Monday, February 15, 2010

Cupola Relocated to Tranquility's Earth-Facing Port

The cupola, attached to the station's robotic arm, is relocated to Tranquility's Earth-facing port.

The Expedition 22 and STS-130 crews moved the cupola from the Tranquility node’s forward side to Tranquility’s nadir (Earth-facing) port Monday. The second stage capture of the cupola was at 1:31 a.m. EST, signifying the completion of the module’s relocation. It is securely latched and all Common Berthing Mechanism bolts have been driven in.

STS-130 Mission Specialist Kathryn Hire and Pilot Terry Virts moved the cupola, operating the station’s Canadarm2 from controls in the U.S. laboratory, Destiny. Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams operated the latches and bolts that released the cupola from its launch location and then secured it to its new home.

There was a minor delay in releasing the cupola. The bolts attaching it to its launch position on Tranquility had been torqued in Earth’s gravity and were a little tighter than expected. Flight controllers slightly increased the torque to release the bolts, resolving the problem. The cupola’s attachment to the Earth-facing port went smoothly.

Outfitting of the cupola, including preparations for filling water lines and for installation of a robotics workstation there, continued. Crew members are expected to get their first look out the cupola windows after Tuesday’s third and final scheduled spacewalk of Endeavour’s stay at the station.

Endeavour’s spacewalkers, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick spent about an hour and a half early in their day preparing for that excursion. Part of those preparations involved resizing another spacesuit for Behnken. The suit he wore on the first two spacewalk had some communications dropouts.

The station’s refurbished Urine Processing Assembly continued to work as expected. Flight controllers said it processed more than 2.5 gallons of urine during the day.

The STS-130 mission includes three spacewalks and the delivery of a connecting module that will increase the station’s interior space. Node 3, known as Tranquility, will provide additional room for crew members and many of the station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, which is a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that will provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecraft. After the node and cupola are added, the space station will be about 90 percent complete.