Thursday, September 3, 2009

Astronauts Informed of Possible Conjunction Maneuver!

NASA space shuttle Capcom Tony Antonelli informed Discovery commander Rick Sturckow about a possible conjunction with debris from a portion of an Ariane 5 rocket body. The conversation was preempted on NASA Television by the HTV preflight briefing and was replayed after the briefing at 2:41 p.m. EDT.

Tony Antonelli: We’ve been analyzing whether we need to do Debris Avoidance Maneuver (DAM). We’re considering all the options and they’re all still on the table. The closest point of approach is at GMT 247:15:06 minutes (11:06 a.m. EDT Friday). The options that are still being considered are: we don’t need to do anything; there would be an attitude maneuver with a reboost option that we would accomplish post-EVA; the other is a deboost that will take a good chunk of the time tomorrow and would delay EVA 2 by a day. We will know more later today. We plan to do the campout tonight either way to keep our options open.

NASA PAO commentary summarized that Mission Control has not yet decided if there is a need for an avoidance maneuver. Flight controllers will continue to evaluate the conjunction before making that determination. The object, with unknown dimensions, is in a highly-elliptical orbit, 32,000 by 317 kilometers. Experts in Mission Control believe the object will make its closest approach to the shuttle and station on Friday morning just after 11 a.m. EDT, at a distance of just under 11 kilometers.Since no DAM decision has been made, preparations will continue to conduct the second spacewalk today.

Crew Prepares for Second Spacewalk:
Astronauts Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang are camping out in the Quest airlock starting at 2:54 a.m. EDT Thursday, in preparation for the second STS-128 spacewalk which begins at 5:19 p.m.

John McCullough, chief of the Flight Director Office, stated that it doesn’t look like the International Space Station will have to do a debris avoidance maneuver. However, the final decision will be made during the last hour of Thursday’s spacewalk. Mission Control is building a plan to conduct a reboost just in case. The piece of debris that is being tracked is approximately 19 square meters and is in an elliptical orbit. It is a fairly big piece which makes it easier to track. The closest approach (about 3 kilometers from the station) is expected at 10:06 a.m. Friday.


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