Endeavour's astronauts and flight controllers on the ground are working towards deployment of the second solar panel on the newly installed U.S. solar array structure later today. The current plan calls for the second array to be extended starting about 3:51 p.m. CST.
Today's deployment sequence will be a modified version from the one used yesterday. The port array will be deployed this afternoon using a multi-step process. The movement of the array will be stopped several times during deployment to allow motion in the solar blankets to dampen out before continuing with the extension. Sunday's deployment of the starboard array was done in one continuous motion, lasting about 13 minutes while today's stop and start procedure is expected to take at least one hour to complete.
Flight controllers are also looking at any procedures that may be undertaken to increase the tension in the already deployed array. Imagery taken of the starboard solar pannel shows a little bit of slack in some of the support wires. The array itself is working well and generating power to the array's batteries. The main concern with the tension level on the deployed array is making sure that it is stable enough to support dynamic activities such as Shuttle dockings and undockings as well as when the station is maneuvered to a new attitude position on-orbit.
Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialists Joe Tanner, Carlos Noriega and Marc Garneau of the Canadian Space Agency, were awakened just after 8:30 a.m. today to begin their day. This morning's wake up song was "Lovin' You Lots & Lots" from the movie "That Thing You Do" and was sent up to Bloomfield from his wife.
In addition to monitoring the second array deployment, the crew's activities today will include some housekeeping chores and monitoring orbiter systems along with a photo survey of the solar array structure using cameras on the Shuttle's mechanical arm.
The STS-97 crew will take a few minutes this afternoon to talk with reporters from the Cable News Network, CBS News and ABC News about how their mission has been progressing. The trio of interviews is scheduled to begin at 2:31 p.m. CST.
The Endeavour crew will begin a planned 8-hour sleep period at 11:06 p.m. before they are awakened at 7:06 a.m. CST Tuesday to begin preparations for the second of three planned space walks outside the International Space Station. The main objective of the second space walk will be to install data and power cables to allow the space station to utilize electricity generated by the new solar arrays.