Fri, Nov 21, 2008
Replace 11 Of 12 Bearings In Solar Array Joint
The crew of the International Space Station celebrated the
orbiting lab's 10th anniversary Thursday with a spacewalk by
astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough.
The second of four planned spacewalks planned for STS-126 began
45 minutes early, at 12:58 pm EST, and ended at 7:43 pm, running 15
minutes longer than its scheduled 6-and-a-half hours. Replacement
of 11 of the 12 trundle bearings in the starboard Solar Alpha
Rotary Joint race ring was successfully completed.
The repair comes almost a year after astronaut Dan Tani, in a
spacewalk on November 24, 2007, noticed metallic debris on a main
gear bearing race, suggesting metal-on-metal grinding which could
lead to a failure of the joint.
The bearings allow rotating the solar array to track the
position of the sun, which is essential to maximize power
generation. The first of the 12 bearings was replaced back in
Now safely put in the shuttle Endeavour's payload bay, the
bearings will be returned to Earth, where they'll be inspected, and
engineers will try to determine what caused premature failure by
subjecting the remaining good bearings to further analysis.
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