Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New station coolant tank installed and activated

About an hour into Discovery's third spacewalk, mission specialist Rick Mastracchio finished hooking up four ammonia and nitrogen fluid lines to a new ammonia coolant tank, finishing its installation on the right side of the station's truss.

"Houston, you have a go to activate the ammonia tank," radioed mission specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, the crew member coordinating the work by Mastracchio and Clay Anderson.

That task completes one half of the ammonia tank swap that was a key Discovery mission objective.

The second half is installing the old, depleted tank in Discovery's payload bay for return to Earth, where it will be refurbished and refilled for a future flight.

The tank will serve as a spare on the station, helping ensure the outpost can continue to operate long after the shuttle's planned retirement later this year.

The old tank is now stuck to the end of the station's robotic arm, which is being operated by pilot Jim Dutton and mission specialist Stephanie Wilson.

They are maneuvering the tank down to Discovery's payload bay, after picking it up from a temporary storage location.

Anderson and Mastracchio are now returning some unneeded micrometeoroid and orbital debris shields inside the Quest airlock.

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