Thursday, April 08, 2010

No focused inspection required for Discovery heat shield

Mission controllers tonight notified seven Discovery astronauts that no further inspection of the orbiter's heat shield was required until the end of their docked stay at the International Space Station.

"Focused inspection will not be required," radioed Megan McArthur, an astronaut communicating with the crew from Houston, after the crew woke up at 8:51 p.m. EDT.

"Thanks for that great wake-up news, that's wonderful," replied Discovery commander Alan Poindexter. "We'll look forward to a great EVA-1 today and no focused inspection tomorrow."

Poindexter was referring to the mission's first of three spacewalks, which is set to begin at 1:41 a.m. EDT Friday.

Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson, both veterans of three prior spacewalks, will begin a three-spacewalk effort to replace depleted ammonia tanks fastened to the station's truss.

They'll also retrieve an experiment from the exposed "porch" on Japan's Kibo lab, replace a failed gyroscope device called a Rate Gryo Assembly and perform a number of "get-ahead" tasks.

The spacewalk is scheduled to last six-and-a-half hours. You can watch it live here by clicking on the NASA TV box at right to watch a video player.

For a detailed look at the timeline for the day ahead, check out this NASA TV schedule ("Rev D") and the Flight Day 5 Execute Package of notes e-mailed to the crew by Mission Control.

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