• 2010 nasa special
    a total eclipse of the Sun is visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses Earth's southern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow crosses the South Pacific Ocean where it makes no landfall except for Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua).

Astronauts go on spacewalk for station repairs

Floating in the International Space Station's Quest airlock compartment, astronauts Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan switched their spacesuits to battery power at 9:22 a.m. EDT to officially kick off a planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk.

"Ronny, you ready to rock and roll?" Fossum asked before floating out of the airlock.

"Ready to rock and roll," Garan replied.

"Let's go, buddy."

Fossum and Garan plan to accomplish their primary goal first, moving a failed ammonia pump module from a storage platform just outside the airlock to a carrier in the shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay. After that, the astronauts will move a robotic refueling demonstration apparatus from the shuttle to the station, install a materials science space exposure experiment and perform a few maintenance chores.

This is the 160th spacewalk devoted to station assembly and maintenance since construction began in 1998, the ninth so far this year, the seventh for Fossum and the fourth for Garan.

For identification, Fossum (call sign EV-1) will be wearing a suit with red stripes around the legs. Garan (EV-2) will be in an unmarked suit.

Atlantis unloads ton of food for space station
Atlantis docks at International Space Station
CBS Space Place: The latest news on shuttle mission

Shuttle pilot Douglas Hurley and Sandra Magnus will operate the station's robot arm during the excursion and shuttle flight engineer Rex Walheim will serve as the spacewalk coordinator, working from the flight deck of Atlantis.

Hurley and Magnus will use a robotics work station in the Tranquility module's multi-window cupola. A U.S. toilet also is located in Tranquility, along with equipment used to recover water from urine. The astronauts reported a strong odor from the equipment Monday and the urine processor will not be turned on during today's spacewalk.

"There are two toilets on the space station," said overnight Flight Director Courtenay McMillan. "There's one in the Russian segment, and it's working fine. And there's one, basically the same design, that's in the U.S. segment and it hooks up to our urine processor. So we got a report from the crew that there was a smell that was unexpected coming from that area, and it was pretty intense.

"At the time, we were processing urine in the urine processor, not the toilet itself, but the machine that it hooks up to recycle the water from the urine. We got some air in that system a little while ago and it needs to basically purge itself out over the course of processing. So we think, because everything looks fine in the system, we think it's just working its way out of the system. So we stopped the urine processing for the time being and we're using the toilet basically in stand-alone mode right now."

Flight controllers likely will resume urine processing Wednesday but "not while the crew is doing EVA support,:" McMillan said. "They'll be using the robotics work station in the cupola, which is in the vicinity of the toilet, so we don't really want to be making a smell while they're working in there."

Today's spacewalk is the first during a shuttle visit that will be carried out by space station personnel. Because of a short training flow and a requirement to launch Atlantis with a reduced crew of four, "we wanted to off load the training tasks on the shuttle crew and sort of level the load," lead station Flight Director Chris Edelen said before launch. "So we took advantage of the EVA experience of Mike Fossum and Ron Garan. They've actually done three spacewalks together on previous shuttle missions (and they) were able to get up to speed very quickly on this EVA."

Fossum has 42 hours and one minute of EVA time in his previous six spacewalks while Garan has 20 hours and 32 minutes of EVA experience.

Photos: NASA's final shuttle flight
Photos: The storied career of Atlantis

Returning the failed ammonia pump module is a high priority objective for NASA. The space station is equipped with two coolant loops that circulate ammonia through huge radiators to get rid of the heat generated by the space station's electrical systems. Last July 30, the pump in one coolant loop failed, forcing the crew to implement an emergency powerdown.

"I remember it because I was on console when it failed," Edelen said. "It was one of those moments where on a quiet Saturday and the crew's off duty and getting ready to go to bed and everything's going real well and it all changed in a second when that pump module failed. All the caution and warnings started going off and the crew had to very quickly scramble to reconfigure the systems and power down some of the systems in order to keep the station limping along on one remaining cooling loop.

"That was a major failure in the history of the space station program, the first major failure that required (U.S.) spacewalks without a shuttle present to fix a problem."

Over the course of three spacewalks, the pump module was successfully replaced by a pre-positioned spare. But the coolant system is critical to the station's long-term health and engineers want to find out what went wrong in the pump that failed. After troubleshooting, engineers plan to repair the pump and re-launch it aboard a Japanese cargo ship.

After mounting the pump module in Atlantis' payload bay, Fossum and Garan plan to move an experimental robotic refueling apparatus from the shuttle to a storage platform used by the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or SPDM, a robot arm extension also known as DEXTRE.

"We are taking up a payload, it's called the robotics refueling module, this is to demonstrate a capability for the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, which hasn't seen a whole lot of use on the International Space Station to date, but we hope to turn that all around with this payload," said shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson.

"I've kind of likened it to a Fisher-Price play toy for a robot. And I don't mean that in a negative sense, it is really an opportunity for the SPDM to get in there and use several different tools and prove the capability to do something extremely novel, and that is to refuel satellites in orbit that were never designed to be refueled.

"So the manipulator will actually go in and pick up special cutter tools and cut safety wire, it has a drill that can actually drill into a fuel tank so there's some very unique capabilities that will be demonstrated using this. What capability will robots provide to us in the future? To think about going out there and perhaps grappling a satellite that was never designed to be refueled ... and refill it and use it for an additional five or 10 years is a dramatic example of how robotics can modify what we're doing in space."

Along with moving the pump module to Atlantis and installing the robotics refueling kit on the station, Fossum plans to inspect a robot arm mounting fixture on the Russian Zarya module to re-position a grounding wire that appears to be caught in an access door. Both spacewalkers then will install a thermal shield over an unused docking port attached to Tranquility before heading back to the Quest airlock.

The Last Space Shuttle Mission: Flight Day 6

When Space Shuttle Atlantis left Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday, July 8, it marked the final liftoff for the long-running Space Shuttle Program, which has dominated NASA's manned operations for the past four decades. Over a 12-day mission (since extended to 13 days), the four-person crew on STS-135 will haul the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC) to the International Space Station. Over the course of the mission, we'll be providing daily updates.

After a long day -- flight engineers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan completed a spacewalk that lasted more than six hours -- the NASA crew onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis had an early night on flight day 5. For the best, as the morning wakeup song -- Elton John's "Rocket Man" -- came at 2:29 a.m. EDT this morning. Once awake, the astronauts were greeted with a special message from Sir Elton John himself: "Good morning, Atlantis, this is Elton John," he said in a recording. "We wish you much success on your mission. A huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."
Story continues after the gallery, which will be updated as the mission wears on.
  The Final Spacewalk
The message from Sir John was a good way to get the crew ready for a long day of ... moving, basically. The astronauts onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis spent most of flight day 6 moving equipment and supplies out of the Raffaello multi-purpose module and into the International Space Station. They took a break at 12:54 p.m. to speak with reporters from KGO-TV in San Francisco and WBNG-TV and WICZ-TV in Binghamton, New York.
As I write this daily update, the combined 10-person team on the International Space Station and the docked Space Shuttle are already asleep. Lights out for the day was at 4:59 p.m. EDT for the

NASA footing the bill for many to witness final space shuttle launch

For one career NASA engineer joining the thousands of Houstonians going to Florida this week for the final space shuttle launch, this trip wasn't necessarily a part of the plan.
Really, he'd have no problem staying at Mission Control in Houston, watching data flow into computer monitors about the shuttle's progress and trajectory as it rockets out of the atmosphere.
That is what Mack Henderson, 72, who began his career working on development of the Saturn V rocket, has done for decades. And it's the reason that he's only attended two spacecraft launches in his 51-year career, one of them for Apollo 12.
This time, however, NASA is paying for him and more than 140 other employees to watch the final space shuttle lift off in person.

"My hope is that after this launch, they'll say, 'Oh, we were just kidding. We're going to fly more space shuttle flights,' " said Henderson, who added that he's happy to be able to witness the milestone but will be sad that the program is ending.

Those may be the sentiments of many of the Houston space-industry workers, past and present, traveling in droves to Florida this week to watch the beginning of the end of NASA's space shuttle era, but they are going anyway.

"In some ways, it's just sad to see it end," said Lisa Reed, 50, who worked for nearly 15 years at NASA before leaving to join a private consulting firm. Reed, who helped train astronauts on docking and life support systems, will watch the launch in Florida with her relatives.
"I have so many good memories leading up to it, and just seeing it end and knowing that a lot of my friends will now be out of a job and that I love the space shuttle program and that it is ending" will be difficult, she said.

Though bittersweet, buzz about the final launch, scheduled for Friday, swept over Johnson Space Center in recent weeks as workers tried to secure coveted spaces on the NASA causeway at Cape Canaveral and planned flights, road trips and hotel stays to be a part of the historic day.

Bus space sells out

NASA, after noticing ballooning interest among its workers in seeing the final shuttle launches, began organizing charter buses, accommodations and a designated viewing area to help workers travel and watch the start of the final missions, said Lisa Rasco, who coordinated the travel program for NASA.

Spaces on the buses for this week's launch sold out several weeks ago, Rasco said. The buses set out on the 18-hour journey Wednesday. A total of 130 people had reserved bus or hotel bookings through the NASA service, she said. Thousands of other workers are flying on their own, driving and planning their own stays before meeting at a Kennedy Space Center recreation facility that can accommodate 10,000 viewers. That area is expected to be filled with NASA workers and their families, she said.

The final shuttle launch was a milestone that David Rose, 44, couldn't miss. A Florida native who worked at Johnson Space Center for 18 years before leaving and joining an engineering consulting firm, Rose helped train astronauts and has seen more than a dozen shuttle launches.
His life has been connected and inspired by the space program and industry, with him traveling to California in 2005 to see the first private spacecraft launch out of the atmosphere. He plans to watch Atlantis launch Friday with his parents-in-law and brother from the NASA causeway.

Excited, but also sad

Rose's life inspiration is not unique among the current and former NASA workers who scrambled to make plans to watch the final launch. 

NASA's human space flight program, with the shuttle's 30-year history, stirred the imaginations of many of the professionals who have dedicated their lives to the field. With the shuttle program being the agency's sole human space endeavor of the past three decades, pride in its achievements will draw many Houstonians to Florida this week, said Heather Hinkel, principal engineer of new docking and sensor technology tested in orbit on the final launch of Endeavour in May.

"We are definitely excited for what is next," said Hinkel, 42, who will watch the launch from Banana Creek at Kennedy Space Center. "I know NASA will always have great work, but the human space flight aspect is sort of my favorite thing, so it will just be sad to see that all come to an end."


Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/chronicle/7642558.html#ixzz1ROeob6D1