Commander Pam Melroy and her crewmates today completed a five-hour inspection of Discovery’s heat shield using the shuttle’s robotic arm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System.
During today’s initial look at Space Shuttle Discovery’s heat shield, mission managers received no reports of visible damage. However, engineers on the ground will add today’s three-dimensional sensor images to imagery and accelerometer data collected at launch and during the climb to orbit and continue their analysis. The images gathered during tomorrow’s back flip will help verify the heat shield’s condition.
Also today, Melroy and the rest of the crew, Pilot George Zamka and Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock, Scott Parazynski, Dan Tani and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency installed the centerline camera that will be used during docking, extended the outer ring of the Orbiter Docking System, and checked the tools that will be used during rendezvous.
Tomorrow, Melroy will perform the rendezvous pitch maneuver, an orbiter back-flip just 600 feet below the space station that will allow Expedition 16 crew members Clay Anderson and Yuri Malenchenko to take detailed photographs of the orbiter’s underside.
The STS-120 crew is on a two-week mission that will set the stage for delivery of new research laboratories from the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in the upcoming assembly missions. During the mission, the crew will install the Harmony module, a connecting port and passageway for the new laboratories, in a temporary location.
The crew will also relocate the Port 6 (P6) truss segment and solar arrays to the end of the Port 5 truss and then redeploy and reactivate the P6 arrays, increasing the station’s capacity to generate power.
On board the space station, Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Malenchenko and Anderson readied the station for the arrival of Discovery’s crew by conducting a leak check of Pressurized Mating Adapter-2, Discovery’s docking point, and set up spacesuits already in the station’s Quest airlock.
Anderson, now in the 139th day of his flight, charged the batteries, formatted memory the cards, and configured the 400 and 800 milimeter lenses on the cameras that will be used during tomorrow’s orbiter maneuver. Anderson and Malenchenko also did a practice run of the photo shoot.
Anderson will return to Earth aboard Discovery. Tani will stay on the station to work with Whitson and Malenchenko to put Harmony in its permanent location on the front of the Destiny laboratory. The next shuttle mission, targeted to launch in early December, will deliver the European laboratory module Columbus.
Discovery’s crew went to sleep at 4:38 p.m. and will awaken at 12:38 a.m.