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STATUS REPORT: STS-121-04 - 6 JULY 2006


4 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 6, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-121 MCC Status Report #04

A third crewmember will join the International Space Station today after 
the docking of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It will mark the first time 
since May 2003 that more than two long-duration crew members have called 
the orbiting laboratory home.

Discovery, with Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Mark Kelly and Mission 
Specialists Mike Fossum, Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and 
Thomas Reiter aboard, is scheduled to dock with the station at 9:52 a.m. 

Shortly after the welcome by station Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA 
Science Officer Jeff Williams and a mandatory safety briefing, Reiter 
will transfer his seat liner to the Soyuz spacecraft attached to the 
station, making him an official station crewmember. Reiter is a European 
Space Agency astronaut from Germany, flying under a contract between ESA 
and the Russian Federal Space Agency.

During Discovery’s approach to the station, Lindsey will pilot the 
shuttle on what amounts to a back flip, called the Rendezvous Pitch 
Maneuver. At about 600 feet below the station, the flip will give 
Vinogradov and Williams a chance to photograph the thermal protection 
tiles on the bottom of Discovery. Using digital cameras with 400mm and 
800mm lenses, they will take a carefully planned series of photos of the 
shuttle's underside.

The images will be downlinked for study by experts on the ground, 
starting with the more detailed images from the 800mm lens. More 800mm 
photos will be taken than during Discovery's approach during STS-114. 
One increased photo emphasis will be looking for protruding gap fillers, 
like those removed by STS-114 spacewalker Steve Robinson last year.

These photos and other data, including images from more than 100 cameras 
on the ground, in aircraft and on the shuttle, as well as data from the 
shuttle arm and the Orbital Boom Sensor System (OBSS) attached to it, 
will be used, along with data from subsequent surveys, to make sure that 
Discovery sustained no major damage on launch, ascent and in orbit.

About three hours after docking, both crews get to work with more 
robotic operations to prepare for additional surveys. Nowak, Wilson and 
Williams will operate the space station robotic arm, Canadarm2, from 
inside the Destiny Lab.

They will use the arm to lift the OBSS from Discovery's payload bay sill 
and hand it over to the shuttle arm, operated by Lindsey and Fossum. 
Clearance restraints around the shuttle’s docking mechanism do not allow 
the shuttle arm to grapple the boom on its own.

Transfer of cargo from the shuttle's middeck including spacesuits will 
begin shortly after docking. At least two spacewalks are scheduled, one 
on Saturday and another on Monday. A third may be done if the mission is 
extended a day.

Discovery’s crew was awakened at 2:38 a.m. Thursday by “Daniel," 
performed by Elton John and dedicated to Reiter. The station crew was 
awakened at the same time by its standard wakeup tone.

The next STS-121 mission status report will be issued Thursday 
afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

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