Thursday, November 19, 2009

Atlantis Docks with ISS; First Spacewalk Complete

Atlantis on initial approach.

Shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station on Wednesday, right on time at 11:53 am MST. the screen capture above, you can make out some of the equipment in the shuttle's open cargo bay that will be transfered to the ISS.

Atlantis does a backflip.

Prior to docking, Shuttle Atlantis performed the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, exposing the heat shield tiles on the bottom of the orbiter. This permitted the ISS crew to photographically inspect the tiles for any potential danger during the re-entry phase of the mission. NASA engineers will review the inspection carefully, but so far no problems have been noted.

NASA Computer graphic of Atlantis docked with ISS.

With docking complete, preparations were made for unloading some of the equipment in the cargo bay. Using the robotic arm, astronauts began moving some of the equipment to storage locations on various places on the ISS. Preparations also began for Thursday's spacewalk.

Spacewalk in progress.

Astronauts Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher completed a 6-hour-37 minute spacewalk to move and secure items from the cargo bay to the station truss and other locations. They actually got ahead of schedule and completed the installation of the Payload Attach System which would have first on the next walk.

Of course, what they were completely unaware of is that down here in Utah we poor space enthusiasts would find huge crowds assembling at the two new In-and-Out-Burger franchises which opened today. No way to get past that crowd. Burgers later.

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