Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)
conducted a scheduled spacewalk to inspect a pair of solar array joints that
have been troublesome since a problem was found in late October. The walk
was monitored by observers on the ground, and flight engineers will now begin
to investigate what steps need to be taken to correct the issue.
The seven-hour spacewalk was carried out by Peggy Whitson,
ISS commander, and Daniel Tani, a flight engineer, and helped focused solely on
the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ). The spacewalkers took
photos and documented what they saw, then collected samples using a metal
scraper and some tape.
During an inspection of the shuttle Atlantis fuel tank at Cape Canaveral,
flight engineers believe a bad connector is the cause of the shuttle fuel gauges
acting oddly. After filling the external fuel tank with 500,000 pounds of
liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, one of the sensors failed and two others
"We had a problem today on three of those sensors and we captured the data
indicating that we have a problem at the ... connectors that lead the wires
from the inside of the liquid hydrogen tank to the exterior of the tank,"
said Wayne Hale, shuttle program manager.
After two failed launch attempts, Atlantis is scheduled to launch on January 2,
assuming NASA is able to correct the problem with the shuttle already secured
to the launch pad.