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STS-116 MCC Status Report #15



9:30 p.m. CST Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-116 MCC Status Report #15

During a spacewalk partially choreographed as it happened, STS-116 
Astronauts Bob Curbeam and Sunita Williams finished rewiring the 
International Space Station and shook loose a balky solar array so their 
crewmates inside could retract it almost two-thirds of the way.

By finishing the electrical work, the spacewalkers set the stage for 
installation of more solar arrays and science modules, including those 
being supplied by international partners.

For a second time, flight controllers shut down about half of the 
station’s systems, including some lights, communication gear, 
ventilation fans and back-up computers as the third spacewalk of 
Discovery’s mission began at 1:25 p.m. CST. Curbeam and Williams 
finished their rewiring tasks at nearly the same time posted by Curbeam 
and Mission Specialist Christer Fuglesang on Thursday. By 3:18 p.m., 
controllers were powering up the second half of the station’s new power 
grid and cooling systems.

The spacewalkers also installed a robotic arm grapple fixture and 
positioned three bundles of Russian debris shield panels outside the 
Zvezda service module before moving on to their P6 solar array panel 4B 
retraction work. The debris panels will be installed on a future spacewalk.

Then, using maneuvers dubbed the “Beamer Shake” and the “Suni Shake,” 
the spacewalkers tackled grommets and guide wires that have been 
preventing a full retraction of the array since Wednesday. Curbeam and 
Williams stationed themselves on opposite sides of the array and took 
turns shaking the array blanket box while the crew inside the station 
reeled in the array one bay at a time. Curbeam shook the blanket 19 
times, and Williams shook it 13 times. The crew inside the station, 
coordinating with flight controllers on the ground, initiated eight 
retraction cycles.

As a result of their combined efforts, the array is now 65 percent 
retracted, with only 11 bays still deployed. The 7 hour, 31 minute 
spacewalk concluded at 8:56 p.m.

In the midst of the excursion, Mission Control informed the crew that 
managers had decided to extend Discovery’s mission one day to allow a 
fourth spacewalk. Curbeam and Fuglesang will venture outside Monday in 
an attempt to complete retraction of the array and collect additional 
information that could prove useful when the opposite side of the array 
is retracted on the next shuttle mission, STS-117, in March. The 
extended flight plan preserves a late inspection of Discovery’s heat 
shield after it undocks from the station. Discovery is scheduled to land 
at Kennedy Space Center on Friday afternoon.

Discovery’s crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 12:17 a.m. Sunday, and 
will awaken at 8:17 a.m. for a day devoted to cargo transfers and 
spacewalk preparations.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Sunday morning or earlier 
if events warrant.

- end -

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