The latest edition of “This Week In Space” is out! David Waters is in for Miles O’Brien this week.
One spacewalk down, at least one more to go in NASA’s efforts to remove and replace a failed ammonia pump that’s crippled part of the International Space Station’s radiator system. Astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson conducted the longest spacewalk in station history – 8 hours, 3 minutes – attempting to switch out the pump with a spare. Unfortunately, removing the ammonia umbilicals from the old pump turned out to be a lot more difficult that anticipated, and there was significant ammonia leakage from one of the lines as well. The spacewalkers quickly fell behind on the timeline. In the end, they had to wrap up the EVA with the broken pump still in place. Ground controllers are now regrouping, and will need to re-plan the second spacewalk to try to make up for lost time. And ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini says a third spacewalk may be in the offing.
I will tell you we’ve lengthened the amount of time from now until we get this pump running. I would tell you that it would take a lot of good luck, and somebody coming up with a really short tweak to the EVA for us to get to the point that we could start that ammonia pump after the next EVA. I really do think we are going to end up with three EVA’s. So I think we are going to end up being in this condition, this risk posture, a few more days than we had originally planned.
There will be no doubt be developments in this story daily. Please check in with us at Spaceflight Now for all the latest news.
The full Senate approved its compromise version of the NASA authorization bill for the 2011 budget late on Thursday – by voice vote with no discussion – and then they skedaddled out of town for the August recess. The Senate legislation would add a final shuttle flight to the manifest, extend the life of the space station through 2020, fund commercial space activities, and start work on a new heavy lift rocket that’s supposed to be ready for orbital missions by the end of 2016. But, the forward plan for the space agency remains in limbo for the foreseeable future. The House of Representatives, is working on its own, very different, version of a plan…that preserves key parts of the Constellation program, slashes funding for commercial space, and puts that heavy-lift rocket championed by the Senate on the back burner. The soonest the full House will vote on their version is September – and then compromise legislation will have to be hammered out in a conference committee. So…if you are holding you breath for this all to be wrapped up soon…it’s gonna be a while.
While the wheels of government turn slowly, workers at the Kennedy Space Center are getting pink slips as the shuttle program winds down. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke toured KSC this week along with NASA brass and Representative Suzanne Kosmas of Florida. Locke sits on a White House task force aimed at improving the economy on the Space Coast as the clock ticks down for shuttle. He met with about a dozen workers who will soon be hitting the unemployment lines. The task force will be submitting a report to Obama this month on the prospects for helping the workforce through the tough transition ahead. Let’s hope they can come up with some good ideas.
And speaking of shuttles, it seems we are all going to have to wait a little longer to hear from NASA where the orbiters are headed after the program ends next year. The agency had said it would announce in July which museums would get shuttles – but that deadline has come and gone with no word. NASA spokesman Mike Curie told our friend Robert Pearlman over at collectSPACE that a final decision has been postponed because the dates for the final two shuttle missions have slipped…and while the powers-that-be ponder whether or not to add an additional flight for Atlantis next summer. Here’s what we know: the shuttle Discovery will be going to the Air & Space Museum, which means NASA shuttle test article, Enterprise, currently housed there but never actually flew in space, also becomes available. We’re in standby mode to find out where Atlantis and Endeavour will, er, land.