After 191 days onboard the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronaut Suni Williams gave a tearful farewell speech, as she prepares to travel home to Earth on Tuesday.
Monday involved an attitude test handover, as Atlantis and the ISS carried out tests on the capability of the Russian computers. The test appears to have been concluded smoothly following official notes of success.
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On June 16, Suni spent Day 189 in space and Day 187 on the ISS – after launching on December 9 with Shuttle Discovery on STS-116. Due to the hail storm delayed launch of STS-117 and Atlantis, Suni broke the record for a single space flight for a woman – previously held by Shannon Lucid with 188 days four hours.
Monday marked the last full day she’ll spend on the ISS, which she called an amazing engineering and science project.
‘These folks, along with their families, have dedicated their lives to ensure the success of astronauts and cosmonauts – along with exploration for the next generation,’ said Williams, in tribute of the technicians and engineers who have watched over her and maintained the ISS.
‘I’m sad to say goodbye, but it’s time for the International Space Station to grow a little more. You, the ISS, will always be a part of me, as you are a part of so many. You will pave the way for our future.’
Playing the song ‘Goodbye my lover’ – a song by former British Army officer and now recording artist James Blunt – Williams made her feelings known through the lyrics. **Click here for video link**
‘You touched my heart you touched my soul. You changed my life and all my goals. And love is blind and that I knew when, My heart was blinded by you. I’ve kissed your lips and held your hand. Shared your dreams and shared your bed. I know you well, I know your smell. I’ve been addicted to you.
‘Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend. You have been the one. You have been the one for me.’
Changing gears, Williams then wished her Expedition 15 placement Clay Anderson all the best for his stay on the ISS.
‘Ok, enough sadness. This next song is to my relief Clay,’ before the Bee Gees classic ‘Staying Alive’ blasted out in space and into Mission Control where some controllers were seen dancing around with some slightly embarrassing 70s dance floor moves. ‘I hope Clay finds his white spandex pants,’ added Williams.
**Ride home through the fire and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis on STS-115 – And now also with Discovery on STS-116 – TWO Stunning high quality 2hr, 355mb videos – from deorbit burn to post landing**
Back to the STS-117 mission, and Atlantis successfully took part in an attitude test, by taking control of the ‘steering’ of the ISS for over an hour today. Once back in free drift, the ISS took back attitude successfully, in what was one of the final tests of the Russian computers, which had to undergo troubleshooting last week.
Yesterday’s EVA-4 was completed successfully by Pat Forrester (EV3) and Steven Swanson (EV4). The spacewalk began at 12:25pm EDT (8 min ahead of schedule) and ended at 6:54pm, lasting 6h 29m.
‘JR Reilly provided strong IV (intravehicular crewmember) support from the Shuttle flight deck, shadowed by Oleg Kotov who familiarized himself for his own IV role during the next US EMU spacewalk (EVA-9), to be conducted by Clay Anderson and Fyodor Yurchikhin in the later part of July from the Quest Airlock (A/L),’ noted the latest On Orbit status report.
It was the 87th spacewalk for ISS assembly and maintenance, the 59th from the station (28 from Shuttle, 22 from Pirs) totalling 349h 43m, the fourth for Forrester and the second for Swanson. After today’s EVA, a total of 95 spacewalkers (68 NASA astronauts, 19 Russians, and eight astronauts representing Japan-1, Canada-2, France-1, Germany-1 and Sweden-3) have logged a total of 537h 7m outside the station on building, outfitting and servicing. It also was the 109th spacewalk by U.S. astronauts.
The EVA included the ‘Removal of an ETVCG (External TV Camera Group) stanchion from its stowage place on ESP-2 (External Stowage Platform 2) and installed it on the new S3 truss at the CP1 (Camera Port 1) location (face 4).
‘Checked out six attachment points of ESP-2 (which has exhibited some deflections in EVA-3 photogrammetry caused by crew movement, a possible long-term fatigue issue). Readied the SARJ (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint) by verifying DLA-2 (Drive Lock Assembly 2) configuration and labeling.
‘Removed six remaining SARJ launch restraints, setting up the SARJ for its ground-commanded checkout. Removed the drag link/keel pin (required for launch mounting in Orbiter payload bay) from S3 & stowed it on the truss. Relocated two APFRs (Articulating Portable Foot Restraints) from S3 to S4 to prepare for S5 truss installation (13A.1 get-ahead tasks).
‘Released four bolts of the IEA MMOD (Integrated Equipment Assembly Micrometeoroid/Orbital Debris) shield. Cleared the MT (Mobile Transporter) translation path onto S3 by rotating S1 stops out of the way, including a tether shuttle stop, and installing the ETRS (EVA Temporary Rail Stop), to serve as MT and tether shuttle stop mechanism on the S3 truss;
‘Routed a Node-to-Service Module (SM) data cable as part of the new ISL (Integrated Station LAN [Local Areas Network]). Secured, with some difficulty, the Lab forward endcone MMOD shields after opening (and closing) a panel for the ISL cable installation.
‘Opened the new OGS (Oxygen Generation System) hydrogen vent valve & secured the valveâ€™s MMOD shield with an additional tether (bolting down had posed problems during EVA-3), and Cleaned up by collecting tools & tethers for return to the A/L CL.’
However, remaining EVA time did not allow removal of the failed GPS antenna #4, and moving/re-installing the spare SASA (S-band Antenna Structural Assembly) gimbal locks on the Z1 truss.
Flight Day 11 is ongoing, and following the successful attitude tests, crews are making the final transfers between Atlantis and the ISS before undocking tomorrow.
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