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Atlantis astronauts get rude awakening

Space shuttle, ISS astronauts awoken by scary alarms; prep for spacewalk

By , Network World
November 20, 2009 08:21 AM ET

Network World - Talk about a nightmare. The Atlantis space shuttle crew and other astronauts onboard the International Space Station were awakened this morning by a system depressurization alarm.

According to NASA, the flight control teams on the ground were able to determine there was no depressurization occurring. The crew was never in any danger and ventilation fans were shutoff as a precaution, NASA stated. But then that shutoff kicked up dust that resulted in a fire alarm going off. That system was re-enabled and NASA said it was looking into the cause of the initial false alarm.

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The early morning events won’t change any schedules NASA said as the shuttle crew prepares for a space walk and a lot of heavy lifting today and tomorrow.

Atlantis' astronauts are set to grab the 14,000-pound spare parts container known as the Express Logistics Carrier 2 with the shuttle’s robotic arm today. The two ELCs carried up by the shuttle are filled with a variety of parts from pump modules, gyroscopes, nitrogen tank assemblies, an ammonia tank assembly, a high-pressure gas tank, a latching replacement for the station’s robotic arm and a trailing umbilical system reel assembly for the railroad cart that lets the arm move along the station’s truss system. There’s also a power control unit, a plasma container unit, a cargo transportation container and a battery charge/discharge unit, NASA stated.

The space shuttle’s robotic arm will be used to grab the ELCs and transfer them for attachment to the ISS. In all there are 27,250 pounds worth of spare parts onboard this mission.

The shuttle, which blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday docked at the ISS on Tuesday. NASA said Atlantis was free of any damage from its launch which gives the crew more time to work on resupplying the ISS.

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