The coordinated effort with flight controllers finished the retraction begun on Wednesday and set the stage for the shuttle’s spring mission, when the International Space Station’s starboard overhead array will be similarly stowed. The arrays will be moved to the far end of the port truss on STS-120, and redeployed.
Applause broke out in Mission Control when the arrays glided into the retention box at 5:54 CST. Crewmembers aboard the shuttle-station complex praised the ground support team after latches along the array’s two blanket boxes locked at 6:34 p.m. Fuglesang took pictures, including some of the P6 starboard solar wing set to be retracted in March. The photographs will assist in planning for that task.
The P6 arrays were first deployed on the station in November 2000, when they were delivered on STS-97. On Wednesday, flight controllers retracted the array almost halfway, leaving 17 of its 31 bays extended. Then, on Saturday, at the end of the mission’s third spacewalk, Curbeam and helped flight controllers retract six more bays, leaving 11 exposed. In all, flight controllers initiated 71 commands.
During the fourth spacewalk of the mission, Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and STS-116 Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham used the station's robotic arm to position Curbeam and Fuglesang near the array. Pilot Bill Oefelein choreographed the spacewalk from inside the spacecraft. The two spacewalkers also firmly secured some multi-layer insulation that had been installed on the robotic arm during an earlier spacewalk.
Curbeam set a record as he made his fourth spacewalk of the mission -- more than any astronaut has performed during a single shuttle flight -- and his seventh in support of the station. Curbeam has a total of 45 hours, 34 minutes of spacewalking time. Astronaut Mike Fincke also conducted four spacewalks on the station during Expedition 9.
The total time for spacewalks on this STS-116 mission is 25 hours, 45 minutes.
Also today, the crew completed the transfer of about two tons of equipment and supplies between the shuttle and station and one and a half tons between the station and the shuttle’s pressurized cargo carrier.
Discovery is set to undock from the station tomorrow at 4:09 p.m. CST, and land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, at 2:56 p.m. CST on Friday.