Although Fincke is among thousands of American fathers whose service to the country has prevented them from attending the birth of a child, he is the first U.S. astronaut to have celebrated the event from space.
Fincke's wife, Renita, gave birth to their second child in Clear Lake, Texas, on this morning. Fincke later spoke to teams of flight controllers in Russia and the U.S. during a television downlink, thanking them for their support of his family and offering a celebratory cigar and candy to Station Commander Gennady Padalka. Fincke also urged everyone to remember all those in service to their country and support them as they make similar sacrifices away from their families.
Fincke, the NASA Station Science Officer, and Padalka spent this week getting ready for a spacewalk planned for June 24 to replace a faulty Remote Power Controller, essentially a circuit breaker. The spacewalk is designed to replace a Remote Power Controller Module (RPCM) which houses the faulty circuit breaker, through which power is routed to one of the Control Moment Gyros (CMGs).
There are four CMGs in the Station's Z1 truss. They control the orientation of the ISS in space. CMG 1 failed about two years ago, and will be replaced during the next Shuttle mission. CMG 2 was taken off line by the April 21 failure of the circuit breaker and should be restored by the RPCM's replacement. Meanwhile, two functioning CMGs adequately control the station's attitude.
NASA Television coverage of the spacewalk begins at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 24. Padalka and Fincke are scheduled to leave the Russian Pirs docking compartment at 4:50 p.m. CDT in Russian spacesuits. A Mission Status Briefing focusing on the spacewalk will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, June 21, at the Johnson Space Center and will be carried on NASA-TV.
The two spacewalkers will move to the worksite, on the S0 truss, covering part of the distance using the Russian Strela crane attached to Pirs. The replacement work should take about 41/2 hours. Other tasks may be performed if time allows.
The crew's Russian spacesuits require a line of sight to antennas on the Russian segment of the station, some distance from the worksite, to communicate with the ground and with one another. Communications access points have been identified and four basic hand signals have been developed should Padalka and Fincke need them.
In addition to the spacewalk preparations, the crew's attention this week was devoted to experiment activities. The crew used one another as subjects in mass measurement checks and Fincke worked with three of the Express Racks aboard the U.S. laboratory Destiny to load new software.