Archive for July 5th, 2006

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Preparing Canada Arm

On the first full day of Mission STS-121 the crew of Discovery are preparing to examine the vehicle heat shield for damage. The examinations are designed to show up any damage sustained during the eight-and-a-half-minute climb to space.

A 15-metre boom was added to the shuttle’s robotic arm after the Columbia disaster. The extension allows cameras to inspect the heat shield underneath the orbiter for any damage from falling foam or ice during launch.

But if they saw some damage, the only way to reach some of these areas to repair them would be to put an astronaut on the end of the boom. This has not been formally tested, although an astronaut did ride on the end of the extension on the last mission.


Image credit: NASA/KSC

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By July 5, 2006 Read More →

Discovery tank ‘Performed Well’

In the evening press conference held on Tuesday afternnon at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Space Shuttle Program Wayne Hale reported that the external tank’s performance was greatly improved during the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery

During liftoff of Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-121 on July 4, a camera captured a small piece of debris (pointed to by the arrow) that is believed to be a part of a shim used on the thermal protection system on the orbiter. The piece did not cause any damage nor will the loss be a concern for the mission or landing.

It has been reported that other debris has been captured on film as it fell away from the external tank.

Shortly after ET jetison Mission Specialist Mike Fossum reported having seen a long, thin fabric like object floating away from the Orbiter. He described the object as being ‘4 to 6 feet in length, mabe as much as 8 feet, floating away from the orbiter between the ET and the orbiter at a distance of maybe 40 to 45 yards’. Mike later said that the object appeared to have straps on it and was fabric-like.

Nasa has since reported that an ice sheet was observed falling away shortly after ET jet. and the suggestion is that this is what Mike Fossum saw.

Personally I think there is a lot of difference between fabric material with strapping and an ice sheet but understand that no images of this particular event have yet been released.


Image credit and quotes: NASA/KSC

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