Saturday, July 16, 2011

Atlantis crew continues cargo moves

Four Atlantis astronauts are back at work hauling cargo to and from the International Space Station, and trying to figure out where to put it.

Kwatsi Alibaruho, the shuttle mission's lead flight director, said today's activity repeated the theme of recent days: "Cargo transfer, cargo transfer and more cargo transfer," he said. "But again, that's the reason that this spacecraft is docked, and that part of the mission is going very well."

So much food and supplies have been hauled into the station that the crew members are struggling to find room for it, even after the addition of a new storage module earlier this year.

Atlantis' top mission goal was to stock the orbiting research complex, staffed with six full time crew members, through 2012.

That will ensure station operations aren't disrupted if two U.S. companies developing new commercial cargo vehicles run into problems that delay deliveries planned to start early next year.

That work was 78 percent complete starting today, according to notes sent up to the crew. The Atlantis crew has until early Monday before the cargo module they'll fly back to Earth must be closed up and returned to the orbiter's payload bay.

In other activity, NASA says engineers continue to analyze what caused a failure of one of the orbiter's five on-board control computers Thursday. The General Purpose Computer, called GPC-4, has been upgraded from standby mode and is expected to be fully operational as one of four primary computers running Atlantis systems during the return home.

Crews have also opened a locker housing canisters used to scrub carbon dioxide from their atmosphere. The locker had a broken latch.

And Russian cosmonauts have repaired a cable that was preventing a treadmill gyroscope from running.

Today, Flight Day 9 of the planned 13-day mission, the crew's latest celebrity wake-up call and song came from Beyonce, with "Run the World (Girls)."

"This song is especially for my girl, (mission specialist) Sandy (Magnus), and all the women who've taken us to space with them and the girls who are our future explorers," she said.

The crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 3 p.m. EDT. Check out this NASA TV schedule for highlights of the remaining mission, including a planned 5:57 a.m. Thursday landing at Kennedy Space Center.

IMAGE: One of the STS-135 Atlantis crew members took this photo of the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis while visiting the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

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