STS-135 MCC Status Report #04

HOUSTON – Space shuttle Atlantis’ crew began their third day in space at 2:29 a.m., just hours away from the scheduled final docking of a space shuttle with the International Space Station.

The wakeup call for Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim came in the form of “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra. That song was played for Ferguson.

The shuttle has been closing the distance between it and the space station since it reached orbit on Friday, and with the help of a final firing of the shuttle’s jets, scheduled for 7:29 a.m., it will finish closing that distance by 9:06 a.m. At that point, the shuttle will be directly below the International Space Station, and in place for the rendezvous pitch maneuver, a back flip that will expose the tiles on the shuttle’s underbelly to the space station, where station crew members will be standing by with cameras to document its condition.

At the windows in the Russian segment of the space station, Flight Engineer Ron Garan will use a 800 mm camera to gather photos of Atlantis’ heat shield, while Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa will have a 400 mm camera, and Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov will use a 1,000 mm.

The back flip will last about eight minutes. Once it’s complete, Ferguson will move Atlantis to a point 310 feet directly in front of the space station and begin slowing down so that the station can catch up with the shuttle, for a 10:07 a.m. docking. After a series of leak checks, hatches between the two vehicles are scheduled to open at 12:19 p.m.

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