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Waspie_Dwarf

STS-116 MCC Status Reports

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The MCC Status Reports issued by NASA are similar to the Shuttle Processing Status Reports except that they are updates on a mission in progress rather than shuttle ground activities.

Status reports for previous mission can be found here: STS-121 MCC Status Reports & STS-115 MCC Status Reports.

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12.09.06
8:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-01

STS-116 MCC Status Report #01

The Space Shuttle Discovery rocketed into a dark Florida sky at 7:47 p.m. CST today, the third shuttle launch in five months, but the first night launch in more than four years.

Discovery's seven-member crew will link up with the International Space Station on Monday to begin a complex, week-long stay that will rewire the outpost and increase its power supply. During three spacewalks and intricate choreography with ground controllers, the astronauts will bring electrical power on line generated by a giant solar array wing delivered to the station in September.

Aboard Discovery are Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein, and mission specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. Aboard the station awaiting Discovery's arrival are Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter, also an ESA astronaut.

Williams and Reiter will switch places when Discovery arrives. Williams will begin a six-month stay as a station crew member and Reiter will journey home on Discovery. Reiter has been on the station since July.

After reaching orbit tonight, Discovery's crew began procedures to open the shuttle’s payload bay doors and set up computers and other equipment. They also planned to power up the shuttle's robotic arm to check its operation. They will use the arm on Sunday to inspect Discovery's heat shield. On Monday, Discovery is planned to dock to the station at about 3:47 p.m. CST.

During the mission, Fuglesang and Curbeam will conduct two spacewalks. Williams and Curbeam will perform a third spacewalk. The mission will retract one solar array on the station and begin the rotation of a giant joint on the complex to allow the recently added arrays to track the sun. The astronauts will rearrange the power cabling to a more resilient permanent setup, and they will prepare for the startup of new cooling systems.

Mission Control will power down virtually the entire station at one point or another to prepare it for the crew's work. The results will ready the complex for more solar arrays and laboratories to be added next year.

As Discovery launched, the station was 220 miles above southern England near Southampton. Discovery's crew begins a sleep period at 1:47 a.m. CST Sunday and will awaken for their first full day in space at 9:47 a.m. CST Sunday.

The next STS-116 mission status report will be issued Sunday morning after crew wakeup, or earlier, if developments warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #01

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12.10.06
10 a.m. CST Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-02

STS-116 MCC Status Report #02

The Space Shuttle Discovery crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein, and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang, are beginning a busy first full day in space.

The astronauts will use the shuttle’s robotic arm to unberth the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) for a detailed examination of Discovery’s thermal protection system. Once the reinforced carbon-carbon on the wings’ leading edges and Discovery’s nose have been inspected, they will stow the boom and use the robotic arm to inspect Discovery’s crew cabin and orbital maneuvering system pods on either side of the tail.

In preparation for docking, the astronauts will install a centerline camera and extend the outer ring of the Orbiter Docking System. They also will check out rendezvous tools. Docking is scheduled for a little after 4 p.m. Monday. After hatch opening and welcome, Williams will become a member of the station’s Expedition 14 crew and stay for the first half of Expedition 15. Thomas Reiter, who joined Expedition 13 at its midway point and stayed for the first part of Expedition 14, will come home aboard Discovery.

Discovery’s astronauts also will check out the spacesuits to be used on three spacewalks outside the International Space Station. Curbeam and Fuglesang will do the first two spacewalks, and Williams will join Curbeam for the third. The primary goal of the first spacewalk is to install the P5 segment of the station’s main truss. The two subsequent spacewalks will focus on rewiring of the station’s electrical system, switching it from a temporary configuration to its permanent power grid.

Discovery’s crew was awakened at 9:48 a.m. Sunday with “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, played for Polansky. The station crew, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Reiter, got their regular wakeup tone at 9:20 a.m.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Sunday afternoon or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #02

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12.10.06
9 p.m. Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-03

STS-116 MCC Status Report #03

The Space Shuttle Discovery crew spent much of its first full day in space using the shuttle’s robotic arm and an extension boom-mounted sensor system to inspect heat shielding on Discovery's wing leading edges and nose.

The data will be analyzed by engineers to ensure the spacecraft's heat shield is in good condition.

Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang also prepared for the planned 4:06 p.m. CST Monday docking with the International Space Station. The crew checked rendezvous tools, installed a centerline camera in Discovery’s docking system window and extended the docking system's outer ring.

While the robotic arm survey proceeded, Curbeam and Fuglesang checked the spacesuits that will be used for spacewalks on the fourth, sixth and eighth days of the mission. Curbeam and Fuglesang will install the fifth port segment (P5) of the station’s main truss during the first spacewalk. The two subsequent spacewalks will focus on rewiring the station’s electrical system, switching it to its permanent power configuration.

During Monday's final approach to the station, Polansky will guide Discovery in a backflip to allow the station crew to take digital imagery of the vehicle's underside for analysis by the ground. The rendezvous pitch maneuver, as the backflip is called, provides more data to ensure the shuttle's heat shielding is healthy.

Shortly after the shuttle and station hatches are opened, Williams will become a member of the station’s Expedition 14 crew. She also will stay for the first half of Expedition 15, living on the station for six months. Expedition 14 crew member Thomas Reiter, who has been in orbit since July, will come home on Discovery.

Later Monday, Patrick will lift the 2-ton P5 truss segment using the shuttle’s robotic arm and hand it to the waiting station arm, where it will remain until it is installed at the end of the P4 truss on Tuesday.

Discovery's crew will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 1:17 a.m. CST Monday and awaken at 9:17 a.m. CST. The next STS-116 status report will be issued Monday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #03

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12.11.06
10 a.m. CST Monday, Dec. 11, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-04

STS-116 MCC Status Report #04

The Space Shuttle Discovery continues its pursuit of the International Space Station, a chase that should culminate in the docking of the two spacecraft at 4:05 p.m. CST today.

Discovery’s crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang, are looking forward to a very busy day. So are members of the station crew, Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter.

The shuttle crew was awakened at 9:18 a.m. CST with the song "Beep Beep," performed by Louis Prima. It was played for Williams.

Rendezvous operations will begin at about 10:35 a.m. CST. The terminal initiation engine firing by Discovery, a firing that begins the final phase of the rendezvous when the shuttle is about nine miles behind the station, is scheduled for 1:28 p.m. CST.

By 3 p.m. CST, Discovery should be about 600 feet below the station. At that point, Polansky will guide the shuttle through a backflip called the rendezvous pitch maneuver. The maneuver will allow station crew members to photograph Discovery's heat shield. The electronic images will be transmitted to the ground for analysis by engineers.

Shortly after docking, a safety briefing and a welcome ceremony, Williams will transfer her custom seat liner to the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station. When that happens, she becomes a member of the station crew. At the same time, Reiter becomes a Discovery crew member for his ride home, completing about six months in space.

A little after 7:15 p.m. CST, Discovery’s robotic arm will lift the 4,100-pound P5 truss segment from the shuttle's cargo bay. It will be handed off to the station’s arm, where it will stay during the crews’ sleep period, in preparation for its installation on Tuesday.

To prepare for the mission's first spacewalk, Curbeam and Fuglesang will spend tonight in the station’s airlock, where pressure will be reduced to 10.2 psi, a pressure roughly equal to the atmosphere on Earth at about 10,000 feet above sea level. The airlock “campout” at the lower pressure protects against decompression sickness, commonly called "the bends," as the two go to the even lower pressure of spacesuits on Tuesday.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Monday afternoon or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #04

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12.11.06
11 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 11, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-05

STS-116 MCC Status Report #05

Astronauts on the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station were united today, and the joint crew immediately began the complex work associated with installing a new truss section and rewiring the station’s power grid.

Discovery’s crew entered the station complex at 5:54 p.m. CST as Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria rang the on-board ship’s bell, a centuries-old naval tradition. Lopez-Alegria and crewmates Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter greeted Discovery Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang with smiles and hugs. The warm welcome followed a 4:12 p.m. rendezvous and docking.

Before launching into their first joint task of the mission -- extracting the new P5 truss member from Discovery’s cargo hold -- the combined crew was called upon to conduct an impromptu inspection of the tip of Discovery’s port wing using the space station’s robotic arm. The inspection was precipitated by a minor vibration reading on a wing sensor in that area about 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Though the single reading could indicate an on-orbit impact, it was not unusual and mission managers did not expect to find any damage. End-effector camera views will allow imagery analysts in Houston to verify that the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the wing’s leading edge are unscathed. The imagery analysis team also began to review pictures taken of Discovery’s belly during its approach to the station. Teams will meet overnight to determine if a final inspection of the orbiter’s tiles is needed.

The added task delayed unberthing of the 4,100-pound truss section about an hour. But once the inspection was complete, the crew used the shuttle’s robotic arm to pull the truss section out of the payload bay and hand it to the station arm. The P5 truss will remain suspended over Discovery’s port wing overnight, awaiting installation in the first of three planned spacewalks tomorrow.

Before going to bed, the crews gathered for a thorough review of the plan for tomorrow’s spacewalk. Curbeam and Fuglesang will spend tonight in the station’s airlock, where pressure will be reduced to 10.2 psi. The airlock “campout” will purge the spacewalkers’ bloodstreams of nitrogen bubbles and protect against decompression sickness as the two go to the even lower pressure of spacesuits on Tuesday.

Discovery’s crew is scheduled to awaken at 9:47 a.m. CST Tuesday, and the Expedition 14 crew at 10:17 a.m. The spacewalk is to begin at 2:22 p.m., with truss installation expected at 4:07 p.m.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Tuesday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #05

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12.12.06
10:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-06

STS-116 MCC Status Report #06

The first spacewalk by Discovery's crew members, an excursion that will install a new, two-ton segment on the port side of the International Space Station's girder-like truss, will highlight today's work on mission STS-116.

The six-hour, 10-minute excursion by astronauts Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang is set to begin at 2:42 p.m. CST. Curbeam and Fuglesang spent the night in the station's Quest airlock, from which they will begin the spacewalk. The installation of the new truss section, called the P5 truss, will require intricate teamwork by the astronauts. The spacewalkers will visually guide astronaut Joan Higginbotham as she maneuvers the piece in place from aboard the station using the station's robotic arm. The installation is a tight fit -- at times with only a couple of inches to spare.

Discovery remains in good condition. Mission Control has informed Discovery's crew that engineers analyzing imagery of the shuttle's heat shield likely will not request a focused inspection of heat shield areas during time that could be set aside for that activity tomorrow. Mission managers will review the status of all shuttle systems during their regular meeting this afternoon.

Discovery's crew changed late yesterday. Astronaut Sunita Williams, who launched aboard Discovery, officially became a member of the Expedition 14 station crew at 11 p.m. CST Monday as reported by station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. At the same time, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, who has been on the station since July, became a member of Discovery's crew for a trip home. Williams joins Lopez-Alegria and Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin aboard the station as she begins a six-month stay.

Discovery’s crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Fuglesang, Higginbotham and Reiter, were awakened at 9:47 a.m. CST to the song “Waterloo,” performed by ABBA. The song was played for Fuglesang.

The installation of the P5 truss is expected to begin about 4:07 p.m. CST, after Curbeam and Fuglesang have removed launch restraints and a arm capture fixture that is no longer needed. Once the segment has been maneuvered into its permanent position, the spacewalkers will bolt it in place and hook up electrical connections. At the end of the spacewalk, they will replace a malfunctioning camera on the starboard side of the station truss.

During the spacewalk, Curbeam will wear a spacesuit with red stripes on the legs. Fuglesang will be in an all-white suit.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Tuesday afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #06

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12.12.06
10:30 p.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-07

STS-116 MCC Status Report #07

The International Space Station is now two tons heavier, with the installation today of its newest truss segment during the flight’s first spacewalk.

Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang ventured outside the station to attach the P5 segment of the station’s truss and replace a failed camera needed to support future assembly tasks. They also were able to fit in some extra tasks that will save future spacewalkers time, including plugging the new segment into the existing truss, removing the locks that held it steady during launch and opening a latch that will allow the P6 segment to be attached when it is moved from its current, temporary location to its permanent place at the end of the port truss.

The spacewalk began at 2:31 p.m. CST, and Curbeam and Fuglesang were back inside by 9:07 p.m. The truss was officially attached at 4:45 p.m., and installation was complete by 5:21 p.m. Total duration of the spacewalk was 6 hours, 36 minutes.

Upon their return to the Quest airlock at the end of the spacewalk, Curbeam took a moment to congratulate Nobel Prize winners, including Dr. John C. Mather, a Goddard Space Flight Center scientist honored for his work on the big-bang theory.

With the new port truss section in place, the crew is ready to move on to the second phase of the mission – rewiring the station. That work will begin Wednesday when the port solar array on truss segment P6 is folded up, allowing the P4 solar arrays delivered by the STS-115 crew to rotate and track the sun. Once that’s done, Curbeam and Fuglesang will head outside again Thursday to begin reconfiguring the external wiring so that power from the new solar arrays delivered in September can be used.

Meanwhile, after taking a close look at imagery gathered on the first three days of the flight, mission managers determined that the shuttle’s heat shield can support a safe return to Earth. They also decided a more detailed inspection that had been scheduled for tomorrow will not be necessary.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s seven astronauts woke at 9:47 a.m. this morning to the song “Waterloo” by Swedish group Abba in honor of Fuglesang, who is from Sweden. “Nice music this morning,” Fuglesang said from the Quest airlock, where he spent the night preparing for the spacewalk with Curbeam.

The crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 1:17 a.m. Wednesday, after moving the space station arm into a position that will provide a good view of the P6 solar array retraction. The shuttle crew will start flight day four at 9:17 a.m. on Wednesday. The station crew will get an extra 40 minutes of sleep, awakening at 9:47 a.m.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #07

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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12.13.06
10:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-08

STS-116 MCC Status Report #08

Retracting a solar array wing that has been extended in space for six years will highlight the activities aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery today.

Furling of the wing, the left wing of the station's P6 solar arrays that were launched and deployed in December 2000, is the first step as astronauts and Mission Control begin a complex rewiring of the station's power system. The array retraction, performed slowly and in stages, should begin about 12:22 p.m. CST. Within about 40 minutes, the 115-foot long wing should be folded to only a few feet in length. At about 2 p.m. CST, the ground will send commands to power up a giant rotating joint on the station's truss that will begin turning, paddle wheel-style, a new set of solar arrays that were added to the station in September.

The joint, called the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, will allow the new arrays to track the sun as it rises and sets with each station orbit. If the left P6 solar array wing was not retracted, it would interfere with the rotation of the new set of arrays.

The retraction of the final few feet of the left P6 wing should be completed by 5:17 p.m. CST. The rotation of the new set of arrays, called the P4 arrays, sets the stage for activities beginning tomorrow, during the mission's second spacewalk, to rewire the station. The rewiring will bring power generated by the P4 arrays on line for use by the station's systems and prepare for more arrays to be added next year.

The retraction isn’t the only thing on today’s schedule. The shuttle crewmembers, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Bob Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, will join their station colleagues in transfer activities, moving equipment and supplies between the two spacecraft.

A total of 4,107 pounds was brought up in the single Spacehab module in Discovery’s cargo bay. An additional 1,107 pounds came up on the shuttle middeck. The shuttle is to take 2,998 pounds from the station back to Earth in Spacehab and 727 pounds on the middeck.

Oefelein, Patrick, Curbeam and Fuglesang will take a break from their work at 7:07 p.m. CST for an interview by CBS Radio, Fox Radio and Space.com.

Discovery’s crew received its wakeup call at 9:17 a.m. CST with the song, “Suavemente,” performed by Elvis Crespo, played for Higginbotham. The station crew, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Sunita Williams, got their wakeup tone half an hour later.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday evening, or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #08

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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12.13.06
11:30 p.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-09

STS-116 MCC Status Report #09

The first phase of the electrical and thermal makeover of the International Space Station was completed tonight as the outpost’s newest solar arrays began rotating to follow the sun and ammonia flowed into the station’s permanent cooling system for the first time.

Flight controllers sent commands to enable a large joint to begin rotating around 7 p.m. CST, moving the solar arrays on the P4 truss like a giant paddle wheel to track the sun as the station moves from daylight to darkness in orbit. A few hours later, just before 10 p.m. CST, valves were opened to allow 300 pounds of ammonia to flow into the truss segments of the station and its radiators, the first step toward providing permanent cooling for the avionics and electronics on the complex.

Those vital activation tasks occurred after a day-long effort by Discovery’s crew to retract the port array on the P6 solar array truss structure, which was installed six years ago to provide early electrical power for the station.

The crew spent six hours today sending as many as 45 commands in a start-stop fashion to retract, then redeploy, then retract the balky Venetian-blind like array panels in an effort to fold them into a narrow blanket box at the base of the array. But guide wires that help fold the arrays flat into the box apparently became snagged with only 17 out of 31 bays of the port array retracted. That was enough, however, to provide enough clearance to enable the new P4 arrays to begin rotating as planned.

Mission managers met tonight to discuss various options for completing the P6 array retraction, and decided to press ahead with the second of three scheduled spacewalks Thursday by Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang during which they will rewire the first pair of electrical channels for the permanent power system on the station.

Managers will convene over the next few days to determine whether additional spacewalk activity by Discovery’s crew will be scheduled to complete the retraction of the P6 array, although they have concluded that the array is in a safe configuration for the remainder of this mission, Discovery’s undocking next week, and if necessary, for the arrival of a new Russian Progress resupply ship in January should a spacewalking task be added to the Expedition 14 crew following Discovery’s flight.

Late tonight, to gather data for a future decision, Mission Control asked Discovery Commander Mark Polansky and Station Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria to consider which flight day would be best for a fourth spacewalk if one is ordered to complete the P6 array retraction. Polansky and Lopez-Alegria asked for more details about what such a spacewalk would entail before offering their thoughts.

With the station’s new solar arrays rotating and its permanent cooling system operating as advertised, Discovery’s crew members will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 1:17 a.m. CST and will wake up Thursday at 9:17 a.m. CST to begin preparations for the second spacewalk of the flight. The station crew members will be awakened thirty minutes later.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Thursday morning after crew wakeup, or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #09

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12.14.06
10:30 a.m. CST Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-10

STS-116 MCC Status Report #10

The second spacewalk for Discovery's crew members is scheduled for this afternoon. During the spacewalk, set to start about 2:12 p.m. CST, Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang will begin to rewire the station’s power system.

Curbeam and Fuglesang spent the night in the station's Quest airlock at a reduced atmospheric pressure of 10.2 psi. The “campout” procedure reduces nitrogen levels in the blood to help avoid decompression sickness as the astronauts go to the even lower pressure of spacesuits.

The spacewalk is planned to last about six hours. The two spacewalkers are scheduled to reconfigure two of the station's four power channels, channels 2 and 3, bringing power on line from the new set of solar arrays added to the station in September. The remaining two power channels, 1 and 4, will be reconfigured in a third spacewalk on Saturday. The changes will convert the station power system to a permanent setup, ready for even more arrays and science modules to be added next year.

At about 11:22 a.m. CST, station flight controllers will be sending commands that will power down roughly half of the station's systems in preparation for the spacewalkers' rewiring job this afternoon. The result will partially power down some communications systems, lighting, ventilation systems and backup computers, among other systems. Once the spacewalkers have completed the new power connections, flight controllers will power all the equipment and systems back on. As changes are made in the power system, additional cooling systems also will need to be brought online as well.

Late last night, half of the new cooling system for the P4 truss was filled with ammonia to be ready to begin circulating today when pumps are activated.

During the spacewalk, Curbeam, who will wear a suit with red stripes on the legs, and Fuglesang, who will wear an all-white suit, also will relocate two small handcarts that run along rails on the station’s main truss. Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams and Discovery Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham will operate the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm in support of the spacewalk.

Managers and engineers continue to evaluate whether further actions will be taken during STS-116 to complete the retraction of the port P6 truss solar array. The array was retracted almost halfway Wednesday, with only 17 bays of its center mast remaining extended. Fully extended, the mast has 31 bays. The array was retracted sufficiently to allow the new P4 solar arrays to begin rotating last night, an operation that was completed without problems. In their current state, the P6 port array and the P4 arrays have more than 16 feet of clearance from one another. Should they remain as they are, the partially retracted arrays pose no issue for the shuttle's undocking or any planned station activities until a Soyuz relocation flight set for April 2007.

A decision on any further action regarding the partially retracted array – including a possible fourth spacewalk during STS-116 for Curbeam and Fuglesang to assist in the retraction -- is not expected before Saturday.

Discovery’s crew was awakened at 9:17 a.m. CST today with the song, “Under Pressure,” performed by Queen. It was played for Curbeam. The station crew, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Williams, woke up a half-hour later.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Thursday evening, or earlier, if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #10

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12.14.06
8:30 p.m. CST Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-11

STS-116 MCC Status Report #11

Two spacewalking electricians completed half of STS-116’s rewiring today, and when flight controllers threw the switch, the lights inside the International Space Station turned on again without a hitch.

Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang began their second spacewalk at 1:41 p.m. CST. Less than two hours later, they had the first half of the station’s permanent power system – channels two and three – up and running, taking advantage of power generated by the solar arrays delivered in September.

The second half of the station’s power system – channels one and four – will be reconfigured during the mission’s third spacewalk Saturday. Once that’s done, the station’s power system will be in its assembly complete configuration, ready for the addition of more solar arrays and science modules next year.

Before the spacewalkers swapped the cable connections, station flight controllers had to shut down about half of the station’s systems, including some lights, communication gear, ventilation fans and back-up computers. They started the power down just before 2 p.m., and by 3:45 p.m., were powering up main bus switching units for the first time ever and activating power channels two and three. By 4:30 p.m., one of two external thermal control system loops was actively shedding excess heat into space, and the direct current-to-direct current converter units were regulating power voltages.

The spacewalkers headed out the hatch of the Quest airlock this afternoon about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, and made it through their tasks quickly enough to pick up another thirty minutes. They finished at 6:41 p.m., an hour earlier than planned and exactly five hours after they started. Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams and STS-116 Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham operated the station's robotic arm in support of the spacewalk.

Before heading back into the station, Curbeam and Fuglesang also relocated two small handcarts that run along rails on the station’s main truss, put a thermal cover on the station’s robotic arm and installed bags of tools for future spacewalkers.

Discovery’s crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 1:47 a.m. Friday. Flight Day 7 begins with a wakeup call at 8:47 a.m. The crew will spend the day transferring supplies and equipment from Discovery to the station, participating in a news conference and enjoying some off-duty time.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Friday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #11

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12.15.06
9:30 a.m. CST Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-12

STS-116 MCC Status Report #12

With half the International Space Station’s electrical system rewired, the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery gets half a day off today before they finish the job during a third spacewalk set for Saturday.

Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang rewired channels 2 and 3 of the station’s power system in a five-hour spacewalk Thursday. A similar task will be done with the two remaining station power channels, channels 1 and 4, on Saturday. However, for Saturday's spacewalk, Curbeam will be joined by International Space Station Flight Engineer Suni Williams for the outside work while Fuglesang will coordinate activities inside the spacecraft. Once the third spacewalk is complete, power will be fully online from the station’s P4 Truss solar array wings, which were installed in September. At that point, the station's power system will be ready for additional expansion with more arrays and new laboratories to be delivered next year.

Discovery Commander Mark Polansky and his crew—Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Thomas Reiter, Curbeam and Fuglesang—were awakened at about 8:52 a.m. CST to the song "Low Rider," performed by War, and played for Oefelein.

Discovery and the station are in good condition. Discovery is currently maintaining the orientation of both the station and shuttle using the shuttle steering jets, a function it began performing during preparations for the spacewalk on Thursday. Control of the station's orientation was transferred to Discovery on Thursday as part of the normal preparations of the station's power system for the rewiring job. The station usually uses its own control moment gyroscopes to maintain its orientation, without having to use fuel.

Originally, control of the station's orientation was to be transferred back to those gyroscopes late Thursday after the spacewalk tasks were completed and station systems powered up. However, problems were experienced as that transfer was attempted. Flight controllers believe the problems were due to a higher than usual amount of atmospheric drag currently experienced by the station due to recent solar activity. They may attempt to transfer control of orientation back to the station again today, although the shuttle thrusters can be used if needed for that purpose through the rest of the mission. If necessary, the station has thrusters that can be used for orientation control as well.

During the first half of their day, the astronauts will transfer supplies and equipment between the station and shuttle. At 1:07 p.m. the two European Space Agency astronauts, Fuglesang of Sweden and Reiter of Germany, will participate in a VIP call from Swedish dignitaries. At 2:47 p.m. all 10 astronauts and cosmonauts on the shuttle/station complex will conduct a news conference with reporters in the U.S. and Europe. The shuttle crewmembers will be off duty the last half of the day.

Station Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin are scheduled for interviews with KNX Radio, Los Angeles, and National Public Radio at 4:27 p.m. CST.

Engineers investigating the difficulties with fully retracting the port-side solar array wing of the station's P6 Truss believe a guide wire may be snagged in a swiveling grommet on one of the array's panels. The snag could be keeping the panels from folding up completely. The array remains almost halfway retracted as it has been since Wednesday. Early this morning, station flight controllers commanded the array through a series of "wiggle" tests, swiveling the wing 10 degrees at a time repeatedly to see if that would help the situation. They are continuing to evaluate the results of those tests and to investigate options for further work with the array, including the potential to add a spacewalk to latter part of this mission. Options also may include some additional troubleshooting commanding that could be performed with the array during the crew's day today.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Friday evening or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #12

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12.15.06
10 p.m. CST Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-13

STS-116 MCC Status Report #13

The crews of Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station tried again to refold an accordion-like solar array with help from engineers and flight controllers on the ground, but none of the techniques succeeded in clearing the jam.

The final attempt of the day came at 8:04 p.m. CST when Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams deployed the P6 solar array blanket slightly and then retracted it the same distance. This left 14 of the array’s 31 bays in their storage box, the same condition in which they started the day.

After the deployment and retraction technique made no significant progress in clearing the jam, the team briefed the crew on an inspection task that is being planned for use at the end of the mission’s third spacewalk. The task would be added only if the rest of the electrical rewiring activities planned for the excursion go smoothly. Mission managers have not yet decided whether a fourth spacewalk will be attempted, but the inspection task on the third spacewalk could provide information valuable to those making the decision.

Earlier in the day, flight controllers “wiggled” the solar arrays using the beta gimbal assembly, a rotating mechanism on the truss, and the crew worked out vigorously on an a resistive exercise device. Both techniques were attempts to jostle the guide wires and stainless steel grommets that are believed to be the cause of the stalled retraction.

The third spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 1:37 p.m. CST Saturday. During the excursion, Mission Specialist Bob Curbeam and Williams will finish rewiring the station’s power system, stow three Service Module Debris Panel bundles, install an adjustable grapple bar and, if time permits, troubleshoot the problem with the stuck array. The spacewalk will be Williams’ first.

In addition to their troubleshooting activites, the crew shared its experiences in space with both U.S. and European news media during a joint press conference today, and the two European Space Agency astronauts, Christer Fuglesang of Sweden and Thomas Reiter of Germany, participated in a VIP call with Swedish dignitaries.

STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein, Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Curbeam, Reiter and Fuglesang also continued to transfer food, supplies and equipment with the help of Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Williams. The spacefarers also enjoyed some off-duty time together.

Meanwhile, the new Port 4 solar arrays continued to rotate and track the sun, generating power for the station. Flight controllers completed re-powering station systems using the updated electrical grid and power from the new solar arrays delivered in September.

To prepare for the spacewalk, Curbeam and Williams will “camp out” in the Quest airlock starting at 10:57 p.m. Spending the night at a reduced atmospheric pressure of 10.2 psi will purge their bloodstreams of nitrogen bubbles to protect against “the bends.” The rest of the crewmembers begin their sleep period at 12:47 a.m. Saturday.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Saturday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #13

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12.16.06
10 a.m. CST Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-14

STS-116 MCC Status Report #14

The third spacewalk of Discovery’s mission to the International Space Station is scheduled to begin at 1:37 p.m. CST to complete the rewiring of the orbiting laboratory’s power system.

Discovery Mission Specialist Bob Curbeam and station Flight Engineer Sunita Williams will venture outside to finish the job started on Thursday’s spacewalk. Station flight controllers will begin commanding about half of the station's systems to power down at about 10:52 a.m. CST. After Mission Control has cut the power on the two station electrical channels that are the subject of today's work, channels 1 and 4, the spacewalkers will rewire them. Completing that task will put the station power system in its permanent configuration, ready for more solar arrays and laboratories to be added in 2007.

Curbeam and Mission Specialist Christer Fuglesang, a European Space Agency astronaut from Sweden, completed a rewiring job on the other two station power channels, channels 2 and 3, during a spacewalk on Thursday.

Additional tasks for today’s spacewalk include relocating debris shield panels from the station’s interior to a storage point outside. The panels, designed to increase the protection of the station's Zvezda living quarters module, will be installed during a later spacewalk by the station crew. Curbeam and Williams also will install a robotic arm grapple fixture.

Today's spacewalk is planned to be completed at 7:47 p.m. CST, but can go longer if needed. If time allows after all originally planned tasks are completed during the excursion, one or both of the spacewalkers will move up the P6 truss atop the station to the base of its partially retracted port solar wing. From that point, they will push on a blanket box into which the array has been folding to attempt to jiggle apparently misaligned guide wires and grommets into place. The result may allow additional retraction of the array.

Meanwhile, managers are continuing to evaluate a possible fourth spacewalk that would take place on Monday to attempt to fully retract the array. However, no decision has been made regarding whether that spacewalk will be pursued. To prepare for that possibility, the spacewalkers today may bring several tools inside the station that would need to be prepared with insulating tape for use on a fourth spacewalk.

The transfer of equipment and supplies between the two spacecraft continues. Late Friday, the crews were slightly ahead of the transfer schedule.

Inside the station today, station Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin will replace a component of the orbiting laboratory’s carbon dioxide removal system to restore it to full operation.

The orientation of the shuttle and station is again being controlled by the station's control moment gyroscopes. Small shuttle thrusters had been controlling the orientation of the spacecraft since Friday, when an initial attempt to switch to gyroscope control was not successful. A second attempt Saturday worked. Flight controllers believe the difficulty was due to increased atmospheric drag resulting from recent solar activity.

Shuttle crewmembers Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, along with Williams in the airlock campout, were awakened at 8:52 a.m. CST to composer Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The music was played for Patrick.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Saturday evening or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #14

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12.16.06
9:30 p.m. CST Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-15

STS-116 MCC Status Report #15

During a spacewalk partially choreographed as it happened, STS-116 Astronauts Bob Curbeam and Sunita Williams finished rewiring the International Space Station and shook loose a balky solar array so their crewmates inside could retract it almost two-thirds of the way.

By finishing the electrical work, the spacewalkers set the stage for installation of more solar arrays and science modules, including those being supplied by international partners.

For a second time, flight controllers shut down about half of the station’s systems, including some lights, communication gear, ventilation fans and back-up computers as the third spacewalk of Discovery’s mission began at 1:25 p.m. CST. Curbeam and Williams finished their rewiring tasks at nearly the same time posted by Curbeam and Mission Specialist Christer Fuglesang on Thursday. By 3:18 p.m., controllers were powering up the second half of the station’s new power grid and cooling systems.

The spacewalkers also installed a robotic arm grapple fixture and positioned three bundles of Russian debris shield panels outside the Zvezda service module before moving on to their P6 solar array panel 4B retraction work. The debris panels will be installed on a future spacewalk.

Then, using maneuvers dubbed the “Beamer Shake” and the “Suni Shake,” the spacewalkers tackled grommets and guide wires that have been preventing a full retraction of the array since Wednesday. Curbeam and Williams stationed themselves on opposite sides of the array and took turns shaking the array blanket box while the crew inside the station reeled in the array one bay at a time. Curbeam shook the blanket 19 times, and Williams shook it 13 times. The crew inside the station, coordinating with flight controllers on the ground, initiated eight retraction cycles.

As a result of their combined efforts, the array is now 65 percent retracted, with only 11 bays still deployed. The 7 hour, 31 minute spacewalk concluded at 8:56 p.m.

In the midst of the excursion, Mission Control informed the crew that managers had decided to extend Discovery’s mission one day to allow a fourth spacewalk. Curbeam and Fuglesang will venture outside Monday in an attempt to complete retraction of the array and collect additional information that could prove useful when the opposite side of the array is retracted on the next shuttle mission, STS-117, in March. The extended flight plan preserves a late inspection of Discovery’s heat shield after it undocks from the station. Discovery is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center on Friday afternoon.

Discovery’s crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 12:17 a.m. Sunday, and will awaken at 8:17 a.m. for a day devoted to cargo transfers and spacewalk preparations.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Sunday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #15

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12.17.06
9:30 a.m. CST Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-16

STS-116 MCC Status Report #16

Astronauts will spend much of today getting ready for a fourth spacewalk during Discovery’s mission to the International Space Station.

On Saturday, Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam and Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams finished rewiring the International Space Station during a 7-hour, 31-minute spacewalk.

After planned tasks had been completed smoothly and ahead of schedule, they also shook a balky solar array wing in hopes of completing its retraction. That helped gain some ground – the wing is about 65 percent retracted, compared to less than 50 percent before the spacewalk. About 11 bays remain deployed, compared to about 17 before.

Managers decided Saturday afternoon to add that fourth spacewalk to Discovery’s visit to the station. This one will be done by Curbeam, who participated in all three of the previous spacewalks, and Christer Fuglesang, a spacewalker on the first two. While Curbeam and Williams were still outside Saturday, mission managers decided to add the spacewalk, scheduled to start at 12:47 p.m. CST on Monday, and to add a day to Discovery’s stay at the station.

Today the station’s Canadarm2 will be moved into position to support the Monday spacewalk. Discovery’s arm will be used to provide camera views. Discovery crew members will reconfigure spacesuits and transfer them to the station’s Quest airlock. At 8:02 p.m., Discovery and station crews will hold a procedure review for the spacewalk.

Curbeam and Fuglesang will begin an overnight “campout” in the airlock, its pressure reduced to 10.2 psi. The crew goes to bed at 12:17 a.m. Monday. The campout is part of a process to avoid any possibility of the two spacewalkers developing decompression sickness in the relatively low pressure of their spacesuits. The suits are pressurized to a little less than 5 psi.

In other activities, transfer of equipment and supplies between the spacecraft is about 70 percent complete. Crewmembers and flight controllers believe it should be mostly finished after today’s work. Shuttle crewmembers Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, were awakened at 8:17 a.m. CST to the “Beautiful Blue Danube" performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The music was for Fuglesang.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Sunday evening, or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #16

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12.17.06
7 p.m. CST Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-17

STS-116 MCC Status Report #17

Flight controllers today put the finishing touches on plans for the fourth spacewalk recently added to the mission. On board the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station astronauts finished transferring the bulk of supplies between the two spacecraft.

Monday’s spacewalk is set to begin at 1:12 p.m. as veteran spacewalkers Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang go out to continue attempts to retract a solar array wing. The team has allotted six hours and 30 minutes for the spacewalk, but hopes to have the work completed in about four hours and 30 minutes.

Plans call for Curbeam to work from the end of the station’s Canadarm2 to reach specific areas of the solar array. Today the arm was moved atop its mobile platform into position on the truss railway to support the spacewalk. From the arm, Curbeam can use Kapton tape-insulated tools, including a scraper, needle-nose pliers and an extended bail puller to free up the array for retraction.

The techniques designed to fix the array include lightly pulling on guide wires along the length of the panels, flipping grommets that the wires may be hung up on and gently pushing on hinges in the panels to allow them to fold up.

Fuglesang will work from the truss to assist Curbeam and shake the solar array, as was done in Saturday’s spacewalk, if needed. He will also take photographs of the solar array wing on the other side of the truss to document its configuration before its retraction on the next joint shuttle and station mission.

After the crewmembers work on the array and change its configuration they will move clear as the crew inside the shuttle and station complex attempts to retract the array one bay at a time.

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Joan Higginbotham will operate the station’s robotic arm during the spacewalk. Pilot Bill Oefelein will serve as the spacewalk coordinator.

In other activities, transfer of equipment and supplies between the spacecraft is almost complete. Crewmembers and flight controllers planned for the last bit of transfer to include tools and equipment remaining after the final spacewalk. That work is set to be completed before Discovery undocks from the station Tuesday afternoon.

Shuttle Commander Mark Polansky and astronauts Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Oefelein and Higginbotham participated in media interviews at 6:27 p.m.

This evening, the crew has time to review the spacewalk plans before Fuglesang and Curbeam enter the Quest airlock for their third overnight campout together. Lowering the pressure of the airlock to 10.2 psi is part of a process to avoid any possibility of the two spacewalkers developing decompression sickness in the relatively low pressure of their spacesuits. The suits are pressurized to a little less than 5 psi.

The crew goes to bed at 12:17 a.m. Monday and will awaken at 8:17 a.m. for another spacewalk day.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Monday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #17

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12.18.06
10 a.m. CST Monday, Dec. 18, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-18

STS-116 MCC Status Report #18

Discovery and International Space Station crew members will conduct their fourth spacewalk of the week today, an excursion aimed at freeing a snagged, partially retracted station solar array so it will fully fold properly.

Astronaut Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang, a European Space Agency astronaut from Sweden, will venture outside the station at 1:12 p.m. CST. It will be Curbeam's fourth spacewalk of the mission, more than any astronaut has performed during a single shuttle flight, and it will be Fuglesang's third. Using a variety of specially prepared, tape-insulated tools, they will work to complete the retraction of the port solar array wing of the station's P6 truss.

Curbeam and Fuglesang spent the night in the station's Quest airlock in a procedure called a "campout." The air pressure in the compartment was reduced to 10.2 pounds per square inch to assist in purging nitrogen from their bodies, a measure that helps prevent decompression sickness.

The shuttle crew was awakened at 8:17 a.m. CST to the song “Good Vibrations,” performed by the Beach Boys. The song was played for the entire crew in honor of the vibrations the spacewalkers may create today to attempt to free the balky solar panels. As part of the suite of potential activities they have on hand to assist with folding the array, Curbeam and Fuglesang will shake the solar blankets by pushing on the boxes into which they fold. If needed, the spacewalk could last as long as six and a half hours.

Curbeam will be on the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm during the spacewalk. He will be equipped to work on two problems believed to be experienced by the array. One is the apparent jamming of the guide wires in the grommets designed to guide them. The other is some backward, balky folding of hinges between solar panels that has been seen during attempts at retraction. As those issues are dealt with by the spacewalkers, crew members inside will send commands to further fold the array.

Fuglesang will be on the P6 truss. He will push the blanket boxes into which the arrays fold to shake the wing. He also will take pictures, including some of the P6 starboard solar wing. That wing is to be retracted on the next shuttle flight to the station. The photos taken by Fuglesang will assist in the planning of that task.

Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams and Discovery Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham will operate the station’s robotic arm during the spacewalk. Pilot Bill Oefelein will serve as the spacewalk coordinator, or intravehicular officer, inside the spacecraft.

The transfer of equipment and supplies between the shuttle and station will continue today as well. Almost all of the 4,292 pounds brought up aboard Discovery has been moved to the station, and the loading of 3,725 pounds of gear in those areas for return to Earth is nearing completion as well. Discovery's undocking from the station is now planned for 4:09 p.m. on Tuesday. Discovery is planned to land at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 2:56 p.m. on Friday.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Monday evening, or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #18

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12.18.06
8 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 18, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-19

STS-116 MCC Status Report #19

Space Shuttle Discovery Astronauts Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang guided the port overhead solar array wing neatly inside its blanket box during a 6-hour, 38-minute spacewalk.

The coordinated effort with flight controllers finished the retraction begun on Wednesday and set the stage for the shuttle’s spring mission, when the International Space Station’s starboard overhead array will be similarly stowed. The arrays will be moved to the far end of the port truss on STS-120, and redeployed.

Applause broke out in Mission Control when the arrays glided into the retention box at 5:54 CST. Crewmembers aboard the shuttle-station complex praised the ground support team after latches along the array’s two blanket boxes locked at 6:34 p.m. Fuglesang took pictures, including some of the P6 starboard solar wing set to be retracted in March. The photographs will assist in planning for that task.

The P6 arrays were first deployed on the station in November 2000, when they were delivered on STS-97. On Wednesday, flight controllers retracted the array almost halfway, leaving 17 of its 31 bays extended. Then, on Saturday, at the end of the mission’s third spacewalk, Curbeam and helped flight controllers retract six more bays, leaving 11 exposed. In all, flight controllers initiated 71 commands.

During the fourth spacewalk of the mission, Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and STS-116 Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham used the station's robotic arm to position Curbeam and Fuglesang near the array. Pilot Bill Oefelein choreographed the spacewalk from inside the spacecraft. The two spacewalkers also firmly secured some multi-layer insulation that had been installed on the robotic arm during an earlier spacewalk.

Curbeam set a record as he made his fourth spacewalk of the mission -- more than any astronaut has performed during a single shuttle flight -- and his seventh in support of the station. Curbeam has a total of 45 hours, 34 minutes of spacewalking time. Astronaut Mike Fincke also conducted four spacewalks on the station during Expedition 9.

The total time for spacewalks on this STS-116 mission is 25 hours, 45 minutes.

Also today, the crew completed the transfer of about two tons of equipment and supplies between the shuttle and station and one and a half tons between the station and the shuttle’s pressurized cargo carrier.

Discovery is set to undock from the station tomorrow at 4:09 p.m. CST, and land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, at 2:56 p.m. CST on Friday.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Tuesday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #19

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12.19.06
8:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-20

STS-116 MCC Status Report #20

Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts will leave the orbiting laboratory today after four successful spacewalks, delivery and installation of a new segment of the International Space Station’s main truss and reconfiguring the station’s power system.

During their eight days docked to the station, the shuttle crew also dropped off more than two tons of additional equipment and supplies and a new station crew member.

After some final equipment transfers between the two spacecraft, Discovery crew members will bid their station colleagues farewell. Hatch closing is scheduled for 12:57 p.m. CST. Undocking is to occur at 4:09 p.m.

With Pilot Bill Oefelein at the controls, Discovery will slowly move away from the station. A partial fly-around of the station will give the crew a look at the orbiting laboratory, with its new P5 spacer truss segment and the port wing of the P6 solar array fully retracted and firmly secured in its retention box.

Discovery will begin its departure from the area at about 6 p.m. The crew is to begin its scheduled sleep period at 10:47 p.m. Landing is scheduled for 2:56 p.m. CST Friday at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Highlights of docked operations include the four spacewalks. Mission Specialist Bob Curbeam participated in all of them, giving him the record for the number of spacewalks during a single shuttle mission. He teamed up with Sunita Williams, the new station crewmember for the third spacewalk, and with Mission Specialist Christer Fuglesang for the other three.

The first spacewalk was for the P5 truss segment installation, the second and third focused on the power reconfiguration, and the fourth was dedicated to completing retraction of the port solar wing of the P6 truss.

The P6 arrays were deployed in late 2000. On Wednesday almost half the port wing was retracted, leaving 17 bays out. Saturday spacewalkers Curbeam and Williams helped retract six more bays. In a dramatic Monday spacewalk, Curbeam and Fuglesang helped complete the retraction.

Discovery crewmembers -- Commander Mark Polansky, Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Curbeam, Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, the European Space Agency astronaut from Germany who will be coming home after about six months in space -- were awakened at 7:47 a.m. CST to “The Zamboni Song,” performed by the Gear Daddies. The song, dedicated to the entire crew, was requested by the training team who sent a message to Oefelein saying they had arranged for him to fly the shuttle half a lap around the station.

Aboard the station, Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Williams got their wakeup tone at 8:17 a.m.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Tuesday afternoon or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #20

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12.19.06
7 p.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-21

STS-116 MCC Status Report #21

Crews aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station bid one another farewell at 4:10 p.m. CST today, wrapping up eight days of docked operations.

Staying behind on the newly rewired space station were Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, and departing with Discovery’s crew was Thomas Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut on his way home after a six-month space voyage.

Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin rang the ship’s bell in Navy fashion and saluted the shuttle and crew as they departed. “From the crew of Discovery – we wish you smooth sailing – thank you for the hard work, and we hope you enjoy the new electrical system on the station,” STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky radioed back from a distance of 650 feet during a half-lap fly-around.

Pilot Bill Oefelein was at the controls for the fly-around, which gave Discovery’s crew a look at its handiwork, a new P5 spacer truss segment and a fully retracted P6 solar array wing. During 7 days, 23 hours and 58 minutes of docked operations, the combined crew installed the newest piece of the station’s backbone and completely rewired the station’s power grid over the course of four spacewalks.

Before the hatches closed at 1:42 p.m., Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham and her cargo team had transferred more than two tons of food, water and equipment for use by the Expedition 14 crew and its newest member. They also filled Discovery’s pressurized cargo carrier with equipment and experiment samples returning to Earth.

Discovery fired its orbital maneuvering system engines to finish separation from the station at 6:12 p.m., bound for a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:56 p.m. Friday, weather permitting.

On Wednesday, Polansky, Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick will use the shuttle’s robotic arm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System to inspect Discovery’s heat shield for damage from orbiting debris or micrometeoroids. Spacewalkers Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang will work with Higginbotham and Reiter to stow equipment and supplies used during the mission in preparation for landing.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday morning or earlier if events warrant.

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #21

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12.20.06
7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-22

STS-116 MCC Status Report #22

Discovery crew members will make a final check of the shuttle’s heat shields today, using a sensor-equipped 50-foot extension of the shuttle’s robotic arm.

After the inspection, Discovery will deploy two small scientific satellites. A third will be deployed Thursday.

Discovery Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick will use the boom and sensor to look at thermal tiles on the shuttle’s underside. They also will inspect the reinforced carbon-carbon that protects the leading edges of the wings and the nose.

The heat shield inspection activities begin at 9:52 a.m. CST with the unberthing of the boom extension. Scanning of the heat shield with the sensor system begins at 10:52 a.m. and should take about five hours. The boom is to be reberthed into its cradle along the right side of the shuttle cargo bay at 4:22 p.m.

During the inspection, other Discovery astronauts will stow equipment in preparation for landing. Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter will begin packing up in the shuttle’s cabin and the Spacehab module in its cargo bay.

At about 6:19 p.m. CST, the Microelectromechanical System-Based PICOSAT Inspector (MEPSI) mini-satellite will be released from Discovery's cargo bay. The coffee cup-sized satellite will demonstrate the use of tiny, low-power satellites to observe larger spacecraft. It will test the function of small camera systems and gyroscopes.

At about 7:56 p.m. CST, the Radar Fence Transponder (RAFT) satellite will be released from the cargo bay. The satellite is a student experiment from the United States Naval Academy that uses picosatellites to test the Space Surveillance Radar Fence.

All activities aboard Discovery are aimed toward a landing that would begin with a deorbit engine firing by the shuttle at 1:53 p.m. CST Friday that would lead to a touchdown at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 2:56 p.m. CST Friday. Mission Control continues to monitor the weather in Florida, and shuttle landing opportunities at both Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and at White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., also will be considered on Friday.

Fuglesang and Reiter are European Space Agency astronauts. Fuglesang, from Sweden, participated in three of the four spacewalks during Discovery’s stay at the station. Curbeam set a record for spacewalks on a shuttle mission, performing four. Reiter, from Germany, is returning aboard Discovery after six months on the station.

Discovery’s crew was awakened at 6:47 a.m. by “Say You’ll be Mine,” performed by Christopher Cross. It was for Reiter.

On the orbiting laboratory, Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Sunita Williams are beginning a light-duty day after eight days of joint operations with Discovery. At 6:30 a.m. CST they were trailing Discovery by about 730 statute miles. The gap was increasing by more than 80 miles with each 91-minute orbit of the Earth.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

- end -

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Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #22

12.20.06
7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-22

STS-116 MCC Status Report #22

Discovery crew members will make a final check of the shuttle’s heat shields today, using a sensor-equipped 50-foot extension of the shuttle’s robotic arm.

After the inspection, Discovery will deploy two small scientific satellites. A third will be deployed Thursday.

Discovery Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick will use the boom and sensor to look at thermal tiles on the shuttle’s underside. They also will inspect the reinforced carbon-carbon that protects the leading edges of the wings and the nose.

The heat shield inspection activities begin at 9:52 a.m. CST with the unberthing of the boom extension. Scanning of the heat shield with the sensor system begins at 10:52 a.m. and should take about five hours. The boom is to be reberthed into its cradle along the right side of the shuttle cargo bay at 4:22 p.m.

During the inspection, other Discovery astronauts will stow equipment in preparation for landing. Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter will begin packing up in the shuttle’s cabin and the Spacehab module in its cargo bay.

At about 6:19 p.m. CST, the Microelectromechanical System-Based PICOSAT Inspector (MEPSI) mini-satellite will be released from Discovery's cargo bay. The coffee cup-sized satellite will demonstrate the use of tiny, low-power satellites to observe larger spacecraft. It will test the function of small camera systems and gyroscopes.

At about 7:56 p.m. CST, the Radar Fence Transponder (RAFT) satellite will be released from the cargo bay. The satellite is a student experiment from the United States Naval Academy that uses picosatellites to test the Space Surveillance Radar Fence.

All activities aboard Discovery are aimed toward a landing that would begin with a deorbit engine firing by the shuttle at 1:53 p.m. CST Friday that would lead to a touchdown at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 2:56 p.m. CST Friday. Mission Control continues to monitor the weather in Florida, and shuttle landing opportunities at both Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and at White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., also will be considered on Friday.

Fuglesang and Reiter are European Space Agency astronauts. Fuglesang, from Sweden, participated in three of the four spacewalks during Discovery’s stay at the station. Curbeam set a record for spacewalks on a shuttle mission, performing four. Reiter, from Germany, is returning aboard Discovery after six months on the station.

Discovery’s crew was awakened at 6:47 a.m. by “Say You’ll be Mine,” performed by Christopher Cross. It was for Reiter.

On the orbiting laboratory, Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Sunita Williams are beginning a light-duty day after eight days of joint operations with Discovery. At 6:30 a.m. CST they were trailing Discovery by about 730 statute miles. The gap was increasing by more than 80 miles with each 91-minute orbit of the Earth.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #22

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12.20.06
8:30 p.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-23

STS-116 MCC Status Report #23

Inspection of Discovery’s heat shield was conducted today as the seven crewmembers began the task of preparing their ship for their high-speed return to Earth on Friday.

One hour after removing the sensor-equipped 50-foot Orbiter Boom Sensor System from the payload bay with the shuttle’s robotic arm, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick began to scan the reinforced carbon-carbon surface of Discovery’s wings and its nose cap to ensure the shuttle incurred no micrometeoroid debris damage during its time in space. The six-hour inspection was completed at 4:22 p.m. Imagery and damage assessment teams at the Johnson Space Center immediately began analyzing the data. A report will be offered to mission managers on Thursday.

While the inspection was conducted, Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham and European Space Agency astronauts Christer Fuglesang and Thomas Reiter began to pack up equipment for Discovery’s scheduled landing Friday at the Kennedy Space Center. With only one wave-off day available on Saturday, backup landing sites at Edwards Air Force Base, CA and the White Sands Space Harbor, NM are being activated for landing support Friday in the event weather diverts the shuttle and its crew from the Florida spaceport. Discovery’s scheduled landing time at the Kennedy Space Center Friday is 2:56 p.m. CST.

Late today, Discovery’s astronauts sent commands to deploy small technology demonstration satellites for the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program.

The crew deployed a pair of coffee cup-sized satellites at 6:19 p.m. CST to demonstrate how a small, low-powered autonomous satellite can observe larger spacecraft. The Micro-Electromechanical System-Based PICOSAT Inspector, known as MEPSI, may one day use on-board imagery to assess spacecraft damage.

The crew then released another pair of small scientific satellites as part of a student experiment sponsored by the United States Naval Academy at 7:58 p.m. CST. The Radar Fence Transponder, or RAFT, experiment is designed to test technology for new spacecraft design.

The last satellite experiment, the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment, or ANDE, will be deployed from Discovery’s payload bay Thursday afternoon. ANDE consists of two spherical microsatellites that will measure the density and composition of the low Earth orbit atmosphere while being tracked from the ground. The data will be used to better predict the movement of objects in orbit.

Aboard the International Space Station, the newly comprised Expedition 14 crew, Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Suni Williams, enjoyed their first full day together after Discovery’s departure yesterday.

Discovery’s astronauts will begin its sleep period just after 10 p.m. CST and will be awakened Thursday at 6:17 p.m. for a day in which they will check out the shuttle’s aero surfaces and steering jets in preparation for Friday’s landing.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Thursday morning, or earlier, if events warrant.

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #23

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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12.21.06
11 a.m. CST Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-24

STS-116 MCC Status Report #24

Discovery’s astronauts will spend today preparing to return to Earth. They will test flight control surfaces, steering jets and other entry and landing systems while they stow equipment in Discovery’s cabin.

The crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein, and mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Nicholas Patrick, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, were awakened at 6:17 a.m. CST to the song “The Road Less Traveled,” performed by Joe Sample. It was played for Higginbotham.

The crew began stowing gear away at 8:47 a.m., with all seven crewmembers participating off and on during the day.

Polansky, Oefelein and Curbeam, who serves as flight engineer, checked out flight control surfaces – the wing and body flaps and the rudder – beginning at 9:17 a.m. CST. At 10:27 a.m., they began a test firing of the shuttle's steering jets used during the early portions of descent from orbit.

Fuglesang and Higginbotham will deploy the third of three small satellites from Discovery's cargo bay today. The first two were successfully pushed into space Wednesday. The Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) microsatellite will be deployed at 12:19 p.m. The satellite will gather information on atmospheric drag in low orbit.

After lunch, all seven crewmembers will talk with reporters from CNN and ABC, and with students at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Alaska.

The crew will review deorbit procedures at 2:32 p.m. CST. The KU-band antenna, used as the primary method to transmit television to the ground among other communications, will be stowed for landing at 7:17 p.m. CST. The crew begins a sleep period at 10:17 p.m.

Shuttle landing sites at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; and at White Sands Space Harbor, N.M. all will be active for a landing on Friday. The weather forecast currently calls for a chance of rain and low clouds at Kennedy; potential strong crosswinds at Edwards; and acceptable landing conditions at White Sands.

Discovery’s first landing opportunity Friday is to Kennedy, beginning with a deorbit engine firing at 1:49 p.m. CST with wheels touching down at 2:56 p.m. CST. The next opportunity is to Edwards with an engine firing to begin descent at 3:19 p.m. CST leading to a 4:27 p.m. touchdown. The first opportunity to land at White Sands begins with an engine firing at 3:20 p.m. CST leading to a touchdown in New Mexico at 4:32 p.m.

Opportunities also exist for Discovery to land at Edwards with a descent beginning with an engine firing at 4:54 p.m. CST leading to touchdown at 6 p.m. CST. A second opportunity to land at White Sands begins with an engine firing by the shuttle at 4:57 p.m. CST leading to a 6:02 p.m. touchdown.

The final landing opportunity available for Discovery on Friday is to Edwards, beginning with an engine firing at 6:32 p.m. CST leading to a touchdown at 7:36 p.m. CST.

Discovery is now about 2,200 statute miles ahead of the International Space Station. The distance increases by about 92 miles with each orbit.

Two station crew members, Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, are about half way through their six-month increment. The third crewmember, Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, came to the station aboard Discovery and is just beginning her six months on the station with the last half of Expedition 14 and the first half of Expedition 15.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Thursday evening, or earlier, if events warrant.

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #24

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12.21.06
11 a.m. CST Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

STATUS REPORT: STS-116-25

STS-116 MCC Status Report #25

Discovery’s astronauts completed preparations for a planned return to Earth on Friday and received word from Mission Control that their final inspection showed the shuttle’s heat shield is in good shape.

STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein, and Flight Engineer Bob Curbeam started checking out Discovery’s aerodynamic control surfaces at 9:31 a.m. CST, and test firing the shuttle's steering jets at 10:11 a.m. The commander and pilot also practiced landings on a laptop computer trainer, and performed final checks of the communications systems that will be used for landing.

A little later in the day, Mission Specialists Christer Fuglesang and Joan Higginbotham deployed a third small satellite from the shuttle’s cargo bay. The Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) microsatellite, ejected at 12:23 p.m., will gather information on atmospheric drag in low-Earth orbit. The first two microsatellites were deployed Wednesday.

Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick joined the rest of the crew in talking with reporters from CNN and ABC. Oefelein, who considers Anchorage, Alaska, to be his hometown, was the main focus of questions from students at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai.

Throughout the day, the crew took turns securing their gear for landing. The crew will awaken at 6:17 a.m. Friday, and begin final deorbit preparations at 9:48 a.m.

Entry Flight Director Norm Knight said landing sites at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; and White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., all will be activated to support landing. The Friday forecast calls for a chance of rain and low clouds at Kennedy; potential strong crosswinds at Edwards; and acceptable landing conditions at White Sands.

Knight said the entry team’s strategy will be to watch weather conditions carefully, focusing – in order – on the first landing opportunity in Florida, the second opportunities in Florida and California, and the third opportunities in California and New Mexico. A fourth California opportunity is available, but may not be used. Saturday landing opportunities are available at all three locations if weather prohibits a Friday landing.

Discovery’s first landing opportunity Friday is to Kennedy, beginning with a deorbit engine firing at 1:49 p.m. CST with wheels touching down at 2:56 p.m. CST. The next opportunity is to Edwards with an engine firing at 3:19 p.m. CST leading to a 4:27 p.m. touchdown. The first opportunity to land at White Sands begins with an engine firing at 3:20 p.m. CST leading to a touchdown in New Mexico at 4:27 p.m.

Opportunities also exist for Discovery to land at Edwards with an engine firing at 4:54 p.m. CST leading to touchdown at 6 p.m. CST. A second opportunity to land at White Sands begins with an engine firing by the shuttle at 4:57 p.m. CST leading to a 6:02 p.m.

touchdown. The final Friday landing opportunity is to Edwards, beginning with an engine firing at 6:32 p.m. CST leading to a touchdown at 7:36 p.m. CST.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 14 crew aboard the International Space Station, is settling back to normal operations with its new member, Flight Engineer Sunita Williams. Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, are about halfway through their six-month increment. Williams, who arrived aboard Discovery, is just beginning her six months on the station. She’ll span the last half of Expedition 14 and the first half of Expedition 15.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Friday morning or earlier if events warrant.

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: NASA - STS-116 MCC Status Report #25

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