Friday, November 20, 2009

Atlantis crew transfers cargo, preps for spacewalk

Atlantis astronauts are steadily working through the transfer of roughly half a ton of supplies and equipment from inside the shuttle to the International Space Station.

Mission specialists Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik are checking their spacesuits ahead of Saturday's spacewalk, the second of three planned during the 11-day mission.

No word yet on whether Bresnik's wife has delivered a baby girl back in Houston, an event that was expected today or Saturday.

"He's excited about that. So are we," Atlantis pilot Barry Wilmore said today in an interview with CBS News. "It's a great thing to share with him in this environment. He certainly wished his timing could have been better. He'd certainly like to be there for the birth of his daughter, just like all of us would feel that way."

Wilmore likened the situation to one faced by many military families separated when duty calls.

Early today, mission specialist Leland Melvin and Bresnik attached the shuttle's robotic arm to a palette of spare parts that will be removed from the payload bay and installed on the station Saturday.

The station and shuttle crew has also performed maintenance and fixed some minor problems on the station today.

In the Unity node, station flight engineer Jeff Williams has been routing some power, fluid and data cables that will hook up to the Tranquility module - the last major U.S. addition to the station, targeted for delivery in February.

A misalignment in the treadmill named after Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert -- instead of the Tranquility module previously called Node 3 -- was repaired, as was an ultrasound machine.

Crew members also troubleshot a router that was failing to downlink video at the fastest possible rate.

Last night, false depressurization alarms awoke the shuttle and station crews shortly after they went to sleep. NASA said no one was in danger, and the systems were being returned to normal with about 45 minutes.

Melvin, mission specialist Bobby Satcher (both shown today at left) and commander Charlie Hobaugh are scheduled to do a round of media interviews with ESPN's "SportsCenter," BET NEWS and WRIC-TV at 4:33 p.m. EST.

Click here to open a NASA TV video player and watch the interviews live.

The Atlantis crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 7:28 p.m. Foreman and Bresnik will "camp out" in the Quest airlock at a reduced air pressure to help purge nitrogen from their systems and reduce the chance of experiencing decompression sickness, or "the bends."

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