Astronauts Unload Spare Parts Platform At Space Station

Astronauts Unload Spare Parts Platform At Space Station
The Integrated Cargo Carrier is transferred from space shuttle Endeavour’s cargo bay by the shuttle's Canadarm robotic arm. (Image credit: NASA TV)

This story was updated at 2:00p.m. EDT.

Astronauts on the InternationalSpace Station performed complex robotic maneuvers Sunday to unload a new spareparts container from the shuttle Endeavour.

The platform, which holdsreplacements for vital space station systems, is set to be unpacked Mondayduring the second of five spacewalks planned for Endeavour's STS-127 mission.

Shuttle commander Mark Polansky and pilotDoug Hurley manipulated the shuttle's robotic arm to grab the container outof Endeavour's cargo bay and move it into a temporary stowage spot on the endof the station's robotic arm.

"It?s basically a platform and attached to the platformare three very large pieces of equipment," Polansky said in a preflightinterview. "If required at some point in the future, it?s basically a hotspare ready to go on orbit."

Inside the container are a new set of new batteries toprovide power for the station when it is facing away from the sun, a spareantenna for a space-to-ground communications system and an engine for a cargotransporter system that rides along the station's backbone-like truss.

"We will be changing the batteries on the P-6 solararray, six large batteries that each weigh around 300, 350 pounds, the size ofsmall refrigerators," said mission specialist Dave Wolf in a preflightinterview. "That?s the oldest solar array system on the space station sowe?ll rejuvenate that solar array system."

Mission specialists Tim Kopra and Koichi Wakata spent theirtime in the Japanese Kibo laboratory, calibrating the Japanese robotic armthere. Wakata also worked to replace some broken parts on a resistance exercisemachine on the station.

The seven astronauts of the space shuttle Endeavour'sSTS-127 crew are on the third day of their dockedmission at the station.

The rest of the crew spent Sunday making preparations forthe nextday's spacewalk, including configuring the spacesuits and tools that willbe needed.

The day was slightly less hectic than it might have been,since mission managers determined a focused inspection of Endeavour's heatshield wasnot necessary. This precaution is an option if NASA needs more data todecide if a shuttle is safe to return home through Earth's atmosphere.

"Flight day five was where we had planned a focusedinspection if required preflight," said lead station flight director HollyRidings. "That is not required and so are going to move some of therobotic activities that were planned for flight day six a little bitforward."

Though mission managers have not officially clearedEndeavour for re-entry, they think they have enough information to make thedecision from the first detailed inspection the astronauts conducted, as wellas a series of photographs taken by station astronauts as Endeavour approachedon Friday. is providing continuous coverage of STS-127with reporter Clara Moskowitz and senior editor Tariq Malik in New York. Click here for missionupdates and's live NASA TV video feed.


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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.