Spacewalk success – array retracted

by Chris Bergin

EVA 4 has concluded successfully, following the completion of the P6 solar array retraction.

Robert ‘Beamer’ Curbeam – earning a new EVA record for four journeys to the outside of the ISS on a Shuttle mission – and Christer Fuglesang carried out the un-rehearsed spacewalk brilliantly, earning a huge round of applause from Mission Control as the final bay was retracted.

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With 11 bays remaining for full retraction, Beamer and Fuglesang implemented a variety of tools to aid the issues with tension on the grommets, which was hindering the guide wires.

With a mix of keeping the guide wires free from snagging on the grommets, including the now famous ‘Beamer Shakes’ – and the EVA 4 debut of the ‘Swedish Christer Shakes’ on the truss, the arrays finally stowed in their blanket boxes.

A couple of extra tasks even managed to be completed, as the EVAer’s adjusted the MLI (Multi Layer Insulation) cover of the SSRMS FMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System/Force Moment Sensor), installed during EVA-1, which from video appears to cover the FMS incompletely.

Curbeam also obtained imagery of the 2B SAW for analysis to attempt to determine whether a similar situation to 4B exists on that unit, before closing out his 6 hour 38 minute spacewalk, marking his rise to the fifth position in the all time EVA duration rank.

‘This proves out that there’s no replacing eyeballs,’ said John Curry, lead ISS Flight Director. ‘We got there, I couldn’t be happier. Absolutely fantastic. Commander Polansky told me how proud of the crew he was. Great synergy. A great day, absolutely fantastic.’

The successful retraction wasn’t without its hiccups, with the full retraction fighting against the consumables that were dictating the timeline to get the job done.

‘There were times where we thought this was going to be easy, and other times where we thought we would be leaving it with one bay left open,’ noted Tricia Mack, Lead Spacewalk officer for STS-116.

‘When we had it there was the biggest round of applause in the room. Beamer was the smartest person to have on the scene, and we managed 100 percent retraction and all the latches latched.

‘This EVA was put together over just a couple of days, when normally it takes about a year.’

Mack also noted the amusement that their Swedish spacewalker provided, as he counted out his ‘Swedish Shakes’ in English, Swedish, German and French, but to name a few.

‘We were also amused by Christer, who was counting out his shakes in various languages.’

Kirk Shireman, Deputy ISS program manager, summed up the general feeling amongst the NASA team, speaking of the emotion the agency has been accused of lacking over the years.

‘Wow, is about the only thing we can say. It was really an emotional day today,’ added Shireman. ‘This crew and this team was able to overcome all the problems, and it was a big day for the ISS program.

‘I’m very proud of this team and to be associated with the space program on a day like today.’

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Meanwhile, NASA have been evaluating the loss of Suni Williams’ camera during EVA 3. The Kodak DCS 760 still camera was lost overboard during EVA-3 and is currently tracking below and in front of the station.

‘After tomorrow’s (FD11) Shuttle undocking, it will be approximately 100 nmi in front of Discovery, opening with >50 nmi per revolution,’ noted today’s ISS On Orbit status report.

‘To prevent a reoccurrence of the loss, a tether has been added to the thermal shield of the camera for EVA-4 and Dycal, a dental epoxy, has been applied to the camera foot screw (to prevent its backing out).’

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