Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bolts again challenge Discovery spacewalkers

An effort to bolt a depleted ammonia tank to a carrier in Discovery’s cargo bay began flawlessly, but spacewalker Rick Mastracchio is struggling to drive home the last of four bolts.

It appeared at first that Mastracchio and partner Clay Anderson would not experience a repeat of Sunday's difficulty bolting a fresh ammonia tank to the International Space Station's central truss, which was accomplished after a long struggle.

"We have a good ammonia tank in Discovery," mission specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger radioed to mission controllers a little before 5:30 a.m. EDT, when three of four bolts were in place. "Great work, you guys."

Anderson was dispatched to his next task.

But after removing a handle from the ammonia tank, Mastracchio found finishing off the final bolt wasn't so simple.

"There's something misaligned here," he said.

He thinks the tank may be sitting too low.

After some tinkering and consultation with flight controllers in Houston, Anderson has been called back to Discovery's payload bay to help Mastracchio.

The spacewalkers will release one of the first three bolts as part of the troubleshooting effort to realign the tank.

Today's spacewalk, the last of three planned by the Discovery crew, began early at 2:14 a.m. EDT and was scheduled to last over six hours.

No comments: