The purposes of the STS-132 mission are primarily to install the Russian-built Mini-Research Module-1 (MRM-1; given the name “Rassvet,” Russian for “dawn”) onto the underside (the side closest to Earth) of the Zarya module (a Russian name for “sunrise”; this module is also called the Functional Cargo Block) of the International Space Station (ISS), transfer cargo from Space Shuttle Atlantis to the ISS, and install hardware to the exterior of the ISS; the hardware is carried on an enhanced version of the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) that is brought inside the space shuttle’s payload bay. The Mini-Research Module-1 (MRM-1) is a useful addition to the ISS, providing storage space and a new place for docking vehicles; it will also temporarily hold (in its interior) supplies for the ISS and (on its exterior) equipment for the ISS, particularly for its future Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module (or “MLM”).
The STS-132 mission lasts from the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis at 2:20 PM, Friday, May 14, 2010, until its landing, planned for 8:44 AM, Wednesday, May 26, 2010; both the launch and likely the landing occur at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the east coast of Florida. For the STS-132 mission, the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis consists of Commander Kenneth Ham, Pilot Dominic “Tony” Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Stephen Bowen, and Piers Sellers. The STS-132 mission is planned to be the final spaceflight of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
After the launch, the first three days of the STS-132 mission are used primarily to check the exterior of Space Shuttle Atlantis for any possible damage from the launch, prepare and complete the process of docking the space shuttle to the International Space Station, and begin some of the tasks for the STS-132 mission. To check the exterior, the crew (from inside the vehicle’s cabin) operates the robotic arm and Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) of Space Shuttle Atlantis’s payload bay (days 1 and 2). As Space Shuttle Atlantis approaches the ISS by employing the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, the vehicle is photographed by the crew of the ISS. The crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis prepares for docking, finally connecting to the ISS’s Harmony module. After exiting Space Shuttle Atlantis and meeting with the ISS crew (who will assist with duties on the ISS for the STS-132 mission), the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) is moved (using the ISS’s Canadarm2) from Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay to the ISS exterior’s Mobile Base System (MBS), which is movable, connected to the Canadarm2 robotic arm and its Dextre extention, and allows the ICC’s contents to be reached by the crew members who conduct the spacewalks (EVAs) later in the STS-132 mission.
Most of the tasks for the STS-132 mission occur during days 4 through 8. The three planned spacewalks (also referred to as “extra-vehicular activity,” or EVAs) by Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, and Stephen Bowen occur on days 4, 6, and 8; the preparation of these spacewalks (EVAs) begins on the day before each (days 3, 5, and 7). The tasks for the spacewalks (EVAs) on the International Space Station’s exterior include installing a spare Ku-band antenna for the Z1 truss segment near the center of the ISS and a spare tool platform (and other spare hardware) for the Dextre system (EVA 1), as well as replacing batteries for the P6 truss segment on the Port end of the ISS (EVAs 1, 2, and 3); these batteries help to power the ISS by collecting energy from the ISS’s solar arrays. For installation to the ISS, Reisman, Good, and Bowen take these items from the temporarily nearby Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC); also, when the older hardware is removed from the ISS’s exterior for replacement, it is stored on the ICC. About 19.5 hours of extra-vehicular activity is planned to be done for the STS-132 mission. Mission Specialists Reisman, Good, and Bowen perform their EVA duties as alternate teams of two; the third works inside the ISS with Mission Specialist Piers Sellers and ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson, operating the ISS’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to assist the two crew members who are performing the EVA duties. During the spacewalks (EVAs), Pilot Dominic “Tony” Antonelli is inside the ISS to coordinate and supervise the EVAs.
Other than completing the EVAs, several tasks are done inside the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Atlantis during this point of the STS-132 mission. On day 5, Space Shuttle Atlantis’ Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) is used to further inspect the vehicle’s exterior if necessary, and the “Rassvet” Mini-Research Module-1 (MRM-1) is removed from the space shuttle’s payload bay and attached to the underside of the ISS’s Zarya module (on day 7, the connection between Zarya and MRM-1 is checked for proper fitting). The ISS’s Canadarm2 robotic arm is used to move the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) to the area of EVA 2 (day 6); cargo is delivered from Space Shuttle Atlantis’ middeck (a part of the cabin) to the interior of the ISS, and the crew has time to rest from their work (day 7); and the ICC is moved back to the ISS’s Mobile Base System (MBS) in preparation for the ICC’s return to the space shuttle’s payload bay (day 8).
After the three spacewalks (EVAs) have been completed, Space Shuttle Atlantis’ crew is in the process of concluding the STS-132 mission. On day 9, the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) is returned to Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay. The final transferring of cargo between Space Shuttle Atlantis’ middeck and the interior of the International Space Station is done (continuing to day 10), and the crew has another opportunity to rest before their journey back to Earth. On day 10, the crews participate in a news conference from the ISS to explain their progress. After leaving the ISS crew, the duties for Space Shuttle Atlantis’ crew on days 10, 11, and 12 include undocking the vehicle from the ISS, flying once around the ISS, and inspecting the space shuttle’s exterior with its Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), as they begin travelling back to Earth while having communication with and supervision by NASA on the ground. If events follow as planned, Space Shuttle Atlantis and its crew re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land on day 13, concluding the vehicle’s final mission.
After Space Shuttle Discovery has landed, the team of NASA continues with preparations for the next mission, STS-133, which is expected to begin on Thursday, September 16, 2010. The STS-133 mission, using Space Shuttle Discovery for likely its final spaceflight, is intended primarily to install the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 4, the Permanent Multi-Purpose Module (formerly the “Leonardo” Multi-Purpose Logistics Module that was last brought to the International Space Station during the STS-131 mission), and other items to the International Space Station. For more about NASA’s missions and other projects, visit the official website of NASA at http://www.NASA.gov. For more of this series (“Inside NASA”) and other articles, visit http://www.AssociatedContent.com/KMMH.