Saturday, May 21, 2011

Endeavour tile inspection complete

Endeavour astronauts have completed this morning's inspection of a damaged shuttle heat shield on the underside of the orbiter's right wing.

The "focused" inspection took just under an hour.

A robotically controlled boom equipped with cameras and laser sensors captured imagery of the tile from five different positions.

Analysts in Houston will get a more detailed measurement of the depth of the gouge in the tile and use the data to update models used to assess its ability to withstand heat during atmospheric re-entry.

NASA expects to clear the tile for re-entry. A decision is expected within 24 hours, and could be announced as soon as a briefing planned at 4 p.m. EDT today following a meeting of the Mission Management Team.

Coming up later this morning: the first ever papal call to the International Space Station.

Pope Benedict XVI will speak to the dozen shuttle and station crew members from the Vatican at 7:11 a.m. EDT. You can watch the conversation live here by clicking the NASA TV box at right.

No comments: