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Home > News > PTI

'Beep Beep' song wakes up Discovery crew

Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston | December 12, 2006 02:22 IST

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The "Beep Beep" song performed by Louis Prima, played especially for astronaut Sunita Williams, the second Indian-origin woman after Kalpana Chawla in space, woke up the Discovery shuttle crew on Monday.

"Good morning to you Suni! You need to rise and shine because today is the day that you say, 'Goodbye shuttle and hello station,'" astronaut Shannon Lucid in Mission Control told Williams.

She radioed back, "I can't wait to see my new home."

After getting the clean chit of no visible damage on lift off, the shuttle continued its pursuit of the International Space Station and is ready to dock with it.

The two-day chase will culminate when Discovery docks with the ISS. The orbital linkup is scheduled to take place at 4:05 pm (CST) Houston time.

Besides Indian-American astronaut, Discovery's crew, Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang are looking forward to a very busy day.

So are the station crewmembers, Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter.

Sunita will join the Expedition 14 crew about an hour after she enters the station for the first time. The hatches between Discovery and the station are slated to open at about 7:02 pm. She will stay on at the ISS when Discovery heads home, taking German Thomas Reiter back to Earth.

At least 14 more missions are needed to finish the $100 bn station.

Rendezvous operations will begin at about 10:35 am CST. The terminal initiation engine firing by Discovery, which begins the final phase of the rendezvous when the shuttle is about nine miles behind the ISS, is scheduled for 1:28 pm CST.

By 3 pm CST, Discovery should be about 600 feet below the station. At that point, Polansky will guide the shuttle through a back flip called the rendezvous pitch maneuver, which will allow station crew members to photograph Discovery's heat shield. The electronic images will be transmitted to the ground for analysis by engineers.

Shortly after docking, a safety briefing and a welcome ceremony, Sunita will transfer her custom seat liner to the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station. When that happens, she becomes a member of the station crew. At the same time, Reiter becomes a Discovery crew member for his ride home, completing about six months in space.

A little after 7:15 pm CST, Discovery's robotic arm will lift the 4,100-pound P5 truss segment from the shuttle's cargo bay. It will be handed off to the station's arm, where it will stay during the crews' sleep period, in preparation for its installation on Tuesday.

To prepare for the mission's first spacewalk, Curbeam and Fuglesang will spend the night in the station's airlock, where pressure will be reduced to 10.2 psi, roughly equal to the atmosphere on Earth at about 10,000 feet above sea level.

The airlock at the lower pressure protects against decompression sickness, commonly called "the bends," as the two go to the even lower pressure of spacesuits on Tuesday.

Polansky will guide Discovery through a back-flip maneuver about an hour before docking to allow the station's Expedition 14 crew to take pictures of shuttle's heat shield.

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