Deadline For Tricky Spacewalk Plans Approaches
1 November 2007 10:15 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON – With a few hours to go before the STS-120 and Expedition 16 crews awake, ISS flight director Heather Rarick said mission planners are still working around the clock to hammer out new spacewalk instructions.

 

"We've had at least three or four extra teams running throughout the shifts," Rarick said of the push to finalize the plans for spacewalkers, robotic arm operators and other crew involved in the spacewalk. "It's just been a fantastic effort."

 

The crew is set to wake up at 1:08 a.m. ET (0508 GMT), which NASA has set as the deadline for submitting a final draft.

 

Space shuttle Discovery commander Pamela Melroy said the spacewalk being delayed to Saturday was disappointing, but necessary.

 

"I have no problem with that at all," Melroy said of getting extra time to draft the instructions.

 

The rough plan has spacewalker Scott Parazynski hitching a unique ride on the space shuttle's 50-foot (15-meter) extension boom, which the 57-foot (17-meter) space station arm will grapple. The robotic stack will then pick Parazynski up at the Port 1 truss, maneuvering him in about an hour to the Port 6 solar array damage site.

 

Once there, engineers will assess Parazynski's close-up view of two tears in the 4B solar array wing; he is expected to thread five homemade "cuff links" through the array to relieve stress on the tears.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Unprecedented Spacewalk Delayed to Saturday
1 November 2007 4:15 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – NASA Mission Control commentator Kylie Clem said space shuttle STS-120 mission managers have pushed back the fourth of up to five planned spacewalks from Friday Nov. 2 to Saturday Nov. 3 to allow more time for planning.

 

Spokespeople here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) said the revised extravehicular activity, or EVA, to repair a maimed solar wing of International Space Station (ISS) will begin on or before 5:30 a.m. ET (0930 GMT) Saturday morning.

 

During the spacewalk, STS-120 mission astronaut Scott Parazynski will climb aboard the space shuttle's orbital boom sensor system, or OBSS, which the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arm will hold—an unprecedented activity in space. He will be supported by spacewalker Doug Wheelock, whose call sign is "Wheels."

 

Astronauts remotely moved the space station's robotic arm into position this morning; early Saturday, the arm will grapple the middle of the 50-foot (15-meter) boom to ferry Parazynski out to the damaged area.

 

Meanwhile, space shuttle Discovery pilot George Zamka and ISS Cmdr. Peggy Whitson have begun collecting parts from around the orbital laboratory that will be crafted into tension-relieving straps to be installed over the 2.5-foot (0.76-meter) tear in the 2B solar array wing, located on the Port 6 truss segment.

 

The change in spacewalk date came shortly after the crew awoke this morning to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens.

 

Shannon Lucid, former astronaut and spacecraft communicator at Mission Control, told space shuttle Cmdr. Pamela Melroy that the song was played for the crew by their training team here at JSC. "You have made them look really good!" Lucid said.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Spacewalk Set for Friday, Shuttle Landing Plans Changed
1 November 2007 12:30 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – NASA mission managers sent instructions to astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) to prepare for a solar-wing-fixing spacewalk on Friday.

 

"Right now, change is the only constant in your world!!!" reads part of a message to crew members in the revised set of plans.

 

The new game plan includes instructions for space station and STS-120 space shuttle crews to craft "cufflinks" out of wire and other materials on board the orbital laboratory. Spacewalker Scott Parazynski will use the homemade devices to relive physical stress off of a recent tear in a solar wing, which is one of two found in the 4B solar array on the Port 6 truss segment.

 

The flight execute package—as the updated set of plans sent daily to the space shuttle crew are known—also details rationale for delaying landing in daylight on Nov. 7.

 

The "descending" landing will have the space shuttle swooping down from the northwest United States to a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., weather permitting. Such a landing path has not been attempted since the loss of the STS-107 crew and the Columbia space shuttle in 2003.

 

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for a forthcoming details.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


NASA Aims to Submit New Spacewalk Instructions Soon
31 October 2007 11:45 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Within minutes, NASA mission managers said they intend to submit new plans for Friday's spacewalk, which will space spacewalkers repairing a recently torn solar wing.

 

"There's a threat out there that we still don't have everything ready to go," said ISS flight director Heather Rarick tonight. "We're allowing the teams to refine what they have," she said of the revised plans for the fourth of up to five spacewalks for the STS-120 space shuttle Discovery mission.

 

If mission control cannot get the plans submitted before the crew awakes at 12:08 a.m. on Nov. 1, they will likely delay the unprecedented spacewalk to Saturday.

 

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for a forthcoming details.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Spacewalkers to Fix Maimed Solar Wing
31 October 2007 3:50 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON – The spacewalk now scheduled for Friday will have spacewalker Scott Parazynski riding the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arm to fix a ripped solar wing, NASA mission managers said today.

 

STS-120 lead ISS flight director Derek Hassmann said the arm will pick up the space shuttle's 50-foot (17-meter) extension boom, on which Parazynski will ride to the distant array—a first in spaceflight history.

 

ISS program manager Mike Suffredini said a series of straps will be used to "detour" the stress of further deploying the solar wing around the 2.5-foot (0.76-meter) tear.

 

"If we give this team a little time to start thinking about creative solutions," Suffredini said of the STS-120 planning teams, "it doesn’t take them long to really blow you away with the ideas that they can come up with."

 

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for a more detailed look at Friday's spacewalk.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


NASA Delays Thursday's Spacewalk
31 October 2007 11:12 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – NASA has officially bumped tomorrow's spacewalk, the fourth of five planned for the STS-120 space shuttle mission, to Friday.

 

Plans sent by mission control here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) earlier this morning had spacewalkers Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock thoroughly inspecting a worrisome solar joint. The device is used to guide the International Space Station's (ISS) solar arrays toward the Sun to maximize power generation for the orbital laboratory

 

"We're going to change the plan for the next couple of days," Tony Antonelli, mission capsule communicator, told space shuttle Discovery commander Pamela Melroy. He said the 6.5-hour spacewalk's execution on either Friday or Saturday hinges on when mission managers can devise a new plan.

 

"The content will be solar array wing stuff," Antonelli said of the new plans, referring to inspecting and possibly repairing recent damage to the Port 6 (P) truss segment's 4B solar array wing.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Plans for Tomorrow's Spacewalk Again in Question
31 October 2007 10:20 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – NASA delivered sent up new plans for tomorrow's 6.5-hour spacewalk early this morning, but have once again scrapped them.

 

Rob Navias, STS-120 mission commentator at Johnson Space Center (JSC), told members of the press here that the plans were scrapped by mission managers. Navias said mission control is now discussing the changes with space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) astronaut crew members.

 

It is uncertain at this time, however, what those changes to the STS-120 space shuttle mission and its spacewalks will be.

 

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for updates on future plans for the Discovery's mission in space.

 

Tune in to SPACE.com around 4:00 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) on Nov. 1 for live coverage of the event.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


NASA Issues New Spacewalk Plans, Crew Ready
31 October 2007 9:00 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Although a recently torn solar wing has NASA mission managers concerned, the space agency has decided the priority in tomorrow's early morning spacewalk lies in scoping out a girt-filled set of gears on the starboard end of the International Space Station (ISS).

 

Early this morning, the space agency issued a new set of spacewalking plans for space shuttle Discovery astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock, who will carry out a 6.5-hour investigation of the worrisome device tomorrow. Known as a solar alpha rotary joint, or SARJ, the mechanism orients the space station's solar wings toward the Sun to most efficiently convert its rays into electricity.

 

"Our activities tomorrow will be primarily just to investigate, to see if we can find the smoking gun," Parazynski said of the spacewalk and potentially damaged rotating joint. Astronaut Dan Tani discovered worrisome metallic shavings under one of the device's thermal covers early Sunday morning.

 

"That will lead probably (to) another spacewalk or series of spacewalks to clean up the debris," Parazynski said of a post-investigation timeline. "I don't know where this story's going to end, but it will be very interesting."

 

Parazynski and Wheelock are now camping out in the Quest airlock to slowly purge nitrogen from their blood before climbing into low-pressure spacesuits; the idea is similar to how divers slowly ascend to the surface to prevent the bends.

 

The STS-120 mission spacewalkers will expect to exit the airlock into the vacuum of space around 4:58 a.m. EDT (0858 GMT).

 

Tune in to SPACE.com around 4:00 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) on Nov. 1 for live coverage of the event.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Astronauts Wake Up, Wait for New Spacewalk Plan
31 October 2007 12:55 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Astronauts sleeping aboard the International Space Station (ISS) awoke this morning to "Volare," the classic Italian song that translates into English as "Fly."

 

Shannon Lucid, capsule communicator for the STS-120 space shuttle mission here at Johnson Space Center (JSC), said the song was played for astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

 

"They've apparently been saving that song for the whole week down at the Cape," Nespoli said of the music, which mission controllers play as part of a traditional wake-up call to astronauts visiting the space station.

 

A torn solar wing has NASA mission managers still hammering out an exact plan of action for the fourth of five total spacewalks tomorrow. ISS flight director Heather Rarick said last night that the extravehicular activity, or EVA, will be probably be spent inspecting a grit-filled joint on the starboard side of the space station rather than taking any action to fix the maimed solar array wing.

 

"I don't think we'll change any of our plans at all," she said of spacewalking instructions for Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock. "We'll try to find the smoking gun, the piece that's a culprit in this, the dust and the debris that we see" in the solar alpha rotary joint, or SARJ, she added.

 

The starboard joint helps generate maximum power for the orbital laboratory by orienting solar panel arrays toward the Sun. Both port-side and starboard-side joints on the ISS have been halted in light of the gritty discovery and more recent solar wing damage.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


NASA Calls for More Images of Ripped Solar Wing
30 October 2007 10:50 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Plans for Thursday's spacewalk—the fourth of five planned for the STS-120 space shuttle mission—remain uncertain following an accidental rip in a power-generating solar array attached to the International Space Station (ISS).

 

ISS flight director Heather Rarick said this evening that the torn solar wing's stability is unknown at this time, and that shuttle position adjustments tomorrow may disturb the damaged space station component.

 

"We could have to undock at any time," Rarick said, noting that the 4B array was deployed about 80 percent before ISS commander Peggy Whitson aborted the operation.

 

The space station's solar wings are made of stiff material about the thickness of a heavy-duty shower curtain and experience sizeable forces during both unfurling and retraction.

 

Rarick said images of the tear that Space shuttle Discovery and ISS astronauts took were not detailed enough for engineers to make too many conclusions, and said she'll ask for more high-resolution images tomorrow.

 

"I think we're going to set up the crew to take some more pictures tomorrow," Rarick said. The crew wakes up tonight at 11:38 p.m. EDT (0338 GMT Oct. 31) to begin a more relaxed but important day in space.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Astronauts Observe Tear in Solar Wing
30 October 2007 11:55 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – During NASA mission control's unfurling of the relocated array truss segment, the right wing of the 4B solar array crinkled and tore on one edge.

 

Astronauts aboard the space station were watching mission control's unfurling of the arrays, which were successfully reattached during today's spacewalk, when ISS commander Peggy Whitson told mission control to abort the operation.

 

"We just saw tear and stopped," Whitson told ground controller and shuttle capsule communicator Kevin Ford. She added that the astronauts aboard the orbital laboratory could not see anything at first because the sun's glare blocked their view.

 

Mission controllers said about 25 meters (82 feet) of the 35-meter (115-foot) energy-gathering array was deployed before the unfurling was halted.

 

It is uncertain at this time how the tear will impact the solar wing's energy gathering ability, which the space station's successful construction partly depends on. Astronauts have begun easing tension on the array to see how the damaged area responds.

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for updates.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Astronauts Finish Busy, Long Spacewalk
30 October 2007 11:55 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock shut the hatch to the Quest airlock at 11:53 a.m. EDT (1553 GMT), finishing up a busy third spacewalk for the STS-120 space shuttle Discovery mission.

The astronauts worked through the seven-hour-and-eight-minute spacewalk to reattach a vital solar power plant, called the Port 6 (P6) solar array truss segment, to the end of the orbital laboratory.

Mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) have fully deployed the one of P6's solar arrays and are unraveling its second and final wing-like array.

Stay tuned to SPACE.com for a story detailing this spacewalk.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


One of Space Station's P6 Solar Arrays Deployed
30 October 2007 11:40 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) have fully deployed the one of the Port 6 (P6) truss segment's solar arrays, officially at 11:32 a.m. EDT (1532 GMT).

Astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock watched the solar array deploy, but continue to work their way towards the Quest airlock to end the nearly seven-hour spacewalk, which is the third of the STS-120 mission that began with the launch of Discovery.

Mission controllers will begin unfurling P6's second solar array momentarily.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Astronauts Heading Toward Airlock
30 October 2007 11:10 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – STS-120 space shuttle mission astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock are wrapping up some get-ahead tasks during a six-plus hour spacewalk, and are slowly making their way toward the International Space Station's (ISS) Quest airlock.

When they climb into the airlock with their bulky spacesuits and close the hatch, the spacewalk will end.

As the spacewalking duo maneuvers to the airlock, mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) continue to unfurl the Port 6 (P6) truss segment's 2B solar array, which will span 115 feet (35 meters) once fully deployed. Shortly after 2B is deployed, controllers will slowly pull out P6's second and final wing of energy-gathering cells.

Parazynski and Wheelock reattached the 35,000-pound (15,875-kilogram) chunk of space station earlier today, and are now wrapping up the third spacewalk of the STS-120 mission by making their way into the Quest airlock.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Solar Arrays Deploying, Spacewalk Nears End
30 October 2007 10:50 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalking astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock have finished securing a spare part retrieved from the payload bay of their space-bound ride: Space shuttle Discovery.

Meanwhile, mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) started unfurling one of two 115-foot (35-meter) black-and-gold solar arrays, which is part of the Port 6 (P6) solar array truss segment.

Parazynski and Wheelock reattached the 35,000-pound (15,875-kilogram) chunk of space station earlier today, and are now wrapping up the third spacewalk of the STS-120 mission by making their way into the Quest airlock.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Astronauts Storing Spare Part on Space Station
30 October 2007 10:20 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalker Doug Wheelock, one of seven STS-120 crew members who rode aboard space shuttle Discovery, is now waiting for his fellow spacewalker to finish storing a spare part on International Space Station (ISS).

Astronaut Scott Parazynski is moving across the space station to join Wheelock, who rode the space shuttle's robotic arm with the spare electrical component to the orbital laboratory's external stowage platform.

In about 20 minutes, mission control here at Johnson Space Center will begin deploying one of two 115-foot (35-meter) solar arrays on the reattached Port 6 (P6) solar array truss segment.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Spacewalker Hitches Ride on Robotic Arm
30 October 2007 9:58 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – Space shuttle Discovery astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock have worked in the vacuum of space for more than five hours now, but still have several tasks to complete.

Wheelock has attached himself to the space station's robotic arm, which robotic arm operators Stephanie Wilson and George Zamka are delicately moving towards Discovery. When Wheelock arrives, he'll unfasten a spare main bus switching unit, or MBSU, which he will store on an external platform for storage as a spare part.

Parazynski inspected a joint that rotates the International Space Station's (ISS) solar arrays, and appeared "brand new" compared to images he saw of the worrisome starboard joint Dan Tani looked at early Sunday morning.

Parazynski is now examining the space station's ceta-cart rail track for micrometeorite damage, which NASA mission managers here at Johnson Space Center think damaged gloves during a spacewalk last month.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Rotary Joint Looks 'Brand New' to Spacewalker
30 October 2007 9:25 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – The insides of the port-side joint uncovered by spacewalker Scott Parazynski show no obvious signs of metallic grit, as did the starboard-side joint on Sunday's spacewalk.

Mission managers here at Johnson Spac e Center said Parazynski was getting some great video footage of the joint, which orients the International Space Station's (ISS) solar panels toward the Sun. They plan to compare the inspection images to those of the worrisome joint observed by STS-120 astronaut Dan Tani.

"It's going to help a lot with the diagnosis we've been making," mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center said, referring to the images Parazynski captured.

Meanwhile, spacewalker Doug Wheelock has recharged his oxygen supply and is set to ride the space station's robotic arm to the payload bay of the space shuttle Discovery to retrieve a spare part for storage in orbit.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher


Spacewalker Inspecting Rotating Solar Joint
30 October 2007 9:10 a.m. EDT

HOUSTON – STS-120 spacewalker Scott Parazynski is now removing a thermal cover on a port-side solar alpha rotary joint, or SARJ, on the International Space Station to inspect it.

An glimpse by Dan Tani during Sunday's spacewalk revealed unusual metallic filings in the gears of the orbital laboratory's starboard-side SARJ, which orients solar panels toward the Sun.

Mission managers called for Parazynski's inspection of the normally operating 10-foot (3-meter) diameter joint for comparison to the worrisome starboard joint. Since the discovery of the metallic grit, engineers have halted the movement of the joint to prevent further damage, if there is any at all.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Dave Mosher