Volume: 05, Issue: 02 09/13/2006 
STS-115 Atlantis launches from Kennedy Space Center. Image credit: NASA.
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The crew of STS-115 Jett and Ferguson, commander and pilot, The mission specialists are, Stefanyshyn-Piper, Tanner, Burbank, and MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency. Image credit: NASA.
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Mission specialist Steve MacLean works on a task during the second spacewalk of the STS-115 mission. Photo credit: NASA TV.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
NASA Rover Nears Martian Bowl Goal
Impact Landing Ends SMART-1 Mission to the Moon
Grant Opportunities
Involve Your Students in Space Themed Contests

STS-115 Atlantis

The Space Shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 11:14 am on Saturday, September 9, 2006. The fuel cut-off censor system, which malfunctioned and delayed Atlantis’ scheduled September 8 launch, performed normally on September 9. The engine cut-off, or ECO, sensor is one of the four inside the liquid hydrogen section of the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

On Monday, September 11, Space Shuttle Atlantis’ robotic arm handed off the P3/P4 integrated truss structure to its counterpart on the International Space Station. The truss arrived with the STS-115 crew when Atlantis docked to the station early that morning. The STS-115 and station’s Expedition 13 crews quickly went to work shortly after the hatches opened. The truss structure, which is 17.5 tons and 45 feet long, contains a set of solar arrays. The STS-115 crew will conduct three spacewalks to outfit and prepare the truss for operation. In preparation for the first spacewalk, mission specialists Joe Tanner and Heidimarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will begin a new pre-spacewalk procedure called “camping out” when they enter the station’s Quest Airlock. “Camping out” helps the spacewalkers begin the spacewalk earlier by reducing the amount of time typically required for the pre-breathe exercise and some spacewalk preparations.

Mission Specialists Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper wrapped up STS-115’s first spacewalk Tuesday morning. The new truss was installed before the start of the spacewalk. They installed power and data cables between the P1 and P3/P4 structures in preparation for solar array deployment and released launch restraints on the Solar Array Blanket Box. They moved through the spacewalk so quickly flight controllers in the Mission Control Center in Houston gave them permission to complete tasks scheduled for future spacewalks. Dan Burbank and Steve Maclean performed the second spacewalk on September 13, removing launch locks and restraints on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. Once activated the rotary joint will allow the arrays to track the sun. They also prepared the P3 truss for use by the Mobile Transporter. The third spacewalk will be performed on September 15th.

Atlantis’ crew includes pilot Chris Ferguson and mission specialists Dan Burbank, Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joe Tanner, and Steve MacLean, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut.

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