NASA today announced the astronaut assignments for the upcoming STS-122 space shuttle mission, tentatively scheduled for October 2007. The commander will be Stephen N. Frick, and the pilot will be Alan G. Poindexter. The mission specialists will be Rex J. Walheim, Stanley G. Love, Leland D. Melvin and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel. During this mission, the space shuttle will deliver the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station.
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After eight days in space, and three spacewalks, the crew of the space shuttle Discovery will be taking the day off. Yesterday’s spacewalk went well, with Mission Specialists Piers Sellers and Mike Fossum testing out methods of repairing damaged shuttle heat shields. During the mission, Sellers lost one of the caulking spatulas used to spread on the repair compound – it flew out of Discovery’s payload bay area and was lost in space.
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Robert Bigelow’s dream of a thriving space tourism industry took a significant step forward today with the launch of the Genesis 1 experimental spacecraft. Bigelow Aerospace reported that the prototype habitat was successfully lofted into orbit atop a converted Russian inter-continental ballistic missile. Once in orbit, it extended its solar panels and began to inflate. The rocket launched at 6:53 pm Moscow Time, and the company released a series of statements over the course of the day reporting that everything’s going well.
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Astronauts Piers Sellers and Mike Fossum wrapped up the third and final spacewalk for space shuttle mission STS-121. During the 7-hour, 11-minute spacewalk, they demonstrated techniques for repairing the shuttle’s heat shield if it was damaged during launch. The mock repairs were made using a special “space caulk gun” and several spatulas to spread on the caulking materials. Discovery will detach from the station on Saturday to return to Earth.
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The Italian Leonardo module was carried to the International Space Station filled with more than 3,175 kg (7,000 pounds) of clothing, food and supplies. The shuttle and station astronauts emptied it out, and today they’re going to fill it back up again with 1,800 kg (4,000 pounds) of unneeded hardware and trash. Mission Specialists Mike Fossum and Piers Sellers will also prepare themselves for tomorrow’s spacewalk – the third and final of the mission. Discovery is now halfway through its mission.
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Mission specialists Piers Sellers and Mike Fossum spent the day outside the International Space Station today, completing the second spacewalk of space shuttle mission STS-121. During their 6-hour, 47-minute excursion, the astronauts completed the installation of a spare thermal pump outside the Quest Airlock, and performed maintenance on the mobile transporter. The third and final spacewalk for the mission is scheduled for Wednesday, when astronauts will test out different methods to repair the shuttle’s heat shield.
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The space shuttle Discovery linked up with the International Space Station this morning after astronauts gave it a thorough inspection with the extended boom attached to the shuttle’s robotic arm. Just before docking, Commander Steve Lindsey piloted the shuttle into a back-flip, so that cameras on board the station could document any damage to its heat shield. So far, it looks like the shuttle made it into orbit unscathed, even though a few small pieces of foam were dislodged from the external fuel tank during launch.
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The space shuttle Discovery roared into orbit from Cape Canaveral today, after two days of delays. The first launch in nearly a year, STS-121 carried 7 astronauts on a mission to visit the International Space Station, delivering supplies and testing out safety procedures. Even though a small crack was discovered in Discovery’s external tank, NASA officials decided it didn’t pose a risk to the shuttle, and they approved the launch. The shuttle will dock up with the station on Thursday.
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A new Progress cargo ship docked to the International Space Station today, carrying more than 2.5 tonnes of fuel, water and other supplies. Progress 20 was recently detached from the station to make room for this new arrival; it will burn up in reentry shortly. Progress 22 might actually remain permanently attached to the station, though, serving as extra closet space for the astronauts.
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Astronauts on board the International Space Station have had a busy week preparing for their next Progress cargo ship. On Monday they detached Progress 20 from the station, which will now burn up through the Earth’s atmosphere. If all goes well, Progress 22 will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 24, and link up with the station on June 26. It’ll be carrying 2.5 tonnes of equipment and supplies.
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