The International Space Station recorded another milestone today – the arrival of its first houseguests.
The crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the station’s Expedition 1 crew opened the hatches of their respective spacecraft at 8:36 a.m. CST Friday. Station Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev shook hands with their first station guests in 38 days -- STS-97 Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialists Marc Garneau, Carlos Noriega and Joe Tanner.
The meeting was the first face-to-face contact between the crews, even though their spacecraft have been docked together since last Saturday, orbiting the planet at an altitude of 230 statute miles. At least one hatch remained closed at all times to maintain different atmospheric pressures so that the shuttle crew could conduct three spacewalks and succeed in its primary mission objectives, the delivery, installation and activation of the first U.S. solar power system for the International Space Station.
The new solar arrays are working well, converting the Sun’s rays into electricity and providing an average of 13 kilowatts of additional energy for use by the space station, supplementing the power supplied by solar arrays on the Russian Zarya and Zvezda modules. Other station systems, including a carbon-dioxide removal system and an air conditioner that failed earlier in the week but were repaired by the station crew, are working well.
After a short welcoming ceremony and safety briefing, the eight spacefarers got right to work conducting joint activities including structural tests of the station and its solar arrays, transfer of equipment, supplies and refuse back and forth between their two spacecraft and checking out a television camera cable that will help the next shuttle crew deliver and install the station’s first laboratory module, Destiny.
A joint crew news conference is scheduled for 3:57 p.m. CST today.
The space station crew is scheduled to go to bed about 6 p.m. CST, and the shuttle crew a little later about 10 p.m.
The next STS-97 status report will be issued Friday evening.
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