AT HOME, AT LAST

May 19th, 2011

Since today, May 19th, at 5:46 a.m. EDT, AMS-02 is safely on the ISS. Four days after the Endeavour launch, that took place on Monday May 16th at 8:56 a.m. EDT, the experiment has been installed on the ISS through a tricky operation and then activated.
AMS-02 was first activated on FD1 (Flight Day One) a few hours after the launch, when data transmission was verified and the first temperature measures were taken, confirming the expected temperature at various location of the experiment. Because AMS-02 used a minimal amount of power, the Orbiter cryo health was excellent.

Ten seconds after the liftoff - Credit: Michael Struik - CERN

The shuttle docking to ISS occurred on FD 3 at 06:15 a.m. EDT. First, ELC-3 was transferred to ISS, then at 3 a.m. o’clock EDT of FD4, AMS-02 installation begun. The Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), or Shuttle robotic arm, started grappling AMS02. The experiment, in a switched off mode, was unberthed (the remotely operated electrical umbilical was removed), and moved out of the payload bay in handoff position; then the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) or ISS Canadarm grappled it, and delivered it to its permanent position outside the Station.

AMS02 being extracted from the Shuttle Bay - Credit: NASA

All these operations were remotely performed by four astronauts: the Shuttle arm was operated by Roberto Vittori and Drew Feustel; the ISS arm by Gregory Johnson and Gregory Chamitoff.
Still hooked to ISS Arm, AMS-02 was fed with 2 Amps of power from SSRMS to control heaters. Three hours after the beginning of the operations, the capture was completed with the closing fixture latched.

AMS02 being installed on the ISS truss S3 - Credit: NASA

A few minutes after the completion of the capture, professor Samuel Ting exchanged a few words with the STS-134 crew, thanking them for “a great ride and a safe delivery”. “You made a great contribution to our understanding of the Universe” said the Nobelist and added: ” I look forward to see you in Geneva (at CERN)”.
Now AMS is sitting on the S3 truss payload attach site and is in nominal data taking operations. A new scientific challenge has just begun!