Friday, April 09, 2010

Loose payload bay joint believed to be no concern for cargo module

Spacewalker Rick Mastracchio reported a joint in Discovery's payload bay that is used to fasten the giant Leonardo cargo module in place is loose, but flight controllers think it's behaving normally.

Mastracchio reported slightly touching the "V guide" as he was working on ammonia tanks, then seeing it slide, as if it were floating freely.

The news briefly raised concern that the guide could float away entirely, or that there could be difficulty returning the cylindrical Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, or MPLM to the payload bay next week.

The Italian-built module, named Leonardo, was installed Thursday on the station's Harmony module and crew members are unpacking its tons of contents.

But after some discussion, flight controllers said they believed the V guide is designed to move back and forth up to five inches.

"We're pretty convinced that this is nominal behavior," Stan Love, an astronaut communicating with the crew from Houston, radioed to Discovery commander Alan Poindexter. "We don't think there's any issues with reberthing the MPLM."

The spacewalkers were instructed to avoid touching the guides on either side of the payload bay, and not to hook their spacewalking tethers to them.

Mastracchio and partner Clay Anderson are more than an hour into the first of three spacewalks.

Anderson disconnected four ammonia and nitrogen lines from an old set of ammonia tanks on the right side of the station's truss, reporting no problems with toxic ammonia spraying from the lines.

Mastracchio has installed a grapple fixture on a fresh set of ammonia tanks in Discovery's payload bay. The duo is working to unbolt the tanks from a launch carrier.

1 comment:

Conor said...

"they believed the V guide is designed to move back and forth up to five inches."
Believed? Someone must know!
I wondered if an astronaut would take a quick look at the KU band antenna, in case it was easily fixable. Or in case it would impact on closing the payload bay doors.