Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Astronauts Complete Shuttle Heat-Shield Survey

The Endeavour astronauts are stowing a sensor-tipped inspection boom back in the shuttle's cargo bay after completing thorough surveys of the ship's two wings as well as its nosecap.

NASA Lead Shuttle Flight Director Gary Horlacher said the scans did not reveal any apparent heat-shield damage that might endanger Endeavour or its crew during atmospheric reentry. However, all data from the surveys still must be assessed by experts on the ground, and in some cases -- such as the shuttle's vulnerable wing panels -- critical damage might not be apparent to the naked eye.

Still coming up today: the astronauts will latch onto a spare parts pallet in Endeavour's cargo bay in advance of its installation on the International Space Station tomorrow. Housed on the pallet are two communications antennas, an ammonia coolant tank, a high-pressure gas tank and spare parts for the station's two-armed Canadian robot Dextre.

The crew also is checking out spacesuits that will be used during the last four spacewalks planned for the shuttle program.

No comments: