-60 was undocked at 19: 37, September 18, but was not commanded to re-enter immediately. Rather, it was commanded to perform six manoeuvres as part of the “Plasma – Progress” experiment. Progress M-60 finally re-entered on September 25.

As the Expedition-15 crew brought their experiment programmes to an end, they also began packing to go home. Before that could happen they had to relocate Soyuz TMA-10. On September 27, having prepared the station for unoccupied flight, all three men donned their Sokol pressure suits and sealed themselves in the Soyuz, which was docked to Zarya’s nadir. Yurchikhin undocked his spacecraft at 14: 20 and manoeuvred clear of the station before flying along its length and manoeuvring to dock at Zvezda’s wake. Docking occurred at 14: 47 and the crew returned to the station after leak checks. They then began the task of reconfiguring the station for occupation once more. The move cleared Zarya’s nadir for the docking of Soyuz TMA-11, flown by the Experdition-16 crew. That launch was planned for October 10.

The following day, September 28, Zarya’s starboard photovoltaic array was retracted. This was required to prevent impact with the starboard radiator, mounted on the ITS, that would be deployed during the visit of STS-120. Zarya’s port photovoltaic array was retracted on September 29, to prevent impact with the port radiator, which would be deployed after STS-120 had left the station. Meanwhile, on September 30, STS-120 was transferred from the VAB to LC-39A, in preparation for its launch on October 23.

In Destiny, Anderson activated the American Oxygen Generation System and measured the sound levels that the machinery produced on October 2. The new oxygen generator was set at 50% and left running, while Houston monitored its performance. When running at full power the American system would provide sufficient oxygen to fill the entire station at “Core Complete’’ plus the International Partners’ modules. It would be capable of supporting the entire station, even when operated by six Expedition crew members.

The MT/MBS combination was moved to the port side of ISS on October 3, in preparation for the arrival of STS-120 and the relocation of the P-6 ITS. Moving the P-6 ITS from the Z-1 Truss and relocating it to the far end of the port side of the ITS, and the installation of the S-6 ITS on STS-119, represented the ultimate tasks that the SSRMS would be called upon to perform during the construction of ISS. The SSRMS would be operating fully extended and at the extreme limit of its reach.

On the same day, the crew reopened the hatch to Progress M-61, which they had sealed prior to relocating Soyuz TMA-10.

October 4, 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite. Asked about the significance of the anniversary in a pre-launch interview, Expedition-16 crew member Yuri Malenchenko said:

“I believe we have achieved a considerable progress over such a short time period. We learned to live in space just a short 50 years ago, but didn’t live in space. We weren’t even thinking, or rather we were thinking, but weren’t sure if it is possible, to live in space constantly. Currently we have a continuous presence of humans in space, not only living in space but performing complicated activities and tasks, performing science experiments, and it has been going on for years. Of course, space exploration is unique. All steps, all achievements, regardless of where, which country and when, have been completed, are important, and each step is an important stage for subsequent steps.’’

The Expedition-15 crew marked the anniversary onboard ISS, but also had to continue with their own work as well as their preparations for the arrival of Soyuz TMA-11 and their own return to Earth. Meanwhile, Anderson worked with Kotov to use the Oxygen Uptake Measurement equipment to collect data as he exercised on the stationary bicycle. The Oxygen Generation System in Destiny continued to operate at 50%, waiting for the system’s water supply to be depleted. During the week before the launch of Soyuz TMA-11, the crew mounted the centreline camera in Unity’s port CBM, where it would be used in support of the initial docking of Harmony during the flight of STS-120. The three men also completed the medical experiments and extra exercise that all long-duration crews perform as their flight approaches its end. They also made room in Zvezda where the Soyuz TMA-11 spaceflight participant would perform his experiments during his short visit to the station.

On October 6 the TVIS treadmill in Zvezda failed during Kotov’s exercise period. The crew worked with engineers in Korolev to replace three roller bearings and return the vital unit to use. As they prepared for their return to Earth, Yurchikhin and Kotov continued to work with both Russian and American experiments.

SOYUZ TMA-11 DELIVERS THE EXPEDITION-16 CREW

SOYUZ TMA-11

COMMANDER

Peggy Whitson

FLIGHT ENGINEER

Yuri Malenchenko

ENGINEER

Sheikh Muszapher Shukor (Malaysia)

(spaceflight participant)

When Soyuz TMA-11 launched towards ISS at 09:21, October 10, 2007, it contained an extremely experienced crew. Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko served 126 days on Mir and had commanded the 185-day occupation of ISS as part of the Expedition-7 crew. He had also visited ISS during the 12-day flight of STS-106. Whitson had made two Shuttle flights, serving as Pilot. Whitson had also served on ISS for 185 days as part of the Expedition-5 crew. Following the Soyuz TMA-11 crew’s transfer from Soyuz to the station, she would become the first woman to command an ISS Expedition crew. Sheikh Muszapher Shukor was a commercial customer of the Russian Federal Space Agency on his first flight. On launch day, Russian engineers presented Whitson with a ceremonial Kazakh riding whip and suggested that she might use it to keep her male colleagues in line while on the station. Asked about how she viewed being the first female Commander of ISS, Whitson replied:

“I think being a woman doesn’t really play too much into that. I think it’s special that I get the opportunity to play that role, but I think it’s also special to have an opportunity to demonstrate how many other women also work at NASA. So I’d like to be able to do that as well.’’

In answer to a different question she explained:

“Actually it’s going to be kind of exciting. During STS-120 Pam Melroy will be commanding that Shuttle mission; my lead flight director is Holly Ridings. I also have Lead Flight Directors for two different Shuttle missions during those phases, Dana Weigel and Sally Davis. And so we have a big team, which is consistent with any mission, but it happens this time around we have a number of females in the leadership roles. So I think it’s exciting.’’

Soyuz TMA-11 lifted off from Baikonur at 09: 22, October 10, 2007. As was the standard procedure, during the launch and solo flight, Malenchenko served as Soyuz Commander. Following a standard 2-day rendezvous, Soyuz TMA-11 docked to Zarya’s nadir at 10: 50, October 12. After leak and pressure checks the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 12: 22 and Whitson led the Expedition – 16 crew on to ISS. After the standard safety brief, Shukor and Anderson moved their seat liners and Sokol pressure suits between the two Soyuz spacecraft, Anderson thus becoming a member of the Expedition-16 crew and Shukor preparing for his return to Earth in Soyuz TMA-10 with the Expedition-15 crew. The next 9 days were spent in joint experiment programmes while the new crew, who were both ISS veterans, also took time to re-associate themselves with the station. Shukor performed his experiment programme in Zvezda. That programme consisted of five Malaysian experiments and three ESA experiments. In a Malayan press release, he was identified as the country’s first angkasawan (astronaut). Meanwhile, Anderson replaced a failed audio terminal unit in Quest on October 11. The new unit would lock up during the Soyuz TMA-11 hand-over period. Houston began an investigation.

On October 16, China expressed an interest in getting involved with ISS. Li Xueyong, a Chinese minister of science and technology, stated:

“We hope to take part in activities related to the International Space Station. If I am not mistaken, this programme has 16 countries currently involved and we hope to be the 17th partner… The Chinese government has always pursued a foreign policy of peace and consistently worked for the peaceful use of outer space.”

In Whitson’s first in-flight press conference, the subject of Russian cosmonauts’ attitude towards their female colleagues was discussed. The new station commander remarked, “Russian cosmonauts are very professional. Having worked and trained with them for years before we got to this point makes it better.’’ Yurchikhin added, “It’s not a problem, women running operations. The problem is whether we are professional or not. We are professionals. She is our friend and colleague.’’ On the same subject, Anderson joked, “I’m a little concerned about this whip. I’m kind of waiting for her to take it out and put me in line sometimes.’’

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 101. Expedition-16 crew (L to R): Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Yuri Malenchenko, Peggy Whitson.

After a week of shared maintenance, experiments, and daily exercise, the official hand-over of command took place on October 19, at which time Whitson told Yurchikhin and Kotov, “It’s been a very impressive mission, and you guys have performed exceptionally.’’ Yurchinkhin, Kotov, and Shukor said their farewells the following day and sealed themselves in Soyuz TMA-10. They undocked from the station around 03: 14, October 21. Following the standard retrofire manoeuvre, Soyuz separated into its three parts. The descent module re-entered the atmosphere but soon deviated from its planned trajectory and followed a much steeper, ballistic trajectory. The course change had been commanded by the onboard computer. After a re-entry in which the crew pulled higher ^-forces than planned, the spacecraft’s parachutes deployed and lowered Soyuz TMA-10 to a safe landing in Kazakhstan, at 06: 37. The Expedition-15 crew had been in flight for 196 days 17 hours 5 minutes. Shukor’s flight had lasted 10 days 21 hours 14 minutes. Although the landing was 338 km south of the target, the recovery forces had tracked its descent and recovery helicopter crews had the descent module in sight as it descended on its parachute. After removal from the module by the recovery forces, the cosmonauts used the satellite phone, added to the Soyuz spacecraft after a similar re-entry trajectory switch by Soyuz TMA-1, to speak to Korolev. Talking about the re-entry afterwards, Yurchikhin stated:

“The overload was really powerful, but nobody fainted… I remember the overload going to 8.5 or 8.6 g.’’

Shukor was more descriptive, stating:

“I was not really scared, it happened so fast… It felt like an elephant pressing on my chest, but the Russians trained us very well.’’

On the subject of his flight he remained optimistic, saying:

“I hope to go back and inspire a generation of Malaysian youth… I hope other Muslims would be united, stay away from war and be peaceful.’’

STS-120 DELIVERS HARMONY, “THE PIECE THAT MAKES THE REST POSSIBLE”

STS-120

COMMANDER

Pam Melroy

PILOT

George Zamka

MISSION SPECIALISTS

Scott Parazynski, Douglas Wheelock,

Stephanie Wilson, Paolo Nespoli (ESA)

EXPEDITION-16/17 (up)

Daniel Tani

EXPEDITION-15/16 (down)

Clayton Anderson

In the days leading up to the launch of STS-120, a degradation of the outer protective coating was observed on the leading edge of both of Discovery’s wings. One RCC panel on one wing and two on the other showed the degradation, which had been present for the past three of Discovery’s flights. Launch managers decided that the problem fell within the limits of acceptable risk and decided not to roll STS-120 back to the VAB and replace the panels in question. A roll-back would have caused the flight to be delayed by a minimum of two weeks.

Rain threatened on the morning of launch, but in the end the weather held back. One technical problem that had threatened to delay the launch was a build-up of ice on a propellant line under the left wing. By the time the countdown reached its final stages, the ice had melted sufficiently to offer little threat to the Shuttle.

Discovery lifted off on time at 11: 38, October 23, 2007, after what Launch Director Michael Leinbach described as, “One of the cleanest countdowns we’ve had since I’ve been a Launch Director.’’ Discovery passed through a succession of cloud layers as it sped towards orbit. Melroy reported that several pieces of ice struck the orbiter’s forward windows during launch, but did no damage. All observed ice shedding from the ET took place after the critical first 2.5 minutes of flight, by which time Discovery was beyond the thick lower atmosphere, where the supersonic slipstream might slam the ice into the orbiter, causing damage.

On NASA’s website, Commander Pam Melroy had shared her enthusiasm for the flight, saying:

“STS-120 is such a cool mission. Node-2 is the expansion of the Space Station’s capability to bring international laboratories up. It’s the expansion of our capability to carry additional people. It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand out beyond a three-person crew. It’s this big boost in capability which is really exciting.’’

With lift-off behind them, the crew opened the payload bay doors to deploy their vital radiators and deployed the Ku-band antenna before spending several hours configuring their spacecraft for orbital operations, before settling down to their first eat and sleep period at 17 : 30.

On ISS, Whitson and Anderson worked on the TVIS treadmill, while Malenchenko serviced the toilet in Zvezda. The following day, Malenchenko serviced the KOB-1 and KOB-2 Thermal Control Loops performing a major plumbing overhaul that returned both systems to partial operation.

Up again at 01: 30, October 24, the STS-120 crew’s first full day in space was occupied by using the OBSS on the end of the RMS to inspect Discovery’s Thermal Protection System, including the RCC panels on the leading edges of both wings. An initial review of the data showed no immediate problems for re-entry at the end of the flight. They also prepared the EMUs stored in Discovery’s airlock as well as the equipment they would use during the rendezvous and docking the following day, including installing the centreline camera and extending the docking ring. Inside the orbiter, a high-speed computer modem presented the one difficulty of the day. The modem was due to be used to download the crew’s digital photographs to MCC-

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 102. STS-120 crew (L to R): Scott E. Parazynski, Douglas H. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson, George D. Zamka, Pamela A. Melroy, Daniel M. Tani, Paolo A. Nespoli.

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 103. STS-120 approaches ISS with Node 2, Harmony, in the payload bay.

Houston. On ISS, Anderson was approaching the end of his 4.5-month occupation, and was undergoing an increased daily exercise regime, in preparation for his return to Earth. Anderson and Malenchenko also prepared the cameras they would use to photograph Discovery’s underside during the now standard r-bar pitch manoeuvre prior to docking. Whitson performed pressure leaks in PMA-2 in advance of Discovery’s docking. The Shuttle crew’s day ended at 17: 38.

Awake once more at 01: 39, October 25, Melroy’s crew ate breakfast together before making the final preparations for rendezvous with the station. Melroy began the rendezvous manoeuvres just before 03: 00. Two hours from docking Anderson told Discovery’s crew, “We can’t wait to see you. We welcome you with arms open. The towels are clean and laid out.’’ At 07: 32, at a range of 200 metres below the station, Melroy had Discovery perform a nose-over-tail pitch manoeuvre so that Anderson and Malenchenko could photograph the TPS on the Shuttle’s underside. Those digital images were sent to MCC-Houston, so that specialists could search them for evidence of any damage caused by the ice or foam shed from the ET during launch.

Docking, with Melroy at the controls, occurred at 08: 40, off the coast of North Carolina, and was greeted with cheers from both crews. On ISS, Whitson rang the ship’s bell and announced, “Discovery arriving.’’

Parazynski remarked, “Everyone here is ecstatic. We are so fired up to be here.’’ As usual, docking was followed by pressure and leak checks, before the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened 2 hours later. As the hatches opened, Whitson, the first female commander of ISS, greeted Melroy, only the second female commander of a Shuttle flight. Before launch Melroy had talked about this moment, saying, “The most important thing to me is the picture we take when our hands first meet across the hatches.’’ In Russia, before her own launch, Whitson had sounded less enthusiastic about the meaning of that handshake, saying, “I look forward to their arrival… She thinks it will be a special moment.’’

In reality, Whitson embraced Melroy as she entered Destiny. The media-hyped meeting, as the female commanders in charge of two separate spacecraft, was pure coincidence, caused by the delays in past Shuttle launches. Originally, STS-120 had been scheduled to launch before Whitson took command of Expedition-16.

The remainder of Melroy’s crew were greeted with handshakes and hugs. After the formal greeting onboard the station and the standard safety brief, Discovery’s crew began moving spacewalking equipment into the Quest airlock. At 12: 12, Tani installed his couch liner and Sokol launch and re-entry suit in Soyuz TMA-11, becoming part of the Experdition-16 crew, while Anderson moved his equipment into Discovery, transferring him to STS-120. As the day ended, Melroy’s crew were told that initial inspection showed no damage to Discovery’s Thermal Protection System. Melroy replied to the news, saying, “Oh, man. That is fantastic news. Obviously, that was a question that has been on our minds.’’ Parazynski and Wheelock spent the night “camped out’’ in Quest, in preparation for the first EVA the following day.

October 26 began at 01 : 39. After breakfast, Discovery’s crew commenced preparations for their EVA. Wheelock and Parazynski exited Quest at 06 : 02, half an hour earlier than planned, at the beginning of a planned 6.5-hour excursion. Italian astronaut Nespoli choreographed the EVA from inside Discovery. As the preparations came to an end and Quest was depressurised, Whitson joked, “We’ll open the hatch so you guys can go out and play.’’

Parazynski replied, “They call it work, but there is no better job, is there?’’ As the outer hatch swung open, Parazynski was awed by the view of Earth and remarked to Wheelock, “You’re not going to believe this.’’ Their first task was to remove a malfunctioning S-band antenna from its position on the Z-1 Truss and store it in Discovery’s payload bay for return to Earth. They also disconnected the final umbilicals running between the Z-1 Truss and the P-6 ITS, in preparation of the latter’s relocation later in the flight. Parazynski was subjected to a small ammonia leak while disconnecting the umbilicals and had to undergo cleaning procedures after returning to Quest at the end of the EVA. As they passed over the Gulf Coast, Wheelock remarked enthusiastically, “Oh, boy, look at that; Hello, Houston.’’ Returning to the payload bay, they put in place a payload and data grapple fixture that could not be mounted on Harmony during launch, due to lack of room within the closed payload bay doors. Their next task was to disconnect the umbilicals supplying electrical power and cooling fluids to Harmony. Tani, Anderson, and Wilson then grappled the new module with the SSRMS, lifted it out of the payload bay, and manoeuvred it to its temporary location on Unity’s port CBM. It was the first new pressurised module to be added to ISS in six years.

As the EVA drew to a close, Parazynski remarked, “Great day in outer space.’’ The ammonia decontamination procedures were first used on STS-98 and consisted of partially pressurising Quest, venting the airlock to vacuum once more, in an attempt to remove any residue ammonia crystals, before pressurising Quest to allow the other astronauts to briefly open the internal hatch, pass in wet towels, and close the hatch once more. The two EVA astronauts then wiped down the exterior of each other’s EMUs, before bagging the towels and finally leaving the airlock to return to the station. The EVA ended at 12: 16, after 6 hours 14 minutes.

Flight Director Dereck Hassaman described Harmony in the following terms:

“It’s the gateway to the International Partners. As the station is configured today, there’s nowhere to put the International Partner modules until we deliver and activate Node-2. That’s the piece that makes the rest possible.’’

Flight Director Rick LaBode added:

“We’re going to put it on the left side of Node-1 [Unity], and then, after the mission undocks, we’ll robotically remove the port the Shuttle docks to [PMA-2] from the end of the lab [Destiny] and put it on Node-2 [Harmony]. And then we’re going to take the Node-2 [with PMA-2] and put it on the end of the lab.’’

In orbit, with the job of delivering Harmony already completed, Parazynski stated, “Now the crews that are hot on our heels have a place to come.’’

As the day continued the Mission Management team in Houston decided to add an unplanned task to the second EVA, planned for October 28. The starboard SARJ had been experiencing increased friction over the previous 6 weeks. Parazynski and Wheelock would remove the thermal covers and make a 360° inspection of the joint.

Meanwhile, October 27 began at 01: 39. After breakfast, Whitson and Nespoli worked together to prepare Unity’s port CBM, before the crew opened the hatch giving access to the interior Harmony. That happened at 08: 24, when the hatch was swung back allowing Whitson and Nespoli to become the first people to enter the new module. All crew members wore surgical masks during their first visit to the new module in case there was any loose debris floating around that might be inhaled. With Harmony only in a temporary location, their task was not to power up the module before preparing it for the arrival of Columbus and Kibo. Rather, they applied minimal electrical power and installed a temporary ventilation line to circulate air into Harmony’s interior. Later in the day the two crews used the new Node to host a press conference, during which Whitson remarked, “We think Harmony is a very good name for this module because it represents the culmination of a lot of International Partner work and will allow International Partner modules to be added on.’’ Melroy added, “This is a really special moment for the station. This kicks off the international science portion of the Space Station’s life cycle.’’ Flight Director Rick LaBrode told the media, “It’s beautiful; bright shiny. The report from the crew is that it’s as clean as can be. Perfect shape!’’ Melroy also praised the work of the other members of both crews during the previous day, saying, “I just sat around and made lunch for everyone, and watched them do a totally fantastic job.’’

During the morning Discovery’s OBSS was returned to its storage position along the orbiter’s payload bay hingeline. The second inspection of Discovery’s Thermal Protection System, planned for that morning, had been cancelled the previous day. During the remainder of the day, Tani reviewed the plan for him to inspect the SARJ during the second EVA, and he also spent time with Anderson, working on hand­over procedures. At 15: 23, as the crew’s day ended, Parazynski and Tani were locked inside Quest and the pressure was dropped, to allow them to “camp out’’ overnight, in preparation for their EVA the following day.

The crew’s wake-up call on October 28 came at 01 : 09. After breakfast, Parazynski and Tani donned their EMUs inside Quest, while Wilson and Wheelock manoeuvred the SSRMS to grasp the P-6 ITS, mounted on the Z-1 Truss. Exiting the airlock at 05: 32, Parazynski remarked, “It’s a beautiful day,’’ and Tani replied, “Awesome.’’ After collecting their tools they made their way to the base of the P – 6 ITS, where they disconnected the final electric cables and the bolts that held the structure in place. Wilson and Wheelock then lifted the P-6 ITS away from the Z – 1 Truss. The 15 m long P-6 was left hanging overnight on the end of the SSRMS. Meanwhile, the two EVA astronauts set about performing separate tasks. Parazynski moved to the exterior of Harmony, where he installed EVA handrails. Tani made his way to the starboard ITS, where he checked the CETA cart for sharp edges on its handrails and then moved on to the SARJ, where he removed the thermal covers and inspected the joint for friction points. He discovered the joint was covered in a black dust, which included metal shavings, and there was friction wear on the race ring, then he replaced the covers. Station managers decided to limit the amount of rotation that the joint was subjected to while the investigation into problem continued. Tani also reconfigured connections on the S-l ITS that would allow Houston to deploy the S-l cooling radiator at a later date. For their final task they worked together to install a second PDGF on the exterior of Harmony, by which it would be held during its transfer from Unity’s port side to Destiny’s ram. They also removed launch covers from the exterior of Harmony. The EVA ended at 12:05, after 6 hours 33 minutes. After the EVA, NASA’s Mike Suffredini commented to a press con­ference regarding the port SARJ, “I really don’t think we are in any situation we can’t recover from. It’s just a matter of time. We have an obligation to try and get our partners to orbit as quickly as we can.’’

October 29 was a day of robotic work, with astronauts inside ISS and Discovery moving the P-6 ITS around outside the station. The day began at 01: 39 and after breakfast the two crews set about their individual tasks. Parazynski and Wheelock had a relatively quiet day preparing Quest and the station’s EMUs for the third EVA, with Nespoli’s assistance. Meanwhile, the remainder of the two crews separated into their own work teams. Wilson and Zamka operated Discovery’s RMS while Anderson and Tani operated the SSRMS. At 04: 08 the RMS was manoeuvred to grapple the P-6 ITS, after which SSRMS was commanded to release it. Discovery’s RMS held on to the P-6 ITS while the MBS holding the SSRMS was commanded to travel to the far end of the port ITS, from where it would still be stretched to its limits to install the P-6 ITS in its final location. The MBS translation along the port ITS took 90 minutes.

Tani has described his activities during the 3 days of work required to relocate the P-6 ITS:

“Conceptually it’s not that difficult: It’s four bolts—very big bolts but four bolts—it’s about a dozen electrical connectors and, and some fluid connectors. During the first couple of EVAs we will disconnect the electrical connectors; on the second EVA I will help unbolt the actual element. We’ll have Doug Wheelock inside running the arm. He will initially move the P-6 out and away from the station. Now the difficulty here is that the arm is not long enough to take it from its initial position and move it out to its final position. So we have to do a juggling act. We move it out to the side of the Space Shuttle and I believe Stephanie [Wilson] or George [Zamka] will then grab the P-6 Truss so that the Space Station arm can let it go, and then we utilize the Mobile Transporter, which is this little rail car that’s on the truss, and they’ll drive this little rail car, with the Space Station arm on it, all the way out to the end of the truss as far as they can go. Then the next day, I’ll run that Space Station arm to go pick up the P-6 Truss again and hand it off from the Shuttle. On the next EVA, I’ll run the arm and we’ll do a final install during the EVA with Doug and Scott outside, to do its final install and bolt it to the end of the truss and then redo those electrical and fluid connectors… right now the P-6 solar arrays have been fully retracted. It’s a big element but at least it doesn’t have these huge wings hanging off them. It’s hard to think of an analogy, but we are adding a huge source of power to the Space Station, or we’re moving it, and the power reconfiguration to protect all the circuitry, once you hook that up, is very extreme. In fact, we’ll have to power down half the Space Station while we do this because you don’t want to do what we call a ‘hot mate’. You don’t want power in one connector and have arcing across these connectors. So we will be powering down half the Space Station while we do this. We mate the P-6 to the P-5 and then, as soon as we can, once the electrical connectors are made, the folks on the ground will start powering those channels back up and we will start attempting to deploy these solar arrays.’’

During the MBS translation, Whitson and Tani worked inside Harmony, installing avionics racks. The remaining crew members spent most of the day trans­ferring items from Discovery to the station. During the day, Houston informed them that an additional day had been added to the flight plan, giving them a day of additional light workload between EVA-4 and EVA-5. Also plans were added to try and clean the starboard SARJ during EVA-4. As a result of the last point an inspection of the port SARJ was added to EVA-3 in order to provide data with which to compare the descriptions of the starboard SARJ obtained during EVA-2. No attempt would be made to repair the port SARJ on this flight. The changes meant that plans to test a space age caulking gun, designed to be used to repair gouges in the Shuttle’s Thermal Protection System caused by foam or ice impacts during launch would be abandoned and moved to a later Shuttle flight. As the day ended, Parazynski and Wheelock were shut inside Quest and the pressure reduced, in preparation for EVA-3 the following day. Meanwhile the Mission Management Team had studied the effect of stopping the continuous rotation of the starboard SARJ, which was a reduction in electrical power production. The reduced electricity supply would be sufficient to support the launch of Columbus, then scheduled for December 2007, but might not support the addition of Kibo, due to be launched in early 2008. Work would continue to resolve the problem.

October 30 began at 00:38. After breakfast, Parazynski and Wheelock began dressing for their EVA while the RMS and SSRMS teams began their own prepara­tions for the hand-off of the P-6 ITS and its re-installation on the far end of the P-5 ITS. The two astronauts left Quest at 05 : 45. The P-6 ITS was offered up on the end of Discovery’s RMS towards the SSRMS, now positioned on the end of the port ITS. After the hand-off to the SSRMS, the P-6 ITS was manoeuvred and then offered up to the exposed end of the S-5 ITS. With few cameras in the area, Parazynski and Wheelock were there to give verbal instructions. Following a successful re-mounting, the two astronauts drove home the four bolts and completed the connections with the P-5 ITS and the station’s power system. This move and the similar installation of the S-6 ITS represented the design limits of the SSRMS, even so the two teams on ISS made the task look simple. As all astronauts are pleased to acknowledge, this was all down to the highly professional nature of their training and the dedication of their training teams.

Parazynski then moved to the port SARJ and removed the thermal covers. He described the joint as ‘‘pristine’’. The EVA ended at 12: 53, after 7 hours 8 minutes, but on getting out of his EMU, Parazynski discovered a small hole in the outer layer of the thumb on his right-hand glove.

As the EVA reached its final moments, controllers in Houston commanded the first SAW to deploy on the P-6 ITS. When it was fully extended, Discovery’s crew commanded the second SAW to deploy. When it had deployed to approximately 30 m, 80% of its full length, Melroy called a stop, “We’ve detected something that appears to be a wrap-around or some damage.’’ Houston replied, “We see it.’’

The live television pictures in the control room showed a tear in the SAW. Programme Manager Mike Suffredini later told a press conference, “This will take time and needs to be worked, but my personal opinion is we’ve got the time to work this issue, so we can be methodical about it, and we will.’’ The remainder of the day was spent discussing the new problem, transferring items from Discovery and talking to the press.

October 31 began at 00: 38. As breakfast ended, Parazynski and Wheelock began configuring a spare EMU to replace Parazynski’s original suit, which had suffered from cooling problems during the third EVA. Together with Nespoli, they would spend the day preparing for the fourth EVA, which was now planned for November 1, and would be dedicated to a thorough inspection of the starboard SARJ and sampling of the debris seen in the joint during the second EVA, as well as trying to identify the root cause of the friction. Meanwhile, Whitson and Tani worked inside Harmony, removing launch restraints and deploying the Zero Gravity Stowage Rack. On the subject of Harmony, Whitson explained:

“Node-2, Harmony, like Node-1 [Unity], has six different ports that we can add modules on to, to build the station. So it’s, it’s our next big connecting piece in our puzzle of putting this huge station together on orbit. Node-2 is required to power and provide the thermal heat rejection for the science laboratory modules that’ll be coming up, the one built by the European Space Agency and the one built by the Japanese Space Agency. So it’s a pretty key module for us, for the continued development of the station.’’

As the day proceeded, the priorities for STS-120 changed. Although the ripped SAW on the P-6 ITS was producing 98% of the electricity that it would if fully deployed, Houston decided to make it the priority for the remainder of Discovery’s flight. The fourth EVA would be slipped back 24 hours, to November 2, or even November 3, if more time was required for preparation, and would now concentrate on repairing the ripped P-6 ITS SAW before the damage got any worse. The Mission Management Team decided that the priority was to fully deploy the SAW and thus hopefully prevent further damage. Initial plans called for Parazynski to carry out the repair while riding the end of the OBSS mounted on the SSRMS, while Wheelock provided verbal instructions for Wilson and Tani operating the SSRMS. The repair itself would consist of threading wire through holes in the SAW blanket on either side of the tear and using an aluminium strip to support it from beneath, thus closing and supporting the tear in much the same way as a cuff-link works on a man’s shirt sleeve. Meanwhile, in Houston, Suffredini was blunt:

“I need this array. We believe over time we could tear the blanket further. If we do enough damage, we could potentially get into a configuration where we could not stabilise the array. If we can’t, we have to figure out what to do. We don’t have a lot of options, and the most likely option is that we would have to jettison it.’’

He continued:

“The station is a robust vehicle. We have many options with how to deal with the problems. It’s not a situation where anyone is particularly panicked. But on the other hand, we want to get this fixed to a point where we can continue with the assembly the way we planned… This is not about style points. It doesn’t have to look good. It just has to produce power.’’

Suffredini also paid a compliment to the team of engineers who had been working on the problem since the torn SAW was first identified:

“We give this team a little time to start thinking about creative solutions, and it doesn’t take them long to blow you away with what they come up with.’’

During the afternoon press conference with the crew, the President of Italy congratulated Nespoli on his flight, but predictably the conversation returned to the damaged SAW. Melroy described what she had seen as the second SAW deployed:

“It was a tough situation. The Sun was shining directly into our camera views. At one point, we did stop because we were concerned we had lost our big picture. We can second guess ourselves, and there may have been something we could have done, but I think we certainly aborted as soon as we saw something that was not right.’’

Parazynski added:

“My initial take was the guide-wires that became frayed earlier may have been the culprit. However, it looks to our eyes, via the binoculars and photos, like the guide-wires may be intact.’’

During the day the fourth EVA was pushed back to November 3, to give ground teams more time to come up with a work schedule and to give the astronauts additional time to prepare. Even so, Whitson, Commander of ISS, remained con­fident stating, “If there is a way to do this, we will figure out a smart way to come up with whatever workaround we need to make it happen.’’

The crew spent the remainder of the day making the hinge stabilisers that they would install when they repaired the SAW and preparing their EMUs. At one point Ex-President George Bush Senior and his wife Barbara visited the control room in

Houston and were able to talk to the crew. Talking to Melroy, he told her, “Good luck to you. Pam, we want to wish you well and all of your team. We’re so proud of your team… Barbara and I.’’

November 2 began at 01: 38 and was another day of preparation. During the morning, controllers moved the MBS back from the far end of the P-5 ITS to the centre of the ITS. There it was used to take hold of the OBSS and remove it from Discovery’s payload bay hingeline. The OBSS was then handed to Discovery’s own RMS, where it would stay overnight, while the MBS moved back to the far end of the port ITS.

In Houston, NASA made the media aware of some of the risks involved in making repairs to a SAW that was still actively producing electricity. Astronaut David Wolf, head of the EVA branch of the Astronaut Office, said, “We are faced with a difficult situation. At some point, we have to execute the plan we’ve got, as long as it’s very safe, instead of having a perfect plan and having it be too late to execute.’’ He added, “It’s a real test of the adaptability of this team, of our baseline knowledge of how to work in space … We have some risks here.’’

The two rips, one just under 1 m long and one 0.3 m long, would be repaired using five bracing straps made from 12-gauge wire with a 10 cm long aluminium strip at each end. The aluminium strips would be fed through existing holes in the SAW to hold the damaged areas together along a 5 m length. The straps, which the team that developed them had begun calling “cuff-links’’, varied in length from 1 m to 2m. To prevent an electrical discharge and possible injury to Parazynski, Kapton tape, an insulating material, had been wrapped around each of the straps, as well as the tools that would be used and the exposed metal parts on the outside of Parazynski’s EMU. The panel was “live’’, with up to 100 volts of electricity passing through it, and could not be turned off. As a result, the two EVA astronauts had been instructed in which parts of the P-6 ITS represented shock hazards. At the end of the day, Parazynski and Wheelock “camped out’’ in Quest under reduced pressure.

November 3 began at 01 : 38 and breakfast was followed by the hand-off of the OBSS from Discovery’s RMS to the SSRMS. The EVA started at 06:03. Melroy encouraged her two crew members as they left the airlock with the call, “Go out there and fix that thing.’’ Parazynski replied, “We will.’’ Even so, Houston warned, “Time is of the essence.’’

Having mounted the OBSS, Parazynski spent 90 minutes being swept through 180° of open space, taking him from the centre of the ITS to the worksite 30 m above Quest and 50 m out to the port side of the station. As he watched Earth sweep by below him, he told Houston, “This is just indescribable. Words just can’t do it justice. At least, not mine.’’

On arrival at the damaged area, he found that the guide wires used during the SAW’s deployment were damaged, but the wires carrying electrical current were not damaged. His helmet camera showed a view of the deployment guide wires that he described, “It appears severely frayed.’’

Melroy viewed the area with binoculars from Discovery and described it as a “furball’’. She added, “I’m sure that is causing shudders on the ground somewhere.’’ Tani told Parazynski, “You are a dot to us.’’

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 104. STS-120: damage to the P-6 photovoltaic array was stabilised with loops of wire referred to as “cufflinks” by the crew.

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 105. STS-120: Scott Parazynski rides the OBSS held in the SSRMS during the fourth EVA. During the EVA he installed six wire loops to stabilise damage to the P-6 photovoltaic array (see above).

Parazynski cut one of the guide wires with an insulated tool, and Wheelock, working at the base of the SAW, used a pair of pliers to feed it into the relevant take – up reel. Parazynski then installed the five cuff-links, poking the aluminium straps through existing holes in the SAW. As the EVA ended, Parazynski sighed, “What an accomplishment?” Whitson complimented them, “Excellent work guys. Excellent.” With the repair complete, just past 11:00 controllers in Houston began com­manding the SAW to complete its deployment. Fifteen minutes and 13 computer commands later the SAW was deployed to its full extent. Meanwhile, it took an hour to sweep Parazynski back through open space to the centre of the ITS, from where the two men made their way back to Quest, closing the hatch at 13: 22, after an EVA lasting 7 hours 19 minutes.

Lead Station Flight Director Derek Hassman called it, “One of the most satisfy­ing days that I’ve ever had in Mission Control.” Suffredini was equally enthusiastic, “We are in great shape, fixing the array lets us get on with the assembly… This was just a fabulous effort. Our baby is still beautiful to us.’’

The remainder of the day was spent clearing up after the EVA and transferring equipment. While electricity from the P-6 ITS 2B SAW was integrated into the station’s main power supply, that from the repaired 4B SAW remained isolated while testing of the repaired SAW continued.

November 4 began at 02: 08, before the clocks were put back an hour for the change from edt to est. During the morning briefing, Houston told the two astro­nauts, “This will go down as one of the biggest successes in EVA history. Words cannot express how proud you made everyone with the execution by the entire team.’’ After breakfast the two crews completed the final transfer of items between the two spacecraft before beginning to get ready for Discovery’s undocking. 992 kg of new supplies were now on ISS, in addition to Harmony, while 916 kg of scientific samples and other items would be returned to Earth in Discovery. Anderson’s occupation of ISS was at an end, but like everyone else before him he was in two minds about how he viewed the prospect of leaving the station:

“I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears left aboard the International Space Station. What we are doing here is very important for all of human kind. It’s worth the risk. It’s worth the cost… Five months ago I was on my back preparing to launch and wondering what the heck I had gotten myself in to. Now, I’m poised to return to Earth after having served very proudly… Part of me is ready to go and part of me wants to stay.’’

After saying their formal farewells, the two crews locked arms and swayed back and forth to music, laughing together and some of them even shed a few tears. At 12: 28 Melroy led her crew, including Anderson, back to the Shuttle, closing the hatch between the two spacecraft at 12: 03. Whitson, Malenchenko, and Tani remained on the station to continue the Expedition-16 occupation.

A 02: 38 wake-up call on Discovery on November 5 was followed by a quick breakfast and final preparations for undocking. Zamka backed Discovery away from PMA-2 at 05: 32. In Destiny, Whitson rang the station’s bell to mark their departure.

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 106. STS-120 departs ISS. The RMS holds the OBSS, which lies across the empty payload bay.

ALONE AGAIN

Figure 107. STS-120: a nadir view of ISS as STS-120 completed its fly-around. Harmony is shown docked to Unity’s port CBM, opposite the Quest airlock. The P-6 ITS has been re­located from the Z-1 Truss to outboard of the P-5 ITS.

She told them simply, “Thanks, guys.” Zamka performed a full 360° fly-around of the station while the crew photographed and videoed its new configuration from all angles. Back opposite PMA-2, Zamka performed the separation burn at 07: 15. Discovery’s crew spent the day using the OBSS mounted on the end of the RMS to inspect the orbiter’s wing leading edges and nosecap for damage sustained while in flight. They found none, and Discovery’s TPS was cleared for re-entry. Anderson spent the day exercising in the mid-deck, in advance of his return to Earth.

Discovery’s last full day in space, November 6, began at the 02: 38. Melroy and Zamka undertook the standard test of the orbiter’s flight surfaces and thrusters. The remainder of the crew spent the day packing for re-entry. During the afternoon Anderson’s recumbent chair was set up on the mid-deck and the Ku-band antenna was stowed. As Discovery passed over KSC, Melroy noted, “We can see the runway from orbit. So, the weather is looking pretty good.’’ Discovery had been planned for a night landing, but Melroy had asked for the flight plan to be changed in favour of a daylight landing, due to the unintended length and complexity of the flight.

During the day, Melroy talked to the media about how she felt “extremely concerned’’ for Parazynski’s wellbeing during the EVA to repair the 4B SAW.

Parzynski recalled, “It was a phenomenal personal experience to be out on the end of the boom.’’

Anderson discussed his mental preparations for his return to Earth, “I’ve enjoyed my time up there immensely, and it’s kind of a bittersweet time for me to come home, but I’m ready.’’

The final day of STS-120 began at 02: 38 November 7. Following breakfast, preparations for re-entry began at 08 : 03. Discovery’s payload bay doors were closed at 09: 20. Melroy and Zamka began preparing for the de-orbit burn, turning Discovery to a tail-first attitude before igniting the rocket motors at 11: 59. When the burn was complete, Melroy turned the orbiter so that its flat underside faced the on-coming atmosphere. Following the standard radio blackout caused by the sheath of ionised air surrounding the vehicle, Melroy flew a series of large, sweeping S-turns in the sky to bleed off energy. Finally, approaching Florida she flew the spacecraft across the state and headed out over the ocean as Discovery turned around the heading alignment circle to line it up with the end of the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC. Melroy put the rear undercarriage on the runway at 13 : 01, after a flight lasting 15 days 2 hours 23 minutes. Anderson had been in space for 152 days.

After the flight, Melroy described the mission emotionally, saying, “What you saw is who we are at NASA.’’ NASA’s Administrator Michael Griffin watched the landing from alongside Runway 33, KSC. He took a similar tone when he described the flight to reporters as, “NASA at its best.’’

PROGRESS M-57

Progress M-57 was launched at 11: 08, June 24, 2006 and entered orbit a few minutes later. Following a standard 2-day rendezvous, the new Progress docked to Pirs’ nadir at 12:25, June 26. Unloading of the 2,578kg of cargo, including 1,161kg of dry goods, began the following day. With Progress in place, the last week of June was spent preparing for Discovery’s arrival. The crew flushed the pipes in Quest, in preparation for the Shuttle crew’s planned EVAs. Progress M-57 would be unloaded after Discovery had returned to Earth; its pressurised compartment would then be used as a temporary storage area, to hold many of the items delivered in Discovery’s MPLM.

PREPARING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PARTNER MODULES

With Discovery gone and the P-6 ITS relocated, Whitson, Malenchenko, and Tani settled down to the remainder of their occupation. They continued their daily routine of experiments, maintenance, and exercise, but beyond that they would oversee the

PREPARING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PARTNER MODULES

Figure 108. Expedition-16: Daniel Tani poses in his sleeping bag mounted between two EMUs inside the Quest airlock.

transformation of ISS into a truly International Space Station. The Expedition-16 crew had a quiet day on November 5, in the wake of Discovery’s departure and in advance of a busy period during which Harmony would be moved to Destiny’s ram. That work began on November 8, when the crew spent the day preparing their EMUs and the Quest airlock for a Stage EVA.

At 04: 54, November 9, Whitson and Malenchenko exited Quest to carry out work that should have been completed by the STS-120 crew, but had been resched­uled because of the urgent need to repair the P-6 ITS SAW. Making their way to Destiny’s ram, their first task was to disconnect the SSPTS cables from PMA-2, before disconnecting eight other cables between Destiny and the PMA. Whitson also removed a CETA light on Destiny, to clear the area for equipment trays to be installed at a later date. Their third task was to disconnect the rigid umbilicals on the side of Destiny. Both astronauts covered the receptacles left open by the de-mated umbilicals with dust caps as they worked. Separating, Whitson completed connec­tions for the PDGF that would be used when Harmony was relocated. Malenchenko moved up to the Z-1 Truss’ wake face to remove and replace a failed RPCM. Working together once more, they made their way back to Harmony, on Unity’s port CBM. On the new module’s exposed end, they removed a dust cover that had protected the CBM in that area. As they removed the dust cover, Tani observed from inside the station. Looking through the window here, all I can see is a big aluminium foil. It looks like turkey cooking in the oven.’’ Whitson and Malenchenko recovered the dust cover for disposal on a Progress spacecraft. Malenchenko’s next task was to re-route an electrical cable at the wake of the Z-1 Truss, while Whitson moved to the “rats’ nest’’, the area between the Z-1 Truss and the S-0 ITS, where she made changes to the electrical connections in that region. Next, Whitson recovered a base-band signal processor and returned to the airlock with it. It would be returned to Earth and refurbished. Finally, Malenchenko redistributed EVA tools between two storage bags and then moved one of those bags to the S-0 ITS. The EVA ended when they returned to Quest, at 10: 49, after 6 hours 55 minutes exposed to vacuum. Even as Whitson and Malenchenko completed their EVA, STS-121 Atlantis was moving out to the launchpad where the European Columbus Science Laboratory was already waiting in its payload container.

In orbit, Whitson and her crew began preparations on November 13, for the arrival of Columbus. On that date, Tani commanded the SSRMS from inside Destiny and used it to grapple the PDGF on PMA-2. At 04: 35 Whitson commanded the first of four mechanical bolts holding the PMA in place to unwind. The final bolt was released at 05 : 02, and Tani moved the PMA away from Destiny’s ram 10 minutes later. The SSRMS was used to manoeuvre the PMA to a position below Destiny where the station’s cameras were used to inspect its mating surfaces. When the survey was complete, Tani moved the PMA to its new position on Harmony’s outboard CBM, at which time Whitson commanded the four bolts to secure it in place. The final bolt was secured at 06: 29. Later that same day, Houston placed a ban on EVAs. A ground test of an EMU on Earth had resulted in a smell of smoke. Subsequent testing of the suit revealed no signs of burning.

The following day, Tani and Whitson repeated their roles, using the SSRMS to grapple Harmony and release the CBM bolts holding it in place. Whitson released the first bolt at 03:58 and the last at 04:21.Tani then used the SSRMS to move Harmony from its temporary position on the side of Unity and relocated it on Destiny’s ram. The relocation manoeuvre was completed at 05: 45, much earlier than planned. Capcom Kevin Ford told them, “You guys are really cooking with gas.’’ During the manoeuvre the station had passed over the Atlantic Ocean; Whitson looked out of Destiny’s window and remarked, “It’s amazing. I love my job!’’

On November 15, the P-1 radiator was deployed, increasing the area available to the station’s ammonia cooling system. On the same day, NASA cleared the EMUs on the station for future EVA work. NASA’s Lynett Madison stated, “There is no indication of combustion or an electrical event. We’ve been cleared to conduct spacewalks.” The smoke odour detected in the suit test earlier in the week was thought to have been caused by a canister of metal oxide used during ground tests of the suit.

Whitson described the two EVAs that she and Tani had originally been expecting to make to outfit Harmony, in the following terms:

“The EVAs that have to be conducted between the arrival of Node-2 [Harmony] and before arrival of Columbus are critical. We can’t accept the new module without the completion of those EVAs… [T]he two EVAs that Dan and I will conduct actually will lay what we call the umbilical trays, and they are the fluid lines that will connect the Thermal Control System that’s based in the truss. We have to run them along the laboratory module and then connect [them] to the Node-2. [T]he reason that’s important is the Node-2 has six different heat exchangers; some of those will be providing the thermal heat rejection for each of the new modules that come up later. So it’s got a big thermal job, and we have to connect all those lines that will allow it to happen. Obviously we also have to do the electrical and the data connections as well, so that we’ll be able to transmit data and receive telemetry back and forth throughout not only the Node-2 module but then later, through the laboratory modules on Columbus and the JEM … We do some mating on the inside: the internal Thermal Control System’s mated on the inside. We also have power and data connections that are done on the inside.’’

The first of those two EVAs began at 05: 10, November 20, 2007, when Whitson and Tani left the Quest airlock wearing American EMUs. Exiting the airlock as the station passed over the Atlantic Ocean, Tani remarked, “A nice day at the office here.’’

After preparing their tools, they set about individual tasks to maximise their time outside. Whitson removed an ammonia jumper, part of a temporary cooling system, on the outside of the station, vented it, and then stowed it securely in place. The jumper’s removal allowed for the establishment of the new Loop-A, one of two loops in the permanent cooling system. As she worked Whitson reported that frozen ammonia crystals were escaping from the open end of the system, “They appear

PREPARING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PARTNER MODULES

Figure 109. Expedition-16: Peggy Whitson makes a Stage EVA following the departure of STS – 120. In the background Harmony has been relocated to Destiny’s ram, and PMA-2 is on Harmony’s ram.

frozen and just bouncing off me.’’ Houston replied, “Not a problem at this time. We’re ready to press on.’’

At the same time, Tani retrieved a bag of tools left outside the station during the EVA on November 9. He then removed two fluid caps, as part of the preparation of the permanent cooling loop. His next task was to reconfigure an electrical circuit that was used to fire a pyrotechnic during the deployment of the P-1 cooling radiator on November 15. Both astronauts then made their way to the centre of the S-0 ITS where they co-operated to unbolt the 6.5 m long Loop-A fluid tray from its storage position. In order to move the tray, they took it in turns to move ahead of the tray and secure lines to ensure that it did not drift away if they lost control of it. The tray was then moved forward and the next set of lines attached to it before the previous set of lines were released. In that manner they moved the tray to the exterior of Harmony, where they secured it in place. Next, they secured six fluid connections, two at the tray, two on the S-0 ITS, and two inbetween those two locations. Tani’s final planned task was on the port side of Harmony, where he mated 11 avionics lines, meanwhile Whitson configured heating cables and connected electrical harnesses linking PMA-2 and Harmony. With time to spare they were also able to complete a number of “get-ahead” tasks. Tani connected five avionics lines on Harmony’s starboard side, before joining Whitson to connect a series of redundant umbilicals and connect the SSPTS cables to PMA-2 in its new location. The EVA ended at 12: 26, after 7 hours 16 minutes.

Whitson and Tani’s next EVA took place on November 24 and was for all intents and purposes a mirror image of the EVA completed four days earlier. Where the earlier EVA had set up Harmony’s primary cooling loop (Loop-A), the second EVA would establish the back-up cooling loop (Loop-В). Ammonia, circulated through the umbilicals installed during these two EVAs, would take up the heat produced by Harmony’s electrical equipment and transport it to the large radiators on the ITS, where the heat would be radiated to space and the ammonia recirculated. The EVA began at 04:50, with the crew exiting from Quest wearing American EMUs. They worked together to prepare their tools, before Whitson removed, vented, and stowed the ammonia lines associated with the original, temporary cooling loop. Tani disconnected two fluid caps in preparation for the establishment of Loop-В of the permanent cooling loop. His next task was to relocate an articulated portable foot restraint from its location on the port side of Harmony, to its new position on the lower portion of the module’s ram endcone. The two astronauts then joined together to move the Loop-В cooling tray from the S-0 ITS to its permanent location on the port avionics tray on Destiny’s zenith, where they bolted it in place. They used the same method to move the fluid tray as they had during the previous EVA. With the Loop-В fluid tray in place, they made the same six connections that they had made on the Loop-A fluid lines: two on the fluid tray, two on the S-0 ITS, and two inbetween. Whitson then made her way to Harmony’s starboard side where she removed the launch restraints from the petals on the CBM that would provide soft-docking for Columbus when STS-122 delivered it. That delivery was planned for December 2007. At the same time, Tani made his way to the starboard SARJ, removed one of the thermal covers, allowing him to photograph the joint and recover samples of the metal shavings contaminating the joint. It was a repeat of the work he had carried out during the visit of STS-120. During the inspection, Tani reported, “I see the same damage that I saw before… I would say there is more damage than I saw before.’’ Tani took the thermal cover back to Quest, leaving the joint open to the video cameras on the SSRMS. The video survey would be completed after the visit of STS-122 and would include at least one full rotation of the SARJ. The EVA ended at 11: 54, after 7 hours 4 minutes. The crew had light-duty days on November 25 and 26 following their week of hard work.

On November 28, NASA announced that they feared Harmony may have developed a pressure leak, although the overall pressure leakage rate for the whole station had not increased. (All pressurised modules leak. The rate of leakage is included in the module’s design stage and confirmed during manufacture and pre­launch testing. Under normal operations the gases used to pressurise the module are supplied at a rate that will maintain the correct internal pressure in addition to the known leakage rate.) That evening, Whitson was instructed to secure the area between Harmony and Unity’s hatches, so that the internal pressure could be monitored. The fact that the overall pressure leak rate had not increased suggested that the problem might actually lie in one of the measuring instruments and might not be a leak at all. The test was repeated and again showed no loss of pressure in the space between the two hatches. As a result, preparations went ahead on the station for the arrival of STS-121, in early December, while Houston continued to monitor the “pressure leak” problem.

With Harmony now on Destiny’s ram and PMA-2 on Harmony’s ram, ISS was finally configured to receive the next few Shuttle flights, which would deliver the European and Japanese modules to the station. The astronauts from those two nations would begin flying to the station in greater numbers and with increasing regularity. Following the delivery of Node-3, with its extra sleeping facilities, the station’s crew would be increased to six people, increasing its capacity to perform first-class orbital science. The last two items of American ISS hardware, the S-6 ITS and the Cupola, would also be launched and installed. In time the European ATV and the Japanese HTV would begin delivering consumables to the station alongside the Russian Progress spacecraft.

As the STS-122 launch was delayed in November 2007, the future schedule for ISS through the end of the Shuttle programme was mapped out:

STS-122

DISCOVERY: Columbus

STS-123

ENDEAVOUR: JEM ELM-PS (placed in temporary position) and Canadian Dextere robotics system. Four EVAs to install equipment

Soyuz TMA-12

Expedition-17 crew up.

STS-124

ATLANTIS: Kibo, two EVAs to install lab and Japanese RMS. Relocate JEM ELM PS to permanent position

STS-128

ENDEAVOUR: MPLM. Establish six-person Expedition crew

H-IIA

ATV-1

STS-119

ENDEAVOUR: S-6 Truss

Soyuz TMA-13

Expedition-18 crew up.

STS-126

MPLM

STS-127

DISCOVERY: JEM-ES and JEM-EF

STS-129

DISCOVERY: EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 & 2

STS-130

MPLM

STS-131

DISCOVERY: EXPRESS Carrier 3 & 4

STS-123

ENDEAVOUR: Node-3 and Cupola

STS-132

ENDEAVOUR: EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 5 & 6

As the Shuttle approaches the end of its career, the Russian Soyuz will become the principal vehicle for crew delivery and recovery including the astronauts from all of the ISS International Partners. Given the support of Congress and the new President (the Presidential election is in 2008) the American Project Constellation spacecraft, Orion, and its Ares-1 launch vehicle will be developed and flight-tested. As 2007 drew to a close, only Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had made positive statements on Orion during her campaign. Clinton’s spokesperson, Isaac Baker, had stated, “Senator Clinton does not support delaying the Constellation Programme and intends to maintain American leadership in space exploration.’’ Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama had called for Project Constellation to be delayed for 5 years and the money spent on education and social programmes.

If they are built, Orion and Ares-1 will assume the role of American crew delivery and recovery in the ISS programme, but flying to ISS is not the principal role for which Orion is being built.

As America prepares to return to the Moon, hopefully taking their International Partners with them, what role does that leave for ISS? During the pre-launch interview for his Expedition-11 flight, Sergei Krikalev voiced his view of the impor­tance of the ISS programme to Project Constellation and the future of human spaceflight in general:

“[The International Space] Station is not the ultimate goal. It’s an intermediate goal. That may be the significance of this Station. This is an intermediate step you have to make before you go any further. Life science experiments can be con­ducted on the Station to understand how far we can go with the configuration we have right now and what else we need to do to provide more efficiency of human beings on this long-duration mission, and long-distance mission. We continue to conduct technological experiments to see how materials change and how they behave inside, and outside, the Station, to know how to build new vehicles. We are even learning how micro-organisms change inside the Station, and some of these organisms might be a biological hazard for materials inside. Certain micro­organisms can destroy insulation on wires and create big trouble. We have to be prepared especially if we are to go on long-distance missions. On these long­distance missions (not only long-duration missions, as we are flying on the Station right now) you have to be much more autonomous. Even small things that people don’t think about very often can change the quality of our development. Being [a] participant on Mir flights and now [on an] ISS flight I see that [the] experience of people, on the ground, operational experience, is very important. Unless we gain this experience, unless we do this step, we will never be able to move any farther from the Earth. It needs to be done on the Station before we can make any further steps.’’

PREPARING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PARTNER MODULES

Recovery and restructuring

STS-121 RETURNS THE SHUTTLE TO FLIGHT

STS-121

COMMANDER

Steven Lindsey

PILOT

Mark Kelly

MISSION SPECIALISTS

Michael Fossum, Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson,

Piers Sellers

EXPEDITION-13 & 14 (up)

Thomas Reiter (ESA)

STS-121 was the first Shuttle flight since the fleet had been re-grounded in the wake of STS-114. The flight would carry 4,000 kg of cargo to the station in the MPLM Leonardo, to re-stock the supplies that had been used during the intervening period. It would also deliver Thomas Reiter, the third member of the Expedition-13 crew, to the station. Reiter was the first ESA astronaut to serve on an ISS Expedition crew. The agreement to fly Reiter was signed in May 2003. Director of Human Spaceflight at ESA Daniel Sacotte explained:

“It covers the ESA astronaut’s flight in a crew position originally planned for a Russian cosmonaut. He will perform all the tasks originally allocated to the second Russian cosmonaut on board the ISS and, in addition, an ESA experimental programme.’’

Reiter added:

ESA is making important contributions to the ISS and its scientific capabilities. We are assuming significant operational responsibilities in this programme and I am confident that this mission will give Europe valuable

operational experience and scientific results which will further prepare us for the exciting and challenging times ahead.”

STS-121 would be the first launch to be controlled from the new Firing Room 4 in the Launch Control Centre, at KSC. The new Firing Room would become the principal launch control room for the remainder of the Shuttle programme, while the original Firing Rooms were converted for use in Project Constellation.

The first attempt to launch STS-121 was made on July 1, 2006. On that occasion the countdown reached the planned hold at T — 9 minutes, when it was held due to anvil clouds, potential thunderstorms, in the area. The launch was subsequently scrubbed and recycled to the following day. On July 2 the countdown was scrubbed for a second time, due to anvil clouds in the area and recycled for a further 48 hours. The new launch date was set for July 4.

On July 4 a crack in the insulating foam on the Shuttle’s ET had to be filled and an investigation was required when a triangular piece of foam fell away from the ET while Discovery stood on the launchpad. It was decided that the launch could proceed as planned. In February, Lindsey had warned the media, “We will lose foam on this flight, just like every other. The key is to make sure that any foam we do lose is of a small enough size so it can’t hurt us if it hits the vehicle.’’

Discovery finally lifted off at 14: 38, July 4, 2006 and was in orbit a few minutes later. Film from the numerous cameras on the vehicle showed that the ET had continued to shed foam and the crew were even informed that MCC-Houston thought that one piece might have struck the underside of the orbiter. The crew began their sleep period at 20: 38.

Eight hours later, they were awake and ready for their first full day in space. Beginning work shortly after 07: 00, Nowak and Wilson used the RMS to lift the

Recovery and restructuring

Figure 70. STS-121 crew (L to R): Thomas Reiter, Michael E. Fossum, Piers J. Sellers, Steven W. Lindsey, Mark E. Kelly, Stephanie D. Wilson and Lisa M. Nowak.

OBSS from the opposite edge of the payload bay and manoeuvred it so that the Laser Dynamic Range Imager, the Laser Camera System, and the Intensified Television Camera mounted on the end could image the leading edge of both wings and the orbiter’s nosecap. Meanwhile, Sellers set up Discovery’s computers and Reiter prepared the mid-deck for the transfer of equipment and stores to ISS. Sellers and Fossum were assisted by Kelly as they checked the EMUs they would wear on two, or possibly three EVAs.

On ISS, Vinogradov and Williams prepared cameras, with the 400 mm and 800 mm lenses, that they would use to photograph Discovery during its approach to the station. They also pressurised PMA-2 in preparation for Discovery’s docking.

As Discovery approached ISS, Lindsey commenced station-keeping at a distance of 200 metres, he then performed a nose-over-tail pitch manoeuvre so that Vinogradov and Williams could photograph the underside of the orbiter. The photo­graphs were down-linked to Houston for scrutiny. The rendezvous then continued and Lindsey docked Discovery to PMA-2 at 10:52, July 6. Following pressure checks the hatches between the two vehicles were opened and Discovery’s crew entered the station at 12: 30. Vinogradov and Williams greeted them and then issued the standard safety briefing. Williams told Houston, “It’s a full house. The climate has changed significantly.” The first action after that was to transfer Reiter’s couch lining and Sokol pressure suit from Discovery to Soyuz TMA-8, thereby signalling his transfer from the STS-121 crew to the Expedition-13 crew. For the first time since the Expedition-6 crew, who had been in orbit when STS-107 was lost in February 2003, the Expedition crew on ISS now consisted of three people. Vinogradov had the following to say about the arrival of the European astronaut:

“I think that it is a very important milestone… at this stage we can support a crew of three or more. But from the human standpoint, it’s important because we do have to notice that over the last two years the ISS program is kind of slowing down and the interest is not what it used to be on the part of the Russian government and Congressmen in the United States. There are certain notes of dissatisfaction on the part of the people who are working on the science and experiments on board the station because unfortunately the rate of station assembly and deployment is quite different from what they expected. And so the arrival of the third person, Thomas Reiter in our case, greatly improves the capability of the crew in terms of performing science program and experiments. The other thing is that Thomas Reiter is a representative of Europe. Europeans are important and we are working with them very closely. The European Space Agency contributes considerable effort from the standpoint of research.’’

Williams was equally keen to see Reiter join the crew:

“We’re really looking forward to the Shuttle arriving, and Thomas joining us as a crew of three. It’s obviously very significant. Since Expedition 7 we’ve been flying and sustaining the Space Station with a crew of two. Those who track that sort of thing say that it takes more than two people just to run the station, so it leaves no excess crew time for the other things. Getting back to a crew of three will help us accomplish more. It’s also significant in that we will be continuing with the assembly of the Space Station, to get it up to its full capability with the resuming of regular Space Shuttle flights, which is important, of course, to meet the vision of space exploration.”

The EMUs that Fossum and Nowak would use during their planned EVAs were also transferred, from Discovery to Quest. In preparation for the first EVA, Williams and Wilson used the SSRMS to lift the OBSS from its storage position and hand it over to Discovery’s own RMS. With Discovery docked to ISS there was insufficient clearance for Discovery’s RMS to retrieve the OBSS. During the EVA, the 33-metre long combination would undergo tests as a work platform giving access to areas of the Shuttle that were previously inaccessible.

The following day, Nowak, Wilson, Fossum, and Sellers used the SSRMS to lift Leonardo out of Discovery’s payload bay and dock it to Unity. Docking occurred at 08:15, July 7, following an initial concern that straps on Unity’s CBM might prevent a perfect air-tight seal. Following pressure and leak tests Lindsey, Wilson, and Reiter opened the hatches between the two modules and began several days of equipment transfer. Vinogradov was in no doubt of the importance of the arrival of Leonardo at the station:

“That period of joint flight with the Shuttle is quite busy in terms of the crew of the station and the Shuttle crew working together. It’s quite intense work. First you have to move a very considerable amount of cargo, you have to get it out of the MPLM and stow it on the station. It’s quite important—extremely important, I would say—because that provides the supplies for our continued flight.’’

Williams has said:

“It’s also important to get a lot of the equipment that is no longer required on station off and packed into that empty MPLM so it can come home. The station’s getting pretty crowded here in recent months and years… It’s going to be important for both crews to be very disciplined in the transfer of equipment, both to the station and returning to the Shuttle. To do that, we have a flight plan onboard. Part of that flight plan is a transfer plan. It’s a detailed choreography of all of the transfers, everything that goes across the hatches between the Shuttle and the Station, developed by the folks on the ground and trained by both crews.’’

Nowak, Kelly, and Wilson also used the RMS/OBSS combination to carry out further inspections of Discovery’s exterior, finding six areas requiring further inves­tigation, although none of them were areas of major concern. Areas of particular attention were parts of the nosecap that had been missed on July 5, and a piece of fabric near the orbiter’s nose. Fossum and Sellers spent the day preparing for their first EVA. During the day, mission managers made the decision to extend Discovery’s flight by one day, including a third EVA. Engineers in Houston also reviewed the initial photographs and laser scans of Discovery’s exterior.

EVA-1 began at 09:17, July 8, when Sellers and Fossum left Quest. Their first task was to repair the MT mounted on the S-0 ITS. The emergency cable cutter had malfunctioned and cut one of two cables that moved the MT along the truss. During a Stage EVA the Expedition-12 crew had removed the second cable from the cutter after failing to install a bolt to prevent the blade from falling and cutting it. After collecting their tools together, Sellers and Fossum made their way to the S-0 ITS, where they installed a device to block the cable cutter blade on the MT, thereby denying the ability to sever the cable in an emergency. After installing the block, they reinstalled the cable in the cutter, thereby repairing the MT and making it available to move the SSRMS along the truss during EVA-2. The second portion of EVA-1 included simulating the use of the RMS/OBSS as a workstation. Nowak and Wilson operated the RMS from Discovery’s aft flight deck, while Kelly served as intra­vehicular officer, the EVA astronauts’ guide, offering whatever assistance he could from inside Discovery. With Sellers standing on the foot restraint mounted on the end of the OBSS the combination was put through a series of pre-planned manoeuvres while sensors recorded the forces involved. Sellers remarked, “Just a general comment. It gets easier as you go along doing all the tasks on the end of a skinny little pole. A little practice makes perfect.’’ In Houston the Flight Director com­mented at his end-of-shift press conference, “The arm damped a lot quicker than we thought, based on our analysis… That gives us very good confidence we could use this as a platform for repairs.’’ In space, Fossum joined Sellers at the end of the OBSS, which was then manoeuvred to three different simulated work positions. The last of these lifted Fossum to a position where he could push up with his hands against the P-1 ITS. The EVA ended at 16:48, after 7 hours 31 minutes.

While the EVA was taking place, Vinogradov and Reiter began unloading Leonardo and transferring stores to the station, including a new sample freezer and a new oxygen generator. When installed in Destiny, at a later date, the generator would upgrade the station’s oxygen capacity to the point that it could support up to six people on long-duration Expedition crews.

As the day’s activities came to an end mission managers cleared Discovery’s heatshield for re-entry. The following day, July 9, was spent unloading stores from Leonardo and preparing items on Discovery for return to Earth. Sellers and Fossum spent the day cleaning their EMUs and preparing their tools and Quest for their second EVA, on July 10.

With the crew awake at 02: 08, preparations for the second EVA began immedi­ately after breakfast. Sellers and Fossum left Quest at 08: 14, and climbed down into Discovery’s payload bay. There, they lifted the pump module from its stowage location so that Nowak and Wilson could grapple it with the SSRMS and lift it into position. Meanwhile, Sellers and Fossum remained in the payload bay preparing for the primary task of the EVA, replacing the Mobile Transporter’s Trailing Umbilical System (TUS), the power and data cable that had been cut during the Expedition-12 occupation. Both men made their way to the S-0 ITS, where Fossum disconnected electrical cables, and Sellers then replaced the Interface Umbilical Assembly (IUA) with a new one, without a cutting blade. By that time the SSRMS had manoeuvred the pump module to External Stowage Platform 2. Sellers and Fossum made their

way to that location and secured the module to the platform, thus allowing the SSRMS to release it. The pump module was a spare, now available if it should be needed in the future.

Sellers and Fossum returned to their work on the TUS. Now working from the end of the SSRMS, Fossum removed the TUS reel assembly and carried it down to the payload bay. While he was doing that, Sellers worked in the payload bay to unpack and prepare the new reel assembly. While Fossum returned to the work site Sellers stowed the old reel assembly in Discovery’s payload bay. Back on the S-0 Truss, Fossum was joined by Sellers and they worked together to install the new reel assembly and routed it through the IUA. The work ensured that the MT would have the required redundancy to enable it to support future assembly flights. Having stowed their equipment, both men returned to Quest and the EVA ended at 15: 01, after 6 hours 47 minutes. During the EVA Fossum had to twice stop working and secure a loose connection on Seller’s SAFER. While the work was taking place outside, Vinogradov, Williams, and Reiter continued to unload Leonardo, and Lindsey transferred two bags of water from Discovery to ISS.

The following day, July 11, was spent transferring equipment and rubbish from ISS to Leonardo, for return to Earth. Wilson served as loadmaster, ensuring every­thing was secured in the correct place, thereby retaining Discovery’s correct centre of balance for re-entry and landing. Sellers and Fossum cleaned their EMUs and prepared them for their third EVA.

That EVA began at 07: 20, July 12. Sellers and Fossum left Quest, made their way into the payload bay, collected their tools, and installed a foot restraint on the SSRMS. After Sellers had mounted the SSRMS, Nowak and Wilson manoeuvred him to a point close to Discovery’s starboard wing’s leading edge, where he recorded several seconds of infrared imagery. The imagery, which recorded temperature differences, would help to identify any internal damage to the area. The manoeuvre simulated lifting an astronaut to a position where he could try to repair damage to the wing’s leading edge, as suffered by STS-107. Returning to the payload bay, Sellers joined Fossum at a workstation where both men trialled a variety of methods for repairing damage to 12 samples of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon, similar to the panels on the wing’s leading edge. Using a space-cleared caulking gun and a series of spatulas, they pumped a carbon-silicon polymer called NOAX into the simulated damaged tiles in an attempt to repair them. Over almost two hours they repaired three gauged tiles and two cracked tiles. They also imaged four of the repair samples with the same infrared equipment that Sellers had used of the starboard wing. An additional get-ahead task was added to the EVA: Sellers used a pistol grip tool to remove the fixed grapple bar used to move the pump module during the second EVA, moved over to the S-1 Truss, and installed it on an ammonia tank that was due to be moved during the Expedition-15 occupation. The EVA ended at 14: 31, after 7 hours 11 minutes. As usual, the remainder of the crew spent the day loading Leonardo.

Following their hectic first eight days, Discovery’s crew were given July 13 off, with the exception of a few interviews. July 14 was also spent in interviews and completing the final loading of Leonardo. The MPLM was de-activated and was undocked from Destiny at 09: 32, and lowered into Discovery’s payload bay, where it

Recovery and restructuring

Figure 71. STS-121: A view from the station’s wake, as STS-121 completes its fly-around, shows the station as it was before construction was resumed.

was secured at 11:00. Lindsey and Reiter then used the RMS, with the OBSS attached, to view Discovery’s heatshield and search for any damage that had occurred during orbital operations. None was found.

July 15 was the final day of joint operations as Discovery’s crew prepared for their departure. Undocking took place at 06: 08 and was followed by the crew imaging the leading edge of the starboard wing and the nosecone. Discovery per­formed station-keeping while mission managers reviewed the new images and cleared the heatshield for re-entry. The Shuttle fell behind and above ISS with the minimum of manoeuvring. Discovery’s crew spent the following day preparing for re-entry, while, on ISS, Williams depressurised PMA-2 and Vinogradov and Reiter continued the station’s maintenance and experiment programmes.

Discovery’s payload bay doors were closed at 05: 27, July 16, and retrofire occurred at 08: 07. Thereafter, Lindsey turned his vehicle so the nose was forward and high, until gravity pulled it out of orbit. The orbiter glided to a perfect landing at KSC, at 09: 15, after a flight lasting 12 days 18 hours 38 minutes. It had six astronauts onboard, one less than at launch; the seventh, Reiter, was still in orbit, as part of the now three-person Expedition-13 crew.

At the landing site Michael Griffin told the press, “Obviously this is as good a mission as we’ve ever flown… But we’re not going to get overconfident.” The Shuttle was finally back in business and the construction of ISS was set to continue. Mean­while, NASA was already busy defining the vehicle that would replace the Shuttle when it retired in 2010. When the crew returned to Houston, Lindsey told the waiting crowd, “In terms of human spaceflight… we’re back.’’ The crowd applauded loudly. Lindsey was more sombre, “I think it’s more like the beginning of the next phase… I don’t think we ever want to put Columbia behind us.’’

As Discovery landed, the published flight programme for the completion of ISS looked like this:

Launch date

Flight

Vehicle

Flight details

August 28, 2006

12A

Atlantis

STS-115

• Second port truss segment (ITS P-3/P-4)

• Second set of solar arrays and batteries

December 14, 2006

12A.1

Discovery

STS-116

• Third port truss segment (ITS P-5)

• SpaceHab Single Cargo Module

• Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC)

February 22, 2007

13A

Atlantis

STS-117

• Second starboard truss segment (ITS S-3/ S-4) with Photovoltaic Radiator (PVR)

• Third set of solar arrays and batteries

June 11, 2007

13A.1

Endeavour

STS-118

• SpaceHab Single Cargo Module

• Third starboard truss segment (ITS S-5)

• External Stowage Platform 3 (ESP3)

Under review

ATV1

Ariane 5

• European Automated Transfer Vehicle

August 9, 2007

10A

Atlantis

STS-120

• Node 2

• Sidewall, Power and Data Grapple Fixture (PDGF)

September 27, 2007

1E

Discovery

STS-122

• Columbus European Laboratory Module

• Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure, Non-Deployable (MPESS-ND)

November 29, 2007

1J/A

Endeavour

STS-123

• Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, Pressurized Section (ELM-PS)

• Spacelab Pallet, Deployable 1 (SLP-D1) with Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, Dextere

February 7, 2008

1J

Atlantis

STS-124

• Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Pressurised Module (JEM-PM)

• Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS)

June 19, 2008

15A

Endeavour

STS-119

• Fourth starboard truss segment (ITS S6)

• Fourth set of solar arrays and batteries

August 21, 2008

ULF2

Atlantis (last flight) STS-126

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

Under review

3R

Russian

Proton

• Multipurpose Laboratory Module with European Robotic Arm (ERA)

Launch date

Flight

Vehicle

Flight details

October 30, 2008

2J/A

Discovery

STS-127

• Kibo Japanese Experiment Module, Exposed Facility (JEM-EF)

• Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, Exposed Section (ELM-ES)

• Spacelab Pallet, Deployable 2 (SLP-D2)

January 22, 2009

17A

Endeavour

STS-128

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier (LMC)

• Three crew quarters, galley, second treadmill (TVIS2), Crew Health Care System 2 (CHeCS2)

Establish six-person crew capability

Under review

HTV-1

H-IIA

• Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle

April 30, 2009

ULF3

Discovery

(last

scheduled

flight)

STS-129

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 (ELC1)

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 2 (ELC2)

July 16, 2009

19A

Endeavour

STS-130

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier (LMC)

October 22, 2009

*ULF4

Discovery STS-131 (if needed)

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 3 (ELC3)

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4)

January 21, 2010

20A

Endeavour

STS-132

• Node 3 with Cupola

July 15, 2010

*ULF5

Endeavour

STS-132

(if needed)

(final

Shuttle

flight)

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 5 (ELC5)

• EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 (ELC1)

ISS assembly complete

Under review

9R

Russian

Proton

Research Module

* Two Shuttle-equivalent flights for contingency.

Notes’. Soyuz flights for crew transport schedule at approximately 6-month intervals beginning in September 2006. Additional Progress flights for logistics and re-supply are not listed.

At the Farnborough International Air Show, in England, held during July 2006, ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain stated at a press conference, “I have a wish that Europe participate in one of the two next-generation transportation systems [the American Orion, or Russia’s Kliper]. If we don’t, I fear we will always be a second – class partner.” America had already made it clear that NASA intended to develop Orion as an all-American spacecraft, so ESA had agreed to undertake a 2-year feasibility study on crewed spacecraft architecture, for a spacecraft to be launched by a Soyuz launch vehicle from Baikonur, or from the new pad for such vehicles at ESA’s launch site in Kourou. Meanwhile, Energia had to admit that Kliper would cost more than the entire Russian space programme budget for the period 2006-2015. Therefore, the new spacecraft would not be built. Rather, the Russians would update Soyuz yet again, making it capable of Earth orbital and lunar orbital flight. At the same meeting NASA Administrator Michael Griffin explained to the audience, “Our plan is to have one more daylight [Shuttle] launch before resuming night operations … We do need to resume night operations to complete the Space Station, we’ve always known that.’’

In America, NASA had named the two new Shuttle-derived launch vehicles that would be used to support Project Constellation. The Crew Launch Vehicle would be called Ares-1 and the Heavy Lift Launcher would be Ares-5. The numerical designa­tions were salutes to the Apollo Saturn-class launch vehicles. Meanwhile, the CEV had been named “Orion”. Lockheed-Martin was named as prime contractor for the development of the Orion spacecraft in August 2006. It would be a ballistic capsule, superficially similar to the Apollo Command Service Module, and would carry a crew of up to six people. It would be launched by an Ares-1 launch vehicle consisting of a first stage derived from a Shuttle SRB and a new liquid propellant second stage. The new vehicle would use the old Apollo/Shuttle facilities at LC-39, KSC.

NASA had also launched a quest for commercial cargo access to ISS, the Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS). Two industry partnerships, led by SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler, would use NASA funding, along with private funding to develop an automated vehicle to deliver cargo to ISS and to carry away rubbish. The new vehicle would be heated to destruction during re-entry. The selected developer would be open to sell space on their vehicles commercially, and NASA would be nothing more than a commercial customer. Flight demonstrations would begin in 2008. Phase-1 development would concentrate on an uncrewed cargo vehicle, with the option to progress to Phase-2, a vehicle for delivering humans to ISS.

Project Constellation

As the Shuttle returned to flight following the loss of STS-107, initial definition was well under way on the new Project Constellation space vehicles, intended to fulfil President Bush Junior’s vision of returning humans to the lunar surface and then moving on to a human landing on Mars. The Constellation hardware consisted of two launch vehicles and two spacecraft. The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), later named the “Orion” spacecraft, would be launched by the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), renamed the “Ares-I”. The Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), “Altair”, and its heavy-lift launch vehicle, called “Ares-V” are currently of no relevance to the future ISS flight programme and are therefore not reviewed in this volume.