Feb. 4, 2006
Johnson Space Center, Houston
STATUS REPORT: SS06-005
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION STATUS REPORT: SS06-005
Space station crewmembers released a spacesuit-turned-satellite during
the second spacewalk of their mission last night. Called SuitSat, it
faintly transmitted recorded voices of school children to amateur
radio operators worldwide for a brief period before it ceased sending
Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery
Tokarev ventured outside for a five-hour, 43-minute spacewalk to
release SuitSat, conduct preventative maintenance to a cable-cutting
device, retrieve experiments and photograph the station’s exterior.
Clad in Russian Orlan spacesuits, McArthur and Tokarev opened the
hatch to begin the spacewalk at 5:44 p.m. EST. It was the fourth
career spacewalk for McArthur and the second for Tokarev.
After setting up tools and equipment, they positioned the unneeded
Orlan spacesuit on a ladder by the station’s Pirs airlock hatch. The
suit reached the end of its operational life for spacewalks in August
2004. It was outfitted by the crew with three batteries, internal
sensors and a radio transmitter for this experiment.
The SuitSat provided recorded greetings in six languages to ham radio
operators for about two orbits of the Earth before it stopped
transmitting, perhaps due to its batteries failing in the cold
environment of space, according to amateur radio coordinators
affiliated with the station program. The suit will enter the
atmosphere and burn up in a few weeks.
Tokarev pushed the suit away toward the aft end of the station as the
complex flew 225 miles above the south central Pacific Ocean. The
suit initially drifted away at a rate of about a half meter per
second, slowly floating out of view below the Zvezda Service Module
and its attached Progress cargo craft. The suit is now separating
from the station at a rate of about six kilometers every 90 minutes.
McArthur and Tokarev then moved from Pirs to the Zarya module where
they removed a hubcap-shaped grapple fixture adapter for the Strela
crane. They moved the adapter to Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 on the
Unity module. The Strela fixture was moved to prepare Zarya for the
future temporary stowage of debris shields.
McArthur and Tokarev made their way to the center truss segment of the
station, where they tried and failed to securely install a safety
bolt in a contingency cutting device for one of two cables that
provide power, data and video to the Mobile Transporter rail car. The
transporter moves along the truss to correctly position the Canadarm2
robotic arm for assembly work. The Trailing Umbilical System cable on
the nadir, or Earth-facing side of the transporter was inadvertently
severed by its cutter on Dec. 16.
After several attempts to drive the bolt with a high-tech screwdriver,
McArthur wire-tied the cable to a handrail instead. That left the
cable out of its cutting mechanism, disabling the Transporter from
further movement on the station’s rail system for the time being. The
Transporter is not needed for assembly work until the STS-115 mission
to install additional truss segments.
The severed cable reel mechanism will be replaced during one of the
three spacewalks by Discovery crewmembers Piers Sellers and Mike
Fossum during the STS-121 space shuttle mission later this year.
McArthur and Tokarev moved back to Pirs. Once at the Russian airlock,
they retrieved an experiment to study the effect of the space
environment on microorganisms.
As their final spacewalk task, the crew photographed the exterior of
Zvezda, including Russian sensors that measure micrometeoroid
impacts, handrails, propulsion systems and a ham radio antenna.
McArthur and Tokarev then returned to the Pirs airlock and closed the
hatch at 11:27 p.m. EST. It was the 64th spacewalk in support of
station assembly and maintenance, the 36th staged from the station,
and the 17th conducted from Pirs. In all, station spacewalkers have
accumulated 384 hours and 23 minutes outside the facility since
Meanwhile in Russia, final preparations were made this week to ship
the next Soyuz spacecraft from Moscow to the Baikonur Cosmodrome
launch site in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft is scheduled to depart
Monday and will launch the 13th station crew in late March.
During the week, the station was maneuvered through a new procedure
using guidance and navigation computers in the Destiny laboratory to
request firings of the thrusters on the Zvezda module while
maintaining overall attitude control through the Control Moment
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