Following the shuttle's return to the launch pad, the U.S. Laboratory Destiny was installed in the payload bay Tuesday and the doors closed for flight last night. Atlantis' launch remains scheduled for 6:11 p.m. EST, Feb. 7. The STS-98 flight crew of Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Mark Polansky and Mission Specialists Tom Jones, Marsha Ivins and Bob Curbeam are scheduled to fly to the Kennedy Space Center Sunday afternoon with the countdown scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. EST.
Meanwhile aboard the station, the Expedition One crew of Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev continue the task of preparing for the shuttle's arrival while continuing their daily routine of exercise and housekeeping chores.
Troubleshooting efforts on a vibration measuring experiment paid off late last week when Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd recovered the operation of the Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE). The experiment appears to be working fine and timeliners are busily searching for openings in the crew's long-range plan to accommodate further operations with this experiment that originally flew as a shuttle payload to measure tiny amounts of vibration in an effort to identify how normal activity onboard may affect sensitive experiments.
Flight controllers plan to conduct an experiment to measure the electrical charging on the outside of the station by strategically positioning the large U.S. solar arrays as the station circles the Earth. The hopes are to correlate the array position with the amount of arcing that may be generated. Plasma Contactor Units on the station are designed to eliminating the arcing, if present. This Detailed Test Objective is designed to gather additional information that will help verify engineering models and/or refine future planning that may be required.
Additionally, the crew and flight controllers are planning to conduct a dry-run of the procedures for the shuttle docking to the ISS planned for two days after launch.
Plans for the crew and flight controllers may include a test of station procedures that will be used for the docking of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Orbiting the Earth at an average altitude of 230 statute miles, the International Space Station is operating in excellent condition.