[sarex] NASA Welcomes Space Shuttle Crew Back to Earth
azrowe80 at verizon.net
Thu Sep 21 11:24:45 PDT 2006
SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468
> Sept. 21, 2006
> Grey Hautaluoma
> Headquarters, Washington
> Tracy Young
> Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
> NASA WELCOMES SPACE SHUTTLE CREW BACK TO EARTH
> The Space Shuttle Atlantis and its crew are home after a 12-day
> journey of more than 4.9 million miles in space. The mission,
> STS-115, succeeded in restarting assembly of the International Space
> Station. The crew delivered and installed the massive P3/P4 truss, an
> integral part of the station's backbone, and two sets of solar arrays
> that will eventually provide one quarter of the station's power.
> Atlantis' Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson and mission
> specialists Joe Tanner, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Dan Burbank,
> and Steve MacLean, a Canadian astronaut, landed Thursday, Sept. 21,
> at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 6:21 a.m. EDT. After
> landing, Jett told Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center,
> "Thanks, Houston. It's nice to be back. It was a great team effort,
> so I think assembly's off to a good start."
> The flight was the first in a series of missions that will be among
> the most complex in space history. Atlantis delivered the first major
> new component to the station since 2002 and laid the groundwork for
> upcoming station assembly missions.
> STS-115 is one of the most photographed shuttle missions ever, with
> more than 100 high-definition, digital, video and film cameras
> documenting the launch and climb to orbit. Data from these images, as
> well as station and shuttle crew inspection, helped to clear
> Atlantis' thermal protection system for return only two and a half
> days after launch.
> Tanner, Piper, Burbank and MacLean, with the help of crewmates, made
> three spacewalks that completed truss installation, enabled solar
> arrays to be deployed and prepared an important radiator for later
> activation. They also installed a signal processor and transponder
> that transmits voice and data to the ground and performed other tasks
> to upgrade and protect the station's systems.
> A new procedure called a "camp out" was implemented, in which
> astronauts slept in the Quest airlock prior to their spacewalks. The
> process shortens the "prebreathe" time during which nitrogen is
> purged from the astronauts' systems and air pressure is lowered so
> the spacewalkers avoid the condition known as the bends. On each of
> the three spacewalks, the astronauts were able to perform more than
> the number of scheduled activities.
> The astronauts performed unprecedented robotics work. They used the
> shuttle's arm in a delicate maneuver to hand off the school bus-sized
> truss to the station's arm. The 45-foot truss weighs 35,000 pounds.
> The arrays at the end of the truss extended to their full 240-foot
> wingspan once they unfurled on flight day six. The astronauts also
> moved the station's robotic arm to a position where it will assist in
> the next phase of station construction.
> After Atlantis undocked from the station, it did the first full fly
> around of the facility since prior to the Space Shuttle Columbia
> accident. The maneuver helped ground crews get a better perspective
> on the station's environment and overall exterior health.
> Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a call during the mission
> to astronaut Steve MacLean to congratulate him on being the first
> Canadian to operate Canadarm2, the station's Canadian-built robotic
> After undocking, the Atlantis crew participated in a first-ever
> three-way call with the Expedition 13 crew aboard the International
> Space Station and the three crew members of the Soyuz spacecraft on
> its way to the station. All 12 astronauts in space at that time were
> able to have a conversation.
> With Atlantis and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the next
> stage of International Space Station assembly. Preparations continue
> for Space Shuttle Discovery's launch, targeted for mid-December, on
> the STS-116 mission to deliver an additional truss segment and a
> cargo module to the station. Discovery will also do extensive work on
> the station's electrical and cooling systems.
> For more on the STS-115 mission and the upcoming STS-116 mission,
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