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  STS-119: Discovery delivers 'full power' to ISS [Flight Day Journal] (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   STS-119: Discovery delivers 'full power' to ISS [Flight Day Journal]
Robert Pearlman
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First contact (con't)

Station robotic arm operators John Phillips and Koichi Wakata drove the S6 segment's alignment pins into the S5 truss' "capture cups" under the guidance of spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold.

"First contact," reported Swanson at 2:17 p.m. CDT.

"Copy, first contact," repeated Wakata as the station flew over the Atlantic Ocean, near the Cape Verde Islands.

Arnold, using the pistol grip tool, engaged a capture latch to secure the S6 in place. "There we go, 77 turns, all-right! Torque is in the green," he exclaimed as the latch was bolted.

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Go for S6 activation

Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold finished bolting the S6 truss segment in place at 2:06 p.m. CDT.

The two spacewalkers then worked on connecting the power and data umbilicals, encountering minor issues with some clamps and caps, but completing that work needed to activate the S6 segment.

"Yeah Houston, it wasn't quite as smooth as we hoped, but those guys did a great job and I'm very happy to say you have a go for S6 activation," radioed Joe Acaba from inside Discovery.

"Outstanding news and thanks for all the hard work on that. We'll put the activation into work right now," replied capcom Rick Davis from the station's mission control.

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Cinches and winches released

Steve Swanson has removed the six cinches that kept the S6 radiator panels folded together and removed two bars that prevented them from unfolding.

With those cinches and winches released, flight controllers will be able to command the radiator to unfold.

Working separately, Ricky Arnold released the restraints that held down the blanket box containing the S6 solar array wings, so that they too can be unfolded later.

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Solar array masts and boxes deployed

Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold successfully deployed the solar arrays' two Beta Gimbal Assembly (BGA) masts and four blanket boxes, paving the way for the two 240-foot power-generating wings -- the last set to be added to the space station -- to be deployed as early as tomorrow.

The BGAs enable the solar array wings to rotate as they track the sun. The boxes contain the arrays themselves, folded inside.

While deploying one of the two BGAs, a problem was encountered with one of the four bars that lock down the mast. Flight controllers advised the astronauts that the three-out-of-four configuration was acceptable.

Wrapping up their scheduled tasks, Swanson and Arnold removed thermal covers from the S6 segment's electronic control and sequential control units and jettisoned them behind the station to eventually burn up in the atmosphere.

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Radiators extended

The two photovoltaic radiators that will reject heat away from the S6 truss electrical elements were commanded by ground controllers to deploy as the two astronauts that had freed the twin cooling towers' launch restraints made their way back to the station's airlock.

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Spacewalk ends

With the airlock closed, locked and re-pressurizing, the first spacewalk of the STS-119 mission came to an end after six hours and 7 minutes at 6:23 p.m. CDT.

"Welcome aboard, back on-board the space station, it's a lot bigger than when you left it," said ISS commander Mike Fincke, referencing the 45.4 foot long truss that spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold added. "A great job out there, you guys were outstanding. Thanks for the hard work."

"It was a great team effort today," replied Swanson. "It was wonderful."

"That was outstanding," radioed capcom Lucia McCullough from mission control. "For you and the rest of the combined crew, we're delighted to accept delivery and installation of the S6 truss."

The 121st spacewalk devoted to the station, the outing was the third for Swanson, bringing his career EVA total to 19 hours, 44 minutes.

It was the first spacewalk for Arnold.

"He's not a rookie anymore," commented fellow educator astronaut Joe Acaba.

"No, he did great, man," agreed Swanson. "That was sweet."

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Flight Day Five highlights

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Flight Day Six

The STS-119 crew was greeted this morning by the song "Box of Rain" by Grateful Dead, played for mission specialist John Phillips.

While they slept, flight controllers began the process of deploying the solar arrays delivered to the space station by Discovery's crew and installed during a spacewalk on Thursday.

The arrays' storage boxes were slightly opened, allowing the accordion-style folded blankets to decompress.

Full deployment of one of the wings is scheduled to begin at 9:48 a.m., when over the course of 10 minutes the array will be extended to 49 percent of its wingspan. After "baking" in the Sun for 45 minutes in an effort to avoid "stiction", the array will continue to be deployed to its full length of 240 feet.

A similar process will be followed for the second array, and should all go well, both wings will be fully deployed by about 12:30 p.m. today.

In addition to the deployment of the solar arrays, which will take up the morning of the crew's time, the astronauts will spend the afternoon moving supplies from the shuttle to the station.

Mission specialist Sandy Magnus will work on installing a replacement distillation unit in the urine processing assembly as part of the continuing effort to recover full operation of the water recovery system delivered during the last shuttle mission.

Spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba will spend most of their afternoon in preparation for their outing tomorrow, working in the Quest airlock to configure their spacesuits, tools and the airlock itself.

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Fifteen and a half bays

The S6 1B array was successfully deployed to about half its length, or 15.5 bays, beginning at 10:06 a.m. CDT. It will now be allowed to "bake" for 45 minutes before the crew proceeds with its full extension.

"The only thing that we can report is that obviously we have numerous panels which are doubled over but that is still not out of family," STS-119 commander Lee Archambault reported to mission control. "So, we think we're in good shape."

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1B deployed

After resuming its deploy at 10:46 a.m. CDT, the 1B solar array has been extended to its full length.

"Houston, Discovery, it looks like we had a very good deploy," STS-119 commander Lee Archambault reported to mission control. "We got a couple of 'yesses' on the deployed status and the tension reel came up exactly as predicted at 31 bays. We see no anomalies but we're going to make our checks as per the next steps of the procedure."

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Fifteen and a half bays, again

"Houston, there's 15.5 bays deployed," Lee Archambault, STS-119 commander, reported as the 3B array reached its half-way point. "The array looks good at this time."

Like the 1B array, the 3B array will be allowed to "bake" in the sun for 45 minutes before being further extended.

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Full power

With the full deploy of the 3B solar array wing at 12:17 p.m. CDT, the International Space Station is now at full power.

"Initial looks good for a full deployment," reported Lee Archambault as the 3B array extended to 115 feet with 31 bays exposed.

"Alpha, Houston, tremendous news!" replied Rick Davis from the station's mission control. "Great work, guys. We've got a whole bunch of happy people down here."

"We're very happy as well," Archambault added. "We're pressing on. Full power!"

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Friday night camp-out

Having successfully deployed the last set of solar array wings enabling full power to the space station, the STS-119 crew set about moving supplies from Discovery and preparing for Saturday's spacewalk.

The station crew, including returning flight engineer Sandy Magnus, took part in a series of media interviews with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Reuters and Voice of America.

Magnus then worked on replacing the ISS's urine processing assembly distillation unit, completing the change-out late in the day.

Spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba began their overnight "camp out" in the Quest airlock at 9:08 p.m. CDT. They are scheduled to begin their spacewalk, the mission's second, at 11:43 a.m. Saturday, though they might get off to an early start.

Before retiring for the evening at 10:43 p.m., the shuttle crew narrated their video highlights for the day.

Meanwhile, mission managers revised the STS-119 flight plan, delaying when the astronauts will close the hatch separating the shuttle and station to the same day as when they will undock.

Of concern was the return of medical samples, which will now remain longer in the station's freezer before being returned to Earth on Discovery.

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Flight Day Seven

Today's wakeup music was "In a Little While" by the group Pilgrim and Trout played for STS-119 mission specialist Ricky Arnold.

"Good morning Houston, and thanks to Eloise, Carrie and Jess for the song. We're ready for another great day on orbit," Arnold radioed to mission control.

Arnold will serve as coordinator for today's spacewalk, the mission's second, to be performed by Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba, scheduled to begin at 11:43 a.m.

Once out the Quest airlock, the spacewalkers will prepare a workstation on the P6 truss for crew members on the next mission to replace its batteries. Swanson and Acaba will also prepare cargo attachment systems for storing equipment, install a GPS antenna that will help guide JAXA's HTV unmanned resupply vehicle later this year, take photographs of a damaged radiator, and reconfigure a truss patch panel.

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Second spacewalk starts

Mission specialists Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba began their spacewalk today at 11:51 a.m. CDT as they switched their spacesuits' systems to battery power.

The spacewalkers were detained in the airlock for a short time as they corrected a problem with the data display on Swanson's suit.

"Okay guys, great job getting suited up and getting ready," said STS-119 pilot Tony Antonelli as he handed off the spacewalkers to Ricky Arnold, who is serving as the IVA officer, or spacewalk coordinator. "Have a good run."

"The hatch thermal cover is open, and so you are go to egress the crew lock when ready," radioed Arnold to the spacewalkers a few moments later.

The spacesuited pair exited the Quest airlock as the space station was flying over the southern Pacific Ocean.

Swanson, making his fourth spacewalk (the second on this mission), is wearing a suit with red stripes. Acaba, on his first EVA, is wearing a suit with candy cane red and white stripes.

"Joe, great seeing you outside. Welcome to EVA," said Arnold, who made his own first spacewalk with Swanson on Thursday.

"Thank you," replied Acaba, who like Arnold is a former educator-turned-astronaut.

The spacewalkers are now making their way to the far left side of the station's truss to prepare a workstation for the later removal and replacement of the Port 6 (P6) batteries by astronauts on STS-127, the next space shuttle mission to visit the ISS.

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Batteries bolts loosened, station "saturated"

Spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba completed their work on the P6 truss, loosening bolts holding down six batteries in preparation for their replacement in June during the next shuttle mission to visit the station.

While working at the far left (port) end of the station's newly-completed truss, the astronauts imparted enough motion to "saturate" the control moment gyros (CMGs) that are used to maintain the orientation of the station. To compensate, flight controllers had space shuttle Discovery take over control using its vernier reaction thrusters.

"We have lost attitude control for the moment on CMGs," advised station capcom Rick Davis as alarms sounded on the station. "We are in the process of switching over to VRCS and we'll coordinate with you as necessary. Nothing to worry about."

"That's what it was, I thought it sounded a bit different," replied Swanson with a laugh, after both he and Acaba had heard the alarm over their radios, confusing it momentarily with the warning systems as part of their suits. "That's pretty funny."

The two have moved to their next task at the P3 truss, installing an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system (UCASS), which will be used to store equipment on the outside of the station. They'll add a similar carrier to the S3 later during their spacewalk.

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Spacewalkers stymied by "pinned" platform

At the suggestion of flight controllers, Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba are moving on to their next tasks, having been unsuccessful deploying an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system (UCASS) on the P3 truss.

Try as they might, the spacewalkers were unable to pry the stowage platform past an adjustable diameter pin that had rotated into the path of the carrier. The pin kept the astronauts from swinging the UCASS into its final position.

The two may return to the "pinned" platform if time allows after Acaba photographs a damaged radiator, Swanson installs a global positioning system (GPS) antenna on the Kibo module, and both work together to reconfigure a patch panel's cables.

The installation of a similar carrier on the starboard truss was postponed given the time lost struggling with the port-side platform.

Meanwhile, inside the space station, a "dry run" of the urine processing assembly's replacement distillation unit was said to be going well.

"You can see the same good spinning," reported station commander Mike Fincke to mission control. "We could barely hear any change in noise, which is much different than the last time we did this."

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Antenna added, radiator recorded

Spacewalkers have each finished their respective tasks as they worked separately outside the space station.

Steve Swanson installed a global positioning system (GPS) antenna atop the Kibo lab to be used during the planned rendezvous of the first Japanese HTV unmanned cargo ship this September.

Meanwhile, Joe Acaba took digital and infrared photographs of a damaged radiator deployed from the S1 truss segment and was working on doing the same for the P1 radiator.

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Time for a tie-down

Managing the remaining time outside, flight controllers directed lead spacewalker Steve Swanson to give up on reconfiguring power cables and to instead return to the site of an uncooperative cargo carrier to secure it to the station's exterior before returning inside.

"We've been monitoring consumables down here, and what we'd like to do is send Swanny to the site," said capcom Lucia McCullough, adding that Swanson's fellow spacewalker Joe Acaba should wait in the airlock. "That will give us enough time to complete the tie-down task."

Swanson had been working on the Z1 truss segment, wrestling with an umbilical to re-route power to one of the station's stabilizing control moment gyros.

Equipped with several tethers, Swanson returned to the unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system on the P3 truss, where he and Acaba had earlier been unable to work past a wayward pin in order to deploy the platform.

Tying it down, Swanson joined Acaba at the airlock, where they began preparations to reenter the station.

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Second spacewalk ends

The second spacewalk of the STS-119 mission came to an end at 6:21 p.m. CDT, as the Quest airlock began re-pressurizing.

"Awesome job, welcome back," said STS-119 commander Lee Archambault as he greeted spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Joe Acaba through the airlock hatch.

At six hours and 30 minutes in duration, the spacewalk changed direction several times as the astronauts encountered unexpected challenges and flight controllers re-planned accordingly.

"Houston, a very good job today and thanks for your help with all the re-planning," radioed Swanson from inside the airlock. "I think that you guys did a great job."

Saturday's spacewalk marked Swanson's fourth, bringing his career total outside to 26 hours and 22 minutes. Acaba was making his first EVA.

"We sure appreciate the hard work you did for our beautiful space station," said ISS commander Mike Fincke, "you guys proved that flexibility was definitely the key."

The total time spacewalking to assemble the space station is now 768 hours and 33 minutes, or about 32 days.

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The smell of space

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Flight Day Eight

Chicago's "Alive Again", played for STS-119 commander Lee "Bru" Archambault, began the day at 6:14 a.m. CDT.

"Hey, good morning," radioed Archambault. "Thank you to my family and I appreciate that blast from my hometown. That's a really nice way to start the day."

Discovery's crew will enjoy some off duty time beginning at 9:18 a.m.

"We are ready to start the day, we know it's a little bit of a lighter day, but I'm sure you guys had a busy night overnight with a lot of planning," added Archambault, as he spoke to those in the mission control center (MCC).

"We got a couple of people in the pool right now working on your plan for the day," replied capcom Janice Voss, referring to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab where astronauts were re-working the plans for the crew's third spacewalk tomorrow.

"We also appreciate your choice of wake up music. We were dancing down here at MCC," she added.

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Slow flow delays urine recycler test

As Discovery's crew continues to enjoy some time off this morning, space station commander Mike Fincke has been working with flight controllers to further test the outpost's urine processing assembly replacement distillation unit, which was installed by Sandy Magnus a couple of days ago.

A "dry" run was executed on Saturday and a second such test, without liquid, was re-staged this morning so that flight controllers could record the sounds of the device while running. Fincke had described the noise as more uniform then when the original distiller was installed.

A "wet" run was planned for this afternoon but the preparation for that activity, filling the tank, was paused after a low flow warning was reported between the recycler's tank and the distillation unit.

"The leading theory now is that there may be a restriction in the [quick disconnects] on the inlet of the recycle tank but we are continuing to look at it," advised station capcom Rick Davis from mission control.

"To us it seems very curious because we had a very good flow rate at the beginning and then the flow rate went down," replied Fincke. "If that valve, in my opinion, if there had been something wrong with a QD or a valve, we'd most likely would have seen it earlier."

"So you're right, this is a head scratcher," Fincke concluded. "We'll standby to help unscratch our heads."

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Urine processing postponed

Efforts to improve the flow rate into the station's urine processing assembly (UPA) replacement distillation unit have been unsuccessful.

"The troubleshooting steps that we just did to try to resolve this problem with the UPA were no joy," reported capcom Rick Davis from mission control. "We are going to stand down from UPA activities for today so we can get everyone looking at it to come up with some additional ideas."

"Sorry about that," replied ISS commander Mike Fincke. "I will plan on shutting the doors and reconfiguring all the racks for further use."

Discovery's STS-119 astronauts, having enjoyed some time off this morning, are in the process of resuming transfer activities and preparing for tomorrow's spacewalk.

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Shuttle maneuvers station to avoid debris

Shuttle Discovery commander Lee Archambault has used the orbiter's thrusters to maneuver the space station such that gradually it (and the shuttle) will move out of the way of a small piece of space debris.

"We want to do a very minor orbit adjust," capcom Stephen Robinson advised from mission control. "So at 20:46 MET [mission elapsed time], we'll have you maneuver to the undock attitude using the shuttle [and] hold that attitude for three hours."

That attitude, which places the shuttle ahead of -- rather than behind -- the station, creates more drag, slowing the stack by about a foot per second. Over the course of several hours, this will lower their orbit very slightly, enough to avoid a four inch fragment of a Chinese rocket that launched in 1999 and broke apart in March 2000.

The maneuver, which began at 3:01 p.m. CDT, did not interrupt activities aboard the shuttle or station, including resumed troubleshooting of the urine distiller.

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Spinning straw urine into gold water

For the first time since repairing its urine processing assembly with a replacement unit launched aboard shuttle Discovery, the space station's water recovery system has spun up its first "wet" sample, distilling urine into potable water.

ISS Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke, who spent most of his day Sunday troubleshooting the problem-ridden recycler with mission control, stayed up past his bedtime to watch -- and listen -- to the urine processor run, first while "dry" and then "wet" with crew-collected urine.

A microphone positioned near the unit transmitted the sound of the spinning UPA to engineers on the ground, who listened in for any signs of irregularities.

"I remember the original distillation assembly and I never remember it being this quiet," reported Fincke during the evening's initial dry run. "It's looking great so far."

The ability to recover water from the crew's waste is pivotal to the plans by the station's international partners to expand the crew compliment from three to six this May. The original attempt to put the recovery system into service last November was unsuccessful due to a tendency of the urine processor to stop spinning. NASA engineers retooled a replacement unit, which was launched to the station with the STS-119 mission.

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Two teachers float into an airlock...

In preparation for Monday's spacewalk, STS-119 mission specialists Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold, both former educators, reviewed spacewalk procedures and began their "camp out" overnight in the station's Quest airlock beginning at 8:08 p.m. CDT.

Their shuttle crewmates went to bed at 9:43 p.m., but first shared this video of their Sunday in space.

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Flight Day Nine

Today's wake-up music was "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens" by Louis Jordan played at 5:43 a.m. CDT for STS-119 mission specialist Steve Swanson, suggested by his children.

"Thanks Houston and I'd like to say thanks again to my kids," radioed Swanson after a brief loss of signal.

Swanson will serve as IVA officer, or coordinator, for today's planned six and a half hour spacewalk, the mission's third and last.

Educators-turned-astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold, each performing their second spacewalk, will work to relocate a cart along the rails of the station's truss; try again to deploy an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system; install a similar attachment system on the starboard side; lubricate the Canadarm2's end effector; and reconfigure cables that route power to the station's stablizing gyros.

The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 10:43 a.m.

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Third spacewalk begins

STS-119 educators-turned-astronauts Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba began the mission's third and last spacewalk at 10:37 a.m. CDT as they took their spacesuits' systems to battery power.

"Ricky, Joe, just wanted to say thanks on behalf of the space station for going outside today," said Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke to the spacewalkers.

"This is probably the last EVA for this Discovery mission, so we just want to say, take your time, enjoy it and do good work," added Fincke, repeating in part the advice ("Do good work") offered by Virgil "Gus" Grissom, one of the United States' first astronauts, whose own Gemini 3 mission was launched 44 years ago today.

Arnold's extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) has no stripes; Acaba's has red and while barber pole stripes.

Their first task will be to move one of two Crew and Equipment Translation Aids, or CETA carts, from one side of the station's truss to the other.

Arnold will prepare the cart to be moved from P1 to S1 by releasing its brakes and wheel bogies. Acaba will then carry it to its new home while riding at the end of the station's robotic arm. Meanwhile, Arnold will move to the S1 and be ready to assist Acaba reinstall the cart.

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Cart carted

Taking a short field trip at the end of the station's robotic arm, educator astronaut Joe Acaba carried one of the station's two Crew and Equipment Translation Aids, or CETA carts, from the port, or left side, of the truss to the corresponding starboard segment.

"Alright, parking brake is set," reported Acaba's fellow teacher-spacewalker Ricky Arnold, having locked down the cart's brakes and wheel bogies.

"If you agree, we'll give Joe a go to release CETA cart two," spacewalk coordinator Steve Swanson advised from inside shuttle Discovery.

"I agree Joe, you're go!" replied Arnold.

The spacewalkers will next move to the P3 truss to re-attempt the deployment of an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system (UCCAS), which had become stuck during the mission's second spacewalk.

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Force fails to free platform

Despite hammering a suspect pin out the way, spacewalkers Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba were unable to free a stuck stowage platform, ultimately deciding to tether it to the station's exterior for future spacewalkers to try again.

"It's moving," said Arnold as he tapped a hammer against an adjustable diameter pin (ADP) that engineers on the ground suspected was hindering the deployment of an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system (UCCAS).

"Almost clear... beauty!" he declared as it came free, but the platform still refused to rotate into place.

"No longer is it the ADP, we've ruled that out," radioed spacewalk coordinator Steve Swanson to mission control.

"There's no limit on the force applied by hand," advised capcom Rick Davis a few minutes later, but he added, "be careful, if it breaks free there will be stored energy you have to deal with."

Bracing themselves against handrails, Arnold and Acaba gave it their all to pull the carrier into position.

"I didn't even feel it move, it just wiggled a little bit," said Arnold. "There's got to be something, I mean, that was some pretty good force."

"I just don't see anything obvious," replied Acaba.

Ultimately, the astronauts and flight controllers agreed they were at an impass.

"We're going to need to study this thing some more," advised Davis, "so what we'd like to do is implement the long duration tie down," instructing the two astronauts to tether the platform to the station's truss.

The spacewalkers were slated to next deploy a similar payload attachment system on the opposite side of the truss, but given the difficulties with the UCCAS, they were directed to postpone that activity. Instead, Acaba will work on reconfiguring a set of cables while Arnold lubricates the end effectors on the station's robotic arm.

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Lube, lengthen and loosen

Working separately, spacewalkers Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba have completed several maintenance tasks outside the space station.

Arnold lubricated the snares on the "B" end of the station's robotic arm. The additional grease will help keep the arm's snares in their grooves, ensuring proper operation of the system. The "A" end was similarly lubricated during STS-126 in November 2008.

Acaba installed a new coupler on the first of two Crew and Equipment Translation Aids, having moved the second at the start of the spacewalk, to adjust the cart's clearance as it moves along the rails on the station's truss.

He then turned his attention to removing two of the 12 clamps holding down a flex hose rotary coupler, an umbilical that will eventually be replaced. Before making his way to back the airlock, Acaba also retrieved a tool caddy to bring back inside.

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Third spacewalk ends

The third and final spacewalk of the STS-119 mission ended at 5:04 p.m. CDT, six hours and 27 minutes after it began, bringing the flight's total EVA time to 19 hours and 4 minutes.

Spacewalkers Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba, both former science teachers, each made their second EVA today. Arnold logged a total of 12 hours and 34 minutes working outside, whereas Acaba, whose first spacewalk was slightly longer, has 23 minutes more.

"You've left the space station in much better shape than when you left," said Lucia McCullough from mission control. "We heartily thank you."

"Thanks for the hard work, real professional out there," added STS-119 commander Lee Archambault.

This was the 123rd EVA devoted to the International Space Station, bringing the total time by spacewalkers assembling and maintaining the outpost to 775 hours.

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President Obama to call the crew

President Barack Obama, joined by Congressional leaders and Washington, DC area middle school students, is expected to call Discovery's crew on Tuesday.

The Oval Office-to-orbit conversation, which is slated to begin at 8:40 a.m. CDT, will likely include the President congratulating the astronauts on their on-going mission.

Before going to bed on Monday, STS-119 commander Lee Archambault received a summary of his crew's schedule for Tuesday from capcom Greg "Box" Johnson.

"Enjoy the PAO event," said Johnson referring to the President's call, but only as an activity planned by the public affairs office.

As has become their daily tradition, Archambault and his crewmates also narrated a video of their day's activities before signing off for the night.

Thanks to our colleagues at the Houston Chronicle, SPACE.com and ABC News for contributing to this update.

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Flight Day Ten

Space shuttle Discovery's crew began their day at 5:13 a.m. CDT to the sounds of "Andrew's Song" played for mission specialist John Phillips.

"It is great to wake-up to the sounds of the Houston band Treestump, including my daughter on bass guitar," Phillips commented. "We're looking forward to a day of getting our big motor home ready for the open road and pulling out of the driveway."

The STS-119 crew will spend today resting and preparing for their departure from the space station on Wednesday.

Together with the Expedition 18 crew, the astronauts will participate in a "televised downlink event" at 8:49 a.m. and a joint crew news conference at 12:05 p.m. before enjoying some off duty time in the afternoon.

This morning's downlink is expected to include an Oval Office-to-orbit call from President Barack Obama, who will be joined at the White House by Congressional leaders and middle school students from the Washington, DC area.

"Be sure to read message 108, it's concerning your PAO event here in about four hours," advised mission control to the crew, referring to a public affairs office event summary pertaining to their call with the President.

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Commander-in-Chief calls shuttle, ISS commanders and crew

U.S. President Barack Obama, joined by Congressional leaders and Washington, DC area middle school students, placed a call to orbit on Tuesday morning, speaking with the crews of shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station.

White House transcript

The last time a sitting president spoke to astronauts in space was on July 11, 2006, when George W. Bush had a private conversation with the STS-121 and ISS crews.

Former President George H.W. Bush with his wife Barbara spoke to the STS-120 and station astronauts on November 1, 2007 while visiting Houston mission control.

Credit: Pete Souza/White House

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Packing for home

Discovery's crew spent the afternoon packing in preparation for their departure from the International Space Station, scheduled for 2:53 p.m. CDT on Wednesday.

For the last time as a joint crew, the STS-119 and Expedition 18 astronauts ended their day by narrating a video of their day's activities.

NASA also released the footage recorded by cameras on the solid rocket boosters that launched Discovery to space.

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Flight Day Eleven

"We're ready to get to work," reported STS-119 pilot Tony Antonelli, after he and his Discovery crewmates awoke to "Dirty Water" by the Standells, played at the request of his family.

Antonelli will be at the controls this afternoon as the shuttle backs away and circles the space station before starting a two-day journey back to Earth.

The STS-119 and Expedition 18 crews will part ways after a brief farewell ceremony followed by their respective hatches being closed at 11:53 a.m. CDT.

Undocking will follow two hours later at 2:53 p.m., with the fly-around of the orbiting outpost and its now completed integrated truss beginning at 3:22 p.m.

Antonelli will perform a series of thruster burns to separate Discovery from the ISS, with the final firing at 4:37 p.m.

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Items 913 and 914

Tony Antonelli, overseeing the transfer of the last few items between space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station, confirmed to mission control that item 913, manifested for resupply, and 914, listed for return, have been relocated.

"We have completed item 913," he radioed, "and 914, which is Sandy herself, is not quite complete, but I think we can call that one complete."

Item 913 is better known as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who has taken the place of item 914, Sandy Magnus, as part of the space station's crew.

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Power-full goodbye

Gathered outside the soon-to-be-closed hatch separating the International Space Station from the space shuttle Discovery, the STS-119 and Expedition 18 crews bid each other farewell.

"This is the toughest part of the mission, at least for me," said station commander Mike Fincke, addressing the departing shuttle astronauts including Sandy Magnus, who spent 121 days as a member of the Expedition 18 crew.

"We're very proud to have left the station with more power," commented STS-119 commander Lee Archambault of his mission's primary goal, the addition of the station's last set of solar array wings. "We're most proud though of working with a great international team."


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