Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shuttle hands AMS to space station

Orbital crane operators have performed a handoff of a sensitive, $2 billion science instrument on its way to being installed on the International Space Station.

Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori pulled the 15,251-pound Alpha Magnetic spectrometer from shuttle Endeavour's payload bay with the shuttle's 50-foot robotic arm around 3 a.m. EDT. Vittori lifted AMS and swung it into reach of the station's arm.

At 3:50 a.m., the station's 58-foot, Canadian-built arm -- delivered by Endeavour in April 2001 --  latched on to a grapple pin protruding from the side of the particle physics detector.

Soon after, the shuttle arm let go.

Endeavour pilot Greg "Box" Johnson, supported by mission specialist Greg "Taz" Chamitoff, is driving the station arm from inside the outpost's windowed Cupola.

They'll take AMS the rest of the distance to its permanent home on the station's Starboard 3 truss segment.

No comments: