Station Spreads New Wings: Crew to Prep for Spacewalk

The rear-facing solar array on the space station’s S3/S4 truss is fully deployed. Image credit: NASA TV

Image above: The rear-facing solar array on the space station’s S3/S4 truss is fully deployed. Image credit: NASA TV

The International Space Station spread its new set of wings today, and now the STS-117 crew members can turn their attention to the mission’s next spacewalk.The solar arrays on the newly installed Starboard 3 and 4 (S3/S4) truss segment deployed to their full length with the assistance of the STS-117 crew. The S3/S4 was installed onto the station Monday before the start of STS-117’s first spacewalk, during which STS-117 astronauts began activating the truss. The arrays will increase the station’s ability to generate power when they go online.Today’s deployment activities occurred in steps, beginning about 11:43 a.m. EDT. The forward-facing array on the S3/S4 was first deployed to its length of 115 feet. The procedure was repeated for the rear-facing array which was fully deployed about 1:58 p.m.

The STS-117 astronauts are scheduled to enjoy a few hours of off duty time this afternoon before beginning preparations for the mission’s second spacewalk on Wednesday. Mission Specialists Steve Swanson and Pat Forrester will continue the activation of the S3/S4 and assist in the retraction of the starboard solar array on the Port 6 (P6) truss during the spacewalk. Wednesday’s excursion is scheduled to begin at 2:03 p.m.

The P6 will move from its location atop the station to the end of the Port 5 truss during a future mission.

Tonight at 9:13, STS-117 crew members will participate in interviews with CBS News and El Paso, Texas, TV stations KFOX-TV and KTSM-TV. The interviews will be aired on NASA TV.

Managers Add Spacewalk, 2 Days to Mission

During a post-mission management briefing Monday, John Shannon, chair of the Mission Management Team, announced NASA will extend the mission two extra days and add a fourth spacewalk. The team extended the mission by two days and added a fourth EVA to provide time to repair the raised thermal blanket on the Orbital Maneuvering System pod. A decision about whether that job will be done on EVA 3 or EVA 4 is expected today.

The next Mission Status Briefing is slated to take place at 6 p.m. today and air on NASA TV.

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