STS-129 Flight Day Four Roundup

Whilst spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher spent their day outside enjoying the view, the Atlantis and ISS crews were busy inside the station supporting the spacewalk and carrying out preparation work for the Node 3 node, known as Tranquility, that will be delivered in early 2010. Station Commander Frank De Winne and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams began reconfiguring cables and wiring at the port hatch of the Harmony node around the same time as the spacewalk got underway, a task that will last several days over the duration of the docked portion of the STS-129 mission.

Former ISS crew member Nicole Stott, now an official Atlantis crew member, celebrated her 47th birthday today. Nicole has been on board the station since August and wil be the last ever ISS crew member to use a Shuttle for transport off the station, as the Shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired toward the end of 2010.

So, is it just a space station-ey stuff mission?
Actually no! One unusual experiment being flown on STS-129 will utilize the unique microgravity environment of the International Space Station as part of the regular classroom to allow students to examine the complete life cycle of the Painted Lady and Monarch butterflies. Two containers of the caterpillars, one on Earth and one flown on Atlantis, will be observed to study how the butterflies cope with the different gravity environments as they hatch.

Caterpillars enjoying microgravity

NASA TV is catching up with its YouTube videos, releasing both Flight Day 2 and Flight Day 3 highlights today complete with HD options for that higher bandwidth perusal experience.


Images credit: NASA TV
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