Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Say Goodbye, Part 4

Another day in the life of the end of America's manned space program:

Here's a picture from yesterday showing the payload that Atlantis brought up to the International Space Station:

Image credit: NASA

Here's what it looks on the inside - rather like the most densely packed walk-in closet ever, without gravity:

Image credit: NASA

Over the next few days, the ISS and Shuttle crews will be transferring all that stuff into storage spaces on the ISS.
Tue, 12 Jul 2011 05:00:33 PM PST

Expedition 28 Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan completed a six-hour, 31-minute spacewalk at 3:53 p.m. EDT Tuesday, retrieving a failed pump module for return to Earth, installing two experiments and repairing a new base for the station’s robotic arm.

Inside the shuttle-station complex, transfer of material from the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module began. The work to unload the more than 9,400 pounds of supplies and equipment brought up by Raffaello and then repack it with 5,700 pounds of equipment, supplies and trash to return home will continue for much of Atlantis stay at the station.

Astronauts Complete Spacewalk; Cargo Transfers Begin
[As with all NASA status reports, I have no idea if that link will be valid two days from now, let alone in a year.]

Hopefully, they'll remember where they put it all when, three years from now, someone needs his favorite old pair of boots.

One other interesting item in the status reports was this one:
About three hours, 15 minutes into the spacewalk, Mike Fossum and Ron Garan completed installing the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) experiment onto a platform on Dextre, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator.

In the future, the RRM will demonstrate robotic refueling technology and techniques using Dextre, four unique RRM tools and an RRM enclosure filled with refueling components and activity boards. The tests will demonstrate that remote-controlled robots can perform refueling tasks in orbit, using commands sent from controllers on Earth. RRM is expected to reduce costs and risks, and lay the foundation for future robotic servicing missions.

Spacewalkers Install Robotic Refueling Mission Experiment
I think it's safe to say that any tasks that must be done outside of a space ship or station that can be done by robots is a good one to try to automate. This is certainly no exception. Space walking is hazardous enough, add some volatile chemicals into the mix, and it's something best left to machinery.

Click on the pictures to see the bigger versions. Click on the image credit links for the full sized versions.

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