Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Space Station Gets Its Solar Wings Astronauts Safely Unfurl First Panel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Space Station Gets Its Solar Wings Astronauts Safely Unfurl First Panel

Article excerpt

Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts attached the world's largest, most powerful set of solar panels to the international space station yesterday, then watched with delight and relief as the first glittering wing unfurled.

It was a task as monumental as the wings themselves: The future of space station construction hinged on the astronauts' ability to install the $600 million solar panels, which will provide much needed power to the newly inhabited outpost.

With a few computer keystrokes, shuttle skipper Brent Jett Jr. commanded the right wing to open more than five hours after it was bolted onto space station Alpha by spacewalkers Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega.

"Ah, it looks beautiful," Noriega exclaimed as the wing finally opened after a delay caused by a computer software problem.

"More power to the station," said Tanner.

Eight minutes into the operation, the wing was two-thirds of the way out. "Man, you mean there's more?" Tanner asked.

It took less than 14 minutes for the folded wing to spread all the way out to 115 feet. Counting the center beams, the solar panels' wingspan was to measure 240 feet once the second panel was opened.

A computer software problem initially left Jett unable to command the latches and retention pins on the wings to open so the panels could unfurl. New software was sent up, and Jett was able to open all the latches and pins but one, on the left wing. Flight controllers debated what to do about the stuck pin.

At the start of their spacewalk, Tanner and Noriega had helped Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau, the shuttle robot arm operator, line up the wings for installation. The spacewalkers, positioned on either side of the attachment point, gave Garneau instructions for closing the final 3 feet. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.