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STS-116 MCC Status Report #12


9:30 a.m. CST Friday, Dec. 15, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-116 MCC Status Report #12

With half the International Space Station’s electrical system rewired, 
the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery gets half a day off today before 
they finish the job during a third spacewalk set for Saturday.

Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang rewired channels 
2 and 3 of the station’s power system in a five-hour spacewalk Thursday. 
A similar task will be done with the two remaining station power 
channels, channels 1 and 4, on Saturday. However, for Saturday's 
spacewalk, Curbeam will be joined by International Space Station Flight 
Engineer Suni Williams for the outside work while Fuglesang will 
coordinate activities inside the spacecraft. Once the third spacewalk is 
complete, power will be fully online from the station’s P4 Truss solar 
array wings, which were installed in September. At that point, the 
station's power system will be ready for additional expansion with more 
arrays and new laboratories to be delivered next year.

Discovery Commander Mark Polansky and his crew—Pilot Bill Oefelein and 
Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Thomas Reiter, 
Curbeam and Fuglesang—were awakened at about 8:52 a.m. CST to the song 
"Low Rider," performed by War, and played for Oefelein.

Discovery and the station are in good condition. Discovery is currently 
maintaining the orientation of both the station and shuttle using the 
shuttle steering jets, a function it began performing during 
preparations for the spacewalk on Thursday. Control of the station's 
orientation was transferred to Discovery on Thursday as part of the 
normal preparations of the station's power system for the rewiring job. 
The station usually uses its own control moment gyroscopes to maintain 
its orientation, without having to use fuel.

Originally, control of the station's orientation was to be transferred 
back to those gyroscopes late Thursday after the spacewalk tasks were 
completed and station systems powered up. However, problems were 
experienced as that transfer was attempted. Flight controllers believe 
the problems were due to a higher than usual amount of atmospheric drag 
currently experienced by the station due to recent solar activity. They 
may attempt to transfer control of orientation back to the station again 
today, although the shuttle thrusters can be used if needed for that 
purpose through the rest of the mission. If necessary, the station has 
thrusters that can be used for orientation control as well.

During the first half of their day, the astronauts will transfer 
supplies and equipment between the station and shuttle. At 1:07 p.m. the 
two European Space Agency astronauts, Fuglesang of Sweden and Reiter of 
Germany, will participate in a VIP call from Swedish dignitaries. At 
2:47 p.m. all 10 astronauts and cosmonauts on the shuttle/station 
complex will conduct a news conference with reporters in the U.S. and 
Europe. The shuttle crew members will be off duty the last half of the day.

Station Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail 
Tyurin are scheduled for interviews with KNX Radio, Los Angeles, and 
National Public Radio at 4:27 p.m. CST.

Engineers investigating the difficulties with fully retracting the 
port-side solar array wing of the station's P6 Truss believe a guide 
wire may be snagged in a swiveling grommet on one of the array's panels. 
The snag could be keeping the panels from folding up completely. The 
array remains almost halfway retracted as it has been since Wednesday. 
Early this morning, station flight controllers commanded the array 
through a series of "wiggle" tests, swiveling the wing 10 degrees at a 
time repeatedly to see if that would help the situation. They are 
continuing to evaluate the results of those tests and to investigate 
options for further work with the array, including the potential to add 
a spacewalk to latter part of this mission. Options also may include 
some additional troubleshooting commanding that could be performed with 
the array during the crew's day today.

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