Astronautson the International Space Station will get back to work Sunday after a muchneeded day off in order to retrieve a Japanese cargo carrier from the outpost?sbrand new experiment porch.
Nicknamed?Jelly? by the astronauts, the cargo carrier will be removed from the porch onthe edge of the station?s $1billion Kibo lab using the station?s robotic arm and passed off toEndeavour?s own space crane so it can be secured for the trip home on Friday. It?sa tricky bit of robotics work, but one that is nearly the reverse of maneuversused to install the pallet last week.
?The goodthing on this mission is that a lot of the robotics activities, you put it backthe same way you got it out,? said shuttle pilot Doug Hurley, who will help flythe station?s arm today, in a NASA interview. He and his crewmates took their firstday off in more than a week on Saturday to rest up from four gruelingspacewalks and tough robotic arm work at the station.
Endeavourastronauts temporarily attached the Jelly carrier to Kibo?s new porch so that itsthree payloads - two science experiments and an advanced communications system- could be transferred to the externalexposure facility. The pallet will be returned to Earth on Endeavour somore experiments can be shipped up to the station later.
In additionto their robotic arm work, the 13 Endeavour and station astronauts will discusstheir flight with reporters this afternoon during a joint crew conference.Station commander Gennady Padalka of Russia and astronaut Koichi Wakata ofJapan also spoke with Japanese dignitaries and students early this morning. ?
MissionControl told the astronauts today that they will not have to repair part of thespace station?s American-built carbon dioxide removal system that cleans theair inside the outpost. A heater glitch that tripped a circuit breaker sent thesystem offline on Saturday, leaving only the station?s Russian carbon dioxidescrubber in its Russian-built segment available to clean the air of the crowdedspace station.
Engineerson Earth later managed to restart American system late Saturday from MissionControl in Houston by using a built-in manual mode.
Endeavour?screw is entering the homestretch of a tricky 16-dayconstruction flight to the station. The astronauts delivered a newcrewmember and the experiment porch during four challenging spacewalks. Thefifth and last spacewalk of the mission is set for Monday.
Endeavouris due to leave the space station Tuesday and land July 31.
- Video - The Kibo Lab: Japan's Hope in Space - Part 1, Part 2
- Video - Bloopers in Space!
- SPACE.com Video Show - The ISS: Foothold on Forever
SPACE.comis providing continuous coverage of STS-127 with reporter Clara Moskowitz andsenior editor Tariq Malik in New York. Click here for missionupdates and SPACE.com's live NASA TV video feed.