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martes, 11 de agosto de 2009

STS-127 Mission Recap

NASA Commentator George Diller: Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off in a blaze of smoke and clouds on the STS-127 mission at 6:03 p.m. Eastern time, July 15, 2009.

Safely secured inside the shuttle were the mission's seven astronauts, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Chris Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Tim Kopra and Julie Payette of the Canadian Space Agency. Also inside were the final segments of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory.

Just before docking, Polansky guided the shuttle to within 600 feet of the station and performed the flip maneuver, allowing photos to be taken of the shuttle's thermal protection system by the station crew.

After docking and with the traditional ringing of the bell, the hatches between the two space vehicles opened and the STS-127 crew was given a hearty welcome. This was the first time in space history 13 humans were in orbit together at the same time.

Within a few hours after docking, Kopra replaced Wakata as flight engineer. Wakata returned to Earth with the Endeavour crew after a four-month assignment on station.

After "camping out" in the station's Quest airlock overnight, Wolf and Kopra were first to travel out into space to install the Japanese Exposed Facility to Kibo.

The second spacewalk executed by Wolf and Marshburn took place on July 20, the same day 40 years ago when the world's focus was on the first moonwalk. The six-hour, 53-minute excursion involved a number of station hardware replacement and installation tasks.

On Flight Day 7, using two robotic arms and the dual efforts of the space station and Endeavour crews, the Japanese Logistics Module-Exposed Section was successfully installed.

During the third spacewalk to install six new batteries for the station's oldest solar arrays, Cassidy's CO2 levels increased to a level that signaled an end to the spacewalk a little earlier than planned. The remainder of the new batteries was installed during the fourth space excursion and the old ones were stored in Endeavour's payload bay for the ride home.

Polansky, Hurley and Payette, along with Kopra, used the shuttle and station robotic arms to maneuver the Japanese Exposed Section cargo carrier back into Endeavour's payload bay.

After a well-deserved day of rest for the entire crew, Marshburn and Cassidy performed the fifth and final spacewalk installing video cameras on the front and back of the new Japanese Exposed Facility.

A complex and demanding undertaking at the station that included 30 hours, 30 minutes throughout five spacewalks came to a close as Endeavour parted company with the Expedition crew members and the hatches were closed once again.

After undocking, Hurley carefully guided the shuttle away from the station, flying around the orbiting outpost for one final look at all the work accomplished on this mission.

One more inspection of the spacecraft's heat shield was performed with the Orbiter Boom Sensor System before the shuttle was cleared for landing.

CAPCOM: Endeavour, Houston, great news! You are "Go" for the deorbit burn.

Commander Mike Polansky: You are a steely-eyed hero! "Go" for the deorbit burn.

Diller: Endeavour touched down on the first opportunity under clear-blue skies at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:48 Eastern time July 31.

A complex and successful 16-day mission packed with spacewalks, robotics work, science experiments and completion of the Japanese segment on the orbital outpost came to a close with the safe return of the crew and a flawless landing.

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