Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spacewalk Preparing Tranquility Module

Split-view of the Tranquillity module being lifted out of the cargo bay.

Today I've been attending "Life, The Universe, & Everything," a science fiction/fantasy symposium at Brigham Young University. While I was listening to local authors and invited guests talk about writing and fiction and even web comics, the astronauts were preparing for tonight's spacewalk. The spacewalk started at a little over 7 pm MST. The two astronauts walking tonight (Behnken and Patrick) are removing protective covers off the module and activating certain electrical components. Currently I'm watching "astrocam" views from cameras mounted on the astronaut helmets.

When the astronauts go out on their extravehicular activities, they often wear different colors on their suits. Tonight, Bob Behnken ( a veteran of three previous walks) wears red stripes on his suit. Astronaut Nicholas Patrick (this is his first EVA) wears an all-white suit. Sometimes the colors aren't as helpful, such as when the shuttle flies into the night side and the low-light view does not show colors well. Astronauts and NASA mission controllers practice these EVAs extensively, though, and are well versed in how to recognize each spacewalker.

Tonight's spacewalk should continue another 4 hours or so at this point, so I've got a bit more to watch. Excellent stuff for us space fans.

About 9:05 the attached Canadarm 2 robot arm began lifting the module out of Endeavor's cargo bay.

The observer node is at the bottom of the module in this view.

Still flying through the Earth's shadow.

The module clears the shuttle cargo bay.

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