Sunday, February 27, 2011

NASA: No Focused Inspection Required

The joined crews of Discovery and the International Space Station are moving the shuttle's inspection boom to clear the way for the delivery of the Leonardo stowage module.

Meanwhile, engineers say Discovery's heat-shield is in good shape and no focused inspection will be required on the sixth day of its 39th and final flight, officials said today.

Engineers poured over data beamed back from a now-standard inspection of heat-shield components on the second day of a shuttle flight along with photographs taken of the underside of the shuttle during its approach to the outpost.

Had engineers needed a closer look at the thermal protection system, a focused inspection would have been ordered up. The fact that none will be required means that the shuttle's heat shield came through the climb to orbit pretty much unscathed.

It also means none of the foam seen falling from the shuttle's external tank during launch did significant damage. Managers had said the foam fell away after aerodynamically sensitive early portion of flight. The insulation fell off after the shuttle was out of the densest parts of the atmosphere and could not have generated enough kinetic energy to cause critical damage.

The Discovery astronauts will perform one more "late inspection" after the shuttle undocks from the space station to make sure no micrometeoroid debris damage occurs during its weeklong stay at the outpost.

Take a look at the shuttle crew's detailed timeline for the day in the official Flight Day 4 Execute Package.

Major mission milestone are listed in the latest version -- Rev C -- of the NASA TV Schedule.

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