STS-115/12A: Flight Day 3 synopsis

Written by Bob McCormick on 9/11/2006 11:26:00 PM

From all that I have seen, it looks like STS-115 is going well. The Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (and all the associated inspections of the Orbiter's Thermal Protective System - the tiles and Wing Leading Edges) have revealed nothing significant. The crew accomplished the docking, and has handed off the P3/P4 truss segment.

Tomorrow (Flight Day 4), the segment should be structurally mated to the Space Station, and the first EVA/spacewalk will occur. This spacewalk will connect the appropriate utility lines to P3/P4, which will allow P3/P4 to pivot about it's Solar Array Rotational Joint (SARJ). Assuming the rest of the P3/P4 segment checkout (including Solar Array deployment) is completed in subsequent days, the P3/P4 and it's associated SARJ will not only increase the Station's power generation capability, but will eventually allow the ISS to abandon flying in an XPOP attitude orientation. (More details on what XPOP means, and why we fly in that orientation, later.)

The increased power generation capability also starts to give the ISS the capability to attach Japanese and European laboratory modules (on subsequent Shuttle flights).

Both the SARJ checkout and the Solar Array deployment will be crucial to establishing this capability.

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