HOUSTON – On tap today is the top scientific priority of the STS-134 mission, installing Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS-2) on the International Space Station’s truss, where it can sift through cosmic particles, seeking the answers to fundamental questions of physics.
The $2 billion, 15,251- pound instrument will be plucked from Endeavour’s payload bay by Mission Specialists Andrew Feustel and Roberto Vittori using the space shuttle’s robotic arm. They’ll hand it off to the space station’s Canadarm2 at 2:01 a.m. CDT Thursday, and Pilot Greg Johnson and Mission Specialist Greg Chamitoff will then install it on the starboard side of the station’s truss.
From its new perch on top of the station’s truss, it will begin observations of the cosmos and automatically send information to scientists on Earth for the life of the station.
Endeavour’s crew and Expedition 27 Flight Engineer Ron Garan, who is matching schedules with the shuttle crew, were awakened at 9:56 p.m. The wake-up song “Luna,” performed by Jose Serrano for his friend Chamitoff, was transmitted about 30 minutes later after a communications drop-out cleared.
Endeavour docked with the International Space Station at 5:14 a.m. CDT Wednesday, and installed Express Logistics Carrier, a cargo platform loaded with spare parts for the station. Overnight, robotics experts in Mission Control moved the station’s Mobile Transporter from a worksite on the far end of the port side of the truss to a site on the far starboard side to prepare for the AMS-2 handoff. Installation should be complete by 2:41 a.m.
The combined crew also will begin preparations for the first spacewalk of the mission by Feustel and Chamitoff, which is scheduled for Friday. The team will review plans for the spacewalk, which will involve retrieval of one materials experiment and installation of another, installation of a floodlight, some cooling loop fill equipment and a wireless communications antenna.
Feustel and Chamitoff will camp out in the Quest airlock overnight to prepare their bodies for action in the reduced pressure of their spacesuits on the following day. The spacesuits were among the first items transferred from the shuttle to the station after docking and hatch opening.
Meanwhile, mission managers are continuing to review more than 500 images taken by Expedition 27’s Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli and Cady Coleman. Several areas of thermal protection tile were shown to be damaged, and managers are waiting for analysis to be completed before deciding whether to seek additional focused inspection of those areas later in the mission.
The next status report will be issued before the crew goes to sleep at 1:26 p.m., or earlier if warranted.
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