STS135 Mission Updates

STS-135 Arrives, Crew Begins Work at Station
Sun, 10 Jul 2011 22:04:14 GMT

Space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station at 11:07 a.m. EDT Sunday with a cargo-carrying module in its payload bay filled with equipment and supplies for the orbiting laboratory. Hatches separating crews were opened at 12:47 p.m. Shuttle crew members, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim, entered the station moments later to begin their week-plus stay.

Ferguson and Hurley used the shuttle arm to take its 50-foot extension boom from the station’s Canadarm2 operated by station Flight Engineers Ron Garan and Satoshi Furukawa. The station arm had plucked the boom from its stowage position on the shuttle cargo bay sill. The handoff was to prepare to use the boom for any needed shuttle heat shield inspection later this week. Magnus worked with TV setup and Walheim transferred spacewalk gear.

Docking had gone just as planned. Ferguson and the crew of space shuttle Atlantis began their final approach to the station from about eight miles distance with the terminal initiation burn at 8:29 a.m.

About 600 feet below the station, Atlantis did a backflip to enable station crew members to photograph the shuttle’s heat shield. The photos were sent to mission control to be evaluated by experts on the ground to look for any damage.

Flight controllers began monitoring reports from the Department of Defense’s U.S. Strategic Command that a piece of orbital debris may come near the station and shuttle complex about noon on Tuesday. The debris, part of satellite COSMOS 375, is one of more than 500,000 pieces of debris tracked in Earth’s orbit. The team expected updated tracking information following today’s docking to help determine if a maneuver using the shuttle’s thrusters is necessary to avoid the debris.

The crew sleep period is scheduled to begin at 6:59 p.m. Flight Day 4 begins with crew wake up at 2:59 a.m. Monday.

Shuttle Crew Welcomed Aboard Station
Sun, 10 Jul 2011 16:59:13 GMT

At 12:47 p.m. EDT, hatches were opened between the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis, beginning the joint phase of the STS-135 mission.

NASA Television will air a Mission Status Briefing with STS-135 Lead Shuttle Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho at 1:30 p.m., or immediately following the standard welcome ceremony between the crews.

At 4 p.m., chairman of the Mission Management Team and Deputy Manager of the Space Shuttle Program LeRoy Cain will hold a news conference on NASA TV.

Atlantis Docks to International Space Station
Sun, 10 Jul 2011 15:10:00 GMT

At 11:07 a.m. EDT, Commander Chris Ferguson guided space shuttle Atlantis into pressurized mating adapter #2 on the International Space Station’s Harmony node. The two spacecraft were flying about 240 miles high, east of New Zealand, at the time they docked.

This was the 12th and final time Atlantis docked to the space station. It was the 46th shuttle docking to a space station, nine to the Russian Mir station and 37 to the International Space Station. Atlantis performed seven of the nine Mir dockings. This was the 86th space shuttle rendezvous operation and the 164th “proximity operation” in the history of the Space Shuttle Program, where a shuttle conducted operations in close proximity to another spacecraft.

The shuttle and station crews will open hatches and hold the traditional welcome ceremony at about 1:19 p.m. Atlantis’ crew of Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim will join Expedition 28 Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov of Russia, Satoshi Furukawa from Japan, and NASA’s Ron Garan and Mike Fossum.

The combined crew of 10 begins more than a week of docked operations, transferring vital supplies and equipment to sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired.

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