Good News and Great Pictures from STS-126

Seemingly, the current space shuttle mission, STS-126, has been all about two things: recycling and restoring. The crew has been working almost nonstop to get a new system that turns urine into drinking water to work correctly; and spacewalkers spent a majority of four grueling EVAs cleaning and lubricating a jammed solar-wing joint on the station’s right side. And now there’s good news to report on both fronts. The urine recycling system now seems to be working perfectly. “Not to spoil anything, but I think up here the appropriate words are ‘Yippee!'” space station commander Mike Fincke told ground controllers. Mission Control replied, “There will be dancing later.” The recycling system will be a necessity for supporting the International Space Station’s crew, which will increase from three to six in early 2009. Also essential will be enough power to support the larger crew, so having the SARJ working correctly, the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint which allows the solar arrays to track the sun, is more good news. After Endeavour astronauts worked on the giant gears and replaced bearing assemblies, initial tests found the starboard SARJ working well, with no power spikes or excessive vibrations. So, with the major hurdles on the mission being cleared, the astronauts will be able to enjoy an irradiated, freeze-dried, vacuum-packed Thanksgiving holiday meal on Thursday. And UT readers can now enjoy some of the great images from this mission in the gallery below.

Endeavour approaching ISS.  Credit: NASA
Endeavour approaching ISS. Credit: NASA

The space station crew had this view of space shuttle Endeavour as it approached the ISS for docking. Visible in the payload bay is the Italian-built Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module, or cargo carrier.
Playing with food.  Credit: NASA
Playing with food. Credit: NASA

Fresh fruit is a rarity and a delicacy in space, and is one of the things the ISS crew enjoys the most during a shuttle visit. Here astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus are pictured with fresh fruit floating freely on the middeck of Space Shuttle Endeavour.
STS-126 EVA.  Credit: NASA
STS-126 EVA. Credit: NASA

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen work in tandem near a truss structure during one of four spacewalks conducted during the STS-126 mission.
Astronauts install a new component. Credit: NASA
Astronauts install a new component. Credit: NASA

The shuttle crew brought up “home improvements” for the ISS and here, Greg Chamitoff and Sandy Magnus move a crew quarters rack in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. This will be a future crew member’s personal space and sleep station.
Inside of Leonardo.  Credit: NASA
Inside of Leonardo. Credit: NASA

A view inside the Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module, which carried up 14,000 lbs of supplies and new facilities for the space station including two water recovery systems racks for recycling urine into potable water, a second toilet system, new gallery components, two new food warmers, a food refrigerator, an experiment freezer, combustion science experiment rack, two separate sleeping quarters and a resistance exercise device.
View of the ISS and solar arrays. Credit: NASA
View of the ISS and solar arrays. Credit: NASA

Can you find the astronaut in this image? Spacewalker Steve Bowen is dwarfed by the station components and solar arrays in this view.
Shuttle and station crews. Credit: NASA
Shuttle and station crews. Credit: NASA

Following a space-to-Earth press conference, members of the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour crews posed for a group portrait on the orbital outpost. Astronaut Donald Pettit appears at photo center. Just below Pettit is astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshin-Piper. Clockwise from her position are astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Steve Bowen, Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson and Michael Fincke, along with cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, and astronauts Sandra Magnus and Gregory Chamitoff.
Another EVA view.  Credit: NASA
Another EVA view. Credit: NASA

One more EVA picture for you. Here Steve Bowen works during the mission’s fourth and final EVA as maintenance continueson the International Space Station. During the six-hour spacewalk, Bowen and astronaut Shane Kimbrough (not visible), completed the lubrication of the port Solar Alpha Rotary Joints (SARJ) as well as other station assembly tasks. Bowen returned to the starboard SARJ to install the final trundle bearing assembly, retracted a berthing mechanism latch on the Japanese Kibo Laboratory and reinstalled its thermal cover. Bowen also installed a video camera on the Port 1 truss and attached a Global Positioning System antenna on the Japanese Experiment Module Pressurized Section.

See all the STS-126 images here.

9 Replies to “Good News and Great Pictures from STS-126”

  1. The picture of the fresh fruit surprised me. The apples appeared to be of the “Red Delicious” variety. They look beautiful but even a top quality one is a second rate apple. Texture and flavour are inferior to most varieties. If I was paying the small fortune it cost to send them up, I’d want something that weighed the same and tasted a lot better!

    Great pictures! I’ve been a fan of all things space since I was 7 yrs old in 1956. (BEFORE Sputnik) Love your website!

  2. WOW!!! AWESOME!!!!
    ( wish i could print bigger letters!!!)

    Hey, who does the hair-doooos for the ladies in space?????????

  3. wowey dats jus mind blowing visuals..weird thing the astronauts are going about theis business as an everyday matter(this brings a strange thrill at the back of your mind suggesting it could be normal thing for ppl like us who watch these photos in the future.

  4. I read your blog for quite a long time and should tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

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