Encyclopedia Astronautica
2006.12.13 - STS-116 MCC Status Report 08


Retracting a solar array wing that has been extended in space for six years will highlight the activities aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery today.

Furling of the wing, the left wing of the station's P6 solar arrays that were launched and deployed in December 2000, is the first step as astronauts and Mission Control begin a complex rewiring of the station's power system. The array retraction, performed slowly and in stages, should begin about 12:22 p.m. CST. Within about 40 minutes, the 115-foot long wing should be folded to only a few feet in length. At about 2 p.m. CST, the ground will send commands to power up a giant rotating joint on the station's truss that will begin turning, paddle wheel-style, a new set of solar arrays that were added to the station in September.

The joint, called the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, will allow the new arrays to track the sun as it rises and sets with each station orbit. If the left P6 solar array wing was not retracted, it would interfere with the rotation of the new set of arrays.

The retraction of the final few feet of the left P6 wing should be completed by 5:17 p.m. CST. The rotation of the new set of arrays, called the P4 arrays, sets the stage for activities beginning tomorrow, during the mission's second spacewalk, to rewire the station. The rewiring will bring power generated by the P4 arrays on line for use by the station's systems and prepare for more arrays to be added next year.

The retraction isn’t the only thing on today’s schedule. The shuttle crewmembers, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Bob Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter, will join their station colleagues in transfer activities, moving equipment and supplies between the two spacecraft.

A total of 4,107 pounds was brought up in the single Spacehab module in Discovery’s cargo bay. An additional 1,107 pounds came up on the shuttle middeck. The shuttle is to take 2,998 pounds from the station back to Earth in Spacehab and 727 pounds on the middeck.

Oefelein, Patrick, Curbeam and Fuglesang will take a break from their work at 7:07 p.m. CST for an interview by CBS Radio, Fox Radio and Space.com.

Discovery’s crew received its wakeup call at 9:17 a.m. CST with the song, "Suavemente," performed by Elvis Crespo, played for Higginbotham. The station crew, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Sunita Williams, got their wakeup tone half an hour later.

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