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STS-116 MCC Status Report #17


7 p.m. CST Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-116 MCC Status Report #17

Flight controllers today put the finishing touches on plans for the 
fourth spacewalk recently added to the mission. On board the Space 
Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station astronauts 
finished transferring the bulk of supplies between the two spacecraft.

Mondayís spacewalk is set to begin at 1:12 p.m. as veteran spacewalkers 
Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang go out to continue attempts to 
retract a solar array wing. The team has allotted six hours and 30 
minutes for the spacewalk, but hopes to have the work completed in about 
four hours and 30 minutes.

Plans call for Curbeam to work from the end of the stationís Canadarm2 
to reach specific areas of the solar array. Today the arm was moved atop 
its mobile platform into position on the truss railway to support the 
spacewalk. From the arm, Curbeam can use Kapton tape-insulated tools, 
including a scraper, needle-nose pliers and an extended bail puller to 
free up the array for retraction.

The techniques designed to fix the array include lightly pulling on 
guide wires along the length of the panels, flipping grommets that the 
wires may be hung up on and gently pushing on hinges in the panels to 
allow them to fold up.

Fuglesang will work from the truss to assist Curbeam and shake the solar 
array, as was done in Saturdayís spacewalk, if needed. He will also take 
photographs of the solar array wing on the other side of the truss to 
document its configuration before its retraction on the next joint 
shuttle and station mission.

After the crewmembers work on the array and change its configuration 
they will move clear as the crew inside the shuttle and station complex 
attempts to retract the array one bay at a time.

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Joan Higginbotham will operate the 
stationís robotic arm during the spacewalk. Pilot Bill Oefelein will 
serve as the spacewalk coordinator.

In other activities, transfer of equipment and supplies between the 
spacecraft is almost complete. Crewmembers and flight controllers 
planned for the last bit of transfer to include tools and equipment 
remaining after the final spacewalk. That work is set to be completed 
before Discovery undocks from the station Tuesday afternoon.

Shuttle Commander Mark Polansky and astronauts Nicholas Patrick, 
Curbeam, Oefelein and Higginbotham participated in media interviews at 
6:27 p.m.

This evening, the crew has time to review the spacewalk plans before 
Fuglesang and Curbeam enter the Quest airlock for their third overnight 
campout together. Lowering the pressure of the airlock to 10.2 psi is 
part of a process to avoid any possibility of the two spacewalkers 
developing decompression sickness in the relatively low pressure of 
their spacesuits. The suits are pressurized to a little less than 5 psi.

The crew goes to bed at 12:17 a.m. Monday and will awaken at 8:17 a.m. 
for another spacewalk day.

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

- end -

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