[meteorite-list] Astronauts to Comb International Space Station for Meteorite Strike

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 09:30:13 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <200712181730.JAA01964_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Astronauts comb ISS for meteorite strike
The Age (Australia)
December 14, 2007

Two astronauts on the International Space Station will make a spacewalk
next week to find out if a micro-meteorite strike damaged a critical
part of the outpost's power system, officials say.

The station is not in any danger and is still producing enough power to
support the arrival of Russian cargo ship later this month, said station
deputy program manager Kirk Shireman.

NASA has now announced the space shuttle Atlantis will not take off
until January 10 with Europe's Columbus science module on board.

That flight, originally planned for last week, was postponed when
sensors in the shuttle's fuel tank failed during two launch attempts.

Shireman said the power problem would probably not affect plans to
attach Columbus to the station next month. But flights of Japanese
modules in February and April could be affected.

Without repairs, "we know we can't go too much farther," he said.

Station commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineer Dan Tani are
scheduled for a 6.5-hour spacewalk on Tuesday to inspect two joints
needed to position the station's right-side solar panels toward the sun.

The primary joint, which rotates the panels 360 degrees, was locked in
place in October after spacewalking astronauts during the last shuttle
mission discovered metal shards inside the mechanism.

Additional inspections were planned during Atlantis' mission, but the
work was shifted to the station crew's schedule after the launch was

An additional problem with a second joint, which lets the panels pivot
even while the primary joint is locked, surfaced on December 8.

"It makes power generation much more difficult," Shireman said.

Because several independent pieces of equipment were simultaneously
affected, engineers suspect a micro-meteorite strike may be to blame.

They also theorised a piece of debris may have worked itself free and
floated into an area that shorted out electrical components.

Spare parts to fix the second joint are on board the station, though if
the problem is with the device's cables a repair would have to wait
until supplies arrive on the next cargo ship or aboard the shuttle,
Shireman said.

"This (spacewalk) is a fact-finding mission," he said.

"It is hoped that something the crew sees can help us narrow down the
Received on Tue 18 Dec 2007 12:30:13 PM PST

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