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Robotics Work, Spacewalk Preps For Shuttle Crew

November 20, 2009

Though it began 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., which gave them 30 extra minutes intended to make up for sleep lost overnight when false depressurization caution alarms sounded on the International Space Station. That occurred just after 7:30 p.m., about 30 minutes after the crew began its sleep period.

Although the flight control teams on the ground were able to determine that there was no depressurization occurring, the crew was never in any danger and ventilation fans were shutoff as a precaution. That shutoff kicked up dust that resulted in a fire alarm in the European Columbus laboratory also sounding.

By 8:15 p.m., the flight control teams in Houston were working to bring the station back into its normal configuration, and Atlantis’ crew was told it could go back to sleep. The space station crew members were required to stay up a bit longer as the station’s ventilation system was reactivated. That work took a little over an hour, after which the station crew was able to resume its sleep period as well. Flight control teams are looking into the cause of the initial false alarm.

The shuttle crew started its day today with a wakeup call to the tune of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” which was played for Mission Specialist Leland Melvin.

The day’s tasks will be unaffected by the night’s activities. As no focused inspection of the shuttle’s heat shield was required, the crew will be focusing on preparations for Saturday’s spacewalk. These tasks include recharging batteries, switching out Mission Specialist Robert Satcher’s spacesuit for that of Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik and reviewing procedures before Bresnik and Mission Specialist Mike Foreman begin their overnight campout in the Quest Airlock.

In addition, the space shuttle’s robotic arm will be used to grab onto the second cargo pallet of spare equipment brought up by Atlantis in advance of its transfer to the space station on Saturday.

Several crew members will also be talking with reporters on the ground over the course of the day. At 5:08 a.m., Commander Charles Hobaugh and Pilot Barry Wilmore will be talking with CBS News, FOXNews Radio and Nashville’s WTVG-TV. At 6:28 a.m., Melvin and Satcher will be interviewed by the Tom Joyner Morning Show. And at 3:33 p.m., Hobaugh, Melvin and Satcher will talk with ESPN’s SportCenter, Black Entertainment Television News and WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va.

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