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  STS-129/Atlantis: Stocking the Space Station [Flight Day Journal] (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   STS-129/Atlantis: Stocking the Space Station [Flight Day Journal]
Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

STS-129 / Atlantis: Stocking the Space Station

STS-129 will focus on staging spare components outside the station. The 15-day, three spacewalk flight will install two large ExPRESS Logistics Carriers (ELC) holding two gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly, a spare latching end effector for the station's robotic arm, a spare trailing umbilical system for the Mobile Transporter and high-pressure tank.

Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh will command the mission, which marks the penultimate flight for the Atlantis orbiter, OV-104. Barry "Butch" Wilmore will serve as pilot. The mission specialists for STS-129 are Robert "Bobby" Satcher, Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Leland Melvin. The flight will also return Nicole Stott from the station.

Liftoff of Atlantis on the STS-129 mission is scheduled for Monday, November 16, 2009 at 2:28 p.m. EST.


Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen on Pad 39A, November 15, 2009.

Do you have comments and/or questions about the STS-129 mission? Post to our mission viewing and commentary thread.

For prior status updates about readying STS-129 see Atlantis to fly to the ISS.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

NASA: "Go" for tanking

NASA's mission managers have given their "go" for technicians to begin fueling space shuttle Atlantis for today's launch of the STS-129 mission, scheduled for 2:28 p.m. EST.

After "chilling down" the transfer lines that will pipe the super-cold propellants into Atlantis' external tank, fueling will commence at 5:13 a.m. It will take about three hours to load the tank with about 500,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants.

The STS-129 crew members were awakened at 4:30 a.m. They are scheduled to depart for Pad 39A and Atlantis at 10:38 a.m. EST.

The latest forecast predicts a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time, with the only concern being the possibility of low clouds.


Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

STS-129 Factoids

  • The solid rocket boosters launching Atlantis have been assembled from segments flown on 60 prior space shuttle missions. The oldest? STS-2. Most recent? STS-121.

  • Attending today's launch are several VIP guests, including U.S. Olympic Medal winner for swimming Dara Torres; Dan Mulville, former NASA acting administrator; former astronaut and commander of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command, Kevin Chilton; original Tuskegee airmen Don Elders and Alexander Jefferson; and Bonnie Baer, daughter of the first American to walk in space, Ed White.

  • STS-129 will mark the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station and, coincidentally, the 31st mission for orbiter Atlantis.

  • Three members of the STS-129 crew are making their first flight to space (Wilmore, Bresnik and Satcher). They will bring total number of people who have flown on the space shuttle to 349.

  • This will be Atlantis' penultimate flight. The orbiter, designated OV-104, is scheduled to fly just one more mission, STS-132 in May 2010.

STS-129 mission patch. Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

Atlantis fueled for flight

Space shuttle Atlantis' external tank has now been filled with 535,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

Fueling reached "stable replenish" of both cryogenic propellants at 8:00 a.m. EST (LH2 reached "stable replenish" at 7:37 a.m.).

The three-hour tanking provides the fuel and oxidizer Atlantis' three main engines will require for its 8.5 minute journey to orbit, which is scheduled to begin with a liftoff at 2:28 p.m. EST.


Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

Astronaut aboard Atlantis

The crew of STS-129 left their quarters and departed for Pad 39A at 10:38 a.m. EST riding on the Astrovan, a modified Airstream trailer.

Commander Charles "Scorch" Hobaugh, pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin and Randy Bresnik boarded Atlantis and were strapped into their seats on the flight deck.

Bresnik, seated behind and between Hobaugh and Scorch, is serving as flight engineer for ascent. Melvin will switch seats and roles with Bresnik when Atlantis goes to land -- a gesture on the part of their commander to give them both the experience as the shuttle program comes to a end.

This is only the second time in history that the flight engineer for launch did not fill that role (and seat) for landing. The first time was in 1982 on the first flight with mission specialists, STS-5. Joe Allen and Bill Lenoir took turns riding on the middeck as the first to ever do so.

Twenty-seven years later, STS-129 mission specialists Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher were secured in their seats on the middeck as the latest two to do so.

The pad closeout crew are working to close the hatch, pressurize the crew cabin, check for leaks, and then finish up their remaining work inside the environmentally controlled White Room before leaving the area.

Radio checks are continuing for the crew while the countdown clicks down on schedule for a launch at 2:28 p.m. EST.

The weather forecast is currently "green," which means there are no present constraints for a liftoff this afternoon.


Credit: Robert Pearlman/collectSPACE.com

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

T-9 minutes and holding

Space shuttle Atlantis and its six-person crew are nearing liftoff at Pad 39A, on the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station.

The countdown clock has been holding at T-9 minutes since 1:34 p.m. EST. This is the last built-in hold today and is scheduled to last about 45 minutes.

The weather remains "go" at the launch site and the Transoceanic Abort Landing, or TAL, sites as the countdown clock ticks backward toward an on-time launch at 2:28 p.m. EST.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Countdown

T-9 minutes and counting

The launch director have given Atlantis' crew a "go" during after a final "go-no go" poll to begin the STS-129 mission.

During the last few minutes remaining in the countdown, the access arm on the rotating service structure will swing away from the shuttle and the vent hood, called a beanie cap, covering the point of the external tank will be lifted up and away. A computer, called a ground launch sequencer, has taken over all the operations of Pad 39A and will be giving the commands that will launch Atlantis.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: One

Atlantis soars to stock the space station


Credit: Robert Pearlman/collectSPACE.com
Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off at 2:28 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 16 from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on its penultimate mission, lofting the crew of STS-129 and spare supplies to fortify the International Space Station (ISS).
"We wish you good luck, godspeed, and we'll see you just after Thanksgiving," radioed launch director Mike Leinbach to Atlantis' crew as the countdown to their liftoff entered its final few minutes.

"We really appreciate all the effort that's gone into making this launch attempt possible," replied STS-129 commander Charlie 'Scorch' Hobaugh. "We're excited to take this incredible vehicle for a ride and meet up with another incredible vehicle, the International Space Station."


Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis is carrying about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space.

The 11-day flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station's truss, or backbone. The platforms will store the spare parts needed to sustain station operations after shuttle fleet is retired.


Credit: Robert Pearlman/collectSPACE.com

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: One

Robotic arm checkout

The STS-129 crew wrapped a busy day following their successful launch aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

Having gone to sleep around 8:30 p.m. CST, about an hour later than scheduled, the crew completed a thorough checkout of the shuttle's robotic arm in preparation for tomorrow's survey of Atlantis' wing leading edge panels and nosecap.

The six astronauts are set to begin their first full day in space at 3:28 a.m. CST on Tuesday.


Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Two

Flight Day Two

Atlantis' crew members will spend their first full day in space capturing imagery of their ship's heat shield.

The first of the STS-129 wakeup calls was uplinked at 3:28 a.m. CST. MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" was played for pilot Butch Wilmore, who will spend his day at the controls of the shuttle's robotic arm.

"Hey! Good morning Houston," radioed Wilmore. "What a very pleasant song to wake up to. Thank you for playing that. Thanks to my wife for selecting it."
Wilmore, together with commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh and mission specialists Leland Melvin and Randy Bresnik, will be using the 50-foot-long arm and its 50-foot-long orbiter boom sensor system to get an up close look at the tiles and panels on Atlantis' wing leading edges and nose cap.

The inspection will make use of a suite of cameras and lasers on the end of the boom and give experts on the ground 3D views of shuttle's heat shield. Those photos, as well as others taken during various points in the mission, will be used to ensure that the shuttle did not sustain any damage during its launch on Monday.


Credit: NASA TV

This inspection began just before 7:15 a.m. and will take about five hours. While it's going on, the crew's spacewalkers -- Mike Foreman and Robert L. Satcher Jr., with help from Bresnik when he's not working on the inspection -- will perform a checkout of the two spacesuits to be worn on the first of the mission's three spacewalks and prepare the suits for transfer to the International Space Station.

In preparation for docking with the station on Wednesday, the crew will also set up the centerline camera, extend the Orbiter Docking System ring and check out other equipment that will be used during the rendezvous.

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Flight Day: Two

Crew wraps up first full day in space

Atlantis astronauts on Tuesday inspected the space shuttle's thermal protection system, checked out spacesuits and prepared to dock with the International Space Station.

Much of the day, the first full day spent in space by the STS-129 crew, was devoted to inspection of the shuttle's tiles and reinforced carbon-carbon surfaces on the wing leading edges and the nose.

"The preliminary assessment of some of the data we have seen on imagery and some of the downlinked information we have from the vehicle is that Atlantis' performance was just really good," stated LeRoy Cain, chairman of the mission management team, at an afternoon media briefing. "Outstanding performance of the external tank during ascent."
After inspections were complete, Leland Melvin and Randy Bresnik, both mission specialists, grappled the Express Logistics Carrier 1 in Atlantis' payload bay with the shuttle's robotic arm to get ready for its transfer to the station.

Toward the end of their day, the crew extended the orbital docking system ring and checked out rendezvous tools. Atlantis is scheduled to dock with the station a little before 11 a.m. CST on Wednesday.


Credit: NASA TV

The Atlantis crew began their sleep period at 7:28 p.m. Their docking day wakeup call is scheduled for 3:28 a.m. CST.


Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Three

Flight Day Three

The International Space Station (ISS) is just a few hours away from receiving a shipment of spares that should help keep it going well into the future.

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:53 a.m. CST and deliver two pallets carrying more than 20,000 pounds worth of spare equipment.

Atlantis' six-man crew received their wake-up call at 3:28 a.m. Stevie Wonder’s "Higher Ground" was played for mission specialist Bobby Satcher.

"Just wanted to thank my wife D'Juanna for that song," replied Satcher. "Great wake-up music from Stevie Wonder. We're looking forward to a good day. Thanks a lot."
This morning, the crew will focus on preparations for the rendezvous and docking to the station. Commander Charlie Hobaugh and pilot Butch Wilmore will perform a few final corrective jet firings to refine the orbiter's path to the station and position the vehicle for its rendezvous pitch maneuver 600 feet beneath the station at 9:52 a.m. While Hobaugh performs the "backflip," Expedition 21 flight engineers Jeff Williams and Nicole Stott will take photos of the shuttle's heat shield from the station. Their photos will be sent to the ground for review to ensure that the orbiter did not sustain damage during Monday’s launch.

Once the maneuver is complete, Hobaugh will fly Atlantis ahead of the station and slowly back it in for the docking to the Harmony node. After a series of leak checks that should take about two hours, the hatches between the two vehicles will be opened and the two crews will start their joint operations.

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Flight Day: Three

Atlantis arrives at the station

Space shuttle Atlantis docked at the International Space Station (ISS) at 10:51 a.m. CST, beginning a week of joint operations between the STS-129 and Expedition 21 crews.


Credit: NASA TV

The two craft were orbiting 220 miles above Earth between Tasmania and Australia when Atlantis' commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh backed the orbiter into contact with the station's pressurized mating adapter-2 (PMA-2) on the forward port of Harmony Node 2.

Before coming in to dock, at a range of 600 feet from the station, Atlantis conducted a nine-minute R-Bar pitch maneuver, also known as the rendezvous pitch maneuver, performing a "backflip" to enable Jeff Williams and Nicole Stott to take photos from the station of the shuttle's heat shield for later analysis by engineers on the ground.


Credit: NASA TV

Now berthed at the station and after a series of leak checks estimated to take about two hours, the hatches between the two vehicles will be opened and the two crews will greet each other. A welcome ceremony is expected at 12:48 p.m.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Three

All aboard, including a cargo carrier

The twelve shuttle and station crew members opened the hatches separating them and Atlantis' astronauts were welcomed onboard the outpost at 12:28 p.m. CST.


Credit: NASA TV

The hatch opening signified the end of Nicole Stott's tenure as an Expedition 21 flight engineer. Now an STS-129 mission specialist, Stott will have spent a total of 91 days in space if Atlantis lands, as planned, on Nov. 27. She is the last station crew member to return to Earth on the space shuttle. Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be used for future station crew launches and landings.

At 1:52 p.m., mission specialists Leland Melvin and Randy Bresnik removed the Express Logistics Carrier 1 from Atlantis' payload bay and at 2:25 p.m. handed it off from the shuttle robotic arm to the station robotic arm controlled by pilot Butch Wilmore and ISS flight engineer Jeff Williams. They installed the carrier on the station's Port 3 truss at 3:27 p.m.

Before the shuttle crew's scheduled sleep at 7:28 p.m., transfer of shuttle middeck supplies to the station will begin along with relocation of spacesuits that will be used for the three planned spacewalks. The crews will review the plan for tomorrow's spacewalk, scheduled to be conducted by Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Four

Flight Day Four

Mission specialists Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher are making the first spacewalk of the STS-129 mission.

Foreman, Satcher and the others on Atlantis' crew were awakened at 3:28 a.m. CST to the sound of The Newsboys' song "In Wonder." It was played for mission specialist -- and expecting father -- Randy Bresnik, who is choreographing today's spacewalk from inside.

"Good morning Houston! Thanks to my wonderful wife Rebecca for that song and the wonder of creation that's going on inside of her and what's going to happen tomorrow," radioed Bresnik.
The spacewalk began at 8:24 a.m. CST and was slated to last 6.5 hours, though at last update, the astronauts were working nearly two hours ahead of schedule.

Foreman and Satcher made quick work of installing a spare S-band antenna structural assembly brought up in Atlantis' payload bay. The equipment, now stored on the Z1 segment of the station's truss, was delivered in place by Satcher who rode the ISS's robotic arm to the worksite as driven by mission specialist Leland Melvin, commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh and pilot Butch Wilmore.

The spacewalkers' also completed the installation of a set of cables for a future space-to-ground antenna on the Destiny laboratory and the replacement of a handrail on the Unity node with a bracket that will be used to route an ammonia cable required for the Tranquility node when it is delivered next year.

Satcher finished lubricating two latching end effectors - one on the Japanese robotic arm and one on the mobile base that allows the station's robotic arm to travel to different worksites, while Foreman worked to reposition a cable connector on the Unity node.

Foreman, as lead spacewalker, is wearing a suit with solid red stripes. Satcher is wearing an all-white spacesuit.

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Flight Day: Four

First spacewalk ends

Today's spacewalk, the first of the STS-129 mission, came to an end at 3:01 p.m. CST, six hours and 37 minutes after mission specialists Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher first set their spacesuits to internal power.


Credit: NASA TV

Working two hours ahead of schedule and having completed all their planned tasks, Foreman and Satcher were able to tackle a "get ahead" before coming back inside, deploying the outboard Payload Attach System (PAS) on the Earth-facing side of the S3 truss.

Foreman and Satcher initially ran into some trouble loosening a bolt and removing a diagonal brace on the PAS, but succeeded in freeing it by hammering on the bolt and wiggling the brace.

This spacewalk marked the 228th conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 134th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, as well as the first for Satcher and fourth for Foreman, bringing his total time working in the vacuum in space to 26 hours and 11 minutes.

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Flight Day: Four

False alarms awake crew

A false depressurization alarm, followed by a false fire alarm, woke the crews aboard Atlantis and the International Space Station at 7:36 p.m. CST, about 30 minutes after the STS-129 astronauts, and an hour after the Expedition 21 crew members had went to sleep.
It appears a false indication of a rapid depressurization led to the automatic shutdown of ventilation fans through the station, which in turn led to a false smoke detection in the Columbus laboratory. The crew is in no danger, there is no rapid depressurization."

"There appears to be no smoke, just some dust that got into one of the smoke detectors in the Columbus lab as a result of the ventilation fans being shut off," said a NASA spokesman.

With the alarms cleared, the shuttle crew returned to sleep while the station crew waited for the fans to restart.

To ensure both crews are well rested, NASA reset tomorrow's wakeup time to 3:28 a.m. CST, a half hour later than originally scheduled.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Five

Five Day Five

Although they began their day a little later than planned, the STS-129 crew is awake and starting work on the day's activities.

Their wakeup call came at 3:28 a.m. CST, which gave them 30 extra minutes intended to make up for sleep lost overnight when false depressurization caution alarms sounded on the space station. That occurred just after 7:30 p.m., about 30 minutes after the crew began its sleep period.

The shuttle crew started its day today to the tune of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," which was played for Mission Specialist Leland Melvin.

"I'd like to say thank you to my sister and my family for letting us know that we are all family and we're working together up here as a family," replied Melvin. "And thanks to my family and also the Mission Control family for keeping us safe."
The day's tasks will be unaffected by the night's activities.

As flight controllers ruled that focused inspections of the shuttle's heat shield were not required, a task scheduled for today if necessary, the crew will instead be focusing on getting ready for the mission's next spacewalk on Saturday, including recharging batteries, switching out Bobby Satcher's spacesuit for that of Randy Bresnik and reviewing procedures before Bresnik and Mike Foreman begin their overnight campout in the Quest airlock.

In addition, the shuttle's robotic arm will be used to grab onto the second Express Logistics Carrier in Atlantis' payload bay in advance of its transfer to the station on Saturday.

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Flight Day: Five

In-flight interviews

Several STS-129 crew members will be talking with reporters on the ground over the course of the day.

At 5:08 a.m. CST, commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh and pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore spoke with CBS News, FOXNews Radio and Nashville's WTVG-TV.


Credit: NASA TV

At 6:28 a.m., Melvin and Satcher were interviewed by the Tom Joyner Morning Show.


Credit: NASA TV

And at 3:33 p.m., Hobaugh, Melvin and Satcher answered questions posed by ESPN's SportCenter, Black Entertainment Television News and WRIC-TV in Richmond, Virginia.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Five

False alarms impact plans for second spacewalk

For a second straight evening, false alarms emanating from a newly added Russian module have disrupted the sleep schedule for both the shuttle and station crews.

This time however, the impact of those alarms have caused the astronauts to change their plans for the preparation and performance of a spacewalk, the second for the STS-129 mission.

A rapid depressurization alarm in the Poisk Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM2) went off at 8:53 p.m. CST Friday, approximately three hours after the Expedition 21 crew and two and a half hours after Atlantis' astronauts had retired for the evening.

As had transpired on Thursday, a false fire alarm from the Columbus lab followed soon after, triggered by the shutdown of ventilation fans.

The Quest Airlock was also returned to full station pressure, causing a break in the "camp out" procedures for spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik, who were sleeping in the airlock under a lower pressure atmosphere to prepare their bodies for working outside the station on Saturday.

After determining that the alarms were again false, the crew began work to reset the station's systems but given the time needed, Foreman and Bresnik were told by flight controllers to not resume camping out in the airlock. Instead, they will exercise in the morning while breathing pure oxygen to purge nitrogen from their blood in an effort to prevent developing the bends during the spacewalk.

The crew's wakeup was also pushed back by 30 minutes to 2:58 a.m. CST Saturday.

As a result of the delays, flight controllers removed a "get-ahead" activity from the planned tasks for the six and a half hour spacewalk, originally set to begin at 7:18 a.m. CST.

The false alarms capped a busy day for both the station and shuttle crew members, who -- in addition to preparing for the spacewalk -- continued troubleshooting Atlantis' Orbiter Communication Adapter after difficulties developed transmitting high data rate material, and changed out circuit boards in the station's Human Research Facility.

Crew members also used the shuttle's robotic arm to grapple the Express Logistics Carrier 2 in Atlantis' payload bay in preparation for its installation on the station's truss on Saturday and finished the internal routing of cables, hoses and fluid lines in the Unity node to prepare for the arrival of the Tranquility node next year.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Six

Flight Day Six

With 30 extra minutes added to their sleep period to make up for time lost dealing with last evening's false alarms, the crew's wakeup call came today at 2:58 a.m. CST. The song, "Voyage to Atlantis" by The Isley Brothers, was played for Bobby Satcher.
"I want to thank my wife again for that and also my kids. Thanks a lot," replied Satcher.
Even though they got off to a late start, today's spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik made haste of their pre-extravehicular activity (EVA) preparations -- including exercising for 10 minutes on the Destiny lab's cycle ergometer while breathing pure oxygen to help purge their bloodstreams of nitrogen -- and were working ten minutes ahead of their adjusted spacewalk schedule to begin at 8:38 a.m.

They still plan to get to all of the called-for tasks during what will now be a six-hour-long spacewalk. That is 30 minutes shorter than was originally slated for the this spacewalk, the second of the mission, which means that they will not have extra time in the schedule for "get-ahead" work.

Foreman and Bresnik still intend to install the Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing assembly (GATOR) on the Columbus lab, relocate a floating potential measurement unit to the P1 truss segment, set up a cargo attachment system on the zenith face of the S3 truss segment and install a wireless video system external transceiver assembly.

The other major task on the crew's agenda today is the transfer of the second cargo pallet launched by Atlantis, Express Logistics Carrier 2, or ELC2.

That work got underway at 5:32 a.m. CST, as shuttle robotic arm operators Satcher and Leland Melvin lifted the pallet from Atlantis' payload bay. The ELC contains 9,900 pounds of spare equipment, including a control moment gyroscope, a nitrogen tank assembly, a pump module, a high pressure gas tank, a cargo transport container that holds ten remote power control modules and a reel assembly for the station's mobile transporter.

ELC2 will be installed on the S3 segment of the station's truss by the station's robotic arm, which will be driven by Melvin and Nicole Stott.

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Flight Day: Six

Pallet in place

Station robotic arm operators Leland Melvin and Nicole Stott installed the Express Logistics Carrier 2 (ELC2) on the Starboard 3 (S3) truss, or backbone of the orbiting outpost.

The carrier, measuring about 16-feet by 14-feet, holds 9,900 pounds of spare hardware for the station. It joins ELC1, installed earlier in the mission on the Port truss.

ELC4 will launch on space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission in July 2010 and ELC3 will launch with Discovery on STS-133, the final scheduled space shuttle mission, in September 2010.

The carriers store spare parts and equipment in easy reach for any future repairs, increasing the longevity of the station on-orbit.

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Flight Day: Six

Second spacewalk begins

Spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik switched their suits to internal battery power at 8:31 a.m. CST, starting today's planned six-hour extravehicular activity (EVA).

Bobby Satcher, who ventured outside with Foreman on the mission's first spacewalk, is today working inside the shuttle, choreographing activities and coordinating communications between Mission Control in Houston and the spacewalkers

Foreman, as lead spacewalker, is wearing an extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) with solid red stripes. Bresnik is wearing a spacesuit with broken red stripes.

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Flight Day: Six

Second spacewalk ends

The second spacewalk of the STS-129 mission progressed similarly to the first, continuously ahead of schedule and with an extra payload attach system deployed.

Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik began the repressurization of the station's Quest airlock six hours and eight minutes after the start of their extravehicular activity (EVA), marking the end of their spacewalk together at 2:39 p.m. CST.

They completed all the tasks set out for them and then some, despite having to deal with a longer than planned EVA prep period due to a set of false alarms the night before.


Credit: NASA TV

The two installed a ship-tracking antenna system and a HAM radio antenna; relocated a unit that gauges electric charges that build up on the station; and installed a wireless video system that will enable future spacewalkers to transmit video to the station and relay it to the ground.

Foreman and Bresnik also deployed two Payload Attach Systems, or PAS, an inboard cargo attachment point on the space-facing side of the Starboard 3 (S3) truss and the final PAS on the inboard, Earth-facing side of the S3 segment.

The second PAS deploy was originally slated for the mission's third spacewalk, but like STS-129's first EVA, the spacewalkers were so far ahead in their schedule that they had time to move up the activity. As such, all three cargo attach points have now been extended.

"Do you have any more PASs you need to deploy?" asked Bobby Satcher, today's spacewalk coordinator to Mission Control after the third PAS was in place.

"Not on this station," replied spacecraft communicator, or capcom, Steve Swanson from the ground.

Both payload attach systems deployed today will support hardware slated for launch next year on space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission. The space-facing S3 truss PAS will be where where the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will be installed; the Earth-facing PAS will support Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4).

Before coming back inside, the spacewalkers also inspected a cable connector on a space-to-ground antenna that had been installed during the mission's first spacewalk in an effort to correct a low power signal on that system, and relocated a portable foot restraint to the junction between the Russian and U.S. station sections.

Today's spacewalk was the the 229th conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 135th in support of station assembly and maintenance, the fifth for Foreman and the first for Bresnik.

This was the last scheduled EVA for Foreman during the STS-129 mission. He now ranks 28th on the international list of spacewalkers based on his career total of 32 hours and 19 minutes working in the vacuum of space.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Six

A well-earned rest

Atlantis' crew retired for the evening at 5:58 p.m. CST, 30 minutes after the Expedition 21 crew on the station did the same.

Both crews are scheduled to start their day on Sunday at 1:58 a.m., but will have most, if not all of the day to themselves as well earned day of rest.

Now more than half-way through the STS-129 mission, the astronauts have completed two of their three scheduled spacewalks and have finished transferring 50 percent of the supplies and equipment to be moved between the shuttle and station.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Seven

Flight Day Seven

STS-129 mission specialist Randy Bresnik began the day by wishing a "good morning" to his family, who welcomed the arrival of a new member overnight.
"Good morning, Rebecca. Good morning, Wyatt. And good morning to our little girl," radioed Bresnik after he and his crewmates aboard Atlantis were awakened at 1:58 a.m. CST to "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle.
Abigail Mae Bresnik entered the world late on Saturday evening, the same day her father made his first spacewalk.

At 5:14 a.m. CST Sunday, Bresnik called down to Mission Control to formally announce the birth of his daughter.

"At 11:04 last night, Abigail Mae Bresnik joined the NASA family and momma and baby are doing very well," he reported, thanking the flight control team and flight surgeon for their support and assistance.

"On behalf of the planet Earth ground team, please accept our heartfelt congratulations," replied spacecraft communicator, or capcom, Stan Love.


Credit: NASA TV

In a pre-flight interview, Bresnik shared he hoped to see his daughter even before he could return to the ground.

"I think like most parents, I would prefer to be there at the birth for sure, but we don't pick this timing and so it's to be a little bit disappointing not to see her in person right when she enters the world."

"Fortunately through the wonders of modern technical advancements and our amazing communication systems on the ISS and space shuttle, hopefully I'll be able to hear and see the pictures and be able to talk to her maybe on the IP phone and see some video shortly thereafter and be home only a few days afterwards," he said.

This is the second time a baby has been born to a NASA astronaut during his spaceflight. Mike Fincke's daughter was born in June 2004 while he was serving as an Expedition 9 member aboard the space station.

Bresnik, together with his five STS-129 crewmates, will have half of the day to relax before beginning to get ready for his and Bobby Satcher's spacewalk on Monday, the mission's third and final planned outing.

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Flight Day: Seven

Media interviews and interacting with students

STS-129 pilot Butch Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Bobby Satcher and Nicole Stott answered reporters' questions this morning during interviews with WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., Bay News 9 in Tampa, Florida, and WBBM Radio in Chicago, Illinois.


Credit: NASA TV

Some Tennessee students also had the opportunity to interact with Wilmore, Melvin and Stott. The educational Q&A session was held at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, where Wilmore is an alumnus.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Seven

Candy cigars and zero-g onesie

STS-129 mission specialists Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher, set to perform the third and final spacewalk of the mission on Monday, are spending the night in the station's Quest airlock as part of the overnight "campout" procedure that helps purge nitrogen from their bloodstreams, preventing decompression sickness once they move out into the vacuum of space.

Earlier on Sunday, Bresnik, his six shuttle crew mates and the five members of Expedition 21 gathered together to celebrate the birth of Abigail Mae Bresnik, who came into the world the night before.

Bresnik passed out candy cigars while wearing an "It's a girl!" t-shirt, and displayed a small pink onesie adorned with the STS-129 patch.


Credit: NASA TV

Bresnik was connected through a phone patch from Mission Control and the hospital to Atlantis after he woke up Sunday morning. During his wife's labor on Saturday evening, he also had been connected to STS-129 flight surgeon Dr. Smith Johnston through the station's IP phone until he had to go to bed.

The station crew began their sleep shift tonight at 4:58 p.m. CST, and the shuttle crew retired a half hour later. Both crews are set to wake up Monday at 1:28 a.m. The spacewalk is slated to begin at 6:18 a.m.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Eight

Flight Day Eight

STS-129 mission specialists Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher were scheduled to begin a six hour spacewalk today at 6:18 a.m. CST, but a drink has them delayed.

The crew's wakeup song came today at 1:28 a.m. The song "Space Rise" by Larry Whitehair, was played for Mike Foreman.

"I especially want to thank my good friend Larry Whitehair, who wrote and recorded that song 'Space Rise' for the STS-129 crew. It makes a fantastic mission that much more special, and we appreciate it," radioed Foreman.
While Foreman and his fellow crew members were preparing the two spacewalkers for today's excursion, a valve on the drink bag inside Satcher's spacesuit became detached. The bag, which is a part of the suit, allows for sips of water during the extravehicular activity (EVA).

The "bite valve" was successfully reinserted into Satcher's drink bag and with a good seal reported, preparations resumed, though they were now running about an hour late.

Once outside, Bresnik and Satcher will transfer an oxygen filled High Pressure Gas Tank, or HPGT, from the Express Logistics Carrier 2 (ELC2) installed earlier during this mission on the station's starboard truss, to a spot on the Quest airlock. The doghouse-shape tank, like the others already in place, will be used to replenish the atmosphere lost when spacewalkers enter and exit the station.

While Satcher is relocating the HPGT, Bresnik will install the seventh Materials International Space Station Experiment, or MISSE 7. This is the most advanced of the MISSE payloads to date, and will be the first to receive power and use the station's communication system to send commands and downlink real-time data.

Flight controllers have also scheduled several "get aheads" for future missions, including removing some debris shields from the outside of the Quest airlock.

Foreman will be the spacewalk coordinator, or intravehicular officer. Leland Melvin and pilot Barry Wilmore will drive the robotic arm.

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Flight Day: Eight

Third spacewalk begins

Running about an hour behind schedule due to the time needed to reinstall a drink bag valve, Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher began today's spacewalk, the third and final for the STS-129 mission, at 7:24 a.m. CST by switching their spacesuits to internal power.

Mike Foreman, who ventured outside with Satcher and Bresnik on the mission's first and second spacewalks respectively, is today working inside shuttle Atlantis, choreographing their activities and coordinating communications.

To ease with identification, Bresnik is wearing a spacesuit with broken red stripes while Satcher's suit is all white.

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Flight Day: Eight

Third spacewalk ends

The third and final planned spacewalk for the STS-129 mission came to an end at 1:06 p.m. CST, five hours and 42 minutes after it began, as Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher began repressurizing the space station's Quest airlock.
"And Houston, this concludes the STS-129 EVAs. We hope we left station in a better place than what it was when we came here," radioed Mike Foreman, who was the mission's lead spacewalker and today's IV officer, choreographing the extravehicular activity.
The two spacewalkers completed all the tasks that were set out for them, including the installation of a doghouse-shaped oxygen tank on the side of Quest and the addition of a science experiment platform.

They also removed a pair of micrometeoroid shields from the airlock; moved an articulating foot restraint; released a bolt on a starboard truss ammonia tank assembly to enable its later replacement; added an insulating sleeve over power connections and two camera covers on the mobile base system; and installed fluid jumpers on the Port 1/Port 3 (P1/P3) and Starboard 1/Starboard 3 (S1/S3) trusses.


Credit: NASA TV

This was the 230th spacewalk conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 136th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the 100th out of space station airlocks, and the second for both Satcher and Bresnik.

It was also the 22nd spacewalk of the year, which is one short of the record set in 2002 and 2007.

STS-129's three spacewalking astronauts logged a total of 18 hours and 27 minutes outside the station over the course of the three EVAs.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Eight

Video: Flight Day 8 Highlights


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Nine

Flight Day Nine

The 12 crew members onboard the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis will prepare to part today. They will pack up their final items and close the hatches that divide their two spacecraft in preparation for undocking tomorrow.

The crew woke at 12:58 a.m. CST to the "Marine Corps Hymn," performed by the U.S. Marine Corps Band and played for...

"Atlantis, Houston on air-to-ground two. A rousing wake-up song this morning. You can probably guess who that was for," radioed Mission Control.

"You get two guesses," replied STS-129 commander and Marine Corps Colonel Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh.

"You win Scorch!" came the reply from the ground.

"I tell you what. I got everybody floating at attention, heels locked and yelling, "Semper Fi." A few grunts here and there. Other than that, we're good to go. You may hear them in the background," said Hobaugh.

With six days of joint operations behind them, the astronauts and cosmonauts will their goodbyes and close the hatches at about 11:28 a.m. Once the hatches are closed, the shuttle crew will set up and check out tools and a camera needed for undocking.

Before the two crews part, they will join together for a news conference at 7 a.m. with reporters at NASA centers, Mission Control in Russia and Canada, and TF1 evening news in France.

Hobaugh, pilot Butch Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik, Bobby Satcher and Nicole Stott will also join ISS Expedition 21 commander Frank De Winne and his crew when he hands over his command to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. Williams will command Expedition 22.

De Winne, who is the first European Space Agency (ESA) leader of the station, became commander on Oct. 9. He will have served 46 days, the shortest tenure thus far for a station commander. He and flight engineers Roman Romanenko and Bob Thirsk are set to depart the station on a Soyuz on Nov. 30 leaving Williams and Max Suraev to await the arrival of the next crew.


The bright sun greets the space station in this Nov. 22 scene. Credit: NASA

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Flight Day: Nine

Station command changes hands

The STS-129 crew joined Expedition 21 commander Frank De Winne and his crewmates as he handed over command of Expedition 21 to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams.

Williams will lead Expedition 22 after De Winne, Roman Romanenko and Bob Thirsk depart the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-15 on Nov. 30.

During the change-of-ceremony, Williams presented out-going station flight engineer Nicole Stott with her NASA gold astronaut pin and "100 Days in Space" patch (though if Atlantis lands on Friday as planned, she will have logged just shy of that, 91 days).


Credit: NASA TV

Earlier in the day, the 12 astronauts and cosmonauts took questions from reporters during a joint crew news conference.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Nine

Hatches closed

The hatches between space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station were closed at 12:12 p.m. CST, at a mission elapsed time of seven days, 22 minutes and 44 minutes. The total hatch-open duration was five days, 23 hours and 44 minutes.

Atlantis is scheduled to undock from the station at 3:53 a.m. CST on Wednesday.

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Flight Day: Ten

Flight Day Ten

Space shuttle Atlantis and its seven-person crew are scheduled to leave the International Space Station at 3:53 a.m. CST.

Commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh, pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnick, Bobby Satcher, Mike Foreman and Nicole Stott spent the night separated from their five station colleagues. Hatches between the two vehicles were closed on Tuesday.

Atlantis' crew were awakened at 12:29 a.m. to "Amazing Grace," a selection from the 1995 movie "Braveheart," performed by Eric Rigler on bagpipes, for Wilmore.

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound," said Wilmore. "It's a great way to wake up."
Undocking operations will begin about an hour before the separation of the two spacecraft. Wilmore will be at the controls when Atlantis leaves Pressurized Mating Adaptor 2 (PMA-2) where it berthed last Wednesday.

Latches will be released and springs will push the shuttle about two feet ahead of the station. Wilmore will then pilot Atlantis to a point about 450 feet ahead of the station, and then, at about 4:22 a.m., begin a flyaround of the complex. He will keep the shuttle's payload bay facing the orbiting laboratory so cameras there can document the station's condition. Atlantis will leave the area at about 5:36 a.m.

Later this morning, Wilmore, Melvin and Bresnik will conduct a standard "late inspection" of the orbiter’s thermal protection system using the shuttle's robotic arm and its orbiter boom sensor system extension.

Atlantis is scheduled to return to the Kennedy Space Center on Friday at 8:44 a.m. CST.

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Flight Day: Ten

Atlantis undocks from the space station

Space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 3:53 a.m. CST while flying 216 miles above the Pacific Ocean northeast of New Guinea, six days, 17 hours and two minutes after docking on November 18.

STS-129 pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore is now performing a flyaround of the station, enabling his crewmates to conduct a photo survey of the 759,222 pound complex. The station now is 86 percent complete.


Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis' newest crew member Nicole Stott spent 87 days aboard the space station and 80 days as an Expedition 20/21 flight engineer following her launch on space shuttle Discovery on August 28. If Atlantis lands as planned on Friday, she will have spent 91 days in space.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Ten

Waste water trickling out

During a purge of Atlantis' waste water tank, Mission Control noticed a reduction in the flow from the nozzle that vents the water into space. This has occurred on past missions and is not expected to be an issue.

Capcom Stan Love told STS-129 commander Charlie Hobaugh it is likely that no further waste dumps will be necessary before Friday's planned landing.


Credit: NASA TV

As a precaution, to determine if there is ice on the outside of the nozzle, a camera on the end of the robotic arm's boom extension was used to view the nozzle during a planned pause in the "late inspection" survey. There are heaters on the nozzle to prevent water from freezing and flight controllers believe ice formation was unlikely, due to the nozzle temperatures they are measuring.

The waste water system stores waste from the crew cabin humidity separator and from the crew. The tank is located below the crew compartment's middeck floor, and the dump nozzle is on the left side of the shuttle.

Update: Workaround to Bypass Suspect Filter

Though it is is not necessary to dump the now half-full collection tank before landing Friday, flight controllers have developed a workaround available for the crew to bypass the suspected clogged filter and dump the liquid, if their return to Earth is delayed.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Eleven

Flight Day Eleven

The seven-member crew of STS-129 are spending Thanksgiving day packing and preparing to return home to Earth, as they wrap up the 31st shuttle flight to the International Space Station.

Atlantis' astronauts were awakened at 12:28 a.m. CST with the song "Fly Me to the Moon" as performed by Frank Sinatra. The wake-up call was dedicated to returning station flight engineer Nicole Stott.

"Happy Thanksgiving! That was a really nice song to wake up to here on our final full day on orbit," radioed Stott.
The STS-129 astronauts are the eighth space shuttle crew in history to celebrate "turkey day" in space and although the commander Charlie "Scorch" Hobaugh said that the holiday was not "all about what you eat," Mission Control confirmed this morning that "turkey, of course, as well as green beans, mushrooms, cornbread dressing and candied yams" were aboard.

Mission Control also changed the icon representing the orbiter on their large tracking map with the image of a turkey.


Credit: NASA TV

Before they could break into the shuttle's pantry though, Hobaugh and pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore, with help from mission specialist and shuttle flight engineer Randy Bresnik, needed to check out Atlantis' flight control surfaces, including the rudder and the wing flaps. Those surfaces will guide the orbiter as it flies as an unpowered glider through the atmosphere to a landing.

Following that, the astronauts test fired the shuttle's reaction control system (RCS) thrusters. The thrusters will control Atlantis' orientation as it descends and begins its entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

After dinner, setting-up a recumbent seat for Stott on the middeck, and stowing their Ku-band communications antenna, the astronauts are scheduled to go to bed at 4:28 p.m. They'll be awakened at 12:28 on Friday morning for their first attempt at a Kennedy Space Center landing leading to a 8:44 a.m. CST touchdown in Florida.


Credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day: Eleven

Talking about turkeys and touchdowns

The STS-129 astronauts took a break from preparing Atlantis for tomorrow's landing to take questions from ABC Radio, WTVT-TV in Tampa and KCBS in Los Angeles.

Credit: NASA TV
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