July 12th the Atlantis, flight STS 104, will be heading for the International Space Station with the Joint Airlock. Considering the problems they've been experiencing with Canada Arm II and/or its software, and the fact that the operation can't be carried off without the use of Canada Arm II, do you think it's going to be another NASA triumph or another disaster?
How about a little recap of the news? I've been isolated and have missed the information on it. You've really got me curious. So what is the glitch? Is there an estimate on fixing it?
It doesn't seem like they would sent up a shuttle without being able to dock. There must be a backup plan for such circumstances.
If there one thing you can be sure of, it's that NASA has "what if" plans for most everything. It's not like "if things break down we'll get out and walk to the nearest gas station".
The Canada Arm I is too short to reach various places on the ISS (International Space Station) when the shuttle as docked to the ISS. So they came up with the idea of another arm on the station itself that could move around and work with the shuttle arm when necessary. Great idea, longer and stronger with grippers at both ends to let it move around. Only, there have been problems with the software from the sound of it and also with the remote (on the arm) cameras.
So after all the bitching about Tito messing up things, it turns out they needed the time to straighten out the mess with the station arm, an extra week or two. Well, they think they've got things straightened out and are going to take up the Joint Airlock which requires that Canada Arm II take the JA from the arm on the shuttle and position it where it is to be attached on the ISS.
The reason for the JA is to permit EVA's by the ISS Astronauts when wearing their own spacesuits. Seems the air lock on the station is too small for the American space suits! Bummer! And a real ego burn since it meant the that Astronauts had to wear Russian spacesuits to do an EVA (like when they had fix a solar panel that wasn't deploying fully). The JA will not only have a larger airlock to permit the Americans to wear their own spacesuits, it'll also have two compartments (airlock and suit storage) plus oxygen/nitrogen bottles attached for cycling the airlock - which will free up some room on the ISS.
So, wet1, that's why I posed the question. I'm wondering if things will work out.
Appearently they will! As of this writing the airlock is already partly done with several more planned excursions to finish the job. Nice heads up!
Per Mission Status Report #107 @1752:
Official end of the spacewalk occurred with repressurization of Atlantis' airlock at 4:09 a.m. today. The spacewalk lasted 5 hours and 59 minutes.
Later, Expedition Two crewmembers Yury Usachev, Jim Voss and Helms opened the hatch to the airlock vestibule, the small area between the station and Quest's largest compartment, and began its outfitting.
THEY DID IT!
For the full story: http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage7a/010715fd4/