Shuttle Atlantis Launched With Supplies For International Space Station

By | September 13, 2000 | Feature

The Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Sept. 8 at 8:46 a.m. EDT en route to the International Space Station. While at the station, the seven- member crew will prepare it for the arrival of its first permanent crew, which is slated for early November.

In addition, the mission included a six-and-a-half-hour successful spacewalk by Astronaut Ed Lu and Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko to a point 100 feet from the shuttle’s cargo bay, the farthest any tethered spacewalker has ever ventured.

The crewmembers connected several cables and installed other equipment to help maintain station operations for oncoming crews. One of their main objections was to reposition a navigation unit that originally was located too close to Zvezda’s metal structure for it to work properly. The astronauts removed the unit and quickly reinstalled it atop a 6- 1/2-foot tall boom.

With that problem fixed, computers and ground controllers now will be able to use the instrument to determine the orientation of the station as it orbits the Earth and to steer it when necessary.

On Sept. 11, the Atlantis crew entered the ISS and began unloading supplies.

Among the supplies are laptop computers and a color printer, vacuum cleaners, clothing, food warmers for the kitchen, trash bags, critical life support systems, television cables and a toilet.

“We’ve got a framework and a solid foundation,” said pilot Scott Altman, who compared the mission with building a house in orbit at 17,500 miles per hour. “It’s now up to us to fix the pipes, run the cables and try to have it ready for the next crew to move in by the time we come home.”

The shuttle is slated to return on Sept. 19, however Atlantis has enough propellant to stay an extra day in orbit to finish the workload, if needed.


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