Parazynski on the solar arrays during STS-120 mission

Astronaut Scott Parazynski talked about the solar arrays during a NASA pre-flight interview:

You mentioned one of the other aspects of this mission is relocating the P6 solar arrays. It’s kind of a unique new thing, it hadn’t been done quite this way, so can you tell us a little bit about that?

I think this is one of the most exciting things in the entire space station assembly, sequence. I think to bring it down into terms that most people can understand, I’ll reflect back to this one very vivid memory I had as a child. I watched this very large Victorian house have a structural relocation. And what that entailed is, a very highly skilled set of construction workers came and disassembled, the, the connection between the house and its foundation and demated all the electrical and telephone connections, the plumbing; all the utilities. And then with jacks and cranes and flatbed trucks, they were able to transport this huge home to some unseen location off in the distance. So, fast-forward 30 plus years and I find myself an extreme high altitude construction worker, literally. We’re going to be doing something very similar. The one distinction is when I saw that structural relocation of the home, they actually had to saw that house in half in order to do that process. We won’t be doing quite that degree of work but we will be using cranes, we will be using a lot of teamwork here on the ground, a lot of coordination with the mission control team to perform a very orderly power down of all the systems onboard the P6. As you’re probably aware the radiators and solar array wings have already been retracted by prior crews, so we’ll go up, apply some protective blankets in certain regions of the P6 truss. We’ll demate the cooling loops, the ammonia fluid lines; we’ll demate power and data connectors, also on spacewalks. And then the robotic crew from inside the space station will grapple the P6. Dan Tani and I, my spacewalking partner on EVA2, will unbolt the P6 and then the P6 will be lifted off its perch on top of the station and over the course of the next couple of days, involving a handoff to the shuttle arm and then back to the space station arm. We’ll get it into position for EVA3 when Doug Wheelock and myself will essentially reverse this whole process. We’ll guide the, the P6 into place, giving verbal commands to the robotic operators inside. Once it’s exactly where we want it, we’ll bolt the two structures together. This is an enormous piece of hardware, I believe on the order of 35,000 pounds, so very precise robotic flying is involved for the crew inside and a lot of coordination between the spacewalkers and them. Once we have it all bolted together, then, as I said, we reverse the process. We mate electrical connectors; we mate data connectors. The ground then gets very involved, issuing commands to start up all the systems again. We’ll deploy a radiator panel on the P6 truss, and then observe the solar array wing deployment. Hopefully that all goes as planned on flight day 8 of the mission.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Airglow above Earth’s horizon and solar array panels add color to this scene of a portion of the International Space Station as the orbiting complex is docked with the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Image Credit: NASA

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~ by tellinghistory on October 24, 2007.

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