At about 8 a.m. EST this morning, space shuttle Atlantis spacewalkers Garrett Reisman and Steve Bowen switched their suits to battery power, signifying the start of today's 6.5-hour excursion for the STS-132 mission and the first of three planned spacewalks.
According to NASA officials, Atlantis Pilot Tony Antonelli will be inside the International Space Station (ISS), choreographing the activities and coordinating communications between the spacewalkers and the mission control center in Houston.
Atlantis is embarking on its final planned mission. During the 12-day flight, Atlantis and six astronauts will fly to the International Space Station, leaving behind a set of batteries for the station's truss and dish antenna, along with other replacement parts. NASA announced this is the 237th spacewalk conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 144th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the second for Reisman and the fourth for Bowen.
The first task of the spacewalk will be the installation of a back-up Ku-band antenna known as the SGAnt or Space-to-Ground Antenna. The task will start at the mobile transporter to remove the SGAnt, then Reisman will hand carry the boom and antenna to its installation point on the Z1 truss. Bowen will meet Reisman there to attach the antenna, connect power and data cables and remove protective insulation. During that time, Reisman will travel on the arm to retrieve the antenna dish and bring it to the worksite for installation. Time permitting, Bowen will install a heat shield and remove position locks on the antenna.
Once outside, Reisman and Bowen will install a spare space-to-ground antenna, place a spare parts platform on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator known as Dextre, and loosen battery bolts so the batteries can be swapped during the next two spacewalks. During the spacewalk, Mission Specialist Piers Sellers will control the station's 58-foot-long robotic arm, on which Reisman will ride, to maneuver the ammonia tank assembly and other pieces of hardware. They will be installing a second station space-to-ground Ku-band antenna and a spare parts platform on Dextre, the two-armed robotic Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, NASA officials said.
Reisman will then return to the pallet to collect Dextre's storage platform. He and Bowen will meet at Dextre's worksite atop the Destiny laboratory to attach the platform to the robot. If possible, they will also install a maintenance tether and connect two electrical fuses. The final task will have Bowen at the end of the left or port truss, to loosen bolts on the six batteries that will be replaced in the later spacewalks. NASA noted Reisman, designated the lead for this spacewalk, is wearing an all-white spacesuit, and his helmet cam displays number 19. Bowen will wear a spacesuit marked with a red stripe; his helmet cam displays number 20.