Sunday, July 17, 2011

Atlantis wrapping up cargo work; computers OK

During their final full day working aboard the International Space Station, Atlantis astronauts have been wrapping up packing of a cargo module and preparing to return it to the shuttle's payload bay early Monday.

NASA says 5,600 pounds of trash and surplus equipment were expected to be loaded into a barrel-shaped, Italian-built module named Raffaello before its return to Earth.

"Today is your last day to play around in Rafaello, so you’ll be packing the last few return items and tearing down the bungee jails," read notes from Mission Control to mission specialist Sandy Magnus, the shuttle crew's designated loadmaster. Bungee cords are used to contain cargo bags in microgravity.

The movement of cargo to and from Raffaello was 94 percent complete, according to the notes, while the packing of items on Atlantis' middeck was 74 percent done.

The Atlantis crew is scheduled to have some off-duty time in their afternoon, but "it's a pretty good bet that they'll continue to work," said a NASA TV commentator.

Shuttle and station crews will bid farewell to each other for the last time at 9:19 a.m. Monday before closing the hatches between the spacecraft.

Atlantis is scheduled to undock at 2:28 a.m. Tuesday. Space station managers will to meet today to approve the undocking plan.

NASA this morning reported all five of the shuttle's on-board computers will be operational for undocking and re-entry.

Engineers attributed Thursday's failure of General Purpose Computer-4 to an unknown hardware glitch, but have restored the computer to its previous systems management role after running it for hours with no problems and reviewing data.

As of 7 a.m., the final shuttle flight had been in progress for about 8 days, 19 hours and 30 minutes since a July 8 launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The final shuttle landing at KSC is planned at 5:57 a.m. Thursday.

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