Encyclopedia Astronautica
2006.12.10 - STS-116 MCC Status Report 03


The Space Shuttle Discovery crew spent much of its first full day in space using the shuttle’s robotic arm and an extension boom-mounted sensor system to inspect heat shielding on Discovery's wing leading edges and nose.

The data will be analyzed by engineers to ensure the spacecraft's heat shield is in good condition.

Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Bob Curbeam, Sunita Williams and Christer Fuglesang also prepared for the planned 4:06 p.m. CST Monday docking with the International Space Station. The crew checked rendezvous tools, installed a centerline camera in Discovery’s docking system window and extended the docking system's outer ring.

While the robotic arm survey proceeded, Curbeam and Fuglesang checked the spacesuits that will be used for spacewalks on the fourth, sixth and eighth days of the mission. Curbeam and Fuglesang will install the fifth port segment (P5) of the station’s main truss during the first spacewalk. The two subsequent spacewalks will focus on rewiring the station’s electrical system, switching it to its permanent power configuration.

During Monday's final approach to the station, Polansky will guide Discovery in a backflip to allow the station crew to take digital imagery of the vehicle's underside for analysis by the ground. The rendezvous pitch maneuver, as the backflip is called, provides more data to ensure the shuttle's heat shielding is healthy.

Shortly after the shuttle and station hatches are opened, Williams will become a member of the station’s Expedition 14 crew. She also will stay for the first half of Expedition 15, living on the station for six months. Expedition 14 crew member Thomas Reiter, who has been in orbit since July, will come home on Discovery.

Later Monday, Patrick will lift the 2-ton P5 truss segment using the shuttle’s robotic arm and hand it to the waiting station arm, where it will remain until it is installed at the end of the P4 truss on Tuesday.

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