Monday, July 11, 2011

Atlantis Astronauts Making Special Delivery

The Atlantis astronauts are making one last shuttle special delivery to the International Space Station today, hoisting a supply-filled cargo module out of the spaceship's cargo bay so it can be temporarily moored to the outpost.

Atlantis mission specialist Sandra Magnus grappled the Raffaello Multipurpose Logistics Module with the station's robot arm about 5:20 a.m. and slowly lifted it out of the shuttle's cargo bay. Filled with a year's worth of food and supplies, the cylindrical module is being berthed to the nadir, or Earth-facing, side of the U.S. Harmony module. The shuttle astronauts will spend the better part of the next week unpacking it.

NASA flight controllers, meanwhile, are preparing to reload software into one of the shuttle's five General Purpose Computers. The computer failed prior to the shuttle's final rendezvous and docking with the station on Sunday. Engineers believe the problem is related to a glitchy switch. A similar problem plagued the same computer during an Atlantis mission in early 2008.

Also today: NASA flight controllers say the shuttle docking gave the station enough of a boost that a maneuver will not be required to avoid a piece of space junk that appeared as if it might threaten the outpost. The piece of junk came from an old Russian Cosmos rocket.

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