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Kirock

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NASA, Europeans Delighted by Atlantis Launch

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Atlantis climbs toward space.

 

Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts launched on spectacular plumes of gold-tipped smoke today carrying Europe’s primary contribution to the International Space Station – the Columbus science laboratory.

The lab is filled with racks for experiments and research euipment and has fixtures on its exterior to also host research exposed to the vacuum of space. It represents the latest international addition to a facility already made of structures from the United States, Russia and Canada.

“It shows that there is a real partnership between communities,” NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said.

The launch was crucial for the European Space Agency because the Columbus lab represents a cutting edge research facility for Europe and the continent’s first manned spacecraft.

“Today we are opening a new chapter for ESA,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the European Space Agency director general. “Just as Columbus discovered the New World, with Columbus, we are discovering a whole new world.”

The launch came seven years to the day after Atlantis carried NASA’s science laboratory named Destiny to the space station.

“It’s great to have two laboratories in space,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations.

Atlantis’ liftoff came despite concerns that a weather front would interfere. But those concerns did not materialize and the launch team sent Atlantis aloft at the appointed time.

“We did set ourselves up to be ready, to be prepared,” said Leroy Cain, chairman of the Mission Management Team.

The crew of Atlantis will now check out its systems and inspect the heat shield while chasing down the space station. It is to dock with the station Saturday. There will be three spacewalks during the flight so astronauts can attach the Columbus lab and connect its power and fluid lines.

The flight is to last 11 days and end with Atlantis returning to Kennedy Space Center.

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Atlantis Crew Completes Busy Day

 


The second day of STS-122 – Atlantis’ first full day in orbit – was a busy one for the shuttle crew. After waking up to Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love,” the astronauts completed inspections of space shuttle Atlantis’ heat shield and prepared for Saturday’s arrival at the International Space Station.

Crew members began the heat shield inspections about 9:40 a.m. EST and completed them around 2:35 p.m. They used Atlantis’ robotic arm and an attached boom extension to check the spacecraft’s underside, nose cap and leading edges of the wings as well as hard to reach shuttle surfaces.

The inspections were performed to check for damage that may have occurred to the heat shield during the climb to orbit that began when Atlantis lifted off Thursday from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Over the next few days, engineers and flight controllers will analyze this data.

The preparations for Saturday’s activities included the extension of the shuttle’s docking ring and the check out of tools the astronauts will use to rendezvous and link up with the station. Docking is set for 12:25 p.m.

The STS-122 crew also checked out spacesuits to be used during the mission’s three scheduled spacewalks at the space station. The objective of the spacewalks is to install and prepare the European Space Agency’s Columbus research laboratory for use.

STS-122 is also delivering to the station European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who will replace Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Daniel Tani.
Kirock

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Shuttle Crew Enters Station, First

Spacewalk Delayed

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Flight Engineer Dan Tani (left) watches as Mission Specialists

Leopold Eyharts (center) and Leland Melvin operate the

International Space Station's robotic arm.



The STS-122 crew entered the International Space Station for the first time after the hatches between the station and space shuttle Atlantis opened at 1:40 p.m. EST today.

Space Shuttle Atlantis and the STS-122 crew arrived at the International Space Station at 12:17 p.m., delivering the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory and a new crew member to the orbital outpost.

Mission Control informed the shuttle and space station crews that the first spacewalk will be delayed by one day and astronaut Stan Love will replace Hans Schlegel on that spacewalk.

STS-122 is the 24th shuttle mission to visit the station. Atlantis is scheduled to return to Earth Feb. 18.

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STS-122 Spacewalkers Complete Second
Outing, Mission Extended


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Spacewalker Rex Walheim works in the payload

bay of space shuttle Atlantis.

 


Astronauts Rex Walheim and Hans Schlegel completed the second of STS-122’s three scheduled spacewalks at 4:12 p.m. EST Wednesday. The excursion lasted six hours and 45 minutes.

The spacewalkers completed the removal of an expended Nitrogen Tank Assembly (NTA) and the installation of a new one on the P1 truss. The tank is part of the orbital outpost’s cooling system.

With the help of the station’s robotic arm, the spacewalkers moved the new NTA from its position in space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay. They temporarily stowed it on a Crew and Equipment Translation Aid cart while they removed the expended tank. With the new NTA installed, the old tank was transferred to the orbiter’s payload bay for return to Earth.

Because they finished their primary tasks early, the spacewalkers were able to install thermal covers on the trunnion pins on the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory. They also inspected and adjusted the U.S. Destiny laboratory's orbital debris shields.

Mission Specialist Stanley Love will join Walheim for STS-122’s third spacewalk on Friday at 8:35 a.m. They will install two payloads on the exterior of the Columbus laboratory: SOLAR, an observatory to monitor the sun; and the European Technology Exposure Facility that will carry eight experiments requiring exposure to the space environment.

The space shuttle Mission Management Team, at the request of the International Space Station Program, has extended the STS-122 mission to 13 days. Atlantis will undock from the space station on Monday, Feb. 18, and land at 9:06 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

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Spacewalkers "Camp Out" in Airlock

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STS-122 crew members in the Quest airlock

prepare for Friday's spacewalk.



The crew of space shuttle Atlantis began preparing Thursday for the third and final spacewalk of the mission. As part of the preparation, Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Stanley Love are spending Thursday night in the International Space Station’s Quest airlock. The purpose of the “camp out” is to purge the nitrogen from their bodies before their planned exit at 8:40 a.m. EST Friday.

During the spacewalk, Walheim and Love will install two payloads on Columbus’ exterior: SOLAR, an observatory to monitor the sun; and the European Technology Exposure Facility that will carry nine experiments requiring exposure to the space environment.

The STS-122 and Expedition 16 crews also spent time Thursday outfitting racks and systems inside the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory, preparing the module for the scientific work ahead of it.

Thursday morning, STS-122 Commander Steve Frick, Mission Specialists Hans Schlegel and Daniel Tani, station Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Leopold Eyharts spoke with Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. Schlegel, a European Space Agency astronaut, is from Germany.

Also participating were ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and former astronaut Thomas Reiter of the German Space Agency.

Atlantis is slated to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday.

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Astronauts Complete Spacewalk

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Mission Specialist Stan Love holds a failed control moment gyroscope

while riding the International Space Station's robotic arm into

space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay.



Astronauts Rex Walheim and Stanley Love completed the third STS-122 spacewalk at 3:32 p.m. EST Friday. The excursion lasted seven hours and 25 minutes.

In this final scheduled spacewalk of the mission, Walheim and Love installed two payloads on the exterior of the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory. The first, SOLAR, is an observatory that will monitor the sun for two years. The second is the European Technology Exposure Facility, which will carry nine experiments requiring exposure to the space environment.

With Mission Specialist Leland Melvin driving the space station's robotic arm, Love carried each of the experiment packages from space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay to Columbus where the spacewalkers installed them.

In addition, Walheim and Love – with the help of the station’s robot arm – moved a failed control moment gyroscope from its storage location on the station to the shuttle’s payload bay for return to Earth. The spacewalkers examined a small divot on a handrail near the Quest airlock to collect data on whether it could be a possible source for glove damage on recent spacewalks. They also installed handrails on Columbus.

Pilot Alan Poindexter guided the spacewalkers from inside the orbiting complex.

Atlantis and the STS-122 crew are scheduled to leave the space station on Monday, with undocking slated for 4:26 a.m. that day.

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Columbus Outfitting Continues

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The STS-122 and Expedition 16 crews gather together for a

joint crew news conference on Saturday.



The space shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station crews spent time Saturday transferring supplies and equipment into the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory.

Saturday morning, the station got a reboost, a routine procedure to adjust its orbit. The purpose of the reboost was to place the orbital outpost in better position to receive future visitors, including the Expedition 17 crew, who are slated to arrive in April.

Also, the STS-122 and Expedition 16 crews had some free time after several busy days.

In addition to delivering the Columbus laboratory to the orbital outpost, Atlantis’ astronauts performed three spacewalks to prepare the module for its scientific work and replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station. Atlantis also transported ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts to the station to take the place of Daniel Tani as Expedition 16 flight engineer. Tani is returning to Earth aboard the shuttle.

Atlantis and the STS-122 crew are scheduled to leave the space station on Monday, with undocking slated for 4:26 a.m. that day.

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STS-122 to Leave Station

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The STS-122 and Expedition 16 crews bid one another farewell Sunday.



The crew of space shuttle Atlantis spent Sunday afternoon preparing to leave the International Space Station. The preparations included checking out the tools they will use to undock from the orbital outpost Monday at 4:27 a.m. EST.

After the STS-122 and Expedition 16 crews bid one another farewell, the hatches between the two spacecraft closed at 1:03 p.m. Sunday.

STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss.

In addition, Atlantis delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Leopold Eyharts, an ESA astronaut. He replaced astronaut Daniel Tani, who is returning to Earth aboard Atlantis.

The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday.

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Atlantis Prepares for Journey Home

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Pilot Alan Poindexter maneuvers space shuttle Atlantis as

it undocks from the International Space Station.



Space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 4:24 a.m. EST, ending its almost-nine-day stay at the station. Pilot Alan Poindexter backed the orbiter away from the station and performed a fly-around to allow crew members to collect video and imagery of the orbital outpost with the newly installed Columbus laboratory.

The Atlantis crew also used the shuttle robot arm and the 50-foot long Orbiter Boom Sensor System to conduct a final inspection of the shuttle’s heat shield.

STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss.

In addition, Atlantis delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Leopold Eyharts, an ESA astronaut. He replaced astronaut Daniel Tani, who is returning to Earth aboard Atlantis.

The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday.

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STS-122 Prepares to Land Wednesday

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The STS-122 crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis

participate in a live interview Tuesday.



The crew members of space shuttle Atlantis spent Tuesday getting ready for their return home and the end of the STS-122 mission.

The STS-122 astronauts set up the recumbent seat for Mission Specialist Daniel Tani, who joined the crew of Atlantis on the International Space Station. The recumbent seat is a special seat designed to reduce the stress of gravity on those who have spent long periods of time in the weightless environment of space.

Tani served as Expedition 16 flight engineer for almost four months. He was replaced on the station crew by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Leopold Eyharts.

As part of the preparations, the astronauts also performed a test Tuesday morning of the steering jets – or thrusters – that will be used to position the orbiter for re-entry. They did not test the four aft orbiter maneuvering system vernier thrusters. These share a common heater, which failed overnight, making them inoperative during the test. These four steering jets are not needed for deorbit or landing and will not have an impact on the remainder of the mission.

The crew members also successfully tested the control surfaces to be used during Atlantis' flight through the atmosphere.

STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss.

The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday. Atlantis’ first landing opportunity is at 9:07 a.m. EST.

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An Atlantis Success - Columbus Laboratory

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 An astronaut puts finishing touches on the space station laboratory.


The International Space Station (ISS) has been equipped with a powerful new scientific laboratory. The Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the Columbus Laboratory to the ISS and installed the seven meter long module over the past week. Columbus has ten racks for experiments that can be controlled from the station or the Columbus Control Center in Germany. The first set of experiments includes the Fluid Science Laboratory that will explore fluid properties in the microgravity of low Earth orbit, and Biolab which supports experiments on microorganisms. Future Columbus experiments include an atomic clock that will test minuscule timing effects including those expected by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Pictured above, mission specialist Hans Schlegel works on the outside of Columbus. Scientists from all over the world may propose and carry out experiments to be done on the laboratory during its ten year mission.

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NASA Celebrates 'Super' Mission

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Space shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.



Space shuttle Atlantis soared through a thin layer of clouds over NASA's Kennedy Space Center before touching its wheels to the runway Wednesday to end a flawless STS-122 mission.

"This was just an unbelievably super mission for us," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations. "I can't think of a better way to start this year out than with this great flight."

Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Dan Tani and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel flew aboard Atlantis on the way back to Earth.

Although STS-122 lasted about 13 days, Tani had been living in space and aboard the International Space Station for 120 days by the time Atlantis landed. European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts launched aboard Atlantis and took Tani's place on the station.

Two weeks in space did not feel like a long time, the crew said, because there were plenty of tasks to take care of.

"It doesn't feel like about two weeks ago that we launched," Poindexter said.

The mission added the European-built Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station. The lab will host experiments from throughout Europe's scientific community and will be an important part of the orbiting research complex. NASA's own Destiny laboratory was already in orbit as part of the ISS. A Japanese laboratory complex will complete a cutting-edge trio of research bases that will host astronauts and experiments at the station.

"The station missions now are so busy," Frick said. "It's been a tremendous experience. We were very excited and pleased to bring Columbus to the International Space Station."

Space shuttle Endeavour is already perched on its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to launch the first module for the Japanese lab. It is to launch March 11.

"It feels really good to have mission back-to-back again," said Mike Leinbach, launch director at Kennedy. "The team is really pumped to get going and get ready for their next flight."

The seven astronauts will stay at the launch site overnight before flying back to Houston.

Atlantis is back inside its hangar at Kennedy where technicians will get it ready for an August mission to perform the last maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

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